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Monday, June 25, 2018

Review of MyHeritage And Ancestry DNA Products

Just how proud are you of your heritage?  If you're like most Americans, probably very proud, especially if you're able to cite with some degree of certainty where in the world your ethnicity is rooted.  The United States is less than 300 years-old, a mere speck in time, and unless you are 100% Native American, you most likely have ethnic roots outside of the two American continents.  Knowing that your ancestors came from somewhere else makes it almost compulsory to find out from where.

If it were up to me, I'd make DNA testing for heritage absolutely free for parents of newborns.  This way parents would have the option of educating their children about their ethnic heritage along with respect for all cultures and people as early as elementary.  Would it end the disease that is racism in the U.S.?  Probably not.  But it would help us all realize our origins aren't tied to any one nation or country, but rather to regions around the world.  For a great example of being responsibly conscious of both country and ethnic origin, let's take my case.  Before I share my ethnic results, I will speak on the experience of taking two "DNA tests" from vendors, MyHeritage and Ancestry.

Since this site is all about money, wealth, and success, let's start with costs.

Ancestry DNA test kit
Total: $78.95.  I bought it while on sale for Father's Day.

MyHeritage DNA test kit
Total: $81.  I bought it also on sale prior to their big Father's Day sale.  I could've saved another ten bucks if I'd known!

If you are interested in taking a DNA test to learn about your ethnic background, tests from the 5 Best DNA Kits are always on sale.  You just have to be patient.  Go back to the websites during Holidays to find better deals.

Now let's talk about the process from the time you get your kit in the mail until you get your results online.

Ancestry DNA Process

Your kit includes very easy to follow instructions, a saliva receptacle, screw on vial with DNA preservation solution, small napkin for wiping, return mail box (postage paid), and your activation information for claiming your results.  Collecting your DNA sample by spitting into a vial may gross some of you out, but I'm used to spitting as an athlete.  Overall, the entire process of collecting your sample and signing up online takes 15 minutes or less.

MyHeritage DNA Process

Similar to Ancestry's kit you get a small box but the contents are more "scientific."  You get two small vials with screw tops and each contains DNA preservation solution.  You also get two swabs for collecting DNA by rubbing the inside of your cheeks for like 30 seconds.  You have to snap break the swabs so they fit inside the vials, then screw on the tops and send the samples back in the return envelope.

As a science teacher, I enjoyed the MyHeritage DNA sample collection process much more, but I can see how some people may prefer Ancestry's more streamlined approach.

The Wait...

While waiting for your results, both Ancestry and MyHeritage DNA do a great job of keeping you in the loop and emotionally vested.  First, they email you once your kit is received, eliminating potential fears and anxiety about your DNA being out there for anyone to intercept and use it to clone you.  Ha!  Seriously though, some people do worry about their DNA being used without their consent.  Relax, these two companies keep your results private.  You have to opt in to share your profile with others and for matching with others (search for relatives).  You get at least one more email from both companies letting you know your results are almost in.  MyHeritage sends you information in their email about how DNA is analyzed so if you're into the science, this will make your wait slightly better.


I was pleasantly surprised by both companies when they informed me of my results being available in less than 4 weeks.  They both claim results can take between 4-6 weeks depending on how busy they are.   

Online Platforms

Both online platforms are intuitive.  You can set-up your profile as in depth as you like.  You can for example, enter the names and relationships of your relatives to build a family tree on either site.  Both sites offer information on the ethnic groups you get as being part of your genetic and geographic match, but they don't use the same nomenclature obviously.  For example, at MyHeritage, if you are a person of Latin-American descent, you may get a percentage of your DNA coming from "Central America," which to them is the region from Mexico all the way to Colombia and Venezuela, i.e., northern South America.  Meanwhile, at Ancestry, because they test many more geographic regions (350+ versus only 42 for MyHeritage) your Latin-American ethnicity will be more pinpointed to a specific place in Mexico, let's say.  So if you can only afford one test, and if you have ethnic roots in Mexico, go with Ancestry.

Both platforms also provide a world map and circle the regions where your DNA comes from, color coded.  It's a cool feature to see multiple places around the world circled for your profile and probably not as cool if your DNA is only from one or two places on Earth.  Ancestry's platform provides an additional feature, a timeline of the history of your DNA back to the 1700's.  At least this was my case.  Autosomal tests aren't very accurate beyond 5 or six generations so there's really no way anyone can tell you with 100% certainty how your DNA has moved in time.  We all started in Africa, but after that...who knows where your DNA went.

Sample of Results

I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and thanks to the Mormon archiving of Catholic church records, I was able to trace my paternal line (the Gomez's) back to a Spaniard (Joseph Dionicio Gomez Parra) born in 1752 in San Bartolome, Chihuahua.  This is of course a very myopic view of my DNA.  It doesn't account for all of the women and their lines.  Not to mention, the 1700s were just around the corner in terms of time.  So am I 100% Chihuahuan, Mexican?  Of course not!

MyHeritage DNA says I'm...

Ancestry DNA says I'm...(only showing one of two pics)

For a better look at my ethnic DNA results, I created a table:

MyHeritage DNA ResultsVs.Ancestry DNA Results
By ContinentBy Continent
Central American (Mex)53.40%Native American (Mex)33%
Asian0.80%Middle Eastern5%
East Asian<1%
By EthnicityBy Ethnicity
Mexican53.40%N.A. Chihuahua/Dur.33%
Ashkenazi Jewish8.10%Iberian11%
North African6.70%Ireland/Scotland/Wales5%
Italian3.70%Middle East5%
Nigerian2.60%European Jewish3%
Eskimo/Inuit0.80%Northern African3%
Eastern European2%
Western European<1%
East Asian<1%

 After analyzing both sets of data, it's clear that I'm North-American, European, and African if we look at it from the continental perspective.  Ethnically, I'm Mexican, because Mexicans for the most part are a mixture of Native American, European (including European Jewish in many instances), and African.

We (Mexicans) may differ as a people in our percent of these three roots, but most of us have them.  For most of its history, Mexico has kept the African influence in Mexico under wraps, not recognizing the many Afro-Mexicans in the country (descendants of slaves).  In 2020, Mexico will finally add this ethnic group as an item in its census, acknowledging politically finally our third ethnic root.

I was hoping for more consistency between both tests but there wasn't a one-to-one match as I expected.  MyHeritage gave me a high percentage of Scandinavian descent (12%) while my Ancestry results showed very little Scandinavian descent (<1%) and identified British in me.  Who knew?  Historically, there were Vikings in the British isles so maybe there is a connection there somehow.


This was an interesting experience and I recommend everyone give it a shot.  One test is okay, but two are better so you can compare.  I will be looking to triangulate my results sometime in the near future by taking a third test.  23andMe will be the test I go with.  Sorry I can't tell you which one of the top five tests to choose.  They all have their pros and cons.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What's The Most Important Thing To Consider When Investing In Cryptocurrency?

Investing in cryptocurrency used to be a whole lot less complicated.  That's because in its infancy, there were just a few cryptocurrency to buy.  There was the original crypto, Bitcoin, of course, and Namecoin and Litecoin, emerging afterward in 2011.  Someone looking to get in on the ground floor of a new altcoin only needed to do research on a handful of non-Bitcoin options.  As of April 2018, there are over 1600 cryptocurrencies!  Here is a list of all the current available cryptocurrency ranked in order of market capitalization.  So go ahead...I dare you to try to discover the next Bitcoin.

Image result for ethereum

Buying Bitcoin simply because it's at number one on the aforementioned list is foolish.  As a digital currency, Bitcoin is the most widely accepted.  They're not making any more of it, meaning, its "circulating supply" is finite, giving Bitcoin an allure to ownership.  Buying fractions of a Bitcoin at a time, if you can't afford a whole Bitcoin (current price, $6,474), may seem like a good alternative, but each time you do so you're also paying for transaction fees.  And you still don't know what the market will do.  One of the many concerns of digital currency investors is the high volatility of the cryptocurrency market.

Putting price aside, how should you go about sizing up a crypto as an investment?  What are the most important things to consider?  These are the questions I'll try answering for you next.

Blockchain Is To Crypto As Location Is To Real Estate

You've heard the real estate addage, "Location, Location, Location," I'm sure plenty of times.  For example, a few months ago I saw a story about a burned up house selling for $900K.  The house happened to be in one of San Jose's most sought after neighborhoods, Willow Glenn.  I know the area quite well, having grown up in Central-East San Jose.  So it didn't surprise me.  The buyer is paying for the land obviously.  How does this relate to investing in cryptocurrency, you may be thinking.  Well, when you look at a particular coin to buy, you must also do your homework on the underlying blockchain technology it comes with.  The blockchaing technology is like the location in real estate.

Image result for ethereum's blockchain motley fool

Bitcoin's blockchain technology isn't that great.  For example, though someone buying things with Bitcoin can count on a ledger that is decentralized (some anonymity) and there not being a middle man, like a bank, to suck up additional transaction fees, there may be a waiting time before your purchase is cleared by miners.  Bitcoin's network only has the ability to process three measly transactions per second!  Compare this to Visa and Mastercard which can process thousands of transactions per second.  So it's clear here that Bitcoin's blockchain technology can never serve as a better replacement for the current payment processing networks for vendors.

Now take the case of Ethereum, ranked number two in terms of market cap in the crypto world.  Ethereum's blockchain went beyond solving some of the problems posed by traditional currency.  Ethereum's blockchain can also provide businesses with smart contract protocols, meaning, businesses can more easily verify or even enforce the negotiation of a contract.  Financial firms are thinking about applying Ethereum in the futures (exchange) market...think all the stuff that goes on before the stock market opens.  That's an application that makes Ethereum's blockchain clearly more useful than Bitcoin's.  Still, Bitcoin is winning the price war, but in my view only because it was first out of the gate.

Another example of a blockchain with interesting application is that of Ripple's.  If Bitcoin is the tortoise in terms of transactions per second, then Ripple is the hare.  Ripple's blockchain tech is capable of processing 1,500 transactions per second!  That's still well below the speed of traditional financial institutions like Visa, but Ripple has an ace under its sleeve: transaction costs are only a fraction of a penny.  This can woo banks looking to offer customers lower fees for their business.

Cryptocurrency Is Still Evolving

By now you can see that what makes a particular cryptocurrency a more worthy investment is its blockchain.  Even though Ethereum and Ripple's blockchain technology both have real-world application, they're still not better than what's out there already!  Do you remember when cell phones came out.  For a long time you didn't have to upgrade.  Most old phones were capable of doing what new versions of more expensive phones could do, namely, call and text someone.  Not until the "Smart Phone" came out were people willing to pay up to replace their old models.

The same can be said with businesses and their interest in blockchain technology.  When cryptocurrency blockchain technology is finally better, more cost effective, etc., for a company to utilize versus what they already have in place, the floodgates will open.  Ripple claims its transaction speed can be faster and capable of handling more transactions per second.  Great!  But it still remains to be seen.  In the meanwhile, you may consider either Ehtreum or Ripple as intriguing investments, certainly more so than Bitcoin.

So now as you research from the multiple cryptocurrency that is available and that which is not yet gone through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering), remember the importance of the underlying blockchain.  Ask yourself: 

1)  What blockchain features does cryptocurrency X have that may have non-currency application for companies and business?

2)  How long before these features are able to replace existing business technology or processes?

3)  What are the threats to or weaknesses of the blockchain technology of cryptocurrency X?

There you have it.  Hopefully this article has served to help you how to better inform yourself about a potential cryptocurrency investment.  Thanks for reading!

*Disclosure: I do NOT own any of the cryptocurrency mentioned in this post.  Not yet at least... 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Debt Solutions-Which One Is Right For You?

The debt crisis in the UK (just like in the U.S.) is at an all-time high, and with the average person at around £8000 in debt (not including mortgages), it's practically an epidemic. Did you know?...

As many as 30 percent of children are living in poverty!

It's a sad, but true statistic. And, when you're in debt, it can be hard to know where to turn. With a plethora of different companies promising to "change your life" by eliminating your debts, you're left stuck and confused about who you can trust. So, what steps can you take to get out of this mess?

Check out these debt solutions and options for who you can turn to for trusted help and advice with your debt matters.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

What to do When in Debt

It's a little know fact that our credit report can in fact help you with solving your debts. The problem here is that many people shy away from checking theirs due to worries about what they will find AND also the inability to understand the information that's being shared with them. However, over the last decade or so, credit score companies have worked hard on their user experiences, and can now provide you with advice on how to improve your credit score, as well as what's harming it.

Sometimes, it can be something as simple as a late payment on finance you've taken out with finance companies like Littlewoods. Or, companies may not know enough about you to consider you for a loan or mortgage. There's never a better time to look at your credit score and build yourself up from a bad one. Many companies pinpoint precisely what you're doing wrong, and also give you options on how you can resolve these issues. Another bonus: Pretty much all of them offer free trials, so you're able to take a quick glance and improve your credit without having to spend a penny!

The next step you need to take is to get yourself some good old, professional advice on your debt matters. Companies like, the National Debt Advice offer debt solutions for all types of people with all kinds of debt. The process is simple: you tell them who you owe and how much, and they will work out the best way of getting you out of trouble all while keeping in mind how much you can afford to pay back each month too.

What Not to do When it Comes to Debt

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they're in debt is turning to loan sharks and hoping for the best. While services like these may help with a bit of extra cash until payday, they're not built for managing loans. The problem is, they don't tell you this, and people fall into the trap of thinking they're going to be debt free in a matter of weeks. Not only that, you end up paying back a considerable amount more than you owe due to high interest rates. Trust me...it's not worth the hassle!

So, if you're in debt, make sure to take action sooner rather than later. Companies often add charges for late or missed payments so the sooner you're trying to sort things out the better. Don't ignore debt problems. Face them head on with this advice and you'll find your way to a debt free life sooner than you think!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

We Bought A Used Lexus SUV, How It Went

So our 2009 Nissan Rogue SL was in need of several repairs.  The lights on the dash in night view mode weren't turning on.  There was oil leaking from the engine block.  I had placed two plywood squares on the driveway to keep the oil from staining it.  There was a sound coming from the engine, the type you hear when a belt is going to rupture.  I didn't want to pay for any more repairs.  In fact, it had a small dent on the side we'd left as an eye sore because we didn't care enough to pay for the auto body service.  Although the Rogue was paid off (since 2015) and only at 115K miles, it was "pretty junky," according to our salesman at the car dealership we went to in search of a used Lexus RX 350.

Sitting on our driveway

The blue book value on the Rogue in good condition ranged from $2500-$3500.  Was ours in good condition?  No, barely getting by on "fair," if anything.  Surprisingly, we stayed firm during negotiations to get $2,700 trade-in value.  But that's because we did our homework and knew ahead of time how much we could get for it on the street.  

Let me take you back a bit on why we decided to get a used, luxury type vehicle instead of a regular SUV.  See, my wife, Jessica, is working on her realtor license and wants to "look the part" on her appointments with potential clients.  I don't blame her.  Realtors are in a cut-throat business, constantly competing for listings, especially in expensive zip codes here in San Diego County.  But Jessica is a smart consumer, not frugal like me, simply wanting as much quality for the best price.  So, she'd researched Lexus and Audi vehicles online for several weeks.  In particular, she looked for deals on the Audi Q5, and the Lexus IS250 and RX350.

The nice guy on the left, the closer to his right, and us.

I wasn't thrilled about spending current money and future monies on a luxury type vehicle, but Jessica assured me she could find a used one that wouldn't break the budget I set ($25K).  She eventually would indeed find an RX 350 at a small dealership in Garden Grove, a Los Angeles area city, selling for $23,800.  That's the sticker price, I said to her.  I knew there'd be added fees like car registration with DMV, etc.  This particular RX 350 had 49K miles and was a 2015 model.  She swore it was the best deal on an RX 350 she'd seen online.  I trusted her.

The day before Mother's Day, we traveled the 1.5 hours to get to Garden Grove from Oceanside, and met with the salesman who we'd booked an appointment with.  After 15 minutes of negotiations, he had to go get his supervisor.  Of course, right?  This is how car dealerships work.  First the nice guy, then the closer.  The "Closer" was actually a decent guy as well.  He worked with us on giving us a fair trade-in value on our Rogue, and on an extended 100K warranty on the drive train (only costs us $500).  This warranty can be passed on to the next buyer should we sell the car in the immediate future.  So for $500, peace of mind.

Jessica is all smiles

The vehicle had a legit carfax report.  Always insist on a verification report of everything being in great condition when you buy from small dealers in the inner city!  Also, look online for the reviews on that dealership.  There are bound to be plenty of customer reviews.  If not, don't trust that business.  Jessica had investigated all this stuff prior to our visit.  We went over budget, agreeing to $26,500 out the door price.  However, I still think we did alright and that it was a win-win for both the dealership and us.  Our financing was provided by the San Diego Credit Union, Oceanside.  The rate we got: 2.99%!  Our credit scores are fantastic.  It's a 66 month loan, but we expect to pay it off before this to reduce our interest expense.

Any Issues So Far?

Yes.  Four days ago, the car wouldn't start.  It had run great before this.  So we were bummed.  I could tell it was a battery issue because the car wasn't cranking on.  We called Triple-A, a service we pay for that is excellent if you ever get stranded on the road.  They came to our home and tested the battery.  Sure enough, the battery report read a total of 0, cold-cranking-amps, meaning the battery was dead.  A dead battery already?  Yes!  It made perfect sense.  The battery was the original and at 50K miles, it was in dire need of replacement.  We were lucky it didn't die on us while away from home.

We paid for a new battery, $113 and the problem was resolved.  Lesson here: remember that when you buy used, the dealerships aren't going to turnover all the old parts for you.  Belts, hoses, fuses, spark plugs, batteries, etc., could all be in need of replacement.  That's why mechanic shops offer 30K, 60K, and on tune-up services.

It is still better to buy used, even if you want a luxury type vehicle.  Actually, especially if you want a luxury vehicle because many of those depreciate the most as soon as you take them out of the lot.  Good luck out there.  Be smart and do your homework prior to going to buy your next vehicle.  It's the only way you won't get taken for a ride.  Pun totally intended!!!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How to Create Privacy in Your Yard and Woo Buyers

Hello everyone!  Today I have an excellent guest post about an issue that is seldom talked about when considering a home sale.  As homeowners, we worry about staging the inside of the house just right, making it immaculate in its appearance for all would-be buyers.  But what about the backyard?  Aside from landscaping it prior to an Open House, how else can you improve it, and increase your odds of a faster sale?  Read on and find out!

Garden, House, Green, Yard, Grass, Gardening, Plant

Privacy is what transforms your home into a sanctuary, and adds value to your property. If you're thinking about moving, a $20,000 investment in landscaping your yard can add as much as $200,000 to your home's value.

It might be that you want to screen your yard from your neighbor's view, add "curb appeal," or simply drown out noise from a busy nearby street. Beyond just using an electric lawn mower to maintain your property, landscaping gives homeowners a variety of options to create secluded yard spaces that offer privacy and refuge from the outside world while adding to the overall value of the property.

Consider Your Outdoor Space

Upgrading your garden to bring privacy to your home can add 10-15% to its value. Additionally, some trees and shrubs will actually increase in value as they grow.

Often, details such as the proximity of your neighbor's patio to your own are overlooked by home builders and planners. But, as the saying goes, "Good fences make good neighbors." Both fences and plantings can be used to create a secluded yard that offers privacy, a connection with the natural world, and appeals to buyers.

Smaller yards benefit from a well-planned patio or deck. These add significant value and give potential buyers the highest "joy scores" according to HouseLogic's recent consumer survey.

Pergolas over seating areas provide beautiful overhead screening for built-up areas. Water features such as small fountains or self-contained planter waterfalls can also help to mask the sound of neighbors and traffic.

Larger gardens can make use of bigger shrubs and trees, statuary, arbors, fountains, and even fire places. These features should be mixed in with standard wooden fences, lattice work, mixed fencing such as metal topped with lattice, or even stone walls.

There is a wider range of options for larger gardens in terms of fencing and plant selections that allows you to let loose your imagination as long as the end result is organized and professional.

Don't Fence Me In

Don't limit yourself to a standard high wooden fence to create privacy. This can backfire without additional planting and other details, leaving you feeling hemmed in rather than tucked away. This sensation will turn buyers away from your property.

Hedges are a great alternative to standard fences. They allow for airflow while still creating a wind break and screening your yard from view.

Mixed hedges will produce interest year-round if you combine deciduous and evergreen plants. But, take care to choose plants that have similar growth heights and widths to stop it from looking chaotic and turning buyers away. Another advantage to mixed planting is that it provides better protection against pests.

Lattice work and arbors can give your garden added interest, especially when combined with climbing vines or tumbling roses. Lattice fencing still allows light in and air to flow as it creates a softer screen between your yard and the outside world.

Tall wooden fences can be softened and used to extend small spaces by adding clamoring vines, edible climbing plants, and vertical gardens. Besides looking stunning, these plants will release beautiful scents that attract wildlife and interested buyers alike.

Image result for backyard designs

Planting for Privacy and Increasing Home Value

Plants can be used to create a secluded area in a corner of your garden, transforming the space into a delightful nook that will indulge all the senses. Well placed planters filled with tumbling blooms or colorful shrubs can give additional privacy in both small and large yards when incorporated around a seating area.

If using planters, make sure you have adequate drainage and remember to feed and water the plants regularly to keep them in top condition. Unkempt plants will reduce buyer attraction, even if you intend to take them with you when you move.

Boundary walls can be enhanced with planter/water feature combos that will add both attractive colors and scents. However, if you choose to move away from hardscaping elements such as walls and fences, consider over-sized grasses such as Pampas or Yakushima Dwarf grasses. Use them on their own or back these grasses with larger, mid-height to tall trees for additional interest.

Bamboo plants and screens give you yet another option to create more privacy and add value to your property. Screening allows light to flood your garden while distorting outside views. If you'd prefer to plant bamboo as a screen around the perimeter of your yard, golden bamboo is a popular variety that grows quickly.

Well-planned landscaping can increase the value of your home and decrease the amount of time you wait for a sale. Avoid a disorganized, open layout that offers little privacy when you're in the yard.

Mature gardens that are well-tended increase a home's value even more. Luckily, there are also shorter-term landscaping options that can enhance any yard space to create a professional look that increases the value of the offers you'll get for your home!

Anita Franco

Friday, April 6, 2018

Is It Safe to Buy Used Automotive Parts Online?

What's up everybody!  You know that everyone has turned to online shopping for the best deals, not even bothering to check their local brick and mortar stores sometimes.  Amazon and Ebay are my favorite "stores" to shop at virtually.  When it comes to needing automotive parts, however, I think many people still would rather visit their local Autozone, O'Reilly's, etc.  Unfortunately, these stores only sell brand new items you may need.  So, you're going to be paying top dollar for a part you may not need to be new.

On this blog I've written about my experience shopping for automotive parts on eBay, namely, to have my wife's Nissan Rogue's air conditioning unit completely replaced by my mechanic friend.  I never really considered whether or not shopping for used parts on that site was something "safe" to do.  I just went ahead and did it.  This next guest post explains how to best go about shopping for used automotive parts online.  Enjoy!

Image result for automotive parts

We live in a fast paced digital world where having something in an instant is becoming accepted as the norm.  The Internet, which you may be surprised to learn was first created in 1989, is a key part of this.

The Internet provides the opportunity for many to start businesses and contact people across the globe.  Unfortunately, it has also become a place that is rife with scams; people who are eager to take your money without giving you the service or product you wanted.

In fact, it's estimated that 1 in 10 people are now the victim of cyber crime.

This leads us to the issue of used automotive parts.  There is no doubt that it can save you a fortune but is it safe to buy them?

The simple answer is yes, but you need to consider the following factors before you buy.

Do Your Research

There are huge companies online that specialize in used automotive parts.  There are also small dealers which you can learn about here who will offer you an attractive price on used and even new parts.

It's an extremely competitive marketplace.  

Before you select a supplier take a look at their website and check these things:

Time Established

In general the longer a business has been established the safer it is to use them.  Scam sites tend to come and go fairly quickly.

Of course this makes it difficult for genuine new businesses.  This is why you should also consider the following two points:


If you ask around with your friends and look at their websites you should see a list of positive comments.  These might be in the form of testimonials.

Hearing from others that the business offers a good service is reassuring and generally indicates that the service is genuine.


More important is the feedback these businesses get on social sites and even on Amazon.  This is produced by "verified buyers" and provide an honest opinion.

There will always be some negative reviews, after all, no company can keep every single customer happy.  But, provided the majority of reviews are positive you are likely to have found a good supplier.

Image result for automotive parts

Testing the Water

It is also a good idea to call the supplier and assess their response and friendliness.  This is likely to carry through in their service.

If you're ordering an expensive used part it can also be a good idea to order a small part first, to test the water.  You can even test their return policy in the process!

Double Check

You should also ensure that they're supplying the part you want.  Used automotive parts can be different by even just one year of registration.  It's essential they send you the right one.  A good supplier won't mind you verifying this several times.

As a final point it's worth noting that if you're after a particularly rare used part then it may be a better idea to visit the supplier in person.  This will allow you to assess their set-up and legitimacy.

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Paid $70 for IKEA Bunk Beds With Two Mattresses!

What's up everybody!  I'm baaaaaack!  These days I write just for fun so I apologize if you're not getting my wisdom every other day, haha!  Anyways, what are you currently in need of?  You know, there's always something the consumer in us needs.  Whether it's a new cell phone, car, dryer, washer, refrigerator even, it never ends, right?  My wife and I both need cell phone upgrades currently, but alas, we don't want to spend that kind of money at the present moment.  Easy to say, "Oh, we'll just do the payment thing and pay it off little by little."  But folks, think about it, it's still in the end a whole bunch of money you had to pay.  So we're doing things differently these days.

Image result for kids in a bunk bed

Our new strategy is to get one thing we need each month.  For example, last month (Feb) we got our male kitten Gus, neutered.  We didn't want him impregnating his little sister so...you get the idea.  We paid like $150 for everything, shots and surgery, etc.  Next month, April, we plan on getting Verucca spayed.  This necessity will be closer to $200.  This month, we decided it was definitely the time to get our two kids some longer beds.  We couldn't put them through the torture of sleeping on the floor any longer (they didn't like their beds).  After talking with them about it, they opted for bunk beds.

Where do you think I turned to online first?  Amazon?  You'd be wrong.  Nope.  My first instinct was to visit Craig's List, San Diego county, to see if I could find deals.  My wife had been on that new Facebook feature that's like a Craig's list, where you can look at things people are selling.  She found some bunk beds, but didn't like the color of the wood, fake wood, whatever.  There were several more options on Craig's List.  And I even found two that were to my wife's liking.  But when I looked to contact the seller, guess what?  These people only allowed contact via email.  I emailed them with my serious inquiry, but got no reply.  If you want something sold, why not list your phone number?  I get that people don't want to get bothered on their phone, but why sell something to the public at Craig's List then?

I've posted several things for sale on Craig's List and each time I leave my name, Carlos, and phone number.  People text me immediately.  And I get buyers for my used items quickly.  I'd rather deal with incoming calls and text messages than answer a stupid email.  But that's just me.  Anyways...back to my story.

The used bunk beds on Craig's List were selling as low as $150 (crap furniture) to as high as $650 (yeah, right...may as well get new).  When CL didn't get me anywhere, I turned to Amazon.  For $285 I was out of the metal frame options and into wood.  It was under my budget of $300, but I also had to pay taxes (I have Prime so shipping is free).  While my wife and I were debating the Amazon option, my long-time tenant and friend, Gunny Sgt. Liu, who had come downstairs from his room, decided to chime in.  "Try Pendleton Bookoo!" he said.  We're like, "Pendleton, what?"

Pendleton.bookoo.com is an online yard sale where Marines can make some fast cash selling their used items.  I had no idea this site even existed, but it was a great thing my buddy did!  I went on the site and typed in "bunk beds" into the search bar.  To my surprise, an IKEA Hemnes bunk bed came up, being sold for only $70 with two mattresses included.  The seller described the mattresses on his ad as being in good condition, still inside their white fabric protector.  The frame itself was also described to be in good condition, but with a few scratches.  It was worth a contact.

I contacted the seller, hoping the item was still available.  He got right back to me within minutes.  See folks, leave your number on your ads!  I inquired some more about the items, and we texted back and forth about a suitable time to make a possible transaction at his residence on base.  Two things here: 1) I personally don't have access to Camp Pendleton and 2) I don't have a truck.  But my tenant has both!  Ha!  Gunny Liu was kind enough to drive me into base at night (this was the seller's night off) and help me load the bunk bed parts after inspection and approval.

The next day, my wife began putting the bed together on her own in the kid's room while I was at work.  That, Jessica...she's a crafty one I tell ya.  I got home and she had half of the frame up already.  IKEA assembly takes getting used to.  The seller had placed all the little Allen wrench screws and tools in a zip-lock bag.  The whole time were were afraid we would have missing parts.  That's a risk you take when buying used.  Indeed we were.  Three metal dowels were missing.  These fit in the holes that connected one top bunk rail to the head board.  I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing these dowels weren't in place, even if the screw holding the two pieces together was.  So I made a trip to my local Lowe's and found a set of metal dowels with the right cylindrical diameter for less than $2.

We wanted our kids to sleep in their bunk beds that same night, so Jessica and I double timed it, finishing almost at 8:45 p.m., a little past the kid's bed time, but they didn't mind.  They were so excited.  So were the adults.  We put new Minion bed sheets on the mattresses and tucked them in without a bed time story because, well, it was late!  Here are some pictures I took to capture the moment:

climbing up for the first time.

The final product.

I gotta say, this was the best furniture purchase I have ever made.  $70 for a great bunk bed with mattresses...are you kidding me!  So, if you live near a military installation, the lesson of this post is, give yard sales real or virtual, a chance.  Ask a serviceman or servicewoman if they have yard sales at their base.  Befriend someone in the military and see if they would be willing to help you find a lightly used item you desperately need.  It worked for my family!

Thanks for reading.  Until next time.