Car Woes Part 2

You can expect to hear about my car woes until we make a final decision on how to take care of this situation. The bright side is whatever decision we make, it has to be done by the end of the month since my current inspection sticker ends at the end of the month. If you are not a regular reader and you wonder what the hell I am talking about, you can read this post.

So after talking the car situation over with folks who are more knowledgable about cars than either the Spousal Unit or I, the consensus is all things considered, getting a new or at least new to me car is probably the preferred route to go. While we were content to drive a paid for sardine mobile that really isn’t meeting our family needs….the boy child at 6’2 hates riding in our car, hell at 5’4 I find the backseat pretty damn uncomfortable, so I feel his pain. (yeah, I still sit next to girl child in the back when we are all in the car).

Now my preferred option was to look for a car that I could buy in cash but after asking around and spending hours on Craigslist. Every car we can buy in our range, is either old as Methuselah, or is a bargain because it needs work. Um….I am not buying your piece of shit to have to dump a boatload of cash into it. Hell, if I do that I might as well sink the cash into our already paid for piece of shit.

Now, due to a few pesky credit issues, going to the bank and getting a loan is not an option. Which leaves going to a dealer and seeing what they can offer as far as financing. Well, thanks to the suggestion of a regular reader, we decided to call and seek financing before we go to a lot. Turns out it was a great idea, H/T to On Bradstreet for that idea. Only now that is when the fun starts.

Clearly dealers who are willing to sell a car to folks with creative credit issues really are um, interesting characters to say the least. Now I am not gonna call em out and say they are clever con men but clearly they figure folks who would do business with them are so desperate for a ride, that doing any research on the cars would never cross the buyer’s mind.

So at first I was happy we were approved for what appeared to be a decent sum of cash until I started doing the fact finding on the vehicles available. Um….please, please tell me dealer man how come all your cars are at least a thousand bucks over what Kelly Blue Book recommends for the retail price. Now look, I know you are trying to make some cash, hey I can dig it.

The problem is not only is the car a thousand bucks over what any person with great credit would buy, but your creative financing makes that car even more expensive. Look, I know I need a car but the idea of paying you $12,000 for a car that is really only worth $7000 is well stupid. Maybe its age and wisdom but I really want to avoid short-sighted decisions since it’s that type of thinking that got me to the point of less than stellar credit. Of course I need a car and beggars can’t be choosy.

So the Spousal Unit and I have gone to one of the largest dealers in the state of Maine that also has a division that offers creative financing. Now we are waiting to hear back from them since they have a far better selection of cars and cars that have far lower prices than dealer number one who must think we have a Boo Boo the fool sign stuck to our heads.

I gotta be honest, there is a part of me that just wants to sink the cash into this car and pray but with a starting price tag of almost $1300 and knowing that is not the final cost and that we may only be buying a few more months of drive time, that seems like a bad idea.

Now this whole situation while pissy makes me really mad for the millions of low-income folks who get suckered into these types of schemes on a regular basis. While my financial mess is my own doing thanks to not paying attention there are millions of folks who really do only see that price tag of $65 a week for a late-model car and think, great deal. It’s the same shit that keeps the Rent a Center places open too and it basically amounts to preying on the less fortunate.

So no answers yet, but hey if you live in Southern Maine and have a decent stickered car for $2000 or so drop me a line, I may want to take a look at that car. As for me, I have all day to look online since we are having quite the storm here in my corner of the world.

Best plans tossed aside by Murphy

I am in full vent mode today, so if I sound crazy it’s because my plans have been tossed aside by that bitch named Murphy. Regular readers know I am struggling to reduce my debt and live a more frugal life. It’s been going fairly well despite falling off the no Starbucks wagon. It’s those damn Peppermint Mochas that come out only in winter, they are so good and work is so stressful and well after work I like to unwind with a hot beverage. Yeah, I can make a Chai at home but damn those Peppermint Mochas are great. Thankfully I have been keeping to the budget in every other way so I am trying not to feel too guilty.

Well December in addition to being Christmas which we celebrate and generally requires me to spend some cash, it’s also car inspection time for us. What that means is we take the car to the mechanic and he determines whether or not we get the state required sticker that legally allows us to drive our car. Now being the good planner I strive to be these days, I had planned for this event using last year’s repair costs as the gauge for how much cash to save for this blessed little event. Turns out I got it wrong….very very wrong.

To repair our 12-year-old car and keep her on the road legally is going to cost a minimum of almost $1300 and I say minimum because there is one repair that Mechanic Man says he can’t give us the price on until he starts doing the work. Um….to say I was stunned and pissed is an understatement. Now we bought ole Bessie from a friend several years ago after our other car died after a very long stint with us. When we bought this car, it was a good alternative to going into debt since we had gone that route before and frankly I have decided I hate car payments. Getting a car on a 5 year loan seems like a great idea but for us it sucked. Problem is the cash car has been a bit of a money pit and now I am trying to plan our next steps.

Part of me wants to just pay the cash and fix ole Bessie but not having an exact price makes me very skittish, there is also the fact this car is as comfortable as a Cracker Jack box and is really too small for our family. On the other hand, I only have about 2G’s to buy a car in cash and at the moment, I am not running across a great deal of selection since thanks to the lovely Cash for Clunkers program, a lot of really decent used cars got taken out of circulation. So whereas at the beginning of the year I saw some decent cars for a couple grand, now that is not the case. Which leaves option three, go to a dealer and get a car and a car payment. Now as a member of the less than stellar credit club that means I will get a shitty deal as far as financing and as a member of the get the fuck out of debt club that pains me.

Problem is I live in Maine, a place with not a great deal of options when it comes to getting around sans a car. It’s possible but not really. I mean this ain’t NYC, Boston or Chicago. Plus I have a job, so as you can see I have a problem. The only upside is I have until the end of the month to solve it so I have time to explore my options but really barring a fabulous used car made in this decade, that is available for 2G’s, my options are not great.

So trusty reader, I ask you, what would you do in this situation? Do you take a chance and keep ole Bessie and sink a ton of cash into a 12 yo old car or do you decide enough is enough. Is this a good case for incurring some debt for a ride? Decisions….

It ain’t always good to be cheap- A Life Lesson

Last year, the spousal unit and I faced an untimely reduction in income when he lost half of his clients, at about the same time he was shedding clients like a balding middle aged man sheds hair,our reliable and trusty car decided to give up the ghost.

 Now the old car had been bought back when we lived in Chicago and only used the car for weekend jaunts and when we only had one then preteen aged kid. So it was a rather small and uncomfortable car that had the added burden of only having two doors which we discovered was hella annoying when mini me made her  appearance a few years ago. Taking a car seat out of a two door car sucks balls as elder child would say.

So at about the time, the car was dancing its last dance, a good local buddy was selling her second car, now in trying to walk the frugal path by force we thought it would be a good idea to buy a car in cash. If you are the average person, you probably don’t have a spare 10-20K sitting around so buying a cheap car in cash is generally an endeavor that costs 2-4K. In our case the vehicle in question costs almost 3K, was supposedly in good shape and I trusted my friend but our then, note the emphasis on the word then mechanic inspected the car and said it looked alright.

Well wouldn’t you know it no sooner than the deal closed that all sorts of shit starts happening, next thing you know, we had to put some cash into the car immediately. Now in all fairness to my buddy who by the way is still my buddy, she did offer to take the car back but we figured nah, we would keep it.

Car ran ok until it was time for inspection last fall and needed almost a grand in work to make it legal to be on the road, so we forked out the money and been riding ever since. However the car’s been acting strange lately and I thought we needed a new starter, turns out the car needs engine work to the tune of a thousand dollars. Well the other day, I told the spousal unit to bring the car back home especially after the mechanic told him he didn’t know if he would fix it if it was his car. Dayum, when the mechanic says that, that leads me to believe its time to look for a new ride.

So all this to say, sometimes being cheap is not a good thing, while car payments suck, it seems it sucks even more to have an unreliable car. Needless to say the hubby and I will be starting to look for a newer car immediately since the idea of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is not my idea of fun.

Sometimes frugality is a good thing, but kinda like my Granny always used to tell me don’t buy cheap shoes because you only have one set of feet so treat em right (no this does not give one carte blanch to only buy Jimmy Choos, but might be a reason to avoid Payless Shoes) since corns and bunions ain’t no joke. It would appear that a couple thousand dollar car is not a good idea if you need the car to last a while. Sometimes its worth it to spend the money upfront rather than my lesson in frugality which will now costs me more.