Archive for June, 2009


Mortgage, property bleg

June 29, 2009

Apparently a “bleg” is a dreadful portmanteau word describing begging on your blog.

I think we really are going to buy a house, for possibly quite silly reasons. I’m tired of being cold in winter, and the landlord has no incentive to insulate the place or install proper heating. Also, I HATE moving, so if we’re really going to move, it had better be to a place we own. And it seems that we may in fact be able to afford a non-freezing non-hovel withing a reasonable distance from town. It seems to me that now may not be a great time, but it’s probably not terrible either. And we talked to a bank today and they will lend us some money.

Anyway, if you bought a house recently (or perhaps deliberately refrained from buying a house) what do you wish you had known?


A winter resolution, update 3

June 24, 2009

Earlier: 1, 2, 3

It’s been a month since my panniers arrived. Since then, I have biked to work and back almost every day, in every weather, with the exception of two Friday nights when I knew in the morning that I had a high probability of being trollied in the evening. So I am well pleased with myself.

The total layout thus far has been $207 for the panniers, $35 for a carrier to fit them, and $32 for what has proved to be a quite adequate raincoat. I also needed a new chain earlier this week, and paid $60 to buy one and have it fitted*. I’m not sure whether that should count, but let’s say it does.

That’s a total outlay of $334.

On the other hand, in four weeks I would normally have used $76 worth of bus travel and $120 in taxis, so I am already more than half-way to payback time. I’m about to take a couple of weeks off with my daughter, so there won’t be any commuting going on, but even so, I should be in notional profit before the end of July.

On a non-financial note, my time on the way home, mostly uphill, has improved from 40 minutes to 30, so I must be getting fitter. I’m also enjoying sailing down Mt Victoria on the way in, which definitely puts me in a better frame of mind at the start of the day than a grumpy bus ride.

Verdict: WIN.

*Jack is going to comment and point out that a further investment in tools and cycle maintenance skills would quickly repay itself, and I won’t disagree.


How to Pimp Ur Ride

June 14, 2009

Kids. One things kids are not is cheap. The mountain of crap you need to keep them in all the stuff you need to keep them in is immense.

And one thing the suppliers like to ensure is that you spend a heap more than you need to.

Queue: the introduction of the Mountain Buggy, Urban Elite.

This is a pretty good pram. There’s one on TradeMe as I write this selling for $310 (with two bids). It has a lightweight frame, a mobile from wheel, sunshade, rain cover, nice wide berth and high riding position for the baby who is both urbane, and elite.

Brand new they retail for around $800. Which I would not pay. And not only because the website makes me a little sick in my mouth… But because it is daylight robbery.

Second Chef, bless her frugal heart, found this buggy in a second-hand place for a whopping… $50. The only trouble is, it needed a little love.

But a whole lotta love we got. Number one issue was that the canvas on the seat area had started to give way, and the metal frame of the sun cover had worn through. So, we got in touch with the very nice man at Hurry Up Shoe Repair in the bottom of the State Insurance Building. He was able to whip up some patches and have the whole deal fixed for $18, as depicted.

The next problem was that the tyres had pretty much worn down, and were likely to pop unexpectedly causing both crying and shouts of exasperation from respective family members.

So, a quick trip to Capital Cycles, and for $30 they sold us two new tyres and put them on for free.

Finally, new sun/rain covers to keep the wee guy happy, which were a whopping $90 all up…

And there we go. One pram restored to former glory for under $200.

Verdict? Excellent. The pram is larger so the not-so-small man is happier. It’s lighter so it’s easier on Second Chef. And it has an adjustable handle so those of us taller folk don’t have to stoop to push it, and it therefore preserves the back.

A win.


Wait three months

June 9, 2009

So I was making coffee at work this morning and colleague Mark started telling me about his experience at a Telecom Mobile store. He’d scoped out a high-end Nokia for their new network and found reviews with prices online. But Telecom want to charge 50% more than the same phone sells for in the US.

I think this is another kind of segmentation in action: specifically, identifying the overly-keen as people who will pay more for something new NOW.

In my experience, gadgets are almost always markedly cheaper three months out. Perhaps this is because of competition from something even newer, but I think it’s how sellers capture a premium from the keen before going on to get a smaller, more normal profit from the rest of us.

I got suckered like this a couple of years ago when the Asus eee laptops came out. I bought one as a present for $800, and three months later, they were around $600.

Hence my mantra for gadgets: wait three months. (If you decide you don’t need it at all in three months, bonus).


Keeping out the cold — with newspaper

June 1, 2009

We rent, and unfortunately the house is pretty cold and draughty. Draughts are a frugality nightmare, because all the lovely air you just heated disappears as fast as it gets warm. We dealt with the draughts under the doors last winter by splashing out on some adhesive draught strips.

Today I noticed there is a strong draught around the door frame of the front door. No more. I taped up a couple of cylinders of newspaper, and stuck them inside the frame. They’re not visible when the door shut so their amateur appearance doesn’t bother me a bit. Draught gone. Total expenditure: infinitesimal.