Things Don’t Always Work Out How You Expect….

I got really frustrated this past weekend.  I didn’t get to finish something I started.  When I bought my car to drive back and forth to work to save money, I knew it needed some work done to it.  In order to save money, I’ve been doing all the work myself. 

This car has leaked oil since the day I got it.  I thought I narrowed it down to the crankshaft seal.  It’s a $13 part, but a ton of labor would be involved in replacing it (you have to take apart half the engine to get to it).  So I figured it would be a good project for me to learn, and save me hundreds of dollars in the process.

It took me  two weeks to get it done, but I got that seal swapped out, along with changing the 3 belts on the car (another $30-$40 for all the belts combined).  The only problem is that the car still leaked oil.  I figured the oil pan gasket needed to be changed as well (another $15 part), so I was going to change it the next time I changed my oil.

That was a week ago now.  I drained the oil from the car, and started taking the pan off.  It’s a simple procedure.  It’s just taking a lot of bolts and screws off, dropping the pan, cleaning the area, applying a new gasket and some sealant, and reinstalling it.  The problem I ran into was in taking the exhaust apart to get to one little screw on the drain pan. 

Two bolts wouldn’t come off.  Keep in mind that they have been stuck in place for the past 15 years, so they are really stubborn.  The problem is that when I put my socket on the bolt, it doesn’t fit all the way on.  These two bolts must have malformed over the years.  So I try to break it off, and my socket just slips off the bolt, and rounds it out more each time.

After trying everything I can to try to get the drain pan off without removing the exhaust, I finally gave up.  I figured I’d put it all back together, and either mess with it later or take it somewhere and pay someone to fix it.  It was extremely frustrating, and I couldn’t let my car sit any longer.

But I didn’t give up.  Now I know I can work on just those two bolts without taking anything else apart, so I can mess with it even before I need to change the oil again.  I’ll have to figure out some way of getting the bolts off.  If I can’t get them off, I might even be able to take it somewhere and see if they can just break those two bolts off for me.  If I can get that done, it would be a lot less than paying someone to do all the work to replace the gasket, and the rest would be easy work.

Somewhere throughout this process, I realized that the gasket I replaced before wasn’t even bad.  It’s the drain pan that’s got a leak right around where the crankshaft gasket was, so it just looked like it was leaking from there.  Oh well, at least it was a good learning experience for me.  Now I have the knowledge and confidence to do more work myself on my own vehicles.  So that cheap investment of replacing the belts and seal will pay for itself in the long run.

Every experience doesn’t have to have a positive result for it to be worthwhile.  Knowledge comes with each and every experience, and that knowledge allows you to expand your skills.  So try something new, and don’t worry if you fail.  You’ll always gain experience from it, and it might help you with something else down the road.

Bye Bye, Bank of America

I’ve been a Bank of America customer for 9 years now.  I’ve heard horror stories about their customer service, but I’ve never really had much of a problem. 

Last year, I was doing a self-audit of all the accounts I have, and found an online checking account – – that offers interest and free checks.  It looks like the online bill pay is super easy based on their screen shots (that’s the only reason I still had Bank of America), so I thought that if I had to start over I would definitely pick them.  I just didn’t want to go through the trouble of switching everything over to a new bank, so I just stuck with BoA.

Then two weeks ago came.  I received a phone call from Bank of America stating that I had a virus on my computer, and it could have gotten some information from my bank account.  I had an updated antivirus program, but it didn’t catch it until I manually ran a scan.  They reset my online login and password, and told me I’d have to reset up all my accounts, and they’d get me new checks for free.  I asked them what would happen to all the online bill pay stuff I had set up, and they said they would still go through like normal, and should automatically switch over to the new account. 

So I went into the local branch to set up all new accounts, just like they suggested.  I spoke with the branch manager, and she was going to leave enough money in the old account to cover the transactions.  She was putting a hold on the old account so no more debits could take place.  Deposits could still go to the old accounts though, and I’d just have to call to get them moved over.    I asked the bank manager what would happen to the transactions that had already gone through on the old account, but had not been processed yet, and she told me those would still go through.  She also told me that the future transactions I had scheduled online would automatically get moved over to the new account.  She told me it would take a day or so for the new accounts to show up in the online bill pay.  She also told me that I’d have to pay to get new checks again.  There’s mistake #1.

Ready for mistake #2?  I started getting emails from BoA stating that I had insufficient funds for the transactions that already went through.  The funds were in the old account, but the hold meant no debits would go through.  Even the online bill pays that were already in progress.  So now I have checks that people have cashed, with money sitting in the account to cover it, but Bank of America thinks I don’t have any money in there.  Not good!

So I call the customer service line, and they tell me the online bill pay accounts were never set up.  They also told me that I’d have to edit every one of my bill pays and change the account that it pays from.  That’s not what I was told before all of this started.  So they got the accounts set up for bill pay, and transferred me to someone who can “help” with the existing transactions that said I didn’t have enough in my account to cover them.  They said that this person would be able to automatically move them to the new accounts, and everything should be good.

Guess what.  It wasn’t.  When I got through to this other person, they say that they cannot transfer the existing accounts to pay from the new account.  So I ask them what is going to happen to the existing transactions.  They don’t know.  HOW DO THEY NOT KNOW?  Isn’t that their job?  He told me that it will try again in a couple of days.  I had to explain to this person that if the account is on hold, it will fail again.  So I asked him what will happen to it once it fails again, and he doesn’t know.  He said something about how it might go to collections, or “they” (not sure who “they” is, since he works for BoA) might recognize the account as being put on hold due to fraud, and pull it from the new account.  Or it might go to collections and they will handle it.  That’s a pretty big difference in my book, especially when you don’t know what will happen!

It’s been two weeks now, and I’m still not sure what happened to my old transactions.  I already paid one again, just to be sure.  I figure worst case scenario, it would be a credit on my account for the extra amount.  I’m still not sure what’s going on with the other 3-4 transactions though.

After all this, I figure it’s a good time to switch banks.  I filled out the application for Schwab and mailed it in.  Bye Bye, Bank of America.  I’ll be leaving your customer-no-service for a bank who prides themselves on customer service.  Oh, and did I mention they will pay me interest, and have free checks?  Now I just have to wait to see what happens with the transactions that were supposed to go through when BoA screwed everything up.  At least it’ll be the last thing I have to deal with from them.

New Year’s Goals – Progress Update – Eight Months

We’re still right on track with the revised debt reduction, and I’ve started running more often.  Here’s an update on my New Year’s Goals for this year:

  1. Reduce house debt by 44.11% (Revised target: 56.92%).
    Revised target: 46.48%, Actual: 46.51%.  We’re basically right over the graph, so it’s even hard to see it in the photo below.  We’re doing exactly how I planned it to go after the revision at this point in time.  Here’s a graph of our progress so far:
  2. Run a 5k.
    I started running a little more this month, and I’m still hoping I can run in the 5k with my neighbor on Sept 22nd.
  3. Work out at least 2 times per week.
    I worked out 5 times this month, which is much better than before.  Hopefully I can hit this goal next month.
  4. Add at least 2 products to
    I haven’t added any new products this month either.  With it being summer, I’ve been spending most of my time outdoors.
  5. Make our home  more energy efficient.
    Nothing this month.  But I’ve made some real progress in this area so far this year.  Just about the only thing left on my list is stuff in the basement, which isn’t as high of a priority.  I knocked this one out early.
  6. Participate in at least one bike race.
    I’m not sure if this one will happen this year.  I haven’t even been on the bike in a while.

I’ve done a little better this month.  I’m thinking I might just cut back my goals next year to be one or two.  Six goals is hard to keep up with as the year goes on.