December 2005 Monthly Archive
Posted by Cap in Traffic
on December 31, 2005 | No Comments
For some strange reason, I become an angry angry driver during the holiday season – along with the rest of Southern California.
Maybe it was the 2 hour traffic hit at 11 pm on Christmas Eve that made me snap, or maybe the rush-rush world we live in just amplifies during the holiday season.
I’m not really sure, but all I know is… if I get cut off one more time, I’m going to ram into the sucker that does it.
So I’m rather happy about 2005 ending, since I’m thinking my road rage will go away along with it.
I wish I have something more profound to say before the year ends, but I don’t.
Ah 2005… thanks a bunch. See you… er, never again.
Posted by Cap in Even More Ramblings
on December 26, 2005 | 7 Comments
I was visiting my friend one day, and while my buddy was away in the outhouse, I decided to poke around his room. Being the nosey bastard that I am, I immediately spotted the nail polisher on his desk.
When my dismay looking friend (caught me snooping) explained to me what the nail polisher was for, I was blown away by his ingenious idea.
My buddy, like me, has this bad habit of biting his nail; and apparently nail polishers are bitter tasting. So he applies the nail polisher, and whenever he begins biting his nail, he’ll be reminded not to by the bitter taste!
Wow! Simply amazing!
What? You’ve heard of this idea already?
Whatever, I’ve just patented this. I’m going to call it the “Nasty Bad Habit Removal Kit.”
What got me really thinking though, is the fact that unlike me, my friend is actually taking actions to do something about his bad habit. I’ve honestly never heard of this nail polish idea before, but it sounded like a pretty good one.
The thing about bad habits, and they can be all sorts of things – spending, eating, sleeping; is that they can generally be prevented or changed – if you make the effort to do so.
Habits are often unconscious patterns of behavior that are generally formed through frequent repetition. The key thing to breaking a bad habit, or the formation of one, is breaking that very chain of repetition.
I asked my buddy how well the nail polish is working out, and he was pretty straight up about it. There are times where he continues to bite his nail even though the taste is bitter, but the majority of the time, it’s stopping his habit.
This blog, in some sense, is the nail polish to my crazy spending habits. It’s not super effective, but like my friend’s nail polish, it works most of the time. I remember one instance where I didn’t buy the “Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy” DVD, simply because I reminded myself of my blog’s name (plus it was a mediocre movie).
Now to create a blog for every bad habit that I have… coming up next, www.StopSleepingLate.com
If only it was that easy.
The thing about correcting a bad habit, is that it takes time and effort; and like many things in life, the results you get are what you put into it.
Just a friendly reminder, ‘s all.
Posted by Cap in How To's and Guides
on December 21, 2005 | 7 Comments
Ever got ripped off by an auto repair shop?
Okay, ever felt like you got rip off?
According to some survey that I’m making up, the auto repair industry has some of the lowest customer satisfaction rating. The next lowest rating would be the bakery industry, whereas consumers complain that there aren’t enough bakeries located in the US.
Finding a trustworthy auto repair shop is difficult, but not impossible!
When the brake booster in my sister’s car failed, it took numerous trip to different repair shop for me to realized that most shops in my area are run by shady people. Most of the shops couldn’t diagnose the problem properly, even though the symptoms were clear. (Hissing noise from vacuum leak around booster area, no press from brake pedal, etc.)
So I went to AAA’s website and searched for some AAA approved auto repair shop in the area. To narrow the list down some more, I selected those that are ASE certified for brake repair, and those that have had high customer satisfaction rating. This is another reason why AAA membership is worth it for me. Plus I got 10% off the repair cost!
I eventually found Herman’s Expert Automotive, located in Anaheim, California. They diganoised and fixed the problem without an issue – and at a fair price.
What I really like about their website is that it contains 10 very helpful tips on how to avoid auto repair rip offs.
Here are a couple that I think are important:
2. Preventive maintenance. Know and be responsible for the recommended maintenance guidelines for your car or truck (most cars and trucks require changing the oil and filter every six months or 5000 miles, whichever comes first, and lubrication once a year, or 10,000 miles–but check your car’s manual to be sure). The more you know about your car, the harder it will be to cheat you. Even basics can be helpful. We had one young woman client who pulled her Volkswagen Bug into a gas station repair shop. When the attendant asked her to pull up the hood, she knew she was in the wrong place! (in case you haven’t owned a Bug, the engine is in the back of the car, not under the hood).
3. Always bring your car in for a general inspection before going on a road trip. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where you can be taken advantage of. We had one customer’s car break down while crossing the desert in Needles, California. He was told his block was cracked, and that he should leave the car there to be junked. He towed it to us instead, and the repairs were under $200.
4. When in doubt, get a second opinion. We’ll say it again: When in doubt, get a second opinion. It will be worth the extra time in the long run, especially with a new mechanic. Call other garages for estimates before authorizing repairs. If your car is disabled and you don’t trust the diagnosis or estimate, it’s worth the extra hassle to tow it to another shop if need be.
7. Never say, “Do whatever you think it needs.” If you are bringing your car in for a 50,000 mile service, for example, read your car’s owners manual and make a list of exactly what needs to be done.
Once again, don’t forget to check out the entire list of 10 tips!
Posted by Cap in Woops, Bought Crap
on December 18, 2005 | 3 Comments
You know, I really think I have a problem.
I’ve been looking at the “Woops, Bought Crap” category… and it looks like I’m transitioning from buying material goods to consumable food products.
Sometimes I justify it by thinking, hey I’m eating it, so it’s not a waste of money at all!
So anyway, after a visit to a new supermarket in the area, I noticed a brand spanking new bakery shop next door. Let me tell you, I was giddy like a little kid in a candy store.
For the past few weeks, every time I get out of class, I’ll head over and spend about $3-5 in baked goods. Of course, I had plenty of food back at home.
I’m glad school’s over, because now I can try to shake off the addiction.
– – – –
Image stolen from “meet me at the corner of third and fairfax.”
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on December 16, 2005 | 2 Comments
- Number of accounts opened: 7
- Inquiries: 3
- Total revolving balances: $19,300
- Total available credit: $50,000
Scores took another deep dive during the months of October to November. Changes? Maxing out the Citi card for 0% balance transfer. (Took out another $5,300). That’s the only major change in that time period. Refer to Part #2 for more info.
Scores in December or January should bump up a bit, because I just paid off a $7,800 BT on my Bank of America VISA.
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on December 14, 2005 | 3 Comments
Free Annual Credit Report.
I got an email from TransUnion a few days ago, reminding me that it has already been one year since I’ve requested a free credit report from them, due to that spiffy federal law from awhile back.
Anyhow it’s only a year for those of us in the west coast states, since if I remember it right, the benefit didn’t kick in till middle of the year for the rest of the country.
If you’ve already requested a free credit report, you should just go to each of the credit reporting agency’s respective site and access your account and request your report from there, it’ll make things easier.
I think I’ll hold off on the credit report as the last ones I’ve seen are about 4-5 months ago, I have a pretty good idea of where I’m standing right now.
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on December 11, 2005 | 4 Comments
From large retailers to small liquor stores, occasionally a merchant will ask for identification when you’re using your credit card.
Well, for those that don’t know it, this practice is against VISA, MasterCard and American Express policies (I’m assuming Discover Card too). While a merchant can ask for your ID all they want, they should not refuse to complete the transaction if you refuse to show your ID.
When a merchant suspect fraud, among other things, they should check and compare the signature on the sale receipt to the signature on the back of the credit card. If they suspect fraud, they should call the card issuer. You should note that your credit card is not valid unless you’ve signed the card. “See ID” is actually not a valid signature, and some merchants will not complete the transaction unless you’ve signed the back of your card.
For some reason, this topic is always something that cause a lot of beef among people.
On one hand, you have merchants that refuse to complete a transaction until they see some form of identification, and on the other hand you have customers that are strongly against showing their identification. And even more, you have some customers that hates it when merchants don’t check ID.
Some people don’t like to show their ID because they don’t want to disclose unnecessary personal information.
Me, I don’t mind so much. I try not to be a hardass about it. When I’m lazy to pull out the ID, I’ll say no. Most of the time they’ll complete the transaction anyway (because they’re suppose to). If they say something about it, I mention that it’s against the policy and that would be the end of that. Occasionally I’ll show the ID just to get on my merry way. Most of the time, I’m not too worry about a shady employee memorizing my name, address, and other info within a quick glance.
Not really sure why people get so worked up over this though. Take what I read over at Fatwallet’s forum for example, where a person walked out of a supermarket with a cart full of grocery because the cashier refused to complete the transaction until they see an ID. Talk about spending a lot of time to prove a point.
Personally I think if everyone would just follow the rules, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.
Posted by Cap in Business Ramblings
on December 8, 2005 | 14 Comments
It’s bloody brilliant.
I mean I hate it.
It’s one of my nemesis. Every time I head into a Target store, I give the $1 Spot a good hard stare. Show it who’s boss and all.
But seriously, when I first saw it awhile back, I was blown away at how effective the $1 Spot in Target was. It’s the ultimate “I don’t need it but it’s cheap so I’ll buy it” strategy.
If you pay attention to the Targets in your region, you’ll notice that the $1 Spot has a lot of depth behind it. At first glance it may look like just a messy pile of discounted items – but don’t let that deceive you.
The items scattered in the $1 Spot are organized mess. That is, they purposely made it look like that. It gives a neat “treasure hunt” effect to shopping. People will dig through the items, hoping to find a “bargain.”
“Hey look what I found!” exclaims one
“Oh wow, I can’t believe they have that for only $1!” says another.
And where’s the check-out aisle? Yup, right next to the $1 Spot.
As mentioned, upon closer inspection, you’ll also notice that each Target in your region may be carrying different items in the $1 section. Simple reason is to effectively gauge how well a certain type of product may sell in a particular area. They throw in a different product mix and see how well it’ll do in a particular week. Eventually, they’ll be able to dump the right products in the $1 Spot with the right quantity.
The products offered are carefully selected too. They’re generally those things that you don’t need at the moment, but might need later on in the future. Office supplies are a great example. Notebooks, pens, and pencils for $1? Don’t need them? Already have them? Who cares, they’re cheap, grab them now because you might need them later.
Never mind the fact that a pack of pens and pencils further down the aisle will be of comparable price (or cheaper).
Discounted price strategy may not be anything new, but among the things mentioned, the $1 Spot utilize atmospheric strategy too. It gives a lot of effect to the entire shopping experience. If you found something you need for such a low price, it might have made you feel a bit better. It might make you want to shop more. Even better, since its a dedicated, localized section, it doesn’t affect the rest of the store’s atmosphere. The bargain store feel should be in that section, and that section only.
Let’s not forget the placement. Where do you first see the $1 Spot? Right when you walk in. It’s the first thing you see when you enter, and the last thing you see when you leave.
Every time I go to Target with another person, I’ll hear “Ooh, the $1 Spot. Hold on, let me see if I can find something.”
Bloody brilliant, I tell ya.
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