Finance – Car Repairs….making your dollar go further!

If you own an automobile you know that they cost a lot of money to maintain.  Here are some more tips on how to make your money stretch a little bit farther.

If you avoid the regular maintenance you are setting yourself up for a big repair bill down the line.  Unless you can afford a brand new car with a warranty you will want every cent to be doing as much as it can.  There are several ways you can save money on car repairs, but most will involve getting your hands a bit dirty.  If you are willing to get some grease under your fingernails and borrow or buy a few tools here are some ways to save on car stuff.

  • Oil changes – these usually cost about $75.  You could change your own oil for $40 – $50 depending on the cost of the filter.  Now this may seem overwhelming but changing your own oil is pretty simple. Here is a video that shows you the basics.  If you want more detail a great investment is in a Haynes Manual for your car.
  • When things do break on your car take a look through the Haynes Manual and see if it is something you would feel comfortable fixing.  Many times the most expensive part of the repair is the labour charges.  You can get good used parts from auto wreckers in your area or if you a bit more adventurous you can visit a place like Pick A Part.  At Pick A Part you go in and remove the parts yourself so the parts are cheaper.
  • Another area you can fix easily on most cars is the brake pads (or shoes).  Your manual will cover it in detail for you but here is a good article about it and here is a generic video to give you an idea of what it involves
  • If you are unsure, especially if the repair involves a safety feature of the car, you may be better off seeking professional help.  If you do, shop around a bit.  Talk to friends and see what their experiences have been with their repairers.  Different shops will have different labour prices and expensive isn’t always better. Here are some places to check out different shops:

Give it a go and have fun.

Jason – Fit 4 Life Staff

Fitness – Interruptions!!!

Sometimes I just really really really want a boring life- one with a neat and tidy schedule, one where I know what’s going on and there are no weird surprises- sure we can have a drama or two but maybe can they be in a straight line or at least at right angles to each other.

Yes, no kidding. I daydream about having life events I can expect, or at least ones that come with warnings and end-dates, along with alarm clocks that don’t wake you and a washing machine that will absorb tissue remains.

I know, it all sounds a bit random, but I’m having one of those days.

I’m supposed to be running a half marathon in six weeks but between random events, weather, my work schedule and a course I did over the whole weekend, I have missed some important long runs I was supposed to do as part of my ‘training’… grrr.

Almost everytime I draw up a wonderfully colour-coded chart for a fitness-plan or goal of some kind, I either lose steam or circumstances make it a little more complicated- leading to cancellations or just plain ol’ interruption. Is it just me or do others just make the challenge of being fit and staying fit look so easy?

Sure, I’m glad that these plans and goals don’t rule my life like they probably once did but I have to say it gets frustrating.

Whether it is 20 minutes of a pilates dvd, swimming with a friend, running round the block or a weekly workout at the gym, I do sometimes struggle. Sometimes the reasons are beyond my control, and sometimes it is partly me being a bum. You may hear of me completing events or planning for one every now and then, but that is not to say that I don’t sometimes have to drag my way through them!

Anyway. All I really wanted to say was if you find it hard keeping at your plans to exercise or life seems to keep throwing you off them, don’t despair! You are not alone!

Don’t freak out about the hiccups in the plans. The bad or busy patch will go and achieving the next step will be good. Just pick it back up when you can, where it is reasonable, and keep going.

Don’t chuck that schedule just yet, get it out of the bin! It will probably still help you map where you want to get to, even if it is taking a bit longer to get there. (You can re-evaulate it if it is becoming obvious that it is unrealistic.)

If you can, it always helps to employ a friend to achieve some of it with you and/or to keep you encouraged.

And of course, there’s always tomorrow!

(Now who’s waking up early for that run with me tomorrow morning?)

Sarah – Fit 4 Life Staff

Faith – Five Reasons I Believe……

I’ve been thinking lately about why I am a Christian. There are a lot of arguments against there being a God, especially in modern Western society. The notion of a ‘God’ seems quaint, ancient, irrelevant, and/or distant to many, but I still believe and here’s five reasons why..

Because something exists

Regardless of whether you believe life on earth evolved from microbes into the present diversity of animal, insect and plant matter etc, you still have to answer the question why there is even an earth in the first place. Planet earth’s mass has been estimated to be something like 5.9736 x 1024 kg, and that’s a lot of weight (more than I’ve ever lifted at the gym!) Where did the earth come from? And that’s not even considering how the sun, the stars, the galaxies and the entire universe came to be…  Some great minds like Steven Hawkings say God didn’t create the universe; but if He didn’t, then you are only left with two possibilities – either it ‘created’ itself (for sake of a better word), or it has always existed. I’m not going to try and poke holes in these two alternatives. All I can say is that believing in God (or in something powerful outside of the known Universe) seems to be the best of the 3 choices available, at least to my mind.

Common Consent

A second reason I believe is because the great majority of people down through the ages have this common notion that there is something supernatural out there beyond the universe. I am not at the point of saying that what is out there is the God of the Christians – at least not yet. But the vast majority of people who have lived throughout the centuries have believed in God or ‘the gods’. And we’re talking of billions of people here, across all cultures and ages, from primitive tribes in the Amazon, to organised ancient societies like the Egyptians, down to people (like me) today living in western New Zealand in the year 2010. We have this notion that there is something out there. Where did it come from? Atheism, as it turns out, is a relatively modern belief system, and only a very small number of people (comparatively) believe that there is no God or gods. If they are right (the Atheists, that is) then all these billions and billions of people who believed there was something supernatural out there have been wrong. It seems like a long shot, at least to me, that the Atheistic position is correct and that all these others – again an overwhelming number of billions – were just plain wrong on the issue.

Existence of Evil

Many people believe that if God were real there would be no evil, and use this as a ‘proof’ that God doesn’t exist. However, we can only measure what is evil or ‘bad’ against what is good. And that means there is some concept of good or ‘goodness’. And that leaves us with a problem of explaining where we got the knowledge of ‘good’ from. There have been different arguments proffered to explain it. Some have argued that it comes from social conditioning, or from a preservationist perspective to keep our society alive and growing. However if that is the case, then evil is not really a lack of goodness, but it is merely the way things are. If that is the case, then we really shouldn’t be upset about it – as that’s the way it is. However, every day our newspapers are filled with the problems of the world and our society like murders, rapes, thefts, and great tragedies like floods, pesticide, genocide and the like. If this is just the way things are, then why are we so focussed on it – or why do we even try to prevent things like this from happening? I believe the answer is because there really is evil and evil behaviour, but we only know it because the reality of goodness does exist, we have a knowledge of it, and humans cannot have created it. It must have come from something outside of us. Either it came from the inanimate universe, or it came from a mind or being outside of the universe, and that being is God or ‘the gods’ who are (or is) better than us and gave us the insight.

The Person of Jesus Christ

This is where I move more from ‘the gods’ to the God of the Christians. And it’s because of the person called Jesus Christ who existed 2000 years ago. Again, there’s a lot of debate about who he was. Some don’t believe there ever was such a person, but all reasonable historians acknowledge a person called Jesus did exist. Whether you believe He could do all the miracles attested to Him or not, He seemed to be a very exceptional person. His teachings and behaviours (miracles aside) show Him to be very different to most other people in history, and a great number of people seem to have believed Him that he was ‘the Son of God’. History is divided around his life (BC-AD) which strikes me as very interesting. Regardless of whether you may think of His claims to deity (which I believe) he certainly is a person worth studying and reading about.

Christian philosophy seems to produce ‘wellbeing’

I don’t like things that don’t work. Being a very practical person, I like to have a philosophy of life that makes my life better. And I don’t believe I am alone in finding that the Christian life produces people who have hope, who have less stress (as we believe God can aid us in times of trouble), and they have a plan of life that makes ‘sense’ of all the facts. Many studies have been done showing people who are Christians tend to have better marriages, improved sex life, better educated kids, and more fulfilled lives. And that’s not  even considering the great contributions Christians have made to the world throughout history, with movements and ‘inventions’ that include introducing universities, hospitals, emancipation of slaves, health care, women’s rights, child labour laws, relief of poverty and on and on to the world.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have my doubts at times – especially when I am facing some difficult challenge in life. But I fall back on these points – and more – and remind myself that ‘if I didn’t believe in God, what is the alternative?’ Belief in nothing seems pretty empty…

Bryce – Fit 4 Life Staff