Why I sold my brand new car and bought a used one

By , September 23, 2013 1:00 am

It was the day after Christmas, I finally decided that my next car was going to be the Lexus CT200h. At the time I justified to myself that I worked so hard and deserved a nice luxury. The requirement was that it had to be a hybrid and a hatchback so I can haul my bikes around. A Toyota Prius would have been on my list but I really really did not like the way the car looks and that everyone in Los Angeles seem to be driving one. What really helped me seal the deal on buying this car was that my company had a hybrid incentive program in which they gave me a rebate for purchasing a fuel efficient car as part of their green initiative.

I used an iPhone application called CarWoo which was recommended by my Mint financial application to field the offers from local dealerships. I finally received one which had the lowest final price and scheduled an appointment to go see the car on the 26th of December. Next thing you know, I am sitting at the Southbay Lexus dealership and was signing my loan papers and was the proud owner of a 2013 Lexus CT200h.

My former 2013 Lexus CT200h car

Before I left, I had the picture taken to commemorate this special occasion.  This was my first luxury car.  I enjoyed the comfortable ride and the features like push button start, Bluetooth connectivity, and the awesome fuel economy for the next 8 months.   That was when the novelty wore off and I really thought about how this vehicle related with me.  What does it say about me?  Did I buy it because I want it to say something about me? Is it the right vehicle for me?  Is it worth the almost $600 a month payment on it?  I found myself asking these questions over and over for the last month or so.

Let’s go back to January or  February time period.  I went out to eat with some former colleagues.  While we said our good-byes, I jokingly said, “I’ll trade you my Lexus for your Honda Fit.”  Somehow that resonated with me to the point where I spent the last 2 weeks of August looking for a used Fit.  This was not a matter of liking or not liking my Lexus.  It was the turning point in which I felt that I wasn’t comfortable owning a Lexus.  I hated that I worried where I park it.   I didn’t like people driving it.  I was self-conscious from people who might think about me and my car.  Even though it was a hatchback, it was tiny.  I barely could fit (no pun intended) anything with passengers.  The Honda Fit was perfect.  It was a small car with good gas mileage (albeit not as good as the hybrid but I digress), humongous trunk and back seat space, and I’ve always liked the way the car looked.  It has the practicality of a SUV but without the large foot print and poor fuel economy.  I did not buy it in December because of the hybrid incentive my company offered.   Did I mention that the Fit can carry 2 or more bikes vertically?

Before you think that this decision was just a spur of the moment rash decision.  I busted out my spreadsheet to crunch out some numbers.  I calculated that in a 4 year span, I would be paying about an $8000 premium to drive the Lexus until 2016.   That’s $8000 I can use on a vacation or anything.  Most of that would have been towards the loan and interest.

I went to CarMax and received an appraisal for the Lexus.  I was offered about Blue Book value.  I needed to pay over $2000 on the negative equity from my loan.  Luckily, I will be getting a pro-rated refund of the extended warranty and prepaid maintenance that I added on when I purchased the Lexus.  This gives me a good chunk of change left over for me to pull the trigger on selling my Lexus and buying a used Fit.  I found a perfect 2011 white one which costed only $13,000.  The title was clean with 3,000+ miles.  This  car suits me very well.  I don’t care about who drives it.  I don’t care what people thought of me when I drive it.  It carries tons of cargo and people.  It’s my perfect little car.  I do sacrifice good gas mileage and comfort but I get something that not only conforms to my lifestyle and frees up my finances so I don’t need to pay a luxury tax to get from point A to point B.

Have you ever have buyers remorse after buying big item?  Did you take drastic steps to remedy this?  We’re you afraid of what people might think about you and your stuff?  Feel free to leave a comment and share your stories here.  I would love to hear about it.

Back From Vacation

By , July 19, 2013 10:20 am
Johnny at Hollywood sign

Me visiting the Hollywood sign.

Yesterday was the first day I have to myself in my 1.5 week of vacation. My cousin was in town from July 5th to 17th. I started my vacation on July 11th and it was a non-stop adventure until today. As self-proclaimed foodies, my sister and I made sure we ate well where ever we went. We went all out and visited the famous Hollywood landmarks including the sign, Walk of Fame, Natural Science Museum, Little Tokyo, Old Town Pasadena. We did this with a mixture of public transportation and of course driving. We then headed up north to visit Monterey and San Francisco. We drove through the scenic 17 mile drive and Canary Row in Monterey. We then made it into San Francisco and visited the Golden Gate bridge, Lombard Street, Ferry Building, and Fisherman’s Wharf. We even got to ride the cable car!

Now that the excitement is over and my cousin is safely back home, I had a very productive Thursday. I went to see the doctors in the morning. I then had a chance for lunch with the fiancee in Cerritos. I then came home to recaulk my bathroom finally. I even had a chance to visit a yoga studio in town by bike. Had a good dinner by myself at a Japanese restaurant and came home relaxed and watched the Tour de France untile I dozed off. What made yesterday perfect was that I didn’t have a formal agenda besides the doctor’s appointment. I just went off with what I wanted to do and what I needed to do and just did it.

The stark contrast with yesterday and the past week of touring California has gotten me to think that I don’t need much to be content. I just need to be “in the moment” as my yoga instructor reminded us. I’m constantly faced with so many concerns and constantly go through what-ifs situation. With work looming in a few days, I am noticing that I am reminded here and there during my thoughts. I’m trying to silence these thoughts by keeping myself focus on what I can control now and what I want to do now.

Fortunately, I have 3 more days until I have to go back to work. I’m going to make the best of this and do what I want to do for the consequences I can live with and be happy.

My Favorite Commute

By , July 1, 2013 10:21 pm
Photo by Kevin Utting

Photo by Kevin Utting

“I love my commute!” was never uttered by any Angelino. Well, maybe never until now. Not owning a car the last 3 years really helped me see that there are many ways a person can get around town in the city.

My least favorite way is by car. Yes, I get to sit comfortably in my air conditioned box racing to and from work in no time but it is the least fun. It’s also the most expensive way even though I drive a hybrid that gives me about 41 to 43 mpg. I save driving for the last option when I need to go somewhere after or before work. It is a time saver when there isn’t any traffic. When does LA not have traffic?

I used to ride my bike into work everyday but unfortunately my opportunities are limited as my schedule and home is divided to 2 different locations. I rarely bike into work now. When I do, I enjoy it but I also don’t like bringing it on the train as I feel I’m occupying more room than I needed. This is especially true when the train gets crowded. I feel more environmentally responsible riding a bike as I don’t burn fossil fuel and I’m not crowding the streets.

I also ride the motorcycle into work sometimes. The downside about that is the ride is long as I prefer to take local streets. I have to be extra alert on the motorcycle as I am not as protected as a car or not as discreet as a bike. It is one of the most fun way to get around town. I get premium parking at work or wherever I go. I get the very good gas mileage as my bike is only a 250cc engine. I don’t like wearing all the protective gear when I ride as the weather gets too hot. It’s also freezing during the winters. At least on a bike you can pedal faster to stay warm. On a motorcycle, you freeze your butt off because you’re just sitting there.

Once in awhile I enjoy a nice long commute into work. That is when I will just take public transportation. Yes, it adds about an hour to my commute but it is the most relaxing time I have. I get to nap, enjoy my music, and catch up on my reading while the bus driver or conductor takes care of getting everyone there in one piece. Yes, you deal with some crazy people sometime but that is a small price to pay for the relaxation and productivity.

My favorite commute to work is when I ride my motorcycle to the train station and take the train into work. I get the best of both worlds. I get to enjoy the short 10 mile round trip ride to the train station. My gas mileage allows me to not fill up until the 14th time. I still get to nap, listen to music, or read. It sounds complicated but in my mind, it is the most simplistic thing. I find joy in choosing how I want to get to particular place and it is empowering. I can consciously decide whether or not I want to contribute to the traffic or the pollution. That to me is simple living.

Weekly Update – June 30, 2013

By , June 30, 2013 8:15 pm


For this week, I am trying to maintain my “1 in, 1 out” rule. I just bought some yoga equipment which includes a yoga towel, bag, and shorts. In exchange, I am giving away my collection of tshirts. I have more than enough tshirts so I am keeping 10 for home use and 10 for going out. Many of these tshirts have funny slogans or are from movie releases in the past. They’re all worn in and are super comfortable but they are a bit excessive in terms of how many tshirts a 30 year old should own. I use to rotate my tshirts from going out to using for home but I’ve been getting free tshirts frequently that I don’t ever need to do that.


By , June 27, 2013 3:11 pm

A friend sent this to me to keep me motivated. Now I can turn to this when I need that extra oomph.

I certainly needed this for this week. Work has been kicking my butt but I need time to reflect. I need the time to remind me of my goals and dreams and make sure I’m doing the things towards meeting those. Nothing like a pumped up Arnold Schwarzenegger telling you to keep on going! This is good therapy.


By , June 25, 2013 1:00 am

This was sent to me by a good friend of mine. A great reminder for to keep on doing what I need to do regardless of any fears or uncertainty. Ze Frank sums up everything I’ve been thinking and feeling.

Ze has been around the Internet providing his own brand of funny and smart humor. He engages his fans and has these funny contests. See his Ted Talk video for more about this funny dude.

He’s also the guy that started all the True Facts video and the Sad Dog Diary and Sad Cat Diary videos.

Weekly Update – June 23, 2013

By , June 23, 2013 1:00 am

This week started very slow but what helped me got things going was that the crisis at work has finally subsided so this week was about wrapping up and returning back to normal habits. This gave me some time to make my deliveries for the Asian Pacific Women’s Center. I had 2 car loads of stuff donated by people of my company. My 2 systems was part of this donation run.


I am able to gather all my stuff from my garage as mentioned earlier and loaded it all in my car. Next stop Goodwill Donation center.

Here are items that I am donating.

  • Sony radio
  • 5 antennas
  • Keyboard
  • VCR
  • VCR tape rewinder
  • Memorex power center
  • Bauer hockey skates
  • Mission hockey stick
  • Cassette tapes
  • Hot Call
  • 2 RF modulator
  • Dlink Cable modem
  • External DVD drive
  • Dlink router
  • Smoke and fire alarm
  • Babachi grill
  • SMC wireless access point
  • Timer
  • Logitech headset
  • Wirespeed DSL modem
  • 2 cordless telephone
  • 2 USB card reader and writer
  • Australia clock
  • Canon film camera
  • 2 Tool set
  • 2 bags
  • Polaroid LCD TV
  • 13″ CRT TV
  • USB Bluetooth adapter
  • Keychain SIM card backup
  • Caselogic car caddy bag

Less Is More

By , June 22, 2013 1:00 am

My brother-in-law brought this article to my attention earlier this week. We both missed the CNN broadcast but I found it on CNN’s site. It’s worth checking out as Graham Hill, the founder of the Treehugger.com site and now LifeEdited.com points out that we don’t need that much to be happy. We are living in 3 x the space that we used to and spending $22,000,000 on storage for what?

Isn’t it amazing how a little bit of creativity on how you build and arrange your living space that it can give you so much? His NYC apartment is inspiring. What really got me was that because of his ability to trim down his life style, he can afford to work in Maui when New York gets too cold. Very inspirational as I would love to strive to get where he is and do my own projects to have the freedom to work wherever I want.

Here is Graham Hill’s Ted Talk video in case you want to see more.


By , June 19, 2013 11:44 pm

Photo by Albert Straaf

Photo by Albert Straaf

I am noticing that I’ve fallen into a routine for the last 2 months. I’ve gone into work knowing exactly what needs to be done, get into meetings, and get what I need done at a bare minimum. I have to say running lean like this has been be helpful as I am focusing on the right big rocks. Unfortunately, it’s the medium sized rocks that I’m worried about. The items that’s been sitting in my to do lists for weeks now without the me paying any attention. These are my medium size rocks that can be my big rocks any minute now if I neglect them. It’s a bit difficult to look at those items when I’ve exerted so much energy trying to deal with the big rocks of the day that I just don’t want to think about the other things.

I’m getting conflicted advice when it come to what to do on your off time. I hear people say you should plan it all out and have something on the horizon to deal with those other items. Others have said just go home and not focus on work. Spend your time winding down from work. It’ll be beneficial for your mental health as your brain can shutdown stress-free and can even subliminally solve some of your work problems.

My boss has told me swimming & bicycling has allowed him to really think about things and get resolution and relaxation. Unfortunately, I don’t have an activity where I can zone out and just think. I mean bicycling use to be it but I’m lacking the motivation to even want to ride a bike right now. Maybe yoga. I’m too cheap to buy a yoga mat, towel, and attend a class or two. So far I’ve only been to 2 sessions. I’m yearning for an activity to do. Something new and refreshing. Something I haven’t done before.

So frustrated with myself for being so nonchalant. I gotta get out of this rut of nothingness. I really need a break.


By , June 18, 2013 11:24 pm

Oddly enough, the source of this video was passed on to me by a co-worker today.

This is a refreshing way to think about our traditional preconception about work. Instead of powering through 40 years of work between 25 and 65 with little opportunities for extended time off to recharge, Stefan Sagmeister’s bravely implements a 7 year work schedule with a 1 year sabbatical. He is borrowing retirement time so that he can recharge his creativity. Apparently this has been a great benefit as each time that he came back from being away, his fresh new ideas generate more revenue. It’s such a logical answer to our highly stressed out society and allows us to learn more about ourselves and be happy.

I’ve been thinking about taking some time off for myself to recuperate from just life. I am yearning for an opportunity to take some time off to do what I love and explore what makes me tick. Unfortunately, work has been occupying most of my time these days that I am unable to schedule any time off. Fortunately, things are calming down in the near future. I will be able to get some time off on the books so that I can recharge like Stefan.

Probably the best way to achieve what Mr. Sagmeister has done is to work for myself and find my own opportunities to take extended leave with minimal impact to my finances. Such an intriguing and desirable possibility.

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