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WRX ranks No. 1 on list of cars with highest insurance losses
Today the Wall Street Journal printed an article about auto insurance premiums, highlighting the Subaru Impreza WRX which received the highest (worst) score for highest losses for all types of coverage. That's not really a big surprise though.

The WRX is as powerful as many much more expensive performance cars but is still pretty affordable for young drivers. That's a recipe for high insurance premiums right there. Out of curiosity, I decided to look up my historical insurance payments and see if I could detect any patterns. I present them here with what I perceive to be the reasons for any premium changes.
Started with just a 98 Accord
3/01/2000, Geico, 666.5, living in Evanston (Cook County)
8/16/2000, Geico, 642.8, 
3/17/2001, Geico, 642.8, 
9/21/2001, Geico, 643.3, 
3/03/2002, Geico, 658.5, Moved to Chicago (Cook County)
9/12/2002, Geico, 490.8, Turned 25
3/12/2003, Geico, 490.8, 
9/03/2003, Geico, 436.3, Moved to Wheaton (not Cook County)
3/22/2004, Geico, 799.2, Bought Sti
9/10/2004, Geico, 799.2, 
3/25/2005, Geico, 1168.69, Moved to Streamwood and raised coverage (Cook County)
9/27/2005, Geico, 1178.1, 
1/19/2006, AAA, 997, Switched to AAA
7/28/2006, AAA, 983, 
1/15/2007, AAA, 531.1, Turned 30
8/09/2007, AAA, 642.3, Traded Accord for 07 FXT
1/29/2008, AAA, 802.3, 
7/10/2008, AAA, 643.4, 
1/21/2009, AAA, 666, 
8/05/2009, AAA, 666,

Posted 09/23/2009 08:56 PM in Cars, Finances, Ramblings
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Taxing taxes
I've got to applaud my tax accountant for putting up with me. I use my parents' accountant because he's located in southern Illinois so he's familiar with Illinois taxes but he charges St. Louis rates instead of Chicago rates. Since I've used him ever since I graduated from college, he knows all my tax history too.

Now, every year I vow to get my taxes to him before April and every year I fail. This year was probably my worst. I had all my document prepared by 4/4 and planned to FedEx them to my accountant on 4/6, but I kept forgetting with all the fires at work and didn't send it until 4/10, with Saturday delivery.

That means my accountant got my documents on Sat 4/11 and had to do my taxes (Federal plus three states) by Monday 4/13 so I could get them today, sign the forms and have them ready to send tomorrow. Luckily my taxes are relatively simple (aside from the multiple states).

With federal, three states and FedEx Priority Overnight (8AM) shipping my accountant fees were $190 (my highest ever). I know people who have gone to H&R Block with two states and been charged $200 for some random accountant and I know that Deloitte charges $250 for two states. So $190 is not a bad deal for the assurance of using a familiar accountant who puts up with my procrastination...

The next challenge is actually getting my tax return filed on time. I had everything shipped to my hotel in Connecticut so I could take it to the post office, but I have a balance due for Connecticut but I don't have my checks with me. So I'm going to have to withdraw some cash and get a cashier's check during lunch tomorrow. Luckily I things have managed to settle down a little bit at work this week.
Posted 04/14/2009 10:43 PM in Finances, Ramblings
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Formosa Betrayed
About a month ago, my mom invited me to go to LA to see the world premier of the film, "Formosa Betrayed." It's an interesting movie focused on a murder that has ties to US-Taiwan politics. The premier will take place on 2/28, a nod to Taiwan's 228 Incident in 1947.

When I first heard about it, I wasn't sure I wanted to go but about two weeks ago my Mom said that she was going to LA alone and wanted me to mail my GPS to her as she would be driving between LA, Hollywood and Anaheim. As I've gotten older, I guess I've started worrying about my parents more so I decided to tag along. Little did I know the difficulties that would ensue.

First, I wanted to see if the ticket prices were reasonable from Hartford so I could do alternative travel through my company. They weren't. So I decided to buy a ticket myself using points. For 50,000 miles I could get a direct, first class, round trip ticket. I wasn't quite sure whether to go or not, so I didn't book it.

The next day after talking to my mom I decided to book the ticket for Thursday, 2/26, only to find that the first class seats were no longer available so I had to get a coach ticket, but still for 50,000 miles because all the 25,000 mile tickets were gone as well.

Things were pretty settled there as well, until last Thursday when I got a call from Countrywide. I was refinancing my home through them and I hadn't heard from them in almost three weeks. I finally got in contact with them on Friday and the reason they were calling was to set a closing date. My rate expires March 3rd, but since I travel every week, that means the only day I had left to close was today, 2/27, when I was supposed to be in LA.

I called AA and changed my flight to today so I could close on my mortgage in the morning. You can read my two previous posts to learn about the fiasco I went through with that. I hope this movie is worth the two day trip across the continental divide!
Posted 03/01/2009 02:05 AM in Finances, Movies, News, Ramblings, Taiwan, Travel
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The fiasco continues.
After yesterday's post about my emergency cash fiasco, I thought things would be fine. I had a giant wad of cash that I had to change into a cashier's check for closing costs on my condo. Now my closing was at 9:00 at home so I figured I could just zip over to the bank at 8:30 and come back just in time. WRONG.

I know about banker's hours, but I thought 8:30 was a reasonable time for a bank to be open. Apparently it is not, at least for Chase. All banks in my area didn't open until 9:00 so I searched around and finally found one by Stratford Mall in in Bloomingdale that opened at 8:30 so I booked it down there after my 7AM conference call for work and got the cashier's check. I rushed back home and arrived just in time to watch my closing agent turn into my subdivision in front of me.

Finally that's all over, but you'll have to wait for my next post for the final installment of everything that's been going on this week.
Posted 02/27/2009 06:36 PM in Finances, Ramblings
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Emergency Cash
I was surprised to find it quite difficult to get emergency cash today, though I'll admit it was almost directly related to my own laziness. My primary checking account didn't have enough, so a regular trip to the ATM wouldn't work. I should have transferred money earlier this week but I forgot with work occupying my mental faculties.

So how else do you get large amounts of emergency cash? My first thought was to access my backup account, but I don't carry that ATM card around, and even if I had it, I didn't have the PIN.

My next thought was to get a cash advance on a credit card. However, cash advances usually come with horrendous interest rates, so I never bothered to memorize or set PINs for those either. I tried calling one credit card to get a PIN, but they would only mail it, which isn't so useful when you're in a pinch.

Then I tried calling another bank to get a PIN for another card. After validating my phone number with the automated system, it requested the number for the account I use to pay. Since I was on the airplane about to take off, I didn't have that so I had to wait until I landed so I could go on-line to look it up.

After locating the account number, I called the automated system again and after providing my account number, they requested my phone password. I didn't know that either so I had to connect to their fraud department and explain the situation. Once they determined that I was who I claimed to be, I asked to change my PIN and they said they can only mail PINs. I asked for the automated PIN system and they said they didn't have one (obviously they did as that's how I got into the system in the first place).

After I hung up, I remembered my password so then I called the automated line again and went through the whole process again and finally changed my PIN. Happy that I'd finally gotten a PIN, I went to the ATM to withdraw cash, only to have the ATM tell me my card had been deactivated.

I called the bank again and they said that when I called before, they had entered my cell phone as my primary contact (which it should have been already) and that got registered as a change to the account. With a large cash withdrawal attempted soon after an account change, the fraud detection system had locked my account.

In order to clear it up, they had to verify my phone number again, then verify the account I used to pay again. The problem was that I was at the ATM, not at home, so I had to drive home with the service rep on speakerphone to get the account number yet again. Finally they cleared everything up. I made another trip to the ATM and thankfully got my cash.

Phew, what an ordeal!
Posted 02/27/2009 00:18 AM in Finances, Ramblings
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