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Thread: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy now?

  1. #1
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    Default No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy now?

    Our family is going into a sort of self-imposed "poverty" for five years in order to become completely debt free at the end of that time. We have credit card debt built up as well as a mortgage that is still over six figures, but having run all the numbers, if we buckle down, sacrifice some things we enjoy in the short term, we will benefit greatly in the long term.

    That being said, we are allowing ourselves to get a few things we want/need before we start this new way of life on January 1 of 2005. I won't be buying any new flashlights from 2005-2009 unless I sell something from my collection to get a new light. In an effort to save money on batteries, I'll probably start using rechargeables a lot more too, I have a Tigerlight FBOP and a SL Poly Stinger currently, and plan to pick up a SL Strion for EDC use in the next month or two. I also have several lights I can use rechargeable NIMH AA or AAA batteries in.

    My current collection includes a variety of SF lights, including E2D, L1, L4, L5, A2, M3, M4, M6(x2), ARC LSH-P, AAA, VIP, Inova X5T, X0, BB and MM sandwiches in Mini Mags, several headlamps, and a couple of inexpensive hand-held rechargeable spotlights.

    What lights would you all suggest I get (if any) that should satisfy my flashaholic urges for the next five years? If anything new and innovative and exciting comes out in the next five years, I suppose I could sell an M6 and buy it. Any thoughts or ideas?

    -Keith

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Frenchyled's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy now?

    If you can buy only one, wait for the Surefire U2 [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* lightemup's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy now?

    Well said Frenchy, but in more ways than the U2... Tis only the beginning of LED's, if I were you i'd save the dosh and hold onto it for a bit, for an event / premiere that has yet to come! 4 years is a long time...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    Neonlights-
    Being debt-free cannot be over-rated. We achieved that a few years back and the sense of freedom is intense. It's worth a few years of hard-core thrift.

    My habits of thrift have stayed on after we disposed of all the debt but I have found a neat way to do the flashlight thing without spending much. By going to flea markets and garage sales, I have found many many interesting lights to play with. UK 4AAs, ASPs, B-lights, Maglites and accessories, Tekna lights, Rayovacs, Princeton Tech headlamps, spotlights, and many more. It's always a surprise to find a cool light for a buck or two- or to have a moddable base that requires time & planning to put together. When you get a lot of lights on the cheap, it's also easier to justify the occasional new light.

    You may also find that with the right flea-markets, you will be able to fill a lot of your other needs at a budget price from woodworking tools to auto parts to music CDs to fresh produce. But try to avoid the antique and knick-nack type of flea market.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* pedalinbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    i placed a self-imposed $5/week spending limit.

    this forces me to really focus on what i really want.

    also, you can fill the need by purchasing inexpensive lights and modding them with inexpensive parts. it can be fun, and they make great gifts.

    take care,
    Bob

  6. #6
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    I applaud your goal of getting debt-free. That is one of the best things anyone can do with regard to their personal finances. But why put it off 5 months? Isn't that like saying that I am going to start my diet tomorrow, but tonight that huge chocolate cake looks mighty tempting? Your flashlight collection is already impressive. Take that money and apply it toward your real goal right now. You will get there that much sooner.

  7. #7

    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    yea what Lurker said!

    Start now, your collection is already outstanding. Buy a case of 123's from Surefire and be get on with it.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    We have done the same thing, but not quite in the same way. Wish we were finished, but we will be soon. All we have left is our house.

    I would go ahead and start, but if you don't why not pick up a UK 4aa eled. It's a great light that is under-appreciated.

    On the debt thing. Conventional wisdom tells you to pay off the highest rate stuff first. Even after 6 years of higher math, I lack the ability to prove my idea, but I am pretty sure this is NOT correct.

    Paying of smaller debts first gives you 1) a boost to your morale and 2) the ability to pay MORE each month to the other debts.

    Word of advice... do not cancel your credit cards. If you are maxed out credit-wise, you may find it hard to get new ones if you need them during this time.

    I have seen a company on the net that will analize your debts and CAN give you the most efficient way to pay them off. Can't remember who it is though. In any case, the "debt snowball" method is pretty good.

    We have friends working on this also. They actually transferred their car to their credit card. They paid a 1 time transfer fee, and after that they pay zero interest for the life of the loan. Should save them a few thousand over the life of the loan.

    Congratulations and best wishes!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    I think one of the traps that people get sucked into very commonly that makes it harder to minimize debt is the proliferation of the small recurring monthly service charge. There are numerous little luxuries in our lives that do not cost very much individually, but we pay for them over and over again every month. Added together, it is amazing how much they add up to for a typical family-- not only in a particular month, but over the course of years. The sums become truly impressive.

    Examples of what I am talking about are things like premium cable TV, cell phones, broadband internet, AAA car club, checking account fees, health club membership, security alarm monitoring, lawn chemical service, etc. And while not billed monthly, plenty of other things like magazine and newspaper subscriptions, annual credit card fees and the daily latte at Starbucks will add up also.

    All of these things could be either eliminated or gotten more cheaply and doing so can literally save thousands of dollars per year. For example, I pay the following per month:

    Cable TV: $12.50 (the lowest plan)
    Cell phone: $6.66/month (prepaid plan)
    dial-up internet: $6 (bigzoo.net)
    Banking and credit card fees: none, and I get a 1% rebate on my credit card
    everything else: I don't buy.

    While you are looking at these small recurring payments, don't ignore the bigger budget items like eating out at restaurants a lot or the advantage of driving a car that is paid-for.

    Good Luck!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    Thanks for the advice and words of wisdom so far. The "thrifty living" is going to start sooner than January, but we have a set amount we plan on putting towards credit cards every month ($3000), and that won't be possible until we pay our car off which we still owe about $6000 on, and we plan on paying that off before we start. We're also going to experiment with different ways to save money on groceries, and hope to have that worked out by the end of the year. We'll be getting support from my family since both of my sisters already live very frugally, one will have their 30 year mortgage paid for in 5-6 years, the other owes $100k on their 2 year old $300k house, and that should be paid for within a couple of years. We'll keep at least one or two credit card accounts open after they are paid off (for dire emergencies only), but we'll cancel all of the others. In our case most of the lower balance credit cards also have higher interest, so we'll be able to pay off the smaller ones and the ones with highest interest at the same time.

    Yeah, looking over my collection, I should be pretty well set for the time being. I may sock a couple hundred dollars away for a "must-have" light that is sure to come out in the next few years, maybe hold back $5 a week into a flashlight fund. The way LED/LS lights keep improving in both runtime and output, there are sure to be many great advances in the next five years.

    -Keith

  11. #11
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    [ QUOTE ]
    Lurker said:
    I think one of the traps that people get sucked into very commonly that makes it harder to minimize debt is the proliferation of the small recurring monthly service charge......

    Good Luck!

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I was looking at that very problem last night while I was at work. We should be able to save at least $80 every month by getting rid of some monthly bills (we don't have cable):

    -get rid of one of our two cell phones $30/mo
    -get rid of our 2nd phone line used for the internet $25/mo
    -cancel our subscription to the local newspaper $15/mo
    -go with a cheaper dial-up ISP $10

    Add to that the money we'll save by eating out less and buying groceries more frugally, and it should be closer to $150/200 a month that we'll save. We'll probably keep AAA though. It costs about $100-120 a year, but three of our cars have over 100k miles on them, and we do occasionally have breakdowns.

    We do have two small children (ages 21 months and 5 months) and the amount of food our family consumes will go up in the next five years, but daddy can stand to lose some weight, so maybe it can be a wash if I eat (a lot) less. The weekly/monthly diaper expense will also go away in the next several years as they are potty trained

    -Keith

  12. #12
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    That's great. It sounds like you are freeing up some good money toward your goal. If you think the AAA membership is worth it, then that is fine, but personally I don't see the value in it.

    The way I understand it, AAA works something like this: If you have a car problem, then you call AAA. In turn, they call some local tow truck driver or whatever and tell them your problem. The tow truck driver comes and gets you. That's fine, but if you can call AAA, you could also have called the tow truck service directly. What exactly are you paying for? A free tow? It's not free, you are just paying for it up front whether you need it or not. I really don't see how this makes anyone safer from a breakdown. It is an illusion intended to create peace of mind. If your car breaks down and you have AAA, your car is still broken. At least that's the way I see it.

    Anyway, I should not try to tell you what you do or do not need, but I wish you good luck.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    I see your point, and for some people it might be valid, but I don't believe it is for us. We've probably taken advantage of AAA's towing service an average of once a year, and if you paid the tow driver directly it could easily be $50-100 per tow depending on the distance. With our membership my wife and I can each get three, one hundred mile tows a year for no additional cost. My parents drive older cars and have frequently maxed out their allowable tows at a great savings to them. With our older cars that will be in even worse shape in 4-5 years, I have a feeling we might be using the towing service more and more as the years go on. Also with AAA you have one number to call nationwide for towing, I know I don't keep the phone numbers for every towing service in the US (when travelling) with me, and a yellow pages to look up phone numbers for a tow truck is seldom available when you really need it.

    As far as the car still being broken down, I have a 1000 square foot shop/garage at home and I do 95% of all the work on our cars myself. When one of our cars breaks down I have it towed back to my place and drive another car until I get the broken down car repaired.

    We also save at least $10-20 a year, often more, on the free maps and travel books that we would otherwise have to pay for. There are some years where I'm sure we haven't gotten our money's worth, but some we definitely have.

    -Keith

  14. #14
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    i would sell the Surefire M6's and pick up the Strion and maybe something else like the UK 4AA eLED or whatever...

    Lurker's right when he says you should start sooner than later...

    and look @ it this way - it'll probly be 5 years or so b4 LED's/luxeons make a real advancement that separates themselves from the previous generations.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    Neon, it looks like you have taken a careful look at AAA and decided is is a good value for you. For me it would just be money down the drain, but we are in different situations. If you analyze all of your spending like that, you can't help but reach your goal and I predict sooner than you even think. Good luck.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years, what to buy no

    Here’s what I would suggest to help you out.

    1. Setup a Cash flow budget by month.
    LIST YOUR INCOME. If you get paid every two weeks, you’ll have 4 months with an extra paycheck.

    LIST YOUR EXPENSES
    Monthly – rent/mortgage, utilities, etc.
    Quarterly, Semi-Annually – Car Insurance, etc.
    Annually, Home and Health insurance, etc.

    Compute if the month will be a positive or negative cash flow month. We did this and it helped us to realize that we were taking a big hit with annual life and home insurance in January plus Christmas purchases due (credit card). Our solution? Home insurance we changed to monthly automatic withdrawl and life ins we changed to semi annual. Holiday purchases we pay cash and start buying 3 months prior to the holidays.
    ===========

    Folks above have mentioned some good tips to help get out of debt. Here’s another one. Instead of paying once a month, pay half your bill twice a month. I’ve coincided my car payments with my pay check. I end up making 2 extra “monthly” payments a year plus the interest is less and I walk away much sooner from a 5 year loan.

    We’re doing the same thing paying off a 30 yr mortgage in about 22 years.
    ===========

    Sell off some of those lights.
    I’ll take the M4 and M6 off your hands cheap! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
    ===========

    RE: light to get for the next few years.
    You might want to consider the Mag85r mod.
    The versatile Mag 3D host
    3 of Wayne’s 3AA-D version 2 adapters
    9 AA rechargeable batteries
    A few potted 1185’s
    A camless, pre-modded, Mag-Ready, aluminum reflector.

    It’s the much less expensive version of your M6.
    BTW - PM me if interested in the 1185’s and the camless reflector.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    That's part of what we're going to spend the next several months doing. Recording all of our monthly, weekly, daily expenses, and seeing what can be cut back.

    My wife gets paid every two weeks, I get paid every week, so that means she'll have two "extra" paychecks a year, and I'll have four.

    Thankfully we have very few, if any, months where we have an excess of expenses compared to any others. Our life insurance for both of us is paid for by work or taken out of our paychecks, our home insurance is covered in our mortgage payment, and the insurance for our four cars is paid quarterly, and it all comes due in different months.

    -Keith

  18. #18

    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    No offense or anything, but what are you doing with four cars and two SF M6's? I can't see why you need two of the same lights or four cars for two people, especially if you are having financial problems.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    You should get a Firefly or Blackbird or something else that takes sandwich shop modules. That way you can upgrade more cheaply than buying a completely new light.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    [ QUOTE ]
    IlluminatingBikr said:
    No offense or anything, but what are you doing with four cars and two SF M6's? I can't see why you need two of the same lights or four cars for two people, especially if you are having financial problems.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    We're not having financial problems, we just want to get completely out of debt sooner rather than later. Many people take 20-30 years to pay off a 30 year mortgage, we'd rather have ours paid for in 6-8 years. Like I mentioned before, three of our four cars have over 100k miles on them, and are worth more to us to keep (and keep repairing) than they would if we tried to sell them. We might be able to get $1000-2000 for each of the three older cars if we sold them, but when one of them breaks down, having a spare car to drive means a lot. Those three also have lower insurance coverage, so we're not paying a lot to keep them around.

    I bought both SF M6's used and didn't pay retail price for them. I'm keeping at least one M6, both have come in handy this year when my wife and I had to look for our all black dog who got out of his fence. We live in the country and our neighbors properties aren't very well lit. I might sell one of them though to pay for other flashlight purchases in the next five years if something better comes along.

    -Keith

  21. #21
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    If you can get your home mortgage paid off, you will be able to snowball your personal savings. Without a house payment, you deposit the same amount monthly into various investment options and just watch it grow.

    After we killed off the mortgage, we have been able to achieve a 30% savings rate by this method on an average household income. It also helps to relocate to a low-cost area.

  22. #22

    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    I think your question shouldn't be "what new lights to buy to not need any more for 5 years", but rather "how much money do you want to have tied up in flashlights?". If you sold off your present collection, that would go a long way towards paying off your car. I'd say just keep a few of your very favorites, buy new ones within limits when you feel the urge, and sell them when they don't excite you any more.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* lasercrazy's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    You should buy a thor.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    paulr, I've thought of that too, but in the past on occasion I've sold off some of my SF lights and ended up bying identical models within a year because I missed them or needed them. I have thinned out my "herd" some in the past year, and it could probably use some further thinning, but by my estimations I could sell off my entire collection, and I'd be lucky if I could get $2000 for the whole lot (any takers? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] ). I get enough enjoyment out of many of the lights I still have that I wouldn't want to gett rid of them all. I'll have to revisit the value of my collection and see what lights I can "live without".

    -Keith

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* eebowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    As a flashaholic, I doubt that there is any one flashlight you can buy now that can satisfy you for 5 years! I suggest you decide from now which of your collection you are willing to sell in order to get new ones...

    Besides that,I would like to say that I respect your plans and admire the willpower you and your family have in order to accomplish such a goal. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

  26. #26
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    Have any of you listened to Dave Ramsey or read his books? Gives some good guidelines[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ohgeez.gif[/img], sound advice[img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif[/img] and humor [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hahaha.gif[/img]
    He does try to sell stuff though [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
    Audio Archives

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    I'll put this in here for the benefit of all.

    You might consider selling your house and moving into a less expensive house. Two reasons:
    1) less debt
    2) if you have lived there for 2 or more years, you get to keep the appreciation (I am assuming is it worth more that when you bought it) 100% tax free.

    I have seen MANY people around here sell their house after living in it 3 years or so and move into another house. They move from house to house and make money all the way through. This has allowed them to pay off their house by simply doing nothing.

    We are doing this as well. We live in a house and build another at the same time, subcontracting the house ourselves. This alone has saved us about 40% off the cost of the house we're living in now. By the time we move, it will have appreciated about 15% (we do benefit by living in a pretty hot housing market).

    our actual numbers (roughly)
    cost to build ~$135,000
    appraised value ~$220,000
    sale price 3 years from now ~255,000
    profit $120,000 tax free
    $120,000/3 years= $40k/year
    This is like having an extra job that pays us 40k a year after taxes and we don't do any work (except for a little extra during the 5 months it took to build our house).

    There are a few restictions, but not many. The house has to be your primary dwelling, and you have to live there for 2 years. It used to be that you could only take advantage of this once per lifetime, but the feds changed the regulations a few years ago.

    This is not for everyone. It takes some courage to bite off 2 houses at the same time. We did have overlapping house notes for a month or two while the house was being finished and the old one sold. We also sold the old one ourselves, saving a realtor fee. We used the same attorney and appraiser that closed the old house's loan so they gave us a price break on our closing costs and appraisal fee(s).

    A side benefit to all of this is that if you want to you can roll your consumer debt (cars/credit cards/etc) into your mortgage (if the numbers look good). You get a great rate and the interest is tax-deductible.

    I am not against working for my money. I work pretty dang hard usually. But there are other ways to make cash that most people never explore.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    [ QUOTE ]
    turbodog said:
    You might consider selling your house and moving into a less expensive house......

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I've considered it and brought the subject up with my wife from time to time, but it is a little bit of a sore subject with her. We've been married ten years and have moved four times in that ten years. From the country to a small town, from there to a large city, and back to the country now. She want s to stay put for a few years, and with the two small children now, I'm not sure I can blame her.

    We live in a rather hot housing market as well. We bought our house three years ago for $130k, and refinanced a year later for $140k for a lower rate. My father is a real estate broker and certified appraiser, and he has said our place is worth $180k now. What we have considered doing is getting a home equity loan out for the $40k+ we have in equity right now and paying off debts with that. At least with a home equity loan we get to deduct the interest from our taxes.

    You bring up some good points about an alternative way to invest in real estate. I'm hoping after we have our place paid for in five years we can do something similar. My brother-in-law is a contractor (although he seldom builds houses worth less than $500k) so he could give us advice and help, and since my dad is a real estate broker we won't have to pay any commissions when buying or selling.

    -Keith

  29. #29
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    Keith-

    A couple of thoughts...

    ...if you haven't done this, take a look at your homeowner's insurance; specifically, the amount of coverage and the deductible. Some folks carry an unnecessarily low deductible IMO, which drives the premium up. Chances are, if you had a loss covered by H/O insurance, say in the $400-600 bracket, you might consider NOT turning it in (and amking the repairs yourself for less money) because of the adverse effect the claim might have on future premiums. So, why not have a higher deductible to begin with ($500 or $1000) which serves to lower your premium.

    Also, check the amount of coverage (on the dwelling). Seen many folks who have a, say, $200,000 home and carry $200,000 in coverage, when in fact maybe $50,000 of that value is the land, leaving only $150,000 in insurable value on the dwelling. And most policies have an inflation rider that will increase your dwelling coverage annually in sync with building costs.

    If you do get the equity line, as you mentioned, consider that most of them are adjustable rate, and rates are starting to inch up, so you'd be taking on risk that rates/payments would increase, maybe substantially, before you got it paid off. You might consider just refi'ing your 1st, pulling the cash out to payoff non-tax-deductible debt, and putting the new 1st on a 15 year fixed rate loan. Should still be able to get about 5.50% w/no points. If the higher payment on 15 year loan would be uncomfortable until you retire other debt, then consider a 30-year loan where the rate is fixed for the first 7 years...you get the same rate as a 15 year fixed (for the first 7 years), but the lower payment associated with a 30 year term (this works well if you are committed, as you mentioned, to paying off your mortgage within 5 to 7 years anyway). If you do refinance, make sure you structure so that you pay no points and no (or very little) closing costs, otherwise, you erode away your net savings.

    Of course, YMMV.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: No more new lights for 5 years,what to buy now

    Thanks for the thoughts and advice Dan. Our deductible on homeowners insurance is $500, so we should be ok there. I'll have to double check the coverage amounts, thanks for the reminder.

    There are pros and cons to doing it either way, refinancing and rolling everything into one mortgage vs getting another home equity loan. We're leaning towards another home equity loan if we can get the rates and terms we want. The main reason is PMI. We can get an appraisal and with the amount of equity we have in the house drop PMI at a savings of $70-80 per month. If we refinanced for the full amount, we'd have to pay PMI. We got a home equity loan a couple of years ago that was variable rate, but the rate could only change once a year and only change by a maximum of 2%. After the first year it actually dropped by 1 or 2%. If we do get a home equity loan, we'll have it paid for within two years or less, so even if the rate would go up by 2% or so, it wouldn't hurt that much.

    We went over some of the figures with my father (who works in real estate) today, and it looks very realistic to be completely debt free, mortgage and all, in five years or less. The next 4-5 years won't be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

    -Keith

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