Updated on 03.11.09

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Spring Break Edition

Trent Hamm

My wife has the week off this week and we’re enjoying it.

Our kids are going to have their first overnight stay at their grandparents while my wife and I go for an overnight trip with another married couple that we’ve known literally for decades.

We’re also going to spend a few days staying at my parents’ home, a period of time in which I intend to go visit my high school English teacher (the man who convinced me I should be a writer) and present him with a signed copy of my book.

Most interestingly of all, though, is that we’re going to buy a car this week. Through most of our search, we’ve focused on late model used options, but with the astounding deals being offered on new cars (and the exceptional financing on them), we may end up actually buying new because of this topsy-turvy economy. I’ll write about this in detail once the purchase is complete and we’ve had a bit of time to reflect on it.

The best part, though, is a lot of time with the family. If the weather cooperates, some long afternoons at the park are definitely in order.

Should The One-In, One-Out Rule Apply to Friends? This is an utterly fascinating rumination on the number of friendships a person can sustain and the “one in, one out” rule that’s very useful in keeping a good grip on the number of possessions you accumulate. (@ unclutterer)

How The Economic Crisis Challenges Our Financial Beliefs For me, at least, the economic crisis is certainly testing my financial beliefs, but I’m still an optimist. I have yet to see anything that has shown me this is anything worse than a deep recession. (@ wisebread)

Delayed Gratification: A Hard Lesson for My Teenage Son This is a brilliant example of the parenting process and how life gives us great opportunities to teach values. It’s easy to see here how a different lesson could have been taught, but the author was prescient enough to make a good lesson out of the situation. (@ gather little by little)

Walking the Line Between Frugality and Pack-Rattery This is a balance that we’re trying to accomplish in our own lives. My wife has some strong packrat tendencies, and I’m not immune to it myself. (@ personal finance advice)

Mission Accomplished: Our Shiny New Mortgage Home refinancing is a great way to save some serious money if you’re not upside down in your mortgage and you can reduce your rate by more than 1%. For us, the problem is the latter – we can’t find a refinancing opportunity that actually saves us money over the long haul because our current rate is quite low. (@ get rich slowly)

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  1. CPA Kevin says:

    Sounds like a great week Trent….enjoy!

    I can’t wait to enjoy some time off of my own after tax season is over.

  2. Battra92 says:

    The guy in the white house is what scares me the most about the current economy. I was an optimist in October, I’m a pessimist now.

  3. Glblguy says:

    Thanks for including my article Trent. I’ll tell, the right choices are the most difficult ones. I wanted to buy that car for him SOOO bad.

    Much like in personal finance though, you have to focus on the long-term goals. Sure, buying it in the short term would have been fun for both of us, but in the long-term, it wouldn’t have been the best thing to do for him.

    Parenting is tough!

  4. Jennifer J says:

    Trent, It was so nice to see your book in Barnes and Noble right as I walked in the front door! I already have your book, but I wanted you to know it was there being featured with the other personal finance books. Good luck with your teacher. It is nice to let people know how much you mean to them.

  5. Brie says:

    You might want to reconsider purchasing a well-tested older model rather than being swayed by the lowered prices of new models.

    The transmission in my boyfriend’s 2002 Honda Civic recently died on us. Some online research revealed that there has been widespread failure amongst the 2001-2003 Civic transmissions which Honda won’t recall.

    The car was purchased new in 2002 before this problem reared it’s ugly head en masse. If he had purchased a 2000 model he could have avoided the mess. And if he had waited a few years before considering the 2002 model he would have been better informed about the transmission issues.

    Just another thing to think about!

  6. Gabriel says:

    Wow, that post about frugality and pack-rattery was meant for me :)

  7. You’ll have to share more about your visit with your English teacher. That sounds like it’ll be a great visit.

  8. Nick says:


    The guy that was in there for the last 8 years is what scared me the most. Things will look up soon and we have the leadership we need at the helm.

  9. Jen says:

    Have fun!

  10. Frugal Liz says:

    I <3 Barack Obama.

  11. Lauren says:

    Trent – don’t feel bad about buying new!

    When I was looking for a new car recently, the recent model used cars were all extremely expensive – and there weren’t very many to be found. Buying new was so appealing due to the $0 down, 0% interest, especially since the only features I cared about were good gas mileage and an aux jack for my ipod. All of the dealerships near me were so desperate, we were able to get them in a bidding match, and so ended up with a great deal.

  12. Anna says:

    On Pack-Rattery: When I tidied up after my elderly aunt’s death, here are some of the things I found:

    -dead hearing aids of outmoded design, 40-50 years old

    -tucked in everywhere — the little postcards that come inside magazines (“because you can always write on them” she used to say)

    -piles of the magazines themselves, some 20-30 years old

    -drawers full of plastic bags, mostly the kind that come wrapped around linens, new blouses and underwear, etc. — bags that were so old they actually crumbled to dust when I opened the drawer and touched them

    Then and there I resolved that those who come after me will not be subjected to that kind of Stuff.

  13. Kevin says:

    Yeah, it’s too bad good ol’ “W” isn’t still in the White House. After one good day in the stock market he’d declare “Mission Accomplished” and move on to the next screw up. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but it’s slightly unfair to judge after 2 months on the job….especially after the 8 years we just endured.

  14. viola says:

    The zero percent offers are tempting me to buy a new car instead of used. Unfortunately the car I want is still to expensive new to really justify buying new.

    If you’re looking to buy a car under $10k and can wait, then I’d wait until the end of this year. Everyone & their brother is looking to buy these cars a cheaper alternatives & thus they really aren’t that good of a deal right now.

  15. Erick says:

    Trent, I have heard you mention that you are purchasing a foreign car (possibly a Toyota?). Curious on your thoughts on buying foreign when so many jobs across the US rely on the success of the American auto industry. I believe I heard a stat that as many as 2 jobs out of ten across the US have some connection to the success of this industry. Yes, I am from the Detroit area and yes, I have heard all of the arguments (unions, crappy cars, etc.) but c’mon man, buy American!

  16. Andy says:

    Erick, “American made” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    See http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&subject=more&story=amMade

    Toyota has two cars in the top ten on that list of most American-made cars. Chrysler has none.

  17. Sharon says:

    Eric, when I have sufficient money to throw it away on an American-made piece of crap, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, Detroit has had decades to get their act together and make a good car. They haven’t. I am also personally and philosophically against rewarding poor work and design. All that does is encourage the poor work and design to continue. I don’t see that as a help to anyone!

  18. WM says:

    The expense of the vehicle, gas mileage, etc. are all important but when you have young children, their safety is paramount. Not that all cars don’t have to pass minimums but get something with side and head impact air bags, etc. I had a friend who when gas was at $4 a gallon was trying to convince his wife to trade in their SUV for a compact car. She had the kids in the SUV when they happend to get rear-ended at a stoplight by someone going at a high rate of speed. Everyone in her SUV was OK, but he couldn’t get over the thought of what might have happened had he convinced her to move to a compact car.

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