Showing posts with label Smart Ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smart Ideas. Show all posts

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Do I Really Need to Pay an Out-of-state Parking Ticket?

A couple days ago, I went on an out-of-state road trip from Iowa to Wisconsin to meet my son at a musical performance.  The plan was to watch his performance and then take him to an event in yet another state.

As it happened, there was no parking anywhere near the music venue, except for one spot.  It was along a street in front of a driveway about a block away.  The curb next to the driveway was painted yellow for about 1 foot.  I was able to pull into the space so that I was not blocking the driveway at all.  I will admit that a little bit of the back of my car was into the 1 foot of yellow curb, but not even taking up the entire 1 foot.  I thought I was good.

Do I Really Need To Pay My Out-of-State Parking Ticket?
Do I Really Need To Pay My Out-of-State Parking Ticket?

Well, I came back a couple hours later and found a ticket on my windshield.  A $20 ticket!  My first thought was to crumple up the ticket and throw it away.  For one thing, I thought the way I parked was just fine, plus I was from a different state.  Are they really going to track me down in Iowa from Wisconsin and impound my car or something?

My initial decision was not to worry about paying an out-of-state parking ticket.  I put the ticket away to think about later after my trip.

After a bit of research into parking ticket enforcement, I decided to send my payment in immediately.  If it was easy to ignore parking tickets, no one would bother to pay them.  Here's why I decided to cough up the $20 even for an out-of-state ticket.

Many states exchange information, so the folks in Wisconsin can pull my vehicle record in Iowa and figure out how to mail me bills.  Of course I could choose to ignore the bills.  The initial ticket can escalate if you don't pay it, so that $20 ticket can turn into $50 or more.  So far this isn't really a problem because I could simply not pay the ticket.

Eventually, the ticket can be turned over to a collection agency to collect the money and can possibly impact your credit rating if it gets put on your report as an unpaid bill.  Dealing with letters and possibly calls from a bill collector could be a bit stressful, and getting something on my credit report and maybe a ding in my credit score would not be good.

But it can get worse.  If my car was found in Wisconsin with an unpaid ticket on the record, the car could get booted or impounded.  The next level of pain would be if the court in Wisconsin issued a warrant for my arrest, so if I am ever pulled over in Wisconsin, I could even get thrown in jail!  This sounds extreme to issue an arrest warrant for not paying a parking ticket, but apparently this is one of the tools in the toolbox to get people to pay up.

One way to avoid these problems would be to never go back to Wisconsin again.  Even so, there would be a warrant out for my arrest and this could show up in my records if anyone were to do a background check on me for an employment opportunity, etc. at any point in the future.

So I decided to either pay the ticket or appeal it.  The appeals process requires you to pay court costs if you don't win the appeal, around $150 in this case for the $20 ticket.  Since I was technically in violation of the yellow curb, and since I didn't take any pictures or have any other evidence, there would be almost no chance of winning an appeal.  It wouldn't be worth risking $150 to get out of a $20 ticket.

So I wrote a check for $20 and dropped it in the mail this morning.

Paying $20 for a questionable parking violation didn't seem like an especially good use of money, but in this case it was the best option.

Copyright © 2018 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls

The other day, I got an interesing voicemail message on my phone.

Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls!
Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls!

I noticed my phone was ringing, but I have stopped answering when I don't recognize the number since I get calls from so many telemarketers.  I even double checked to make sure that my number is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.  It is, but sometimes telemarketers call anyway.

Since this call was from a "866" number, I was pretty sure it was a telemarketer, and I was pretty sure they wouldn't leave a message.  But they did.

The message was a voice synthesizer that read a message.  It said that my Windows license on my computer was expiring soon and that I should call the toll free number to renew it.

I decided to get right on that.  Of course I wasn't going to call and pay to renew my Windows license- this was obviously a scam.

I'm pretty sure the scam involves convincing people that their computer is about to become a useless paperweight unless they give their credit card number over the phone and pay $99 (or who knows how much) to renew their Windows license.  Windows licenses don't expire like that, and I'm sure the folks calling have no idea who I am or what kind of computer I have.

I mentioned the call to my son and he was pretty excited about giving them a call to find out more about the scam and to give them a hard time if possible.  My son gives me a hard time sometimes, and he likes me.  If I were a telemarketer, I wouldn't want to get a call from him...

We went in my son's room and closed the door.  We put the phone on speakerphone and set up another phone with a voice recorder app to record both sides of the conversation.  We talked about maybe saying we have a Mac or Linux computer and seeing if they would still try to take our money for a "Windows license renewal".

With the recorder rolling, we dialed the number from the scam voicemail.  But the toll free number in the spam message had already been disconnected.  This scam was so blatent that it must have been busted quickly.

Since I wasn't able to bust this scammer myself, I thought I would at least publish some tips to help everyone avoid phone scams.  This is my way of giving him a hard time since I couldn't reach him on the phone...

Here are some tips on cutting down on scam calls and telemarketers:

  • Register your number on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) National Do Not Call Registry.  This doesn't stop all telemarketing calls, but I think it cuts down the number of calls significantly since it is illegal for telemarketers to call if you are on the Do Not Call List.
  • If you do get a junk call, tell them to put you on their do not call list and hang up.
  • If you don't recognize the number of an incoming call, let it go to voicemail.  Most telemarketers don't bother to leave a message.
  • If you aren't sure whether a call is legitimate or not ask the caller to send their offer or request to you in the mail.

Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Car Stereo Upgrade FAIL

Sorry for the false alarm, but I decided to return the car stereo I bought to upgrade my older car.  How did such a great plan fail?

Car Stereo Upgrade FAIL!
Car Stereo Upgrade FAIL!

The plan was that I would drive my wife's newer car (which had a modern stereo with bluetooth, XM, etc.) and she would drive my older car instead of buying a different (and likely newer and more expensive) car to drive.

The only problem was that she was not excited about the old school radio.  She would miss her XM satellite radio and streaming songs from her phone via Bluetooth.

Fortuately, the shortcomings of an older car radio are a pretty easy problem to solve by replacing the old radio with a new one.  For around $120 you can get a fancy new car radio with a USB port that supports Bluetooth streaming.  For about $80 more, you can add an XM satellite radio receiver.  Throw in about $100 more for cables and installation, and you can make an old car seem a lot newer.

So why did I decide to return the car stereo and get my money back?  The first problem was that the buttons on the steering wheel would no longer work.  It would cost over $100 extra to hook them up, so we decided to skip that feature.

The next problem was the total bill for the radio and installation was around $350 with taxes, fees, etc.

From my perspective, the new car radio wasn't really an upgrade since I listen to music on CDs:  the old radio had a 6 disc changer and the new radio only held 1 disc.  Plus, the steering wheel buttons would no longer work.

After further review, we decided to skip upgrading the radio.  My wife will continue to drive the newer car and I will continue to drive my older car.

This reminds me a lot of going with "Option 1" for my computer upgrade.  As you may remember, I decided to do nothing and not upgrade my computer.

Now I have decided to do nothing and not upgrade my car radio.  Do you sense a trend here?

Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Make Your Small Desk Seem HUGE

One of the ways I have been able to save money is by having less stuff.  Less stuff not only saves you the cost of buying the stuff, but also saves you the cost of paying for space to store your stuff.

Make a Small Desk Space Seem Like a Huge Desk!
Make a Small Desk Space Seem Like a Huge Desk!

In the bad old days when I had a lot more stuff, I also had a lot more stuff on my desk.  I had stacks of papers and equipment all over.  It didn't really matter how big my desk was, because it was covered with stuff anyway.

The past few years, I have applied the principles of having less stuff to maximize my desk space.  Over the years, I have downsized from having a large desk to having almost no desk surface now- yet I am more productive than ever.

How do I do so much with almost no desk space?

In my latest article published on Wise Bread, I lay out 11 ways to make a small desk space seem like a huge desk space.

Copyright © 2017 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

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