Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Student Savings - Car Cash Conundrums Pt. 2

Routine Maintenance:

As with all good proposals, mine's run into some roadblocks but it's nothing that can't be worked around. One of the most important traits to a successful individual is perseverance in the face of adversity and I intend to show just that with this addition to the "Car Cash Conundrum" article.

I feel as though my initial article was well-written (of course I'm biased but you CAN disagree if you'd like) but I still faced some challenges when I actually brought my proposal to my mother. This started me thinking that if I was getting challenged on my proposal, it's likely that anyone else who tries to implement my system would get some push-back from their prospective partners as well. As such I've written this article to address the main concerns that I've had raised by both family and friends.

Dream Car Doubts:

The first obstacle that I encountered when I pitched this concept was my mother worrying over money, as everyone does in life. She argued that she wasn't going to have the amount of disposable income available after retirement that she has now, and that she couldn't afford to be purchasing a car now that she wasn't going to keep.

Cars mean money...
It's fairly likely that this is the leading argument that you'll run into as most people worry that after retiring, their financial situation will be in a never-ending state of serious jeopardy. The argument is rather simply beaten though if you take THIS approach:
  1. Remind your prospective 'business partner' that to purchase a NEW car, they'd likely require a lease to pay it off.
  2. Figure out the vehicle that they're in the market for, determine the lowest possible price for that make and model, and factor in their current vehicle's trade-in value* along with the down payment that they'd be making on a new car. It will help to link your proposal to this argument if you use the down payment you'd require from them to purchase a suitable used vehicle.
    * has a trade-in value tool. They're a reputable group so I'd recommend working your research through them as much as possible when it comes to vehicles.
  3. With as much relevant lease rate data on their preferred car gathered as you can find, work out the amount of money they could SAVE by totalling up the monthly lease payments by the number of months, and restructure your proposal to fit their available lease period.
  4. Factor in the amount of money you'll be paying them over time for the used car that you're proposing and you can tell them what their NEW down payment on their dream car would be after completing YOUR proposed payment plan.
Almost every parent understands the fact that a larger down payment means less money spent on financing a purchase. In my case, I was looking at comparing my proposal to financing a 2013 Cadillac CTS. Factoring in our vehicle's trade-in value along with my requested down payment on a used vehicle the lease payments would have been $311 over 36 months. This equates to $11196.00 spent financing the NEW vehicle where it COULD be added together over the same time period to become a $23000.00+ down payment towards a new vehicle. Compared to putting only about half of that down on a purchase? Yeah, you can bet that there's a huge difference and anyone looking at buying a new car will see it.


This might be your worst enemy through all of this. Money can be summed up and put into cold hard facts, but how someone reads or interprets your words. If they're not taken the right way it is very likely that your words might lead someone into getting their back against the wall or completely discounting your proposal simply because of an instance of inaccurate wording.

A little misinterpretation anyone?
My recommendation here is for you to write out your proposal, have it proofread by someone who has a business-oriented career or background, even someone taking business or law in school as they may have a better grasp on the issues and they have a better chance of getting you to a point where your proposal is beyond misinterpretation. 

Just work by the mantra that "anything than CAN be misunderstood WILL be misunderstood". Go with this in mind and you should fly pretty true.

Criss-Crossed Car Concepts:

I didn't run into this myself, but I thought that some of you, in an overzealous state, might overshoot your mark. 

What I mean here is if you KNOW your 'target' is looking for a 4-door family car, don't try to bargain them into getting a convertible or a sports coupe. Make sure you stay inside the type of vehicle that will fit THEIR needs, as they're going to have a larger list of 'must haves' and you simply need four wheels and a motor. I'm not saying you need to give up, roll over and play dead, but you DO need to be more mindful of your target's needs than your own. This is a time for patience folks, your time will come and with a lifetime of savings you might just get your hands on YOUR dream car but now is not the time.

These have been just a couple of pitfalls you might encounter. If you can think of any more challenges, please feel free to post in the comments section and I'll do whatever I can to help you work around them.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Student Savings - Car Cash Conundrums

Start Your Engines:

Hey there fellow starving students! Have I got a post for you or what!

No seriously, that wasn't a question and this post is entirely about a situation that most of us will face at some point in our young lives... Buying our first car.

BMW M3 CSL... I can only dream...
Buying your first car can be an experience that brings up a number of emotions... Pride and shame are usually the first two that come into our heads. We're typically either ecstatic and disproportionately proud of our new vehicle (like the people who flip out over a rust-eaten, beat-up and SUPER high mileage jalopy) or somewhat ashamed (those of us driving our mom's old minivan because it seemed like great graduation gift at the time). Then there are the group of young drivers who venture to a used car lot intent on picking out a 'winner', finding a great deal only to realize that their dream car was nothing more than a cash cow in disguise... Andrew, I'm talking to you on that one bud ;)

Seriously though, the biggest issue is usually financing your wheels and that's understandable considering the price of gas, insurance, and the few pennies we manage to scrounge from out part-time, foot-in-the-door-level jobs after tuition takes its bite out of our savings. To this end I've come up with a suggestion that you can take to your parents in a time where everyone has changing needs, and one solution might just fit all of them adequately enough to get you behind the wheel, and give your family a new sense of pride in their fiscally responsible and reasonable youngster.

Weighing The Wallets and Wants:

As you're coming into your own as a young adult, your parents will likely be transitioning into a new lifestyle as well. With you looking to get out on your own, they'll be looking at a greater level of disposable income, odds are that they're looking into retirement, and as such their transportation needs will be changing as well.

Using my household as an example we've had a minivan since moving into this house almost a decade ago. This has always come off as odd to me seeing as I have had a sports practice in about the same amount of time, and I've not been to soccer practice since I was around 7 years old... Seriously, why my mother's got a 'soccer mom' vehicle at this point is beyond me but onto the real substance here. My mum wants to get herself behind the wheel of a Cadillac, but it's a big jump to go over the the luxury sedan side after driving a minivan for so long, not to mention a pretty hefty financial burden.

As for my needs? Well it's about high time that I started driving SOMETHING. I was never given the opportunity to practice with the Grey Goose (my affectionate nickname for the minivan) and my life never really saw me needing a vehicle as my school, work, and friends were all local to me and well within walking or biking distance. Now I see my life changing, longer commutes to see friends, family and a larger world of opportunity beyond my effective walking or biking range. This means, like many other people my age, that I'm in need of a motorized method of transportation. With that said, I don't have a lot of money to sink into that need, so my options remain limited.

This is where the needs of myself and my mother collide, and where you can likely find the common ground between you and YOUR household's needs as well. This works best if you're not in need of a vehicle on a daily basis, and especially well if you're just working on getting your full G License. My recommendation to you? Propose a "Scheduled Transfer of Ownership" to your parents and see what their feelings are on the matter. 

Scheduled Ownership Transfer:

Essentially you're looking at a 'rent to own' arrangement. You and your parents/guardian make an initial investment into a vehicle that adequately meets the needs of all the parties involved. In my case it's rather simple however you might need to do some bargaining as per your household's specific demands. After the initial investment (purchase) is made, under the agreement you, as the young driver of the house, would begin making scheduled payments over an established period of time until you take ownership of the vehicle.

My suggestion in arranging the payment plan is this... Your payments should include the cost incurred by your parents involved with insuring the vehicle so that you can drive it, as well as a percentage of the car's projected value at the point where you would be taking full ownership of it. This system works much better when dealing with buying a used, earlier model vehicle as the initial cost and insurance payments will be lower. Here's my situation...

My mother's target vehicle: Cadillac Sedan, New.
My proposed vehicle: Earlier-Model BMW 3-Series Sedan, Used.
Proposed Vehicle Cost: ~$5,400-$10,000 CDN.
Payment Term: 3-4 Years.

So, I've matched the needs of the parties involved, picked an older model car, a 4-door sedan as well (trust me, a young driver in a sports coupe? Insurance companies see nothing but dollar signs when you apply). the payment term reflects an average college or university education timeline and the cost (look it up people, you really can get BMWs in this price bracket) is very reasonable. Now comes the tricky part... Calculating the depreciation in value and establishing what value of use the other parties in the agreement will take from the vehicle.

For my example, here's a little spreadsheet I drew up for the calculations:

Simple enough.
I used a website to determine the projected decrease in my car model's value, applied that to any investment into a used vehicle and since the 'off the showroom floor' factor can be ignored when buying a used vehicle (the amount that a new vehicle depreciates simply by you taking it off the car lot), the calculation becomes a piece of cake. You need to use the formula for "exponential decay" to determine the value but honestly, with the online tools available to you, that's easy enough to do.

So, recapping everything:

Proposed Vehicle: BMW 3-Series, 320i 4-Door Sedan, Used.
Avg. Cost: $7,600.00CDN
Depreciated Value After:
-3 Years: $4595.37 CDN
-4 Years: $3824.84 CDN

Now, here's the more complicated part... Establishing what you're going to pay over time until the car is transferred over to you. I would argue that you could only owe, at most, the percentage of the final value, that your parents put into the initial investment minus an amount from them having benefited from the vehicle's use. As an example, if your parents were to pay for 75% of the car initially, then you would owe them 75% of the car's final value. Now there will be a lot of squabble about this, there always seems to be when I post my opinion but that's what I'm going with.

To sum things up, using my example of the BMW 3-Series 320i 4-Door Sedan purchased for $7,600.00 and a payment term of 4 years where the initial investment was split 60:40 between your parents/guardians and you respectively:

Initial Investments:
-You: $3040.00
-Parents/Guardians: $4560.00
Car's value after 4 years: $3824.84
Amount to be paid over payment term: ~$2294.90
Monthly Payments: $47.81 + Insurance Share

Driving Into the Sunset:

So, with the numbers broken down, there's really not that much to it. Everything in this system boils down to the five lines of data seen above. Just establish every value you can before making your proposal and you'll have given yourself the best chance of success.

Readers, from what I can gather, the majority of today's parents just want to see their children taking on more responsibility and proving that they can handle it. If you go to them whining "mommy, daddy I want a car!" odds are, unless you're some over-entitled brat, that you'll be getting nothing and you DEFINITELY won't earn any respect. However, go to them with a fully planned financial proposition and not only will you improve your chances of success, but at the very LEAST they ought to respect your level-headed approach.

That's really all I have to say about the issue... I hope that this solves some problems and puts you behind the wheel of a half-decent ride sometime soon!

Enjoy your swim!

Joshua J. Taylor

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Pokemon - A Post-War Prophecy?

I Wanna Be...

The very best, like no one ever was. Explaining them is my real test, to blog this is my cause. Okay, enough of that and onto the actual meat of this article.

I had an argument with a friend today over the theoretical origins of Pokemon... Yeah, you heard me, Pokemon. Why did this argument take place? Waaaaaay too much free time on our hands but I think I managed to nail it down and I've brought my theory to the blog for all of you to pick at.

War! HUH!

What is it good for? Creating a fantastical world where kids get to own, raise and fight with superpowered animals for money while travelling around the world by my reasoning. How did I come to this conclusion you ask? Let me lay it out for you.

Check the list
  1. You have no father, and your best friend/rival is an orphan.
  2. Children are on a journey around the world.
  3. You are accepted as the man in the house and you're allowed to make your own life decisions from a very young age.
  4. Most of the people you meet are either children or gym leaders (most of whom are women, young people or seedy characters).
  5. The men you meet are either very old, have military-linked jobs or are involved with organized crime.
  6. There are hospitals and basic markets everywhere but no entertainment centres or services.
  7. "Hey, kid! What do you think you're doing here? You won't live long in combat! That's for sure! I tell you kid, electric pokemon saved me during the war!" - Lietuenant Surge aka "The Lightning American"
So think about this folks, what else could cause these conditions? Lt. Surge being nicknamed "The Lightning American" points to the existence of the Americas, which makes Lt. Surge inhabiting Kanto (the name of an actual region in Japan) a likely instance of immigration.


Before I start this, I need to make one point clear. In the Pokemon universe, pokemon coexisted with animals as we recognize them, meaning not EVERY organism in the Pokemon universe has always been a human or pokemon. My evidence? The Weepingbell Pokemon Card, an official, Pokemon-licensed piece of merchandise featuring Weepinbell and a small blueish-green bird not identified as ANY pokemon ever shown.

See the bird?
That's not a pidgey, spearow or any other pokemon released so what else could it possibly be? This leads me to my next point... Pokemon are simply organisms that evolved rapidly from organisms currently known to man.

Pikachu is known as the "electric mouse pokemon", and with names like Pidgey (Pidgeon) and Spearow (Sparrow) not to mention Squirtle being a hybrid Squirrel-Turtle (note the fluffy squirrel tail) it makes a pretty clear case that these names were given to new species that were so closely related to their evolutionary ancestors. These evolutions still require an explanation though, as such changes in animals even that we've seen don't just happen overnight. To explain that I go back to the war.

In a world with such advanced technology as Pokeballs and a computerized pokemon storage system it is hard to believe that nuclear power would be unavailable. In staying with my theory that Pokemon makes the most sense as an evolution of our current world state, nuclear power would have been available, especially during a war where America is involved. Since radioactivity HAS been proven to cause cell mutation albeit rarely positive mutation, the case could be made to this explanation of why the Pokemon experience is what it is:

The Wrap-Up:

Pokemon takes place in Japan following a devastating world war culminating in nuclear conflict. Japan, as an island nation very difficult to attack and isolate (experienced by the United States during WW2's island-hopping campaign), managed to remain geographically untouched in the war but suffered from the loss of the majority of their prime-aged male population due to the conflict. 

Your father and your friend/rival's father were killed in the war, leaving you the man of your household and your rival in the care of his grandfather. You and your generation are the first generation of people living in an era of piece in a post-war environment that sees the expansion of organized crime, a complete lack of an entertainment industry (would have been necessary to finance a total war),  and a burgeoning expansion of construction projects (Veridian and the grounds to its east).

Of course this is all just the ramblings of a very bored mind. I don't believe that pokemon exist, existed, or will exist. I'm just taking a pass at an analysis of a world provided to me by Game Freak Inc. and Nintendo. What do YOU think reader?

Enjoy your swim, and catch'em all!

Joshua J. Taylor