Saving Money on Car Rentals

I work from home most of the time, so we only have one vehicle. That means I rent when I need to drive to a business meeting a couple of hours away. This saves money and miles on our car. It’s also translates into about the same amount of money for my employer since they’d be reimbursing me 53 cents a mile if I drove our car.

I’m saying all this to establish my bona fides. I rent a lot of vehicles.

So I know how the scam works. Sure it’s a special deal of $24.99 a day to rent the car. But don’t you want to pre-pay the gas? That way you don’t have to fill it up before you drop it off.

Generally, no. You don’t want to pre-pay. Only if you know you’re going to use an entire tank of gas do you want to pre-pay. Otherwise, you want to put just enough gas in the car to make up for what you use. Prepaying often means you’re paying for gas you didn’t burn.

Do you want to take the insurance? That depends as well. There are two ways to handle this. First you check with your own auto insurance policy. Does it cover liability or damage to a rental car? Some cover liability but not collision/damage. Some cover both. Find out ahead of time and be prepared to show your insurance card.

Another way to skip the extra insurance is to use a credit card that will cover your costs in the event of damage to the rental car. Check with the credit card company first. If your card doesn’t, shop around for a credit card that does.

Don’t pay for an upgrade. Seriously no. You are purchasing transportation, not an ego boost. Some rental companies have sexy upscale vehicles for you to rent for a premium. A sizeable premium… in the rental fee and in the insurance. Don’t do it. I recently got a (free-ish) upgrade to a BMW for a day. It was a seriously underwhelming experience driving-wise, and even though the “upgrade” was free, I still got charged a couple extra dollars in concession fees, which are based on the value of the vehicle. *sigh*

And finally, watch the mileage costs. Find a rental company that will give you a hefty chunk of miles per day so you won’t be paying per mile for the overage. Better yet, look for the deals with unlimited miles.

So there you are. A few tips that can save you some serious cash. Any tips of your own? Put them in the comments and educate us all!

Is Early Retirement Possible?

The Wife and I are planners.  I’m a Project Manager by trade and my better half is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer.  Our plans have contingency plans, risk management plans, communication plans, and vendor management plans.  We’re perfectly willing to make the best of any situation, but we don’t leap before looking, double-checking with other people who have had a similar experience, triple checking our resource inventory, and weighing the bad press against our skills. We do our best to mitigate risks and ensure smooth transitions.  When things don’t go well, our ‘fix it’ mode kicks in and we can totally stress ourselves out trying to take care of everything at once. 

Retirement planning takes all those habits and kicks it into high gear.  What kind of weather do we enjoy?  What activities?  We love to entertain, eat out, explore new sites and experiences, and spend time with our menagerie (two small dogs and an extremely sociable cat).  While I love my career when its in full swing, my employer has undergone an extended transition that has left me sitting on the sidelines, twiddling my thumbs.  

So lately we have been discussing early retirement for me (my wife retired from the Navy after 20 years and is now a Realtor).  I could collect a small pension, that along with hers would be adequate if we were to go abroad as expats.  Since we both  love to travel this idea seems like an exciting adventure.  (I am fairly certain we will have a number of moments when it will seem more like the last crazy act of people on the verge of senility.)

True to form, we’re researching possibilities.  Although neither of us speaks a second language, I’ve always felt comfortable picking up a few phrases for trips to Paris and Japan. Given an environment where I’m forced to learn a new language to get around, I think I can pick up the basics and grow from there. The Wife is the same.  So language is not an impediment.  

But we’re looking for a culture that is human rights and LGBT friendly.  The Wife prefers cannabis as a pain management solution to opioids, so that has to be legal.  We want access to high quality health care, housing with some 1st world amenities, safety and proximity to an urban environment with shops and restaurants.  We also want to bypass vehicle ownership, so access to public transportation is a must.  Cost of living is a consideration until we reach official retirement age and have access to our long term investments and whatever is still available from Social Security.  

While I’m trying not to be an alarmist, I’m already experiencing arthritis in hips, hands, and I recently injured my knee.  My wife has had her shoulder joint recently replaced.  We are beginning to realize that time is not on our side, so retiring at 58 doesn’t seem quite as irresponsible as it once did. Now we just have to find a way to make it financially doable.  Hence the expat scheme.

I have been fortunate in my employment, in addition to socking away a significant percentage of my income into retirement accounts, my employer offers a pension.  This is something I just learned recently.  Until a few weeks ago,  I thought my retirement funds were my sole source of retirement income until I was able to collect Social Security. So this is my first bit of advice,  involve a financial planning professional earlier in your calculations.  I am preparing to take my own advice. 

Meanwhile we have come up with a short list of Spain, Portugal, and Ecuador. The more we research, the more we recognize how little we know. So the next course of action is to take a trip to experience these locations first hand. Fortunately, we like to travel.  I mentioned that, right?  

Stay tuned.  I’m going to continue to write about our planning and preparations for life abroad.  Who knows?  I might actually learn something of interest to you.