Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another day… another space to share

Since Binh just got his new leaf, I feel that its the right time to finish off the garage once and for all. Its been a space that I've never really cared for until a friend of mines showed me their blinged out their garage. They did shiny epoxy flooring and the whole works. I was jealous and wanted a half decent garage. Their epoxy flooring is stunning. It makes me want to put a chandelier in their garage and turn it into a dance floor. Due to privacy issues I won't be posting any pictures of their garage.

I considered copying them and doing epoxy flooring for our garage too. After much debate, I think its not right for our home. I feel that epoxy flooring is for super fancy homes and mines is no where near it. Even if I did attempt to do epoxy flooring, I would have to do too much to repair and clean our floors. We acquired our house when it was about ten years old so the flooring isn't perfect in our garage. I've also heard negative reviews of DIY epoxy flooring and its longevity with peeling if not done correctly. Lastly, epoxy flooring even DIY is not cheap. Well .. at least too expensive for my garage. So in the end, epoxy flooring is only something I can lust about.

Since I can only envy epoxy flooring, I decided its time to give our garage a facelift. Here is our current garage in all its glory. Its not super messy but not clean either. 

I have been planning to clean up our garage but haven't had the opportunity until today. Today, grandma is taking care of both my kiddos for a test run. A few weeks ago she tried to take care of both kids but was only able to last for about three hours so today she's taking up the challenge again. I'll be going back to work in about two weeks so she will be their babysitter. Cleaning the garage is a very dusty job so having the kids away was the perfect time.

After $25 of supplies and about 4 hours of cleaning, rearranging, and hanging our garage looks like this: 

I asked my dad to hang up the cruiser so its off the floor. Something about hanging it up makes the garage feel more spacious and organized. In pictures it doesn't seem to make a difference but in person it feels more organized. I also moved my shoe cabinet/book shelves to the front. One day, when I have more free time, I'll repaint the bookshelves and turn it into a real shoe cabinet. For now its a good temporary solution to keep my shoes neat and clean.

Next, I asked my dad to hang up a peg board. I'm slowly starting to collect a good amount of tools so I need a new way to organize everything. Now everything is off the floor, nicely displayed on the board and easy to find. 

My dad moved all the chairs to one side of the garage so the other side is completely empty. I'm planning to build a storage shed in our backyard to store our party chairs but that will be a while from now. 

Our garage is no where near complete but its a good start in my opinion. I spent $6 on the bike hanger, $7 for the peg board, and $11 for the pack of hooks for the peg board. 

Here are the before and afters: 

I think once I repaint the shoe cabinet, move out the chairs, and add cabinets along that wall things will look a lot better. My goal is to spend under $100 for the garage makeover. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hello Mr. Leaf

For quite some time now, our family has been in the search for a new car for Binh. Our first instinct was to get a bigger car preferably a 7 seater or even a van of some sort since we have two car seats. When I go back to work, Binh would need a car that can transport our kids to grandma. We wanted something very affordable because this car would serve as a commuter car only and we didn't need anything fancy. We first looked at Nissan Rogue with the option of making it a 7 seater. The price was right and it was gas efficient which were the main deciding factors. Just about when we were planning to bite the bullet and go purchase the new Rogue, Binh spotted the Nissan leaf all electric car. After much research we decided to lease the Leaf instead. Here are some key reasons:

1. Binh won't need to pump any gas at all. Each month Binh spends about $200-250 for gas alone going to work in his old Honda Accord. By eliminating the gas bill, the NEW car will pay for itself if the monthly lease is $200. So we are technically not spending any money each month except for charging the car which I heard is very cheap. Binh can charge at work. So Binh gets a NEW car to drive around for free. Plus, there are a few places that provide free level 2 chargers. 

2. Driving range for a full charge is about 80-100 miles which will get Binh to and from work. 

3. There's a quick charge option where you charge the car in 30 minutes. Some locations charge a small fee but there are a few places that are free. 

4. We don't really need a bigger car. This car is strictly Binh's commuting car so it technically just needs to have enough space to put two car seats and one extra seat for me if we ever do need to use it on the weekends. The thought of a bigger car would be nice but not necessary at all. When we do go somewhere with family/friends they usually drive their own cars anyways. 

Our lease is a new 2014 leaf with quick charge for $200 a month, $3500 down payment, with 19,500 miles allowance per a year, for 36 months. 

5. Leasing was a better option than buying because its an electric vehicle. Newer more improved models will come out in three years so Binh can purchase the latter models if he wants. This lease is like a free trial. 

6. The down payment is a big chunk of change but we also get a cash rebate of $2500 bringing down the total to only $1000 out of pocket.

7. We made sure to negotiate enough miles so Binh can go to and from work with a little wiggle room so we don't get charged extra at the end of the lease for going over. Each mile over 19,500 a year will cost us $0.15c.

8. We've looked at various options such as at the Ford Focus who was willing to match the Leaf but the Focus was not as roomy in the back seat for the kids as the Leaf and did not have the quick charge 30 minute option. The Chevrolet Volt came very close but it was only a hybrid version. We would only get $1500 for the rebate and we couldn't get a low enough lease. Lowest lease for the Volt would cost us about $300-350 a month for the amount of miles we needed. In addition, each mile over would cost $0.25 which is a lot more compared to other cars.

9. Electric cars qualify for going into the carpool lane solo which was a big deciding factor for Binh. In theory using the carpool lane would save him a lot of time commuting to work.

10. It does take quite some time to fully charge at home but we just bought the home charging station from Homedepot so a full charge will take under four hours. Its currently back ordered but we should receive it in a month or so.

Here is Binh's new electric car: 

Please note that an electric car with limited driving range of under 100 miles per a full charge is not for everyone. Its the perfect car if you need to drive to work everyday and locally on weekends. It should not be your only car because you cannot travel far. Longer trips such as to San Diego or LA without a convenient charging station would not work.

This post was a little more personal then I would like to share but I felt that it was a good deal and a great way to save money while getting a new car to drive.