Wednesday bits: Life, cars, frugality, and $1,000 Christmas trees

Christmas trees will cost you $1,000 in this New York City neighborhood – You think your Christmas tree is expensive? My wife always seems surprised that you can buy trees around here for $40 or even $20, but if you live in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, you might have to shell out a few more bucks, but hey, the equity you (hopefully) have in your Manhattan apartment is considerable.

Are you appropriately frugal? I like this article a lot. I try to be frugal. But my instincts as a consumer are mistaken. Behavioral economics suggests that I’m often frugal in the wrong way and that you may be, too. Consider this situation: You’re shopping for headphones. An electronics store has the model you want for $50, a reasonable price. But a sales clerk says: “You know our other branch has this item on sale for $40.” Going to that store will take 30 minutes, and you can’t buy the headphones for that price online. Do you go to the other branch?

The rich live longer than the rest of us?! They say money can’t buy happiness; apparently it can buy life. Well, actually it’s the opposite; unfortunately, men in the poorest spots died on average nearly 10 years earlier, at 69 years old, than men in the wealthiest ones, and women in the poorest places died on average seven years sooner, at 76 years old, the research team reports in the American Journal of Public Health.

How many credit cards do you carry? Some people have many, some people have very few. We have several, but primarily focus use two of them. One is our Costco card, the other is a 2% cash back card. (pardon the obvious next question…) Some cards offer very tasty cash back offers. One even offers you 6% cash back. What’s in your wallet?

Find the Used-Car-Buying Sweet Spot A friend recently bought a 10-year old BMW X5 for just $6,000. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I have to say, I am jealous. Sure I keep my cars longer than most people — my wife’s car is 18 years old, mine is 10 — but even I can succumb to the allure of a “new” car. My friend’s “new” ten year old car looks showroom new unless you look closely, then it shows a bit of wear, but it has relatively low mileage and really looks great. I expect that he’ll keep this car for many years to come. Most people aren’t as fortunate as my buddy and aren’t able to find such a sweet ride for such a low price. If you are in the market for a “new,” err used, err pre-owned car, this article offers some great tips on how to find that sweet spot — the right combination of price and age.

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