Saturday, October 25, 2014

I bit the bullet

Today I wanted to talk about baby food processors. With both of our kids, we've decided to make their baby food fresh everyday. I, like everyone else, saw those commercials about the Baby bullet and had to buy one. Back when I bought it, Emily was our first precious child so even though we knew we could buy a basic blender but the Baby Bullet seemed more fitting. It came with all the cute packagings and small containers and blah blah blah. Well, $50 later and full of regrets I'm here to report that the Baby Bullet is no bueno.

Issues I had with the Baby bullet:
* Its price. At $50 it wasn't so bad a price point for our child but for the quality its like highway robbery to me.
*Its hard to clean. On the rim of the bottom piece of the baby bullet, there is a plastic ring that is impossible to take out and clean every time. I discovered that MOLD can grow on there. Look it up for yourself from other parental complaints/reviews. Mines never got to that point because I was so paranoid with cleaning that stupid ring.
*It leaks. The bottom piece at the blender leaks black fluid which is beyond gross to me. Mines might have been a bad seal on the machine but regardless something like that should not have happened.

Today I took liberty and finally threw it out because I can't stand looking at it anymore. I ended up purchasing a $19 Hamilton Beach blender on sale at Target and hands down it beats the Baby bullet for days.

I ended up choosing this Hamilton beach for a few key reasons. First it was compact enough for Kaley's baby food. I liked the Baby bullet because I thought I didn't have to wash a big piece of machinery just to make three small containers of baby food. I usually make fresh baby food everyday or almost everyday, so a standard size blender is a little too big. The HB blender single canister serving container is the perfect size for 1-2 days worth of food for Kaley. Second, its simple to use. I've used other fancy blenders with an LED touchscreen monitor on it and 100 features for different blends and honestly, I don't really care for all that. I'm simple, I just need one on and off button. Third, its really easy to clean. The blender itself is only three pieces that I would have to wash. No hidden crevices like the baby bullet. No heavy glass canisters like some other fancy blenders.

However, the only thing I liked about the Baby bullet was that it came with a recipe book so you can make various types of blends for your baby. As a first time mother with Emily, I was clueless on what gourmet dishes to make. But honestly, its pretty basic. You first start off basic with only single fruits/veggies for a few consistent days and move on to combine two fruits/vegetables to blend. Here's a quick and easy explanation from the Baby bullet website.

I hope this post can save other parents some money and skip the Babybullet.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Leasing to save money

This post was really hard for me to write because everyone's situation is different. Today I wanted to discuss numbers and money… especially monies that go into owning a car.  Here I present to you two case scenarios:

Case scenario #1 purchase a new toyota top of the line prius fully loaded for $30K . I picked that car because it has a very high customer satisfaction rate, reliable, low depreciation value, and was my initial choice if I didnt get a volt. You use the car for 6 years and decide to sell because a newer and better car came out. On average I notice everyone around me switches cars once every 3-5 years. By 3-5 years the depreciation value of the prius is down about $5-10k depending on the condition of the car. You are also stuck with an older model/car for longer PLUS higher monthly/down payments. If you do $1000 down with 0% apr payments will be about $500 in an optimal situation. You only break even after 10 years of use for a car.

Case scenario #2 My case. Lease a Volt for MSRP of $31K. I use the car for 3 years and return to get another nicer, newer car. My lease is an ideal/optimal situation because I waited for a good deal before I decided to lease. I paid $1000 out the door down payment which includes first month payment (includes all taxes, DMV fees, etc) and monthly payment of $189. I also qualify for $1500 cash rebate from the state and get a $600 gift card from Costco.

In case you missed some details of the scenario.. here it is in a short and sweet list of what happens after three years.

To buy $18,500 spent over the course of 3 years for a brand new fully loaded prius. ($1000 down+ $500x35 month=$18500) and continue to pay for another 2 years before it becomes mines.

To lease $6,500 spent over the course of 3 years for a brand new base model volt. ($1000 down + $200x35 months -$1500 cash rebate from state) and move on to another deal or buy another car.

In theory there is a $12,000 difference from buying versus leasing over 3 years. Numbers are just estimates. Every situation will be a little different. The prius seems to hold its value pretty well compared to other vehicles. Generally speaking by the end of year three an average car will lose close to half of its initial MSRP value.

For us, after much thought, we agreed that after every 5-7 years we will trade/get another new car. I would also love to hear what others have experienced after purchasing a new car at the end of their five year term. Do you have the urge to look for another newer/improved car with less issues? We personally have an SUV and its a very good car and can last us a long time but we felt that its too expensive to maintain/own and its no longer new to us.

The volt gives us about 35-40 miles range per a full charge which is about the furthest I travel round trip. On average I really travel about 20-30 miles a day for shopping, food, grocery, etc. If I go to work its literally 6 miles round trip. So in theory, on a daily basis I would never really need to pump gas unless I drive around and run errands. Gas on the volt gives me 35-40 MPG which is also pretty good. Only time we would need the gas to kick in would be traveling to SD or LA.

Currently, I pay about $150-200 a month on gas alone driving around town in my SUV. My volt payment is about $200 including taxes. And after the state rebate and costco gift card, i'm probably actually breaking pretty close to even to lease and operate the volt over the course of three years. My down payment was $1000 but I get $1500 from the state so I'm making $500 and getting a $600 costco gift card. If my electricity bill is up by $60-100 (using the highest tier from my electricity bill) a month from charging my car day and night then I basically break even the first full year of use. Also note that I don't drive much so my bill isn't that high compared to someone who drives 20,000 miles a year. I also wanted to mention that owning a new car will always cost money even if you buy or lease. Buying a car would only be worth it if you really keep it for over 10 years.  Keeping a car for over 10 years is something our family have decided we won't be doing anytime soon.  If everything goes as planned we will have big announcements on our next big purchase for solar panels. If the deal goes through, driving the volt will be free for us. More details to follow in the future.

So in summary, welcome my new Volt. 

End of the year is coming up and many places are having really good deals on their leases.  I used incentives and stacked a lot of rebates to get to the price I wanted to pay.  In the end we decided leasing was a better more affordable option for us since we are planning to install solar. 

And honestly, driving a Prius cannot be as fun as driving a Volt. I'm not saying the prius is a bad car, just saying the volt is a better car. In the end, I feel I got more bang for my buck leasing a Volt since I don't use many miles per a year.

The Volt is a really good option if you have low income household rates for your electricity bill. It will cost you as low as $1 a day to charge 10+ hours. But if you are paying premium rates tier 3-4 at $0.30 kw it will cost you $3-4 a day, the prius will be a better deal. We are getting solar so it will be free or at most $1 a day to operate since we will be in Tier 1 costs. 

If my theory and calculations are wrong please inform me. I'm very open to discussion since we will need to decide in three years to purchase or lease again. 

Update on the Nissan Leaf: My husband loves his car. He was able to get the EZ charge card which gives free charging for stations such as charge point, EVgo, etc. Its one card that works for all the stations. Charging his car is free for the quick charge 30 minutes to charge 80% or one hour of regular charge for the next two years. My husband has not been charging at home at all. He only charges at work and on weekends we charge when we are on the go. A 30 minute wait with free electricity and the AC blast on cold to feed a hungry baby isn't a bad deal in our opinion. The leaf has worked very well for our family. Last week we went to pick up my Volt in Van Nuys and while doing paper work we were able to charge his car at the dealer, so the round trip was free for us. 

Here's more information for those interested in the EZ charge card.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween is almost here.. part 1

I'm back and ready to post about our budget halloween decorations. This year we are hosting Halloween so I wanted to try to decorate a little. Its so hard to do anything with two young kids nowadays. Kaley is starting to eat solids so I'll be able to make her baby food and toss her to daddy more often. Before when she was only breastfed, she was all mines night and day. Now its time for Binh to do some daddy duties; that also means I have all the time in the world to sleep. Jk. All kidding aside… this year I wanted to decorate for Halloween. This is also our first year decorating for Halloween.  I started off with nothing. I spent $35 on all the decorations. Most were from Dollartree and a big spider from online.

Since Emily is still young, I had to find kid friendly theme. After much thought I decided on itsy bitsy spider theme. Emily had a lot of fun counting the spiders and helping me spread out the spider webs. It took about 30 minutes to hang all the spiders and web by myself. I made a simple warning sign out of regular white card stock I had from previous projects. I wanted to make a few more signs but I ran out of ink so I'll have to order more ink. I copied Brooklyn limestones spider infestation theme.

I bought this big spider from a chinese website. I thought it was going to be a lot bigger but it will do for now. I'm still in the search for a giant spider to go on the roof of my house. 

I bought some rats, spiders and web from Dollartree. I thought the rats were so cute. They are motion sensed so whenever someone comes by they make rat sounds. 

Here's a close up picture of the rats. 

Here's my simple $35 Halloween decor for now. I'm planning to add more if I have time.