February was a nice turnaround from the woes of January. We kept our expenses much lower and paid off the short term debt we had on our credit card balances due to the high expenses from mid-December through mid-January. As a result we’re in a much more comfortable position now and can look forward to building our cash cushion back up in the next few months.
Uh oh. Looks like Comcast is planning to buy Time Warner. The combined company would service roughly 30% of all TV customers in the U.S.! And if I remember my local newscast properly, roughly 1 in 3 internet customers.
Time Warner is my own internet provider and well – I’m not a huge fan. I’m desperately hoping someday we’ll have another competitor as an option. But that’s pretty much just blind faith and hope. But being taken over by Comcast? Even worse!
That’s right, Comcast charges modem rental fees. Time Warner does the same, and I’ve already outlined how to buy your own cable modem for Time Warner customers and end the lease fees. Well in honor of this news, and in anticipation that I may now be a Comcast customer by year’s end, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a page on how to buy your own Comcast modem and eliminate the rental fees of $7 a month. Seriously, $84 a year in fees on top of the ridiculous rates they charge you for internet access and cable TV. It’s highway robbery.
We talked about Uber from the perspective of becoming a driver back when they announced deals to help get new drivers financed. The company is top of mind for me again after listening to the latest Planet Money podcast episode: Why Paying $192 For A 5-Mile Car Ride May Be Rational.
First, let’s circle back to their news back then and some of the details we mentioned: An Uber driver can gross upwards of $100,000 a year per car. Another little bullet point mentioned in the podcast is that Uber takes a 20% share of the revenues. So that means a net of $80,000 (or more) minus car payments, maintenance, gas and other expenses. But keep in mind that all of that is tax deductible as business expenses. It seems to me that an Uber driver can probably do fairly well for themselves striking out with their own car, with effectively no education requirements (Depending on the service offered, you may be required to have a commercial driving license, or be licensed by the city in which you’d like to operate).
In that press release they announced a partnership with car manufacturers to help secure cheaper leasing for the vehicles that make up their fleet in an attempt to help sign on new drivers. All of this is a result of Uber attempting to help grow their business. The simple problem here is one of supply and demand – they need to increase their supply of drivers to help meet the demands of their growing customer base. Which brings us to the other way the company is addressing this mismatch: dynamic or “surge” pricing. That’s the basis of that new Planet Money podcast. Continue reading
Ah, it’s just not a good week unless we have a healthy article from Mr. Money Mustache taking on another ridiculous article stating how impossible it is for a middle class family to retire. You should head over to read the original article, wherein the author states that a family with a $150,000 income would take 110 years of work to retire; or the reply from the ‘Stashe about how absurd the tone of the article is and how it draws a populist CEOs-get-paid-too-much-and-that’s-the-problem conclusion.
January turned out to be a volatile month in the markets, with a correction from the huge upswing last year. For our family, it turned into being the month of expenses: with the biggies being the bill that came due for the rebuilt Nissan Altima transmission and the down payment on the new CX-5. Our auto budget is blown out of the water for the year and we just started! We’d been operating under our typical insurance/gas/maintenance before and haven’t had any huge maintenance issues or new car purchases in a very, very long time – so I suppose our auto bill was likely underestimated as a result. This will certainly cause some budget adjustments on my end.
How many of you managed to catch the State of The Union address last night? I happened to catch the last 30 minutes or so of the speech and my ears perked up at President Obama’s mention of a “myRA”. He intends to issue an executive order to create a new retirement account vehicle for people to use. The speech was light on details, and unfortunately so was the press briefing/details issued at the time. Thankfully the White House gave more details today. So what is a myRA?