My car insurance rates are too high! Not anymore thanks to Geico!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

As Americans we are the target of a full-on assault from a yuppie caveman with a chip on his shoulder, whiny 50s-era dolls, and a cute little gecko who talks with an Australian accent. Unless you have been living in a cave, you surely have seen the numerous advertisements for Geico Auto Insurance, promising that in 15 minutes you can save 15% or more on car insurance. And if you are like me, you have always ignored the ads.

Well, I got sprung into action when I added our 2007 Honda Accord to our existing policy with Allstate. These greedy bastards wanted more for coverage on this vehicle than they did on my big 2007 Honda Pilot SUV, which is worth probably $10,000 more than the Accord. And that is with having one of the vehicles as a pleasure vehicle! In all, Allstate wanted $807 for full coverage for six months on our two vehicles. Seeing as my wife and I are relatively low risk (no tickets, no accidents, college-educated professionals, good credit scores, over 25 and married), decided to shop it around with Liberty Mutual and Geico. I chose these two because they have special arrangements with professional organizations I belong to.

Using the Texas Society of CPAs rate, Liberty Mutual came back higher than Allstate. So it was on to Geico, and using the Institute of Internal Auditors rate, they quoted us at $616 every six months with a higher level of coverage. Even taking into account the 15% discount I get on my Allstate homeowners insurance, this is a huge difference. Needless to say I switched and me and the gecko are now good friends.

This is my honest experience. I have no affiliation with Geico, no advertising banners for them, no employment relationship, nothing. I don’t even own Berkshire Hathaway (Geico’s parent company) stock, although I’d like to. This is just to share my experience and remind you if you haven’t shopped your car insurance in a while, you could be missing out on significant savings.

Now to see if they take away the multi-policy discount on my Allstate homeowners policy for the remainder of the policy term…


September 24, 2007 Posted by | Automotive, Insurance | , , | 4 Comments

Buying a New Car (Almost)

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

As if we haven’t had enough stuff going on, we are in the process of buying an almost new car. My mother bought a brand new Honda Accord last year because she wanted something more fuel-efficient (she previously had a Mercury Mountaineer), however after driving SUVs for several years she just couldn’t get used to a sedan and decided to go back to a Mountaineer. Since both my wife and I are big fans of Hondas, we have always told her we would be interested in buying her Accord if she decided to sell. So we are buying her Accord while she buys a new Mountaineer.

This is going to be one big family car swap, as we will take her Accord, a brother-in-law and his wife are taking our 2001 Honda Civic, and they are selling her 2004 Kia Rio (yeah, I know, which of these things doesn’t belong?).

This shows the blessing of having your financial house in order and having cash on hand. We don’t have to worry with applying for loans to do this deal. Our only delay is transferring funds in from our online account at FNBO and overnighting paperwork between Houston and Baton Rouge. You never know what opportunities you may miss out on my not having the flexibility of cash on hand.

August 19, 2007 Posted by | Automotive | 2 Comments

All Gas Stations NOT Created Equal

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Sorry for the last of posts over the last couple of weeks. We have just had a lot going on around our house to keep me off of the computer.

Anyway, yesterday as I was filling my gas tank at Sam’s Club, it occurred to me that perhaps not all stations are created equal. No, I’m not trying to feed you that line of bull that the gas sold by Sam’s, Costco, etc., is somehow inferior to that you purchase from one of the big name brands. I worked for one of those big names for three years and can assure you that all gasoline sold by anyone has to meet minimum standards and the only difference is any additive that is put in. Almost all gas has additives in it, and the difference between brands and non-brands is virtually nil.

No, I am talking about the way your credit card company treats the purchases you make at traditional gas stations versus warehouse club and grocery store gas pumps. Simply put, the credit card companies normally consider gas purchases at warehouse clubs to be in the same category as the purchases you would make inside the store. This doesn’t really matter unless you have a rewards credit card that pays a higher reward rate for gas purchases than other categories. For instance, my Chase Cash Rewards Plus card pays 5% for purchases at traditional gas stations, but only 1% for purchases at Sam’s Club (including gasoline).

Because of high gas prices right now, in many cases it is actually cheaper to buy gas at a traditional gas station with a rewards card than at a warehouse club. Take my fill-up yesterday. My choices were a Shell station at $2.859 or Sam’s Club at $2.789.

Shell @ $2.859/gal minus 5% credit card rewards on gas station purchases of $0.143/gal = $2.716 net price/gal

Sam’s Club @ $2.789/gal minus regular 1% credit card reward of $0.028/gal = $2.761 net price/gal

So in this instance although the posted price at Sam’s was lower, the price after credit card rewards was 4.5cents cheaper at Shell. For a 20 gallon fill-up that is 90cents difference. Filling up once a week at that rate the difference would add up to $46.80 over the course of a year. Obviously not a large sum of money, but if you saw it on the ground you would certainly pick it up.

June 19, 2007 Posted by | Automotive, Credit Cards | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the Economics of Speeding

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Trent over at The Simple Dollar had a post recently about the economics of speeding, in which he details how a recent speeding ticket messed up his day and makes the argument that speeding doesn’t save enough time to justify the costs when you do get caught. Interesting post, but here is my take on it…

Trent’s entire posting is based in logic, which is fine and all, but this is America. Deep down almost all of us are hard-wired at birth with the attitude of “I wanna go fast!”, with the except of most of the population of Texas, who can’t do anything fast. That’s just who we are. In most places if you were only going 6 over the limit as Trent was, you would receive approximately 2.1 raised middle fingers per mile driven.

It is true that speeding may not make much of a difference on a short trip, but for people with extended commutes or on long road trips it makes little since not to speed. If you have a 25 mile commute, you save 7 minutes each way going 75mph instead of 55mph. For a 300 mile road trip, it is almost an hour and a half saved (4 hrs vs. 5 hrs 27 mins).

Drivers should use good judgment, but if you are the only car around I think you are justified in exceeding the limit, especially by only 6 miles per hour! Giving tickets for such an infraction shows that the police are not concerned with safety but are being pushed to write tickets to raise revenue because our elected officials don’t have the testicular fortitude to either raise taxes or cut spending.

BTW, be sure to check out his blog. There is some great content over there, and right now he is doing a giveaway contest for intelligent responses to recent postings on his site. He has five different books he is giving away, so take a look and make your voice heard.

April 27, 2007 Posted by | Automotive | Leave a comment