A few updates have been made to the site, I hope you guys like. I've been working with a designer and I'm pretty pleased with what we did. New banner and a few little tweaks here and there. As always, leave comments if you like it or hate it.
Time. Money. Energy.
That's really all you need to make something happen.
Think about it, is there any activity, project, or goal that you can think of that can't be achieved with large amounts of money, copious amounts of time, and an infinite amount of energy? I can't think of any.
Most of us however don't have the luxury of all of these things at any given time. The key is to make something happen with just two. For most of us, that is time and energy. Time gives us the opportunity to work through the night on a new project (or blog post) allowing us to reach our goals. Energy is what keeps us thinking of new ways to approach a problem, to be creative, and to work harder and longer on something than we thought possible.
To top things off, by focusing on using your time and energy, you can actually increase your money. It's hard to use money and time to increase energy, and impossible to use money and energy to increase time.
Here's an example from the life of a friend of mine. She wanted to travel the world, but obviously that's expensive, especially as a student. So in order to make that happen she took her time and energy and worked out a few proposals to her academic department. They agreed to send her to different countries as part of a series of research opportunities. It wasn't a free trip to spend on the beach, but she was able to travel to places most people only dream about or see in pictures.
Another friend of mine wanted to learn a new programming language. With a tight budget, classes weren't really an option. Instead he spent hours digging through websites, reading every thing he could about code. Now...he's a programmer.
And finally, many people use their time and energy to create an income stream from a hobby. Even if it's just selling your time and energy in the form of manual labor, you are effectively changing the two into the other.
So as you work towards your goals, SMART ones of course, use the time you have available and the energy from within to work these goals to completion. Maybe you can even pick up some spare change along the way.
A lot of people think cooking a good meal is this really involved process that takes all day and leaves a kitchen in ruins. Most meals don't have to be that way. I have a few tips that will save you time, energy, and of course money.
First, let me tell you a little about my background in cooking. I like to cook. No, I love to cook. It all started when I was young and used to bake cakes and cookies every few days just so I could have an excuse to eat cake batter and cookie dough. Now that I'm older....I still do that from time to time. But since then I've learned a lot about cooking actual meals. I started out making basic things like scrambled eggs and pancakes, and the occasional more difficult recipe of sloppy joe. Then I went to college and learned the art of making pasta many times a week and warming up frozen meals in the microwave. Eventually I started to branch out more and dive into the wonderful experience of box macaroni and cheese. Great stuff I know.
When I went to grad school and had to live on my own for the first time, I decided I was going to really get down to cooking, and spent many hours perusing online recipes and the aisle of Bed Bath and Beyond. That is when I first started collecting the little odds and ends that would eventually become important tools of the kitchen (Check out some of my top picks in my kitchen essentials).
Finally, I started to get a hang of a few techniques and learn about different cuisines. Food Network was now on my radar and inspiration was starting to come to me. But for all my interest, I still had a ways to go. At work one day, a few coworkers and I discussed different meal choices. Once I mentioned that I liked mashed potatoes that came from a box, the color drained from their faces. They couldn't believe their ears. From a box? I had always assumed that cooking real mashed potatoes was very time intensive, so I never bothered to learn. From there, I began on my quest which now has me making most of the food I eat from scratch and cooking for many of my friends.
Long story I know, but I think it's important to get an idea of where I'm coming from. No formal training (yet) and no crazy mentors making me chop 50 onions to perfect my dicing technique. All that's needed is an internet connection and the will and patience to learn.
- Learn the basics. In less than a week, it's very possible to learn the basic techniques that will allow you to cook no less than 30 recipes, all without spending a dime on instruction. Between YouTube and the various websites dedicated to cooking out there, a quick search will give you step by step videos on how to chop vegetable, flip food in a frying pan, check if a baked good is ready, and many other helpful skills. Allrecipes.com is a favorite of mine.
- Don't start off too complicated. There are thousands of cookbooks out there with millions of recipes many of them requiring special tools and expensive ingredients. There's no need to be intimidated by these recipes. Honestly a few good pots and pans and a basic cookbook is all that's needed to make dinner for months. There are dozens of different ways to cook an egg or ground beef or chicken breasts.
- Repetition leads to good food. If you've ever watched a cooking show, you might think the chef decided right then and there what they were making. Not true. They've practiced their recipes many times over and have perfected it for exactly the taste they are going for. Even after you've successfully made a dish, it's good to make it again a bunch of times and tweak little things here and there. Not only will that make the dish better, but you'll also have a better understanding of what different ingredients bring to a recipe. Also, you'll be able to make a dish faster and with less effort the more you make it. I have full in-depth conversations while cooking some dishes I've made numerous times. And in a few minutes, the meal is ready, and I don't feel drained like I've been slaving over a hot stove for hours.
- Organize your kitchen. I love having an organized life, but the kitchen is where it really shows. It's worth it to spend a few minutes in your kitchen looking around and checking your cabinets and drawers to make sure you know where everything is. Figure out where you will stand for most food preparation and then organize your kitchen around that. This is important for two reasons: a) you don't want to have to spend minutes digging through drawers looking for a spatula when your fish is burning in the pan saving you time and your salmon from certain destruction and b) cooking often means dealing with uncooked meats and eggs which can contaminate other food if you don't wash your hands every time you need to open a cabinet or the fridge looking for the next ingredient.
- Be creative. We all have to eat, and fairly often too, so eventually you might get tired of eating the same thing. So switch it up. It doesn't have to be completely different, maybe just changing the way you cook your entree from frying to baking. Maybe add a different seasoning to give the dish a different flair. Little changes like that can completely change the texture and overall taste of meal.
- Ask a lot of questions. Whenever I eat a dish I really liked, I try to ask a lot of questions about it. Where did you get the ingredients? Was it expensive? How did you find the recipe? How difficult is it to make? Chances are most people buy their food at a local grocery store, for reasonable prices, and did not spend all day cooking it. I've learned about so many different dishes that I assumed were more work than they really were just by talking to people.
I could go on for days about cooking, but I'll stop there for now. In the future I think I might include a few posts with a little more detail on cooking techniques and maybe even a recipe or two.
Do you like cooking or hate the thought of spending even a second more in the kitchen than you have to?
It's coming. Tax time. As spring rolls around, so does the impending tax filing deadline. This year it is April 17th. Remember that day well. Because that is the day that will go by just like any other day if you start your taxes now.
Doing your taxes is actually really not that hard. Especially if you are young and don't have too many complications in your life (read a mortgage or investments), taxes are generally pretty straightforward. I started filing my taxes on my own when I was a junior in college.
I'll start with why you should file your taxes. Because it's the law. No really, that's the biggest reason. If your gross income was more than the following list, you are required by federal law to file. Your employer will probably report how much you made for the year, so the government already knows.
- Single - $9,350
- Head of Household - $12,050
- Married Filing Jointly - $18,700
- Married Filing Separately - $3,650
Now if you fall into these categories, then there's hope yet. Many people get tax refunds. Tax refunds are the government's way of saying that the amount of money that they've been taking from your paycheck every pay period was a little too much. So they give it back. Nice of them right? Too bad you don't get any interest on that money.
Alternatively, there is the chance that you may owe the government some cash. If this is the case then not only will you owe them money, they will charge you a fee for owing them money all year. See a little unfairness there...?
How to file? First make sure you have all of your tax documents on hand. Most companies, banks, and other financial institutions start sending these documents out in January. I just keep them all in one place until I have statements from everyone who deals with my money. Mainly, this will be employers, any interest bearing accounts at banks, brokerage accounts, and other miscellaneous accounts specific to my situation.
The easiest way to file is using online software. I've used TurboTax every year since I started and that's been very useful. There are other software and online solutions out there, but it helps to stick with one. Every year I sign in and it automatically imports last year's information. Very helpful. Then the software confirms my current status and proceeds to ask me 'yes' and 'no' questions.
Eventually, it'll ask for some numbers from some of the tax documents that have come in the mail. I just plug in the numbers and move on to the next question. TurboTax has some deals in place with large payroll service companies, so if your company uses one of these services, you can just type an identification number from your W-2, and the rest is imported automatically. Same goes for some brokerages as well.
After maybe an hour or two (thankfully, each answer is automatically saved in case I have to stop somewhere along the way), the software checks to make sure that my answers actually make sense, and then goes on to prepare to send my tax documents to the federal and state governments for processing. Depending on your situation, you may or may not have to pay to file federal taxes. Unfortunately, you always have to pay to file state. For TurboTax, these fees are tens of dollars, but generally my return more than covers this.
A few more clicks and you're done. That's it.
Now if you're getting a tax refund, you can have it direct deposited to your bank account. I've received my return in under a week many times. You can also pay any money you owe right then as well.
Most financial planners will say that getting a tax refund can be seen as giving the government an interest free loan throughout the year. They say it'd be better to just get more money in each paycheck and get a minimal amount when it comes tax time, just to make sure you don't owe anything. Personally, I like to get something of a moderate return. Some people will get $3000-$5000, which I think is a bit much to be missing out on throughout the year, but ~$1000 is like a nice bonus or present. The easiest way to control the amount you get is by altering your withholdings at work. Ask HR how to do it; it's really simple. And remember, the sooner you file, the sooner you get the money back.
You could always file with regular paper and pen, but I'm too nervous that I'll make a careless mistake leading to a huge refund and a potential audit. Audits are a fact of life, some people will never be audited, others will have the misfortune of receiving a letter from the IRS asking them to provide documentation for every dollar they've earned/spent over the last year. Sucks, and many people just end up paying up at the end. Some audits are triggered by unusual tax returns and others are just random.
I'll stick with software and pay for the peace of mind. Besides...I don't want to spend any more time than I have to getting my own money back.
Recently, I've been putting in a little extra effort in determining what it is I want to do for the next few years. Normally, when I think of this, I come up with something very vague and general. Something like "I want to start my own business" or "I want to become an inventor" or something else equally ill defined. However, after chatting with some people, I came to the realization that a) I'm going to have to define what I want to do a little better if I want to get there anytime soon, and b) I can start moving towards my goals as soon as I decide to.
What does that even mean?
Well to me it means starting today and doing something, anything, to advance your goals. In this case, that’s your career. The key to this is being creative. I used to associate being creative with doing things that artists and designers do. I'd think that being creative was limited to those who created new ideas or products. Now, however, I've come to realize that being creative is a way of life.
This has been a really exciting realization for me, and I feel as though I've only begun to scratch the surface.
Enough abstract hand-wavy talk, let me put a concrete example down, one from my life. I enjoy my current position at work, but after a while I felt as though my progress in understanding my field and industry had stalled a little. I couldn’t see myself moving on to another position and bringing much more than I could a year ago. So I spoke with my manager and we came up with a plan on what I could do to move forward. That was many months ago. For a while, very little changed. The problem was that I wasn't really excited about the options that we came up with, even though they were the best either of us could think of at the time. In reality, they were ideas that seemed obvious as the next step, but since they were obvious, I had already subconsciously ruled them out. I would have already done them if I thought they would be particularly beneficial to either me or the company.
What wasn't obvious was looking outside of my role for inspiration. What wasn't obvious was to work even harder at what I was already doing and find any place within my current duties that I could recreate and add my own personal touch. What wasn't obvious was to include myself in more discussions to have a better understanding of the environment around me. Once I started being creative about where to push my energies, a world of new ideas and possibilities came to mind. In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to expand and recreate my role, all the while learning new concepts and cultivating new skills.
Even more recently, I've started to learn about my industry from outside sources. Being used to academic life, I guess I assumed that someone would tell me when to start reading the latest and greatest news and updates in my field. Wrong. Have to do that on my own. Learning about your industry allows you to have meaningful conversations with people at your workplace, and leads to learning even more information. You can then use this information to position yourself for either a promotion, a transfer, or even changing jobs or careers.
The hardest part for me has been not coasting. It's easy to coast. Don't. Now that you're making a decent living, things are going all right, and you're at least moderately happy with your job, it's easy to just take it easy. Be happy with what you have, of course, but now's the time to be hungry. Before family and other responsibilities take over your life, now is when you can spend the extra hour or two at work or take risks in moving to a different area completely.
Define where you want to be and move towards it. Remember, you don't need to know what you're going to do for the rest of your life, just what you want to do right now.
Recently, I made a small mistake that had some pretty far reaching consequences. I was so focused on keeping my net income even and reducing my net worth, that I didn't examine my budget for errors. Only when you take a look at all three will you be able to catch any mistakes and correct them before it’s too late.
What's the difference?
- Your budget is how much you plan on spending on certain categories over a given time period. For me, that's a month.
- Your net income is how much money is left over at the end of this time period when all of your paychecks have come in and all of your bills have been paid.
- Your net worth is how much you are worth if you were to add up all of your assets and subtract all of your debts.
Ideally, if you have a good budget, every dollar should be accounted for, including contributions to savings. And so it should come out to $0 at the end of the month. If you look at your net income the same way, with contributions to savings taken into account, it should also come out to $0 at the end of the month. And if you are making more money than you are spending, not including savings, your net worth should be increasing every month. Here's the difference though, your budget is your plan and your net income is your reality. Even if your plan comes out ahead, it's possible that in actuality, you did not. This is what happened to me. Let me explain. That would probably take too long, so let me sum up.
When I did my budget for each month, using mint.com of course, I forgot to include a little category called "everything else". Without this category, random things such as a small cash withdrawal for a parking garage, or a little birthday gift for a friend weren't included in my monthly budget. According to my budget, these didn't really fit into a particular category, so they didn't show up. I tried to keep track of it in my head, but occasionally I would underestimate. Always, really. Clearly I wasn't taking my own advice on how to make a budget. So slowly but surely I have been seeing my accounts decline in value with no real attributable cause. The real problem was when I took into account the little bits of extra spending, it still didn’t add up. My net income wasn't negative, so my balances should be at least staying the same, if not increaseing. Then one day I really sat down and went through all of my spending from top to bottom. That is when I found the leak.
Unfortunately, in underestimating my spending, I had overestimated my ability to accelerate debt repayment. My net income wasn't changing because money from one account, checking, going to another account, credit card, doesn't show up as spending. It appears as a transfer. This has to do with your net worth and net income. Think of it this way: If you had $1,000 in the bank and $1,000 in credit card debt, your net worth would be $0. If you paid off your entire credit card balance, your net worth and your net income for the month, would remain $0, however now you have no money. Bad position to be in. Obviously, this is an oversimplified example, but I hope it gets the point across. If you design your budget correctly though, this debt payment should already be accounted for in determining what you can and can’t afford in other categories.
I wasn't careful with distinguishing between the three and so one month, I didn't really have as much money available as I had planned. I've since made adjustments and all is right in the world, but it really was an eye opening experience. Just thought I'd share in hopes that someone else wouldn't make the same mistake.
Previously, I wrote about maintaining relationships and how important it is to do so. Well, at some point you may in fact want to make new friends. Maybe you're college friends have moved away and you've drifted apart. Or maybe you just want new friends. Whatever the reason, when this happens, you may have some questions as to where to start.
The easiest place to start is where you already are. Look at where you go on a regular basis. Work is an obvious choice, and probably one of the most convenient. For me, it's reminiscent of a high school (in a good way); coming in everyday at the same time, sitting in the same spot, and catching up on all of the drama since yesterday. Since you will most likely be seeing the same group of people everyday, it's almost impossible to not form some sort of relationship with these people. At my job, topics of conversation range from sports, to the joys (or horrors) of parenthood, to new memes floating around the internet.
Making friends at work can have some drawbacks. Depending on who you work with, friendships might not be super easy to develop. Maybe your coworkers are not really that interesting, or maybe they are just not interested in talking to you. Maybe you kinda hate them. Also, you're limited to who is around you based on their occupation, so you will most likely have similar interests. That can make for an easy friendship, but limited growth outside of your comfort zone. One person I spoke with recently was looking outside of his occupation for friendships solely because he wanted to talk about things not related to what he did for a living. A common problem when you already spend 8 hours a day talking about the same thing.
Outside of work, things get interesting. All of the pros of making friends at work are the cons for going outside and vice versa. You don't run the risk of making an enemy and having to see them everyday, but you also have to put in a bit of effort to meet people.
The easiest way I've learned to meet people is through the friends you may already have. Many times friends of friends are much like the original and in turn much like you. This isn't to say that these new people are going to be more of the same. In fact, some of the most interesting relationships I've formed over the years have been through friends that had other friends that were complete opposites.
Another way is through activities. If you like playing a certain sport, or participating in a certain hobby, many times joining a local team or group will allow you to kill two birds with one stone. I used to be on a few dance teams in college, and going to dance classes now has been a great way to change up my daily routine, add in more exercise, as well as meet new people.
Say you just moved to a completely new area, and have zero friends. Behold the beauty of the internet. Social meeting websites have become very popular over the past few years and can lead to meeting very interesting people.
Meetup.com is an option for those who are looking for social interactions with groups. I recently went to one of these events that my neighbor organizes, and it was awesome. Generally it seems like the people who join these groups are genuinely interested in doing social activities, regardless of whether or not they know everyone there. That leads to a shared experience with the chance to meet people from all walks of life.
Also, many times there are social organizations in the area where people gather just to mingle. It takes a little bit of courage to put yourself out there, especially if you go to these events alone. The key to remember though, is that many of the people at these events are in the same position you are; they're just trying to make new friends.
When all else fails, just going out to a local bar or club can also lead to meeting people. One night I went out, met a group of people, and just started talking about life with them. Turns out one of the guys in the group worked at an engineering firm in the area and was familiar with the very specific research work I had done for one of my theses. Random, but a fun meeting.
One thing I learned by accident was to not put so much weight into only meeting people your age. Both older and younger people are in different places in their lives and it's so easy to dismiss someone because you assume you can't relate. You'd be surprised.
How have you made new friends now that dorm-life is a thing of the past?
As of this past Saturday, I no longer have cable TV. This is the first time in my life that I have voluntarily given up cable. Even in college I didn't have access to full cable in the dorm, it was a watered down version, but it still had a few of the channels I liked to watch.
The main reason I canceled it was financially based. Actually that was the only reason. I like cable TV. I already miss certain shows I used to watch from time to time. Also, the music channels were nice to have on in the background while doing chores. But in reality, it just didn't make sense to pay ~$50 every month for the chance that I might feel like watching a few hours of the Food Network. I'll miss Iron Chef, but with the added money in my pocket, I could actually eat some of the crazy meals they make instead of just craving them from my couch.
So how did I do it? Well I've been mentioning canceling my cable to all my friends for months now. Four months to be exact. In the beginning of October, I decided that I was going to try a little experiment. I really wanted the convenience that an Apple TV would provide for listening to music on my entertainment system, but couldn't justify the cost in addition to my other expenditures. So I reasoned that if I could replace my cable bill by watching streaming movies from my Netflix on the Apple TV and listening to music wirelessly from my computer and other devices, I would save money in the long run. So when I bought the Apple TV, I used the HDMI cable from the cable box to hook it up, leaving the cable box unplugged. Three and a half months later, the cable box was still unplugged.
A friend came over and I offered to hook up the cable box so she could watch a football game she would be missing otherwise. So after fiddling around for a few minutes, I started up the box for the first time in months and immediately started searching for ESPN. "It's probably just on ABC or something," she offered. And so I dropped down to the broadcast channels and sure enough there it was. That sealed it for me. I'm not a big sports fan, but I always liked the idea of being able to entertain guests or watch a game or two if I was bored. Now even that wasn't a huge factor.
The next weekend, I took a trip to Best Buy and picked out two antennas that would receive over the air (OTA) signals. After trying them both out, I decided to follow my own advice and not pick the cheapest one. The one I chose was powered which meant yet another device drawing electricity all the time, but I figured since I live in a quarry, I could use all the help I could get in picking up signals. Plus I didn't want to chance the one time I actually had someone over, having to mess with the rabbit ears to pick up a good signal. Not a good look.
After spending a few more hours figuring out how to get the broadcast sound to go through my sound system (should have just googled it in the first place), I was convinced that I no longer needed the cable box. I unplugged it again and scheduled a visit from Comcast to have their technician pick up the box and do whatever it was they needed to do to scramble my signal or something. That happened on Saturday and so now...no more cable.
The antenna cost me $30, and an additional audio cable another $12. I could have gotten the audio cable cheaper online, but I didn't want to risk putting off the switch any longer. The overall savings are nice, but due to contract cancellation fees...not as nice as they could be. Originally, I was going to downgrade to a basic cable package, but even that would have required contract cancellation fees, leading that package to be more expensive than the one I currently had with more channels. So until further notice, I will not have to pay for TV again. I might take a few of the saved dollars and rent a season of a show on iTunes or something, but that won’t come close to the cable bill for the entire season. Plus no commercials.
There are numerous ways to watch shows that you may miss, some networks even have the shows up on their websites for free, but the convenience factor is definitely in favor of cable. I know some people who watch enough TV to justify paying for it, but for me it was a good decision. Now if only I hadn't waited four months to do it...
In my recent post about why I love mint.com, I mentioned that I have 15 different bills to pay on a monthly basis. After tallying them up, I started to wonder how it was possible for me to keep up with them without making mistakes or paying them late. Then I realized that only very few of them (2 out of 3 credit cards, the infamous hospital bill, and other random one off bills) are bills I physically pay. I like to go through my credit card statements and make sure everything is set, and sometimes it just makes sense not to pay them the day they are due. The hospital doesn't have an auto payment system, or else I would have set that up. The rest of them are set to either bill a credit card or take money from a bank account automatically.
Some people find these automatic payments problematic for two reasons: They don't like companies being able to reach into their accounts to take money (mistakes happen) and it makes it easier to spend money when you don't have to physically write/type the amount of money that's going out the door. These are valid concerns, but for me the alternative is worse.
Here are a few reasons why auto payments are great:
Holidays - Sometimes holidays screw up your banking schedule. Seems like all the time really. Obviously banks are not open on the Fourth of July, but there are other holidays that just seem to sneak up on you. And when bills are due, don't count on companies giving you leeway.
Peace of mind - Very rarely do I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I paid my electric bill or if I sent the right amount to the right company. I pay my bills as soon as I get them so I don't forget, but mostly I just make sure that the amount is correct and wait for it to be billed to me. There's no worrying, besides making sure I have enough money on that day to pay for it. With a buffer in my checking account, that's usually not a problem. Also, most auto payment systems give you at least a little control on what date you'll be charged every month.
Prevention of identity theft - An easy target for identity theft is through mail. Imagine putting your credit card info on an invoice to mail back and then dropping it at some point on your way to work where you were going to mail it. What do you do then? Be paranoid and stressed while you decided if it was worth it to cancel that card and go through that debacle. I've lost a credit card before (still don't know how) and it wasn't fun getting everything in order.
Besides the potential for loss of money due to fees, you may lose promotional rates on loans, and get dinged on your credit report for late payments. So to me, it's really worth it to let go of a little control for a lot of freedom.
The folks over at Broke Professionals recently wrote about hidden costs of buying a car. As my car has just reached its first year and 20k miles (I know, I drive too much) some of these tips rang true with me.
Insurance: I tried to take this into account when figuring out my budget, but sometimes the quote isn't exact. Buying a newer car is almost certainly going to increase your insurance premium. Also I moved soon after buying the car to an area where my insurance premium went up a few dollars.
Maintenance: I also accounted for this in my budgeting, and figured that with a new car, maintenance would be cheaper than with my older car. It is in fact cheaper, as many things are covered under warranty, but there are still some expenses I wasn't planning on. Basic maintenance includes oil changes and filter changes (read my post on how I was hosed), but other things come up too. Flat tires need to be replaced and the ones on my new car are more expensive than my previous ones. Additionally, they are harder to find which makes price comparisons difficult. I had to go through this last winter and it was a pain and much more expensive than I anticipated.
Fuel: Again, I budgeted for this, but there's a difference between estimated mileage and actual mileage. My new car has a larger engine than my previous one, so it doesn't do quite as well on the mileage. I guessed how it would do, but I overestimated by a little. Not a huge deal, but it does add up over time. Underestimating by even just 1 MPG can cost about an extra $100 a year for me.
Taxes: This one caught me completely off guard. I received a bill for my old car when I transferred it over to Massachusetts's plates, and that wasn't too bad. Then when I bought my new car, I assumed all of the taxes were included in the 'taxes' portion of the purchase price. Well that's just simply not true. That was the sales tax. There's also the excise tax. This tax the city sends you a bill for later on. Well that was a couple of hundred dollars I did not expect to be paying. Now I know, but I was lucky that I was able to fit that in my budget by spreading some other items out over a few months.
Miscellaneous: Occasionally I wanted to splurge a little on my 'new' car. So I bought a fancy antenna and had window tints installed. Nothing too major, but they did end up costing me more money than I planned for. I also felt obligated to keep my car clean at least for a little while. Little $8 trips to the car wash aren't a lot on their own, but as with everything, it adds up.
All in all, I'd estimate about $50-$75 extra on top of the budget I had planned for a new car. I had to cut back on some other things, but I was able to fit it in. Others may not be able to, and returning a car after realizing a mistake isn't exactly easy.