Why I pre-ordered the iPad

Friday morning (after a slight hitch with a gift card) I ordered a 32GB iPad (Wi-Fi only). I am sure some of you are wondering why I threw down $599 on a tablet device that maybe 30 journalists have touched for 15 minutes apiece. Here are my reasons.

As far as cost goes, it actually costs me out of pocket not that much. I had a gift card from my employer that covered the vast majority of the purchase. How I had the will power to not spend it to now? Even that amazes me.

The light went off in my head after the iPad was announced on exactly the type of scenario where I would use the iPad heavily. Every day when I come home from work, I usually sit down on the couch and catch up on any RSS feed reading I hadn’t done during the day, catching up on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Right now I either use my iPhone or I grab my laptop. With an iPhone, it is much more suited for quick tasks not for a hour of reading and surfing the Internet. The laptop however is overkill for this task: short battery life, very little need for a keyboard in most cases, hard for me to be comfortable using it. I also typically only do one or two tasks at a time during this time period anyways, barely multitasking.

I held a book roughly the dimensions of an iPad to see how it may be for these types of situations. Was I comfortable? Could I easily do the touch motions that I can do on an iPhone? It truly seemed perfect.

Speaking of books, another reason for this is I really want to do heavy reading again. One of my big skills is how fast I can read, I have been known to finish 400-500 page books easily in one day. Buying books results in lots of clutter in our small place. I also will be doing some traveling for work reasons this year, so I want a device I can easily carry with some books for these trips. Consolidating these books onto one small device sounds perfect to me. I could also see an argument for not bringing my laptop along on some trips. Depends on where I am going, but it is certainly a possibility.

Finally, obviously I have 100% confidence in the UI. Apple almost never messes up the UI, especially lately. Their development tools do a great job at getting 3rd-party developers to follow along with their UI design. I am exited to see what applications are created for the iPad. I can’t wait for example to see what someone pulls off with a genealogy application. That could be stellar for research purposes.

I am really looking forward to April 3rd. Hopefully it goes as I think it will!

The Next Snowball

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dilemma I had on what my next target of my debt snowball will be. I had a few weeks of time to think about the positives and negatives of my various choices, trying to find something that makes the sense to my wife and I.

This time around, I am going with the numbers approach for debt reduction and seeing how this works mentally.

As much as I want to get rid of the Sallie Mae student loan, it has a really small payment ($105 a month) and by far the lowest interest rate of all of my loans (3.25%). While it is a variable interest rate, it doesn’t look like interest rates are going to raise much if at all for the next year given the economy. Plus the interest on this loan is tax deductible.

I’m going to go with paying off the Hyundai Elantra car loan. It is a huge loan payment to begin with ($317 a month) and I am paying a lot of interest on it right now given it is only 7 months old (with 4.5 years left on it). I can just about double the payment, which should cause the loan balance to drop significantly. Combined with potential big extra payments throughout the year on-top of this doubled loan payment, this seems the right way to go. In the end, I save a ton of interest with this method and the psychological benefit of having no car payments? Priceless!

After that car loan is gone, my wife and I will just have our student loans and mortgage to pay off. Then we can really go ballistic paying those loans off without worrying about car payments.

A victory and now a Dilemma

I have officially paid off my first major loan, the car loan for my wife’s Subaru Forester. What a fantastic feeling that is! Yet it opens up a new dilemma┬áthat I am still struggling to figure out.

The question is, what is next?

After some careful deliberation, I have narrowed it down to three possible options:

  • Pay off one of my student loans (this one is a private loan with Sallie Mae). This loan has the smallest balance of either my wife or I”s loans and would probably take about a year to pay off if all goes right. It currently has the lowest interest rate (3.25%) of any of our loans, but it is also a variable interest rate that has gone as high as 8.5% in the past. Plus there is always the benefit of getting Sallie Mae out of my life.
  • Pay off the other car loan for the new car (2009 Hyundai Elantra SE). This would probably take near 1.5 or 2 years to do, but has a higher interest rate (5.5%) and the loan is only 7 months old. This means right now I am paying a lot of interest on the loan and paying now could save significant money down the line. Plus the huge benefit of not having any car payments and this would net a significant boost to the next debt snowball.
  • Take the money we would put towards payments and have it go to a savings account. Given the economy, it never hurts to have some money stashed away. If the account balance gets larger then one of the loan’s balances, I can always due one big payment and close out the loan. If an emergency comes up, then we have money readily available.

Tough choice. Still thinking it through.