Archive | April 2015

Our Honda Fit Is Magic

Right after our move last month, we somewhat reluctantly became a two-car family again. For the rest of the school year–over two months at that point–I will be driving Big Brother to his current preschool, fifteen miles round trip; my workplace is a different seven-plus miles from our house and Mr. FP’s is ten.* Because I need the car every single weekday for that preschool dropoff, we thought we’d all be happier with an extra set of wheels.

Next year, Big Brother will be attending his neighborhood school, and there will be more wiggle room–we CAN both take a bus or bike to work, just not necessarily every single day–so we may go back to being a one-car family again. Aside from the cost issue, there’s the trouble involved. Two sets of oil changes, two sets of snow tires to take on and off, etc. It seems strangely extravagant not to have to negotiate for the car every day, even though by modern American standards, we “need” two cars.

Any way, we bought a 2008 Honda Fit Sport using a small life insurance policy left us to Mr. FP’s grandmother, who died earlier this year. And the timing could not have been better, because, with our move, we were finally ready to upgrade our furniture. Two dressers, for instance, are not adequate to the needs of a family of four. Craigslist sellers, Big Lots, and the local Presbyterian youth group yard sale have all benefited from our spending spree

Here’s a partial list of the things we have shoved into our Fit since we bought it:

  1. A twin-sized mattress. (This was the only time we left the hatch open; all other times, it was closed.) ($175)
  2. Two three-drawer dressers. At the same time. ($40)
  3. An overstuffed armchair in nearly new condition. ($10)
  4. One six-drawer dresser. ($21)
Comfy. And it swivels. Mr. FP loves swivel.

Comfy. And it swivels. Mr. FP loves swivel.

We got two of these excellent-condition dressers for $40 at a church yard sale.

We got two of these excellent-condition dressers for $40 at a church yard sale.

And the piece de resistance:

  1. A dining room table with six chairs. ($80) Yes, all at once. And even though Mr. FP had forgotten to leave the car seats behind.
The legs can be unscrewed for better portability, a trick we learned in our last move using a 16-foot truck).

The legs can be unscrewed for better portability, a trick we learned in our last move (using a 16-foot truck).

I can only conclude that it’s like that Ford Anglia that Arthur Weasley bewitched so that it could carry all kinds of things. Except that the Fit does not, so far as we have been able to ascertain, actually fly. The only thing that wouldn’t fit in the Fit was Big Brother’s new loft bed. We had to rent one of those Home Depot vans for $20 or so.

So… it’s a tiny car that gets, in our experience, about 30 mpg (way better than my elderly Accord). We paid less than $6K for it. And it has saved us probably hundreds of dollars in delivery charges. Who needs a pickup truck?

Does your car help you perform badass acts of self-reliance?

*Our workplaces are far apart, so close to one would have screwed the other partner. Plus, we either didn’t want or couldn’t afford to live in those neighborhoods.

Friends, I Spent $180 on Lightbulbs

This is true. It is not an exaggeration.

See, we bought a house. And you know what we didn’t do when we were looking at houses? Check what kind of light bulbs they had, or count how many.

Turns out the answer is (a) mostly incandescents and (b) a lot. Downstairs alone, there are nine 65-watt flood lights and four ceiling light fixtures with two bulbs each. Upstairs, there are six more ceiling fixtures, not to mention the outside. The previous owners have had an incandescent outdoor light going all night.

Have some flood lights. No, really, we have plenty more where these came from.

Have some flood lights. No, really, we have plenty more where these came from.

This is what a $77 ($56 plus tax and shipping) box of light bulbs looks like.

This is what a $77 ($56 plus tax and shipping) box of light bulbs looks like.

Because I am a frugal person, it’s like I could feel the wastage of electricity every time I turned on a light. So what’s a girl to do? We’ve had CFLs for years, but they don’t always last as long as they should and the toxicity makes me nervous. The good news is, LEDs are equally judicious with the juice, supposedly last even longer (up to 22 years, says the package), are nontoxic, and have come down in price, especially thanks to local energy rebates available in many locations.

The bad news is that they are still at least $5 per bulb. The floods start at $10. Can you multiply? 9 flood lights times $10 is $90 just for those. Fortunately, they are reeeeeally bright, and not all of the enclosed fixtures needed all their slots filled.

I just gritted my teeth and bought the damn light bulbs. (I got the basic 60 watt bulb-shapes ones at Lowes and ordered floods from Costco, as their floods were ever so slightly less bright. I paid only $5 for the regular bulbs and got $12 off the floods thanks to local rebates.) I’m not even quite sure if I have enough; the ceiling light fixtures are hard to take apart, so we are going to open them up just once each, see which bulbs are incandescent, swap, repeat. (We also might need a new dimmer switch for those many basement flood lights.) Supposedly, LED bulbs are not really “consumables” in that they will not have to be replaced any time in the foreseeable future. We could all have jet packs and flying cars before the bulbs burn out.

But I gotta say, it felt weird to drop almost $200 on light bulbs, of all things. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever spent “a lot” of money on? Do you think it paid off?

Obviously, I will be saving the warranty information.

Obviously, I will be saving the warranty information.