Category Archive 'Auto'

Money Saving Tip: Stop Driving Like a Jerk


Do we ever think of the true cost of driving like a jerk?  Rarely do we save much if any time (simple math demonstrates going faster only creates a significant time-savings except during long trips), driving like a jerk generally increases rather than decreases personal stress, and driving like a madman or madwoman also increases the chances of driving mortality or of serious injury.  This post will explore the other ways that driving like a jerk can affect your bottom line.

1) Gas Prices – Driving like a jerk is certainly no way to increase your gas mileage.  Studies have shown that driving consistency is one of the biggest keys to improving overall gas mileage.  Driving like a jerk, however, is often the opposite of consistent driving.  Speeding up to ride someone’s tail, accelerating to shift lanes, and all the rest of the items in the jerk-driver’s toolkit will only end up in the jerk driver paying at the pump.  According to this article, “By anticipating stops and accelerating moderately, found that you can get up to 37% in gas savings.”

What the above Edmunds/Wise Bread fact really shows is something that I think most of us know almost preternaturally: that driving in an obnoxious manner hurts your gas mileage and costs you extra money at the pump.

My Unofficial Gas Mileage Test

It’s no true scientific test, but the last few weeks I have been experimenting with gas mileage and driving.  I have particularly been focusing on coasting and trying to maintain a consistent speed.  I pretty much only drive to work, making me a good guinee pig for such a project. Here were my unofficial results:

Week 1: (Full tank of gas and driving as I normally do): Empty tank of gas that I had to refill on my way to work Friday Morning.

Week 2: (Full tank of gas and driving as un-jerklike as I could): 1/4 of a tank left when I got home from work Friday night.

I repeated the test in weeks 3 and 4 and had similar results–except that I had almost 2/5 of a tank left in my “non-jerk” driving week.  (Perhaps because I was getting better at coasting and driving consistently?)

Conclusion: With as expensive as gas is these days, when a jerk cuts me off the first thing I now think is: “karma will get him/her at the pump, no need for a middle finger from me, because paying an extra $20.00 at the pump every day or two–That’s the ultimate middle finger.

2) Speeding/Traffic Citations – Few people truly grasp just how expensive and annoying municipal/traffic court can be.  For one thing, if you contest the ticket then you still have to pay (in most jurisdictions) for court costs.  These are often times more expensive than the  cost of the ticket itself.

Even more damaging, in many cases, is the fact that points will almost always significantly increase your car insurance expenses.  I know that when I get pulled over, the points are what worry me the most.  If you’re pulling the ultimate jerk driving move (driving drunk), or if you’re otherwise driving recklessly, then you could even face criminal (potentially serious criminal charges) from driving like a jerk.

3) Lawsuits/Damage to Car/Injuries – If you’re driving like a jerk then you’re also increasing your odds of getting into a potentially serious car accident.  Even if there is no injury involved, this will likely increase your insurance rates.  If you have inadequate insurance or decide to pay out of pocket, then that’s an additional upfront cost you wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with.  If you face expensive litigation stemming from an automobile accident, then perhaps significant and life altering expenses may be incurred.

4) Wear on Car – If you have something nice, then taking care of it is the best way to preserve it.  How much sooner does the jerk-driver’s tires wear out?  How much sooner does the jerk-drivers brakes go?  And on and on.


Driving like a jerk is just one added expense after another.

How else does driving like a jerk impact the expenses associated with driving?

Believe me, I’ve driven like a jerk in the past.  I’m sure at times I will drive like a jerk in the future.  But now that I know how expensive it is to be a jerk, I’m going to try and do my best to change my ways.

Besides….nobody likes a jerk.

My 6-month-old 325i has been discontinued!


If you follow this site, you’ll probably know I love my ’06 325i, but not being a big BMW fanatic, I didn’t realize until last night that they had discontinued all 325 and 330 models as of September 1st, replacing them with the 328 and 335, respectively. (I’m not sure if this is only true for the US or if it’s happening everywhere).

I bought my new car at the end of March after doing an ungodly amount of research, but I don’t remember reading anything that suggested that BMW was planning on discontinuing the model later this year. In fact, I believe the last major redesign of the car () was in 2005.

Luckily, I strongly prefer the look of my car’s rear 1/3rd to that of its successor. (Of course, I’m biased here.) Frankly, the rear end of the new 2-door 3s reminds me of a Japanese sedan, which is fine if you’re a Japanese sedan, and not so fine if you’re supposed to be the Ultimate Driving Machine. Plus, a change in design makes the previous design look that much older and affects resale value.

The change in 3s also means about a 5% increase in price to get into a “base” model BMW. One speculation about why this change is occurring is that BMW is rumored to be bringing the 1-series over to the US soon and thus needs to create a place in which to wedge this line, e.g. between a Mini and a 3.

Oh well. The bottom line is that I love my car and bought it knowing I would keep it many years and wanting to have something I’d enjoy for all that time. So far, I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t be true, having managed to purchase it as a value buy (= nice engine performance for the buck), having enjoyed the thrill of its handling, and still loving the way it looks, maintains, and runs. Had I been forced to choose between paying more for a 328i versus some of the other cars that we were considering back in March, the choice might not have been so easy.

After all, money is for spending

Auto, Personal finance

Get Rich Slowly (a lovely blog) has written about a woman who’s deciding between buying a luxury German car and a reliable Japanese standby. I was in this situation not too long ago, and I agree with the response that Get Rich Slowly has quoted as the best answer:

If you can really afford it — you’re paying cash, you’re already putting enough money into your 401-k to get the full employer match, you’re putting extra money into an IRA, you’ve got three (or six) months extra cash saved up, you don’t have any looming debt — then I think you should go for it. That’s what money’s for: buying things.

We recently bought a brand new 2006 325i and have not looked back. (And here again, I have to recommend to buy whatever car you’re thinking of next.) Our other car is a 15-year-old Honda Accord, still going strong. We love both cars for different reasons, and I definitely had worries about buying German after a Honda. I know the BMW won’t be as reliable, but you can’t have it all, and the more I drive it, the more I love it.

I realize few people would consider a new BMW a frugal purchase, but our financial situation is probably not like most people’s. We’re fortunate enough to fit the profile listed above, with room to spare. Nonetheless, we bought a base model 325i for many reasons, including the hope that less features now also means less complications later.

I grew up in a home that emphasized saving and investing money before anything else. My parents were generous with charities as well, but focus was still placed on savings first. So much so, that at times, I have problems enjoying spending (and hence the reason I think a is a good way to teach children a balanced view about money).

There are probably very few readers who need reminding of this, but for those like me who do, it’s important to remember that once sufficient funds and fiscal goals have been met, money itself is not the point but merely the means by which to gain some time and freedom.

Gas prices, anyone?

Auto, Personal finance

I was thrilled to see that during the week I was gone, gas prices for premium gas in the SF Bay area had shot to $3.41. And wouldn’t you know it, our new car requires that octane. Wondering how things looked for the rest of the country (in TN where I was, premium is still below $3), I went to the EIA, or Energy Information Administration, a.k.a. the official government energy statistics of the US government, to check out the data.

Turns out of the major metro areas listed, average gas prices in San Francisco has actually grown the least over the last 3 years. The most? Houston. Check out the graph below:
Gas prices over last 3 years for 4 cities

Keep in mind that this is probably because SF prices already started way high. Here’s a summary table of the starting and ending gas prices in the four metro cities I plotted:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cómo obtener un coche nuevo al mejor precio:

Auto, Internet, Personal finance, Tips for saving money

Note: This post is an abbreviated Spanish version of my original post in English, which you can find here.

2006 Monaco Blue 325i
Es poco común que encuentre un producto o servicio que me gusta tanto que lo recomiendo para todos. Acabo de comprar un nuevo coche: un 2006 325i de BMW por $30 sobre el costo (US$30.735), porque utilicé el servicio del Sr. James Bragg, el dueño de . El MSRP (precio de venta sugerido del fabricante) es US$33.420. parece un sitio inocuo pero tiene bastante contenido útil para para el comprador. Por US$35, ofrece un paquete de información que incluye los precios de factura, los precios de venta sugerido del fabricante, inventario reciente de la marca, y transaciones recientes por geografía. Además, aunque tal vez suena raro, explica un método muy eficaz de obtener el mejor precio posible, sin lío, por utilizar un fax para solicitar ofertas. (Sé que el método ha funcionado bien por muchos años en los Estado Unidos, pero la verdad es que no sé si funcionaría en otros paises.)

Cómo funciona

No quiero decir demasiado sobre su método, porque respecto al Sr. Bragg, un hombre de 70 años de edad, que ha gastado bastante tiempo perfeccionandolo. Sin embargo, la estrategia básica es el siguiente: vaya a un comerciante de coches (dealer) solamente para probar el coche. Cuando sepa el coche que quiere, haga las investigaciones sobre su calidad, seguridad, las opciones que se ofrece, etc.

Espere hasta el fin del mes y mande por fax a 12-15 comerciantes cerca de su area para crear una situación competitiva. Espere y dentro de una hora recibirá llamadas de los comerciantes con sus ofertas. Tres cosas críticas: hay que querer un coche que no tiene una demanda ridícula o que no es difícil obtener (por ejemplo, el Mini Cooper); hay que tener bastante comerciantes para crear la situación competitiva; y quizás lo más importante, nunca haga una oferta, porque no puede saber qué tipo de incentivos o bonificaciones están ofrecen los fabricantes a los comerciantes, ni que tienen que hacer los comerciantes para obtenerlos.

Por eso, el solicitar a 12-15 comerciantes es muy eficaz. Solamente tiene que recibir un precio bueno, aunque si lo recibe, a veces otro comerciante está dispuesto a ajustar su precio para igualarlo al de su competencia. Se hace el proceso entero por teléfono y fax (o email) y se encuentra on el comerciante en persona solamente para pagar por y recoger el automovil.

Así que si está pensando en comprar un coche nuevo, recomiendo que visite a El Sr. Bragg no solamente vende sus paquetes de información sino su habilidad. Está dispuesto a hablar con cada de sus clientes cuando tengan preguntas, aunque a veces está muy ocupado. También se ayuda con los aspectos de arrendamientos y financiación. ¡No tan mal por US$35!