This is one of those real-life-meets-blog posts. Yesterday I did something that I have daydreamed a lot about, but didn't think would happen for a long time. I bought a new car, in full. I am proud of myself for saving my money and being in a position that in a tight time frame I was able to support myself.
It all started on Friday night when I was driving to house sit and I went to shift down gears to stop at a light and my clutch was on the floor boards. Not a good sign. Luckily my friend M was able to help me push it (and by help me I mean, I helped him) into a gas station across the street, where I had it towed to my mechanic.
After a sleepless night of googling potential problems (and costs of fixing it), I headed to the mechanic to explain the problem. They took a look at it at no charge and realized that not only did my clutch need to be replaced, but it had leaked fluid into my transmission so some work on the transmission needed to be completed as well. Quote? $2,488. Well above the $1,500 limit I gave myself to work with.
The car with the problem was a 2004 Saturn Vue with 148,000 miles on it. Prior to this clutch issue, I had never had any other problems. But $2,500 is 2/3 the cost of the car's value. So I decided to weigh purchasing a new(er) car versus fixing my trusty Saturn.
In the end, after a lot of contemplation, I decided to purchase a newer car. The thing that pushed me over to purchasing was that I found the perfect car for me.
My New Car
All car photographs originally from Houston Wholesale website
I knew that if I was going to purchase a car, I was only going to buy a hatchback. I had a hatchback before my Saturn and loved it (seriously, the VW Golf of any year is great). After visiting a few websites and selecting hatchback as my search term this pretty green thing showed up.
I was excited to move forward with looking into it because it was at a dealer where a few people in my office have purchased great cars. There are no sales-people, just three co-owners, so they know all of their inventory and never, at any time, were pushy. Morgan and I test drove the car on Saturday and I was back on Monday (after using the city bus to get there) to take it to my mechanic.
After a thorough comb-through, only a few small (fixable) problems were found that are an easy fix covered by the warranty (warranty- never had that before!).
The other factor that I just couldn't ignore? The price for the condition. My goal was to pay under $15,000 for everything (purchasing, licensing, title, tax, etc.). When I saw the price of the car to the year and mileage ($12,950 at 30,000 miles and 2012 (with 38 mpg highway)), I knew I needed to move quickly.
I tried my best to negotiate down the price, but when they showed me the trade-in paperwork and that they were only selling it for $1,500 over what the purchased it for, I knew I was getting a good deal (plus it was under the Kelly Blue Book value). I asked them to throw in floor mats (at Morgan's suggestion) and called it a deal.
I then (gulp) wrote a giant check for the purchase amount. I even messed up and started to write hundred where I should have been writing thousand. I never thought I would write a check that large. But always had the goal to only pay in full for a future car (so I would have to write a fairly large check at some point, I guess).
I had a few reasons for purchasing the car outright. One is the peace of mind in knowing that I own my car. I am completely reliant on my car to get to and from work (I commute 120 miles per day round trip to work). Two is that I am a big budgeter (my word) and saver for times exactly like this. I thought to myself, "why exactly do you save your pennies if not to use them on a large important purchase like this?" The third, and most important reason is because my out-of-pocket expenses will be lower.
If I had financed the car (even just $2,000) I would then have to carry full-coverage insurance. So between the monthly loan payment and the insurance payment, which would have been well over $100, I decided that I would rather not have a monthly payment (that I didn't have before), even if it would help my credit score (advice from my dad and sister).
I am still freaking out in my head a bit, but I know I will survive. I just wish someone would create a big bubble I could put around the car so no one can scratch it, or breathe on it wrong!
So far this is the biggest purchase I have made in my life (even bigger than my student loans!)! I am proud of myself but still wish I hadn't been put in a spot where I had to do it. I wish I could have had more of a chance to choose to. But then I wouldn't have my Ford Focus!
Thanks to everyone at Houston Wholesale and my mechanic team. It was great not to feel pressure at any point to make a decision one way or the other.
Here's to years of great driving!