Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ten ideas you can't possibly use.

I’ve realized what my perfect job would be. Writing advice columns with answers so obvious that my cat could think of them – and I’d get paid for it. In other words, telling you what you already know. On my 1040 form, under “occupation” it would read “Dispensing useless information.”
Here’s the latest example from Yahoo, under the heading “10 Tips to Cut Car Costs.” It sounds like must-reading, right? After all, oil is at $105 a barrel, so we can all use some helpful tips. It's copyrighted by The Kiplinger Magazine editors - probably because it's so stupid that nobody at the office wanted to put their name on it. I couldn't resist - **click**.

Buy a Used Car. Genius! Or, you could just keep your new car, since technically it’s used now.
Buy a Sipper, Not a Guzzler. This one is particularly useful, since the writer figures that we don’t know that big cars generally get worse gas mileage than smaller ones. They even go so far to provide math...
Drive 1,200 miles per month in a car that averages 18 miles per gallon, and you'll spend $187 per month (at $2.80 per gallon). Drive a car that averages 25 miles per gallon, and you'll spend $134 per month -- a savings of $53 per month, or $636 per year.
No more calls please, the Nobel Committee has determined it’s prize winner in the Math category.
Re-shop Your Car Insurance. Another smooth one. Can you save money by getting cheaper insurance? You betcha. The Jeopardy category, “The Fucking Obvious” for 100, Alex.
Join Your Coverage. Here, they tell us to join our homeowners and car insurance policies for a discount. That’s great, but didn’t you just tell us to shop our car insurance?
These next two I’ll group together, since they’re too stupid alone to matter. Raise Your Deductible and Drop Your Comprehensive and Collision. Raising your deductible only saves you money if you never make a claim. It also costs you money if you have a minor problem that a lower deductible would have helped pay for some of the costs. Dropping your comprehensive and collision coverage is a cheapskate move that you can only do if you own your car outright. Otherwise, it's just less coverage, which is almost no coverage, which would obviously save money. There's an idea! No insurance. Instant money-saver. 11 Tips now.
Shop Around for Gas. Sure, spend a half hour driving around looking for a cheaper gas station or drive further to get to one. Either way, you’re wasting gasoline to save two cents. For a 20-gallon tank, is it really worth the potential 30-cent savings to drive around and make yourself nuts? Unless it’s a ten-cent difference, it isn’t worth the trouble. Besides, if you already bought that “sipper” they told you to buy, a 10-gallon fill up isn’t worth the trouble.
Use a Gas Rebate Credit Card. Sure, get a rebate and pay 18% interest. Do you think the card companies are in the business of giving away money? Pay cash and get it over with.
Use Public Transportation. Great idea. If you happen to live within walking distance of a bus or train station and work within walking distance of a bus or train station. I don’t know about your part of the world, but here in Southern New Jersey those are two giant variables. For instance, I looked into it to get from home to my office ... I’d have to catch a bus at 5am, transfer twice, get on a train and take a shuttle 2 more miles to get to work by 7:50. Then, I’d repeat that in reverse to arrive home – roughly at 8pm – just in time to get a snack and get to bed so that I could be up at 4 to grab the bus to get back to work. Nice life. No, thanks, I’ll take my car.
Car Pool. There’s an idea, if you happen to have the same sort of variables that it takes to make public transportation work for you. That is, a co-worker that lives nearby and keeps the same hours as you, never stays late and is pleasant enough to commute with every day. If more people start car pooling, businesses are going to get irritated because nobody wants to work late.
The fact is, all of those things are money-savers to one extent or another. The fact that gasoline is $3 a gallon makes them slightly more sensible than when it was $2, but by this time, don’t you think we’ve already exhausted every money-saving idea? The only thing I'm left with is to get rid of the car altogether, thereby saving money on gasoline, maintenance and insurance. I didn’t need an article to point out obvious solutions to a problem that is bigger than any obvious solution. Face it, we’re screwed and the oil companies know it. The last thing I need is another article with useless information.
Unless you want to pay me to write it.

1 comment:

junior alien said...

Here in Germany we are already at $ 3,50 the gallon (1,40 euros a liter), and we are equally screwed! Public transport might be better over here, but yet again it depends on where you live and where you have to go for work.
For other purposes, e.g. food shopping, I use the bike or walk whenever I can. Of course, the shops are within walking/ biking distance (10-15 minutes one direction).
I have the feeling that many Americans (not you!)are still extemely focused on individual transport, car transport that is, that's why the outcry over rising gas prices is so twisted with pain.