New (used) minivan costs $1460 to get a steering gear replaced on the passenger side. As the Mrs. says, "we don't even HAVE passenger-side steering!". But on one car and with a high-demand week coming up, I paid the dealer-geld.
Also, today's MMM post about basic math is prescient. The WSJ had a blog post that would have been funny if it hadn't tanked the US economy. Turns out, the people who took on WAY more debt than is ever sane for mass-market-McMansions CAN'T DO MATH. It's not that they have low income. It's not that they all got ARMs, it's that they never got BRAINS.
The ability and discipline to do simple forecasting math is surely generally acknowledged as a good thing. But I don't think it is hailed, extolled, praised, or lauded enough. You GOTS TO DO THE NUMBERS! There is no substitute for the maths (as our dear British cousins call them). Kids who breathe a sigh of relief because they squeaked through Algebra 2 by a pseudo-random-test-answering-protocol are setting themselves up for failure. Not the kind where they can't get jobs, have houses, or families, but the kind where their jobs leverage them into houses that destroy their families. All because nobody sat down with paper and pencil and did a simple column of figures to answer that most basic of questions: Can I afford it?
Nobody else can answer that for you.
Not a loan officer.
Not an advertiser.
Only YOU (think Smokey the Bear here) can prevent crippling debt!
What does debt cripple? Why, your ability to be Financially Independent/Retired Early, of course!
And kids, the FIRE danger is EXTREME today.