While out on a nice motorycle ride this weekend, all of a sudden my back tire started feeling like it was falling off. My backend started swaying back and forth, and I slowed down thinking the wheel was off the axle. My riding partner yelled STOP YOU HAVE A FLAT! Great. It actually could have been a hundred times worse circumstances, but we were on a back road with light traffic so we were able to roll the bike aside and assess the problem. It became obvious relatively easily, I was screwed. What bad luck to run over 2" screw and have it impale my new tire. The tire still have knobbies on, its only got 2600 miles on it. We're hoping we can plug it and fill it up and ride it home.  So I hop on the other bike and we ride two up back home to get the truck, tool bag and our air station. So we get back and realize our plug kit is a little old, probably since 2007 and its lost some of its gooeyness. The first plug didn't hold the air. So we did it again, this time it worked. We rode the bike home and have pretty much decided that the peace of mind would be worth just replacing the tire with a brand new one.
So I call the Honda motorcycle dealer and find out its $51 to replace a flat tire with a new one. Being the frugal pair that we are, we need to continue to investigate and we hope we ask all the right questions. Does this install include balancing and spin test, what about disposal fees. I wonder if I can sell the old patched tire on craigslist? How much would it go for?
It turns out the back tire on my bike is a Bridgestone Mag Mopus 130/90-15M/C G508 which is an import. Great. These are not sold that I can find in the US. The only available tires are Chinese brands like Shenka, or the domestic brand Dunlop. A replacement Dunlop is $72 plus $10 shipping. So will the dealer let me bring in my own tire and they install it? Will it be covered for any warranty, even 30 days?
I probably wouldn't bother to replace the plugged tire if it weren't for the fact that this is a brand new 2009 Honda motorcycle. Its still under warranty through October. I haven't had any problems with it, but would like the dealer to tighten the chain, and tighten a loose rattling on the front headlight. I figure if they replace the back tire, they have to adjust the chain anyway, and I could tighten the bolt on the loose rattle - so bringing this in right away is a little premature. Except, the first evening after the flat tire, we noticed the back tire was flat again. It had drained air. The old dried out plugs weren't working. So we got a new fresh pack of plugs ($2) and re-plugged the hole. It is holding up nicely after 48 hrs, so maybe no replacement would be necessary.
This is a lot of drama for me. Usually I don't have surprise things happen that I'm not prepared for. Actually, we were pretty prepared and didn't have any trouble getting home, fixing it and riding it back home. Its just the next, long term decision that I need to deal with now. Keep or Replace?

Stockpile Overstock

Last night we made our weekly grocery trip to Publix and did pretty good on savings (78%) considering we didn't need much except produce and milk. It was our last shopping of the month and we came in a little over budget. We spent $219, but saved $766 so our overall savings was 78% for the month. But you know if you're a couponer that to get these type of savings you need to buy lots of stuff that is free or a moneymaker, and this stuff may or may not be something you want or need.

We have come to the point where we have enough. We got a shelf to finally store our stockpile off the floor, and it is already full. The secondary freezer we got on craigslist at the beginning of the month is also full. So for the next month or so we're going to live off our stockpile. We've been giving away cereal, Shout, Pop tarts, toilet bowl cleaner, Ajax and A1 sauce to friends and neighbors but we still have a bunch. The box of stuff to go to the food shelf is full, and we gave away a backpack full of school supplies to a local elementary.

This couponing stuff is addicting and I'm struggling to control my urges to get the best deal. I read on blogs about super shops where others spend pennies to get over $100 worth of stuff. But who really needs 20 bottles of steak sauce? Not me. I try to be considerate of others who may want to buy that product, and not clear out the inventory just because I have coupons. What about the hard to find, or seldom restocked stuff that someone may really need? In my opinion, some of the couponers out there need therapy - they go way overboard. I admit I get more stuff than I need or have room for, but I like to think its giveaway stuff that makes others happy. But what about the stuff that I still have after I've given it away to everyone we know?

So here are my new rules to buy something with a coupon:
1. Its something we use regularly and we're out of supply, or less than one months usage.
2. Its a moneymaker with coupons, at least $0.50.
3. If its free w coupon, we will use the product and our current supply is not excessive.
4. Only one shop per week for groceries, no repeat trips.
5. Avoid walgreens, CVS purchases w/RR or ECB's rebates, these really aren't free. Also stick to maximum one trip per week.

My goal is to spend less than $200 next month, but I expect we could spend less than $100. We'll see, check back then.

We Still Have Our Clunker

Well, it's done and over and the stats are in on the CARS program. We still have our clunker, an old 1998 Ford Explorer with 61K miles. Its been paid for since 2001 - so we've been free of car payments for 8 years. But our old clunker keeps clunking - towing that big boat, hauling firewood, furniture, towing trailers and moving appliances. But lots of Americans don't. Personally, I wonder how many of them will end up being repo'd when the person they brought along to co-sign the loan loses their job and says "I can't pay for your car now".
Number Rebates Submitted: 690,114
Dollar Value: $2.87 billion. That means about $100 million was not spent and up to 28,500 car buyers had the door shut prematurely, but they probably procrastinated, and besides that old clunker they ended up keeping doesn't have payments.

Top 10 New Vehicles Purchased

  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Camry
  • Ford Focus FWD
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Nissan Versa
  • Toyota Prius
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Fit
  • Ford Escape FWD
All car companies were suffering from poor sales, but I would have to say the real winners in Cash for Clunkers were Toyota and Honda. The Hyundai is a crappy car and it won't even last until the next CARS deal comes along. We have a Ford and it's been a great vehicle so its good to know there are going to be more Ford Focuses on the road.

Top 10 Trade-in Vehicles

  • Ford Explorer 4WD
  • Ford F150 Pickup 2WD
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
  • Ford Explorer 2WD
  • Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2WD
  • Jeep Cherokee 4WD
  • Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
  • Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
  • Ford F150 Pickup 4WD
  • Ford Windstar FWD Van
All American down the line, which is too bad, because that is that fewer American cars on the road. Our Ford Explorer 2WD is the 4th highest vehicle traded it, but ours isn't a clunker. Our 1998 vehicle only has 61,800 miles and is going strong. I think there were plenty of foreign clunkers out there that could have been traded without the mileage restrictions.

Vehicles Purchased by Category

  • Passenger Cars: 404,046
  • Category 1 Truck: 231,651
  • Category 2 Truck: 46,836
  • Category 3 Truck: 2,408

Vehicle Trade-in by Category

  • Passenger Cars: 109,380
  • Category 1 Truck: 450,778
  • Category 2 Truck: 116,909
  • Category 3 Truck: 8,134
The government reports that 84% of trade-ins under the program are trucks, and 59% of new vehicles purchased are cars. I'll allow them this little bit of hyperbole because the facts seem to support it, "The program worked far better than anyone anticipated at moving consumers out of old, dirty trucks and SUVs and into new more fuel-efficient cars."

Average Fuel Economy

  • New vehicles Mileage: 24.9 MPG
  • Trade-in Mileage: 15.8 MPG
  • Overall increase: 9.2 MPG, or a 58% improvement
Cars purchased under the program are, on average, 19% above the average fuel economy of all new cars currently available, and 59% above the average fuel economy of cars that were traded in. This means the program raised the average fuel economy of the fleet, while getting the dirtiest and most polluting vehicles off the road, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported.

Requested Voucher Dollar Amount by State:

  • ALABAMA - $31,251,500
  • ALASKA - $4,868,500
  • ARIZONA - $39,542,500
  • ARKANSAS - $23,402,500
  • CALIFORNIA - $326,822,000
  • COLORADO - $37,676,500
  • CONNECTICUT - $40,114,000
  • DELAWARE - $11,235,000
  • FLORIDA - $146,565,000
  • GEORGIA - $70,496,000
  • GUAM - $675,000
  • HAWAII - $7,333,500
  • IDAHO - $11,655,000
  • ILLINOIS - $143,613,000
  • INDIANA - $65,797,000
  • IOWA - $37,728,000
  • KANSAS - $31,496,500
  • KENTUCKY - $40,246,500
  • LOUISIANA - $33,376,500
  • MAINE - $16,579,500
  • MARYLAND - $74,903,000
  • MASSACHUSETTS - $64,855,000
  • MICHIGAN - $132,407,500
  • MINNESOTA - $73,160,500
  • MISSISSIPPI - $12,463,500
  • MISSOURI - $61,271,500
  • MONTANA - $6,461,000
  • NEBRASKA - $21,784,500
  • NEVADA - $14,582,000
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE - $23,045,500
  • NEW JERSEY - $103,375,500
  • NEW MEXICO - $13,941,500
  • NEW YORK - $156,292,000
  • NORTH CAROLINA - $78,601,500
  • NORTH DAKOTA - $8,938,000
  • OHIO - $136,267,000
  • OKLAHOMA - $37,422,000
  • OREGON - $37,531,500
  • PENNSYLVANIA - $138,651,500
  • PUERTO RICO - $2,252,000
  • RHODE ISLAND - $10,690,500
  • SOUTH CAROLINA - $37,207,500
  • SOUTH DAKOTA - $10,367,500
  • TENNESSEE - $50,949,000
  • TEXAS - $183,776,500
  • UTAH - $24,102,500
  • VERMONT - $9,879,000
  • VIRGIN ISLANDS - $1,553,000
  • VIRGINIA - $98,523,500
  • WASHINGTON - $55,927,500
  • WEST VIRGINIA - $13,477,000
  • WISCONSIN - $70,165,000
  • WYOMING - $2,513,000
Who knew they even sold new cars on the Virgin Islands and Guam?