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Paid For Car is Free and Clear, Right?

I realize most folks already know this one, but I have had a few odd questions about this topic, so let’s get back to some basics about owning a car.

Your car payment (be it a loan payment or {cough} lease payment) is nowhere near the only cost when owning a car, but it is the most obvious and the easiest to see in terms of your personal finances.  While your $400 a month payment seems like a lot of money, remember what else you are paying for:

Someone thought driving with no tires was a good idea the previous night, not such a good idea the next morning.

Tires are a big cost, but you can’t go anywhere without them.

  • Gas, another simple one to remember, you are most likely forking out between $50 and $150 a month depending on whether you drive a Hybrid or an SUV
  • Insurance on your car, that’s at least $100 a month depending on your age and driving habits.
  • Wear and Tear on your car is the tricky one to figure out, how much are you paying in maintenance to keep the car on the road? What does that entail?
    • Tires really only last for four years and at $500 for a set of 4, you are paying about $10 a month for tires. Add more money if you need to buy Snow Tires too (maybe double it)
    • Brakes last 2-ish years
    • Oil Changes every 4-6 months
    • Etc., etc., etc.,

If the place you work has a travel allowance for when you use your car to travel for work, how much do they pay you? That is very close to what you are paying per kilometre for your car, which is sphincter tightening when you figure that one out.

Agreed, this seems ludicrously simple, however, why do people not think of this stuff?

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Tire Storage the Business

So in the fall I wrote a slightly off colour piece Do You Store Your Tires, where I bragged about my wife’s rack (the tire storage rack that I include in this post, because I am very proud of it), but after retrieving my tires from my mechanic I learned something more interesting about the ever growing business of “storing our stuff” (to quote the Late George Carlin from Brain Droppings).

A very Nice Rack
A very Nice Rack

Someone at my mechanic’s shop pointed out that they stored over 1600 sets of tires this past winter, and I thought, “WOW! That is a lot of stuff!”.

That is more than 6400 tires stored somewhere (actually it was being stored in a set of storage containers (a big (but not huge) place to keep your stuff) beside his property.  I guess if you have the space, storing your customers tires is a service that is in high demand, but I was just floored by how many tires that was.

Will I be storing my tires next winter? I am hoping I don’t because I plan on putting a shed on my property where I can store that kind of stuff (tires, lawnmower, snow blower, bikes, etc.,), because I have a lot of stuff . Is it cheaper for me to store my own stuff, or to pay someone to keep my stuff somewhere else (where I might have to call to go look at my stuff)? I don’t know, but I don’t feel safe leaving my stuff somewhere else, I like having my stuff close by, to make sure no one is fooling with my stuff.

Every time I turn around when I am driving in a rural area there is yet another “store your crap here” business popping up, so storing your stuff must be a growing business. Where I live in Ottawa storage is a booming business where folks store their stuff, their RV’s (which are places with wheels to store stuff, which then need to be stored when you aren’t using them), and other stuff.

At the end of it all, Mr. Carlin had it right when he said,

“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”,

George Carlin

Do you store your stuff, or do you not have enough stuff to worry about it?

Some crazy folks get rid of their stuff, but what if they needed it later? I like my stuff, but I am not sure I like paying to store it, maybe I just need a bigger house to put my stuff in?

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Do You Store Your Tires

My mechanic who installs my snow tires offers a service to store tires for $12.50 a tire per season (so about $50 plus tax for the winter). We store my wife’s tires, since they are on rims, however we don’t store the tires for my car (they aren’t on rims). My car’s tires are loose and tend to take up some space in my garage, and has been one of the reasons why my car would not fit into our garage (a double car garage).

Mrs. C8j noticed that Canadian Tire had a “Black Friday” (yeh right) sale on a wall mounted tire rack for $56 (around), and I had been dithering about how this was going to be the year we try to fit my car into the garage (my wife’s van fits with little work), so it seemed like this past weekend we were going to try to fit both cars into our garage.

Saturday was the day, thus we spent a good amount of time, throwing things out and then playing garage Tetris, but thanks to mounting my tires on the wall, and some judicious destruction, and decluttering, my car actually fits into the garage.

A very Nice Rack

The interesting part of all of this is that the cost of the rack is about the same cost as we paid for my wife to have her tires stored. So in some ways this rack paid for itself, if I had stored my tires (and as you can see from the picture, I actually have other stuff that I can stuff into the rack).

At the end of it we continue to play garage Tetris, to see what the optimal set up for the cars and the snowblower is, but Mrs. C8j also points out that maybe we need a backyard shed to store the remaining stuff (others might say, just have less stuff).

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Expensive Gas this Summer in Canada

Not surprisingly we are already being warned that gasoline prices may start to jump this summer (again), which is a little late, given gasoline is now above $1.30 in Ottawa, and does not look to be dropping any time soon.

With this in mind, this may mean a continued increase in Inflation. The arithmetic is quite simple:

  • Shipping prices will need to increase which means an across the board price increase
  • Food prices will increase as it will cost farmers more to plant and harvest
  • etc., etc., etc.,

This is really nothing new, but will it drive more folks to use their cars less? I don’t think so, the price of Gasoline seems to be fairly Inelastic (to bandy about an actual term from Economics), in that a continuing increase in price does not seem to decrease the usage of the product (much like cigarette prices sky rocketing hasn’t stopped smokers from smoking).

How will I fight this? I will continue to use the bus, for the forseeable future, and I will continue to buy my Gas at Costco, as well. There are plenty of interesting ways to try to save gasoline as well, which I have discussed here and there are other places where you can get gas saving tips as well, but my question good reader is are there interesting ways to save gas that you don’t hear folks talking about?

No, I don’t want to hear about how you are siphoning gas from ¬†your neighbour’s car, or the like, but what about other ways?

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Gas Price Fixing in Ontario? Really?!?!?

How do I write that in a more sarcastic way?

Given the news in Ottawa has a section where they publish “the price of gas tomorrow”, how is this possible without price-fixing?

The Competition Bureau (yes that is really a part of our government) has fined Mr. Gas, Canadian Tire, and Pioneer Energy up to about $2M for price-fixing in 2007.  The accused fixers plead guilty with the following being reported:

The pleas are as follows:

  • Pioneer Energy LP pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $985,000;
  • Canadian Tire Corporation pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $900,000; and
  • Mr. Gas pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Brockville and was fined $150,000.

That is from the Competition bureau’s website.

An interesting explanation about proving price-fixing is the following statement by the Competition bureau:

Price-fixing conspiracies are difficult to detect and prove. High or identical prices are not in and of themselves evidence of criminal activity. There must be evidence that competitors have made an illegal agreement to set those prices. When there are substantiated allegations of wrongdoing in the marketplace, the Bureau will not hesitate to investigate.

I guess I am glad they will investigate, and I suppose it is hard to prove, and it makes me wonder if the Competition Bureau might get targeted for cuts in the coming budget slashing exercise? Wouldn’t that be a convenient turn of events?

Who is surprised that there is price-fixing in Ontario gas stations? What will I be writing about next? The Sun may rise tomorrow morning? There are reports of the earth rotating around the sun?

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