Say you’re flying into O’Hare Airport and want to get to downtown Chicago. What are your options? Currently, you have five options. You could take a CTA train for $5.00 or less and get downtown in forty-five minutes. You could take a taxi for around $40.00 and get there in twenty-five to ninety minutes. You could use the shuttle van services for over $25.00 and arrive downtown in twenty-five to ninety minutes. You could hail a rideshare such as Lyft or Uber for $35.00-$50.00 (surges to $140 or more) and get there in twenty-five to ninety minutes.
As early as the 1990’s, Richard J. Daley had envisioned a high-speed rail line between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. In fact, according to a Chicago Tribune article published June 14. 2018, the city and CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) spent more than $250 million on the Block 37 “superstation,” a shopping center atop a station for the high-speed rail. However, “Daley ordered the work stopped in 2008, saying the technology was outdated and more than $100 million more was still needed for completion.”
In 2011, Mayor Rahm Emanuel resurrected the idea of a high-speed rail line from downtown Chicago to O’Hare and in 2016 hired outside engineers to help explore the possibility for the high-speed rail line.
On February 9, 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference to provide an update on the state of Chicago’s infrastructure. He also endorsed the idea of a high-speed rail line from downtown Chicago to O’Hare. The rail line was expected to cost billions of dollars and would require major support from private investors. Emanuel announced that Bob Rivkin, who had previously served as general counsel for the CTA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Delta Air Lines, had been hired “to drum up support and find partners to make the new O’Hare express line a reality.”
Enter Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur. On June 14, 2018, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Elon Musk’s Boring Company had been selected from four competing bids to provide high-speed transportation between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. Musk’s Boring Company would dig a fourteen-feet in diameter tunnel from downtown Chicago to O’Hare. Lined with interlocking concrete pieces, the tunnel would contain self-driving electric vehicles called “skates.” Each “skate” could transport sixteen passengers at speeds from 100-150 m.p.h. Under Musk’s proposal, it would take just twelve minutes for passengers to get from O’Hare to downtown Chicago at an estimated cost of $25.00.
The estimated cost of the project is almost $1 billion. Who is going to pay for this? Elon Musk says his company will pay for the entire project. “In exchange for paying to build the new transit system, Boring would keep the revenue from the system’s transit fees and any money generated by advertisements, branding, and in-vehicle sales,” Rivkin said.
Will Musk’s high-speed transit system ever get built? Critics point to numerous challenges such as environmental impacts, regulatory approvals, financing costs, and unforeseen complications. According to a Chicago Sun Times article “Mayoral challengers, academics raise caution flags about Musk’s O’Hare Express,” Joe Schwieterman, director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute, “gave the mayor and Musk high marks for dreaming big and aiming high. But he gave the project only a one-in-three chance of ever being built. And even if it does, he’s afraid Chicago taxpayers could get stuck with at least part of the tab.”
—By Karen Centowski
To see a video Elon Musk’s Boring Company To Build Express To O’Hare, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24yqz0jZVaw.
If you are still paying cash for your groceries or fast food or anything else, you have probably received change and lots of it. Sometimes it feels like a conspiracy to take away your fives and tens and twenties and fill your pockets with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. How does this happen?
Blame sales tax for part of your grief. For example, if you buy an item for $12.99 and you have to pay sales tax at the rate of 8.25%, you are paying $1.07 in sales tax. That makes the total $14.06. You receive $.94 in change to weigh down your purse or fill up your pocket. Say you are at Jewel-Osco and purchase $68.69 worth of MightyVine tomatoes, kiwi, chocolate Easter eggs, orange juice, cinnamon rolls, paper products, and Pepsi, you will pay .66 sales tax at the $1.75 rate plus 2.82 in sales tax at the $8.25 rate for a total of $71.11. That means the cashier hands you $.89 in change. More pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters!
What can you do with all of this change? Sometimes a store will offer you the chance to donate the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to a good cause. For example, ACE Hardware offered the customer the opportunity to round up the bill to the next highest whole number and donate that change to a charity ACE had chosen. Therefore, if you paid $12.27 for a new sump pump hose, you could pay $13.00 in cash and donate the $.83 to the charity. Everybody wins!
It is no accident that the Salvation Army bell ringers stand next to the exit door at Jewel during the Christmas holiday season. Sit in the parking lot and watch what happens. When a customer comes out of the store, he passes near the bell ringers. Many customers reach into their pockets and pull out cash and change to throw into the kettle. That gets rid of the change and helps a good cause, too.
Maybe you go home, empty out your pockets, and throw the change into a container such as a large jar or coffee can or empty plastic Coke bottle. Maybe you use an empty plastic water jug. One man threw his change into a five-gallon bucket in his bedroom closet. Individually, the coins seem almost worthless.
Five or six years later, you look at all this loose change you’ve been hoarding. You sure could sure use some cash to go on vacation. Why not use this stash of change? How can you get it converted to cash?
First, check with your bank where you have a checking or savings account. Will they convert the change into cash for you? Is there a fee? Do you have to roll the coins in paper sleeves? According to https://lifehacker.com/what-to-do-with-all-that-loose-change-youve-been-hoardi-1792821108, not all banks will accept the loose change. In fact, the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not require that banks take your stash of coins. Why not? Coins take up room, and they are heavy to transport. Counting machines are expensive to own and maintain.
Some grocery stores have counting machines in the front of the store. According to the lifehacker.com article, Coinstar machines, which can count up to $3,000, are the most popular. The machine will count the coins and give you a voucher to redeem for cash at the store’s register. Expect to pay a fee of 10.9 per cent or more.
—By Karen Centowski
To see a video “COWPOTE BROADCAST June 5, 2012 called “Save your change and you will be rich,” go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xHxOKehwnU.
Here are things you can do today to help ensure a healthy financial future.
Before you open your next six-month premium notice for your car, sit down. You are going to be shocked and dismayed at the new amount you will have to pay for insurance on your vehicle. The increases range from 10 percent to 25 percent and more.
Even if you have a clean driving record and have had no claims within the past three years, you can expect a significant rate increase. Why are premiums increasing so much?
Several factors are responsible for this increase in premiums. In an article called “Car Insurance Rates Are Going Up,” Consumer Reports explains it this way: “While the long-term trend shows that the number of accidents is declining, the average payout on the accidents that do occur is rising. From 2005 to 2013 (the latest data available), the number of claims for bodily injury fell 14.5 percent, according to the Insurance Research Council, yet the average cost per payout rose 32 percent, to more than $15,500.”
Another factor is the current financial climate of low interest rates. Insurance companies rely on their invested premiums to generate money. When interest rates are low, the return on the invested money is diminished. Therefore, the insurance company must increase premiums.
What can you do to reduce your premiums? If you are age 50 or older, you could take the AARP Safe Driver course either in a classroom or online. The price for the online class is $19.95 for AARP members or $24.95 for non-members. The online class is eight hours of instruction. The student has 60 days to complete the class.
According to the AARP Web site, you will learn
- Important facts about the effects of medications on driving
- How to reduce driver distractions
- How to maintain proper following distance behind another car
- Proper use of safety belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and new technology found in cars today
- Techniques for handling left-turns, right-of-way, and roundabouts
- Age-related physical changes and how to adjust your driving to compensate.
According to the AARP Web site, you could be eligible for a multi-year discount on your insurance premium on your car insurance by taking the class. A State Farm customer age 50 or older can reduce his premium by 15% by taking the class. Ask your own insurance carrier what discount is available.
Go to http://www.aarpdriversafety.org for more information.
—By Karen Centowski
Why pay full price when you can get the exact same thing for less? How can you do that? Think sales, rebates, senior citizen discounts, coupons, zero percent interest financing, resale shops, group rates, subscription series rates, and more. Sometimes you just have to ask.
Haggling is one way to try to negotiate a price. This give and take between buyer and seller is common in European markets. In the United States, haggling is still used at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, and farm equipment sales. Even though the price on the merchandise is already low, the buyer sometimes wants to dicker, to haggle. This seems to increase the thrill of getting a “real bargain.”
If you subscribe to a daily newspaper, check the inserts for coupons for ordinary purchases such as shampoo and paper towels. Clip the coupons and use them. If you have a teenager in the house, make a deal with him/her. The teenager must scour the newspaper and other flyers for coupons to use at the supermarket or comparable stores. The teenager gets to keep any “savings” from the coupons. The coupons must be for items routinely on the shopping list.
Scan the grocery store ad for specials. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables which are in season.
Look at the newspaper ads for department stores, automobile dealerships, furniture stores, hardware stores, and other stores. Many items are traditionally on sale in certain months of the year. The following list appeared on U.S. News.com on September 1, 2014:
- January—winter attire on clearance, old inventory furniture, motorcycles, fitness gear
- February—more winter attire on clearance, flat screen TVs, cameras
- March—luggage, winter sports gear on clearance, frozen foods
- April—tax software, tires, beauty products, sneakers
- May—lawn and garden products, mattresses, camping gear, spring clothing
- June—lingerie, home décor
- July—swimwear and outdoor furniture on clearance; start of back-to-school sales
- August—wine, office supplies, laptops
- September—grills, older-model appliances
- October—denim, back-to-school clothing on clearance, older-model appliances, cars
- November—Halloween candy and costumes on clearance, cookware, electronics
- December—winter apparel on clearance, Champagne
Many businesses offer discounts to senior citizens. For example, Kohls gives a 15 percent discount to those age 55+ every Wednesday. Carsons gives 15% off to seniors on Wednesdays. Burger King has a Senior Discount. Home Depot offers Senior Discounts. Many motels and hotels offer senior discounts. AARP members receive a 10% discount on the price of the room plus late checkout until 2:00 P.M. when available. Senior citizens may also qualify for discounts on membership dues to organizations such as historical societies and libraries.
Sometimes a senior citizen will have to apply for a rebate. For example, the City of Chicago exempts homeowners 65 plus from sewer service charges if they apply for the discount. Senior residents of Aurora can receive a rebate of $25 per year for municipal gas taxes plus $25 per year for municipal electricity taxes. State Farm will discount the price of car insurance if the senior completes the 55 Drive Alive course.
With a little extra effort, you can receive the exact same merchandise or service for less. What a deal!
—By Karen Centowski