Tag Archives: auto

Finally Bought a Car… Paid All Cash, Will Not Hit Networth Goal This Year

I made a decision that this year I will not hit my networth goal in order to purchase a quality car. I test drove dozens of vehicles to determine the best make and model for my needs. I determined that I’d like to spend under $15,000 on the car, but $18,000 maximum if I found someone I loved in that price range. My goal was to purchase from a private party, but I felt it would be easier to buy a car from a dealer.

After test driving everything from a 2007 BMW 328i to a Volkswagen Passat, and a brief interlude where I was convinced I wanted to buy the Volvo S40, I settled on the Hyundai Sonata. I didn’t think the car’s 2.4L engine would be enough power for me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the power the vehicle had. The Hyundai dealership had two 2011’s in stock to test drive — I decided to try out the one with more mileage (60k) since it was ticketed at $18k vs $20k of the lower milage model. I really didn’t want to spend $18k on a car, so I figured if I could somehow talk the dealership down to $15k I might buy it. I really needed a car and my boyfriend was getting tired of driving me around, so purchasing a car today was my goal… but not overpaying.

I actually went out to test drive a 2007 private party V6 camry and thought it might be the right choice. It was priced at $16.5k, fully loaded, but I figured I could talk the seller down. But as I test drove the Camry, I remembered why I didn’t like the car. It just felt bulky and heavy. The knobs inside the car looked cheap. It was a fine car but not something I wanted to spend over $15,000 on.

So then I test drove the Sonata and fell in love. I figured I had nothing to lose saying I wanted to pay $15k for the $18k car… and expected the sales manager to drop to $16.5k at the lowest. But through my “sophisticated” negotiating¬†powers or sheer luck I got them down to $15.5k. It was still more than I really wanted to spend, but it was a really good deal for the car – which was loaded with many features. With the $15.5k price tag, I couldn’t turn down the deal. I ended up paying an extra $1.7k for a 4 year, 60k mile warranty, which puts me a bit at ease since I’m worried about buying such a pricey used car… though it kind of has me paying the same amount I would have paid without negotiating. At least everything is covered for four years.

It feels good to have a car with all working features! However, it’s sad that I won’t be able to reach my $250k networth goal this year. I guess that’s not such a big deal, I’ll just have to focus on saving a lot next year and for the rest of this year to make up for it. But it will be hard to see my networth drop from $225k to $205k. I might be able to save $225k for the year but not $250k. Oh well. I needed a car and I decided that I’m going on 30, and deserve something nice… and that I can grow into as I potentially have/start a family in the next 3-7 years.

When to Buy a New Car?

I’ll never claim to be a frugal person, but in regards to large purchases, that’s where my frugality shines. And by shines, I mean “has scratches.” My Toyota Solara (1999), which I purchased used off of a man selling it on Craigslist in 2005 with 130k miles on it for $7,000, is showing signs of “time to get rid of me.” I’m trying to figure out exactly when I do get rid of her… which, if it’s up to me, will be the day she stops running and no one can fix her for less than 1/2 her current value.

What’s wrong with her? Let me count the ways.

– front bumper on left side is ripped off (from “no fault” accident (it was his fault))
– air conditioning is broken
– left window won’t ¬†open
– radio is broken
– back tires need to be replaced

She has 190k miles on her, which for a Toyota might not be a death sentence yet, but still influences my decision whether or not to fix her up or sell her for pennies on the dollar, and buy a new (used) car.

This is the first car I’ve ever owned, so I’m unsure when I should make the plunge and start shopping for a new car. In theory, I’ve been able to save $3k per month so buying a new (used) car that is similar in quality and value to my current car (when I bought it) would only eat up 2.5 months of savings. Then again, maybe I’d want to buy a slightly nicer car. I really want a (used) Prius. What do you think?

Need Advice: Car "Collision," Deductibles, Insurance

My car luck is really not doing so great lately. It’s a long story, which I’ll tell below, but the main question I have is — should I go through insurance to get the damages fixed, should I even both getting the damages fixed, and is it too late to decide not to go through insurance?

Here’s the story.

My first day of work I left my car at the public transportation garage. Returned to my car, the back window was smashed (it’s a small window that doesn’t open because it’s a 2 door) and the passenger seat door was busted.

Called insurance to file a claim about the break in. Nothing was stolen but would need to get window fixed and car seat fixed if possible. Have $0 deductible for comprehensive so figured it was worth it.

Fast forward a week. To today. I’m driving out of a parking lot making a right-hand turn. I don’t see anything to my right so I start to turn very slowly. I hear some scraping noise so I immediate stop my car and back up slowly. My passenger side mirror looks fine, it’s not hitting anything, so I figure I will back up and then examine the damage…

Instead — “BOOM” — my large passenger side window shatters. A louder scraping noise is heard. I stop the car, get out, and see that a pipe has cut a huge gash into the door and basically made the door a wall (the handle doesn’t work / it won’t open) and glass is everywhere.

I look at the window in shock, then drive back into the parking lot and promptly call my insurance. Which was maybe a really bad idea. I told them exactly what happened… then they told me that this would be a collision claim and I have a $1,000 collision deductible. I’ve never filed a collision claim and I know I pay a lot in comprehensive so that if damage happens to my car that isn’t an accident I’m covered. I’ve had a few break-ins in the past and they’ve all been covered at 100%. Even hitting a deer and the damage from that was covered entirely. This, however, would have a $1000 deductible.

So I stopped and said, well, I think the front window had a crack in it from the break in. Ok, so it was a stretch. But I figured at that point it was worth trying to get this covered under my comprehensive policy. Even if they would just fix the windows for me under the comprehensive and I could leave the car door as is. The woman on the other line said that she’d add a note about this to the other claim. I am not clear if she opened a collision claim but it sounds like she maybe just tacked on the report to the comprehensive claim. I’m supposed to get an appraisal tomorrow from a place my insurance company referred me to.

Now the questions I have are…

1) Does it make sense to get my car fixed at all through insurance?

2) Should I just get the break-in damage repaired and not get anything repaired through insurance that was caused by this pipe?

3) Should I get everything appraised and wait to hear if they will cover it all under comprehensive (they won’t… not with the giant gash in my car door) and then figure out what to do?

4) Should I just say f’it and buy a new (used) car? I bought my car in 2005 with 130k miles on it for $7k. It’s the first car I ever owned so it has its share of new-driver dings on it, not counting today’s giant gash. It now has 170k miles on it so I can’t imagine it will last that much longer. It’s a Toyota so maybe it will last to 200k, so I could see it lasting another 3-4 years if I’m lucky, or longer if I don’t drive it that much. Blue book trade-in value for the car in “Fair” condition is something like $1500. I am not sure what condition the car is in right now… looks-wise I’d say it’s in pretty “poor” condition but the insides are doing fine. It’s definitely not driving quite as smoothly as it did when I first got it in 2005, but it is a nicer drive than some other cars I’ve been in. Would it make sense to donate my car to charity (or trade it in at a toyota dealership for the pennies they are willing to pay me) and move on with my life? Ignore all the claim filing and just start fresh?

5) Should I get rid of the car (charity or trade-in) and not have a car at all? In reality, this doesn’t make sense right now because I live in the ‘burbs on top of a giant hill and it’s pretty impossible to get around without a car. I’m sure it’s do-able, but it would be very difficult. And my commute to work with a car is already 1 hour.

6) But… should I get rid of my car and move to the city? I really like my current apartment… it’s cheap ($700 a month with utilities about), in a really beautiful area, my roommates are mellow and we get along fairly well, my room, while small, faces greenery and all-in-all my place makes me happy. It feels like a home. Any place I get in the city will be more money, or smaller, or in a worse neighborhood, or all of the above. I could just move closer to a train stop so I could walk to the train… which provides a lot more options… but that still requires moving, and finding a place I like, and finding roommates I can get along with, or living alone, which I’ve decided I don’t really like doing, and costs a lot on the utilities front. But if I move some place near public transit I could get rid of my car and just not have to deal with the hassle of owning one.

7) Or should I just go to a car shop and get everything fixed myself, even if it costs a lot, and just eat the costs of getting the fixes done without going through insurance? — Is it too late to do that … I already reported the claim… but I’m not sure they filed anything under collision yet, or at what point they will in this process. If I don’t decide to get the car fixed, will they still file the claim as collision if it gets appraised and the repair shop reports that the damage was caused by a collision (probably) — I can’t exactly ask the insurance company how this will work.

What do you all think? I really need advice here. Thanks!

Stolen Car Registration Sticker Cost me $40!

First off, I’m really sorry I am so awful at updating this blog. I try to update my tweets more often www.twitter.com/everycentcounts because it’s easier to write 140 words than a blog entry. Still, this blog needs some TLC. And I also am trying to figure out what happened to www.personalfinancereader.com because I paid for the domain through blogger and it isn’t working.

Anyway, the topic of my post today is how ridiculous it is that you are required to pay for a new registration sticker when it gets stolen from your car. Not only that, but if you get a ticket for it you’re required to pay that too. I admit it was my fault that I got two tickets for it (I didn’t have time to go to the DMV for a week and then I got another one) but still… my car was registered, so it’s obvious that I had the sticker.

Finally went to the DMV and that took forever and a day. Had to pay $18 for a new sticker. Lame. Now I have to pay $20 for the two fix-it tickets.

I’ve heard that you should cut your sticker w/ a razor to prevent people from stealing it. So I’ll be doing that soon.

I actually got pulled over for having an expired sticker but the cop was nice about it. I told him my registration sticker was stolen and he said that’s been happening a lot lately with the economy and all. He gave me the same “cut it with a razor” advice, and no ticket from him, but… if it’s happening a lot, then why make people pay for someone else’s crime. Come on.

Well, here’s my charity for the year. I’ve paid the CA government over $500 in various ticket fees, including these, thus far in 2009! I’m a good citizen.

$1k Car Repairs and a Broken Radio

My car started having “issues” a few months ago. In the mornings, sometimes it wouldn’t want to turn on. I’d try a few times, hold my breath, and eventually it would work.

But then the other day it just – kaput – gave out. It was time to get it towed to a repair shop and see what was wrong, and just how much it would cost me.

So my insurance company sent out a tow truck, and the guy jump started my car so I could drive it to the auto repair shop I read about on Yelp that was beyond the “free towing” distance. I drove it there, safely, and found out that the inspection would be $100 just to find out what’s wrong.

I agreed to that (it seems normal) and got a call a few hours later letting me know that… I needed new back breaks ($$), I should get a 150k checkup ($$) and I probably needed a new starter ($$$$) and my battery chords were all messed up so they had to get replaced too ($$). The total price came to $1018 to fix/check out my car.

I can’t help wondering if I got ripped off. I know it costs a lot to repair cars, and my car wasn’t starting, but that’s a lot of money. Still, I think it was worth it for my car. The guy said the engine and battery look good and should last me.

The only thing I’m pissed about is that when I got my car back my radio was broken. So, it was kind of on the fritz before, but it had been working no problem. Now it won’t turn on. I haven’t gone back to ask about that because I’m sure he’ll say that he didn’t even touch the radio – but really, it’s not turning on, at all. I don’t really want to pay to get that fixed too!

5 Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance

Got a car? Then you have car insurance, a requirement for drivers everywhere. That insurance can range in cost vastly depending on your age, the length of time you’ve been driving, the type of car you drive, and a variety of other variables.

While you can’t change the time since you’ve gotten your license or reduce the number of “bad driver” points you have on your record, I’ve recently found out some ways to reduce your yearly payment.

1. Call your auto insurance company twice a year or so and just ask if there’s anyway to lower your rate. Mention you’re shopping around. If they’ve started a new program for discounts, they’ll likely not offer up the information unless you ask.

2. How far are you really driving to work each day? Many car insurance agencies charge you more for the amount you drive per year. But they base this on the miles you drive to and from work. It’s never good to lie, but if you have moved closer to your job, or if you think the miles you noted in past are too high for how much you actually drive (or maybe you work from home a few days a week now), call up and ask to change the yearly mileage noted on your account. You’ll notice that your yearly fee will be reduced.

3. Did you know that the cost of car insurance changes based on your zip code? Out of curiosity, I recently talked to an agent and asked her to plug in some different zip codes within my county, and found out that where I used to live, and where I’m still paying for, costs $50 more a year than most of the other zips in the county. Again, lying here is probably pointless, but if you’re looking to move, it might make sense to call up your insurance agent and find out if your insurance price will go up or down with the move. You can always change your address to a friends if they live in an area that’s cheaper.

4. Check out that auto billing. I thought my pay was on auto billing because I’ve set it up to pay automatically from my bank account, but for some reason I didn’t do it through my insurance company, so they were still charging me $4 a month to send me bills. Not only did those mailed bills go straight to the trash, it turns out that I was wasting $48 a year on them.

5. Every year, take a half-hour or so to shop around to see if you can get a better deal with another company. Look at the small insurance companies and the big ones. Just be careful with ones that offer six month rates, as this means they can change your rate after the first six months.

When Paying Late = Saving Money

I set this afternoon aside to organize all of my late bills and pay off what I can. My auto insurance bill was two payments behind (out of sheer laziness on my part). So I called up and requested to pay it off. It turned out they had my wrong address down, and then when they found out I moved (closer to work) I was told that I could get a discount for driving a shorter distance each year.

So I’m saving something like $100 a year just for calling up because I was late paying my bill. Also, I found out if I pay online w/ auto pay (which I was planning on signing up for anyway, it just wasn’t working because they had my old zip code down), I can save $50 a year. Sweet.

I’m still probably paying too much because I have full comprehensive coverage in case my car gets broken into again and I have to get the window repaired. After having it broken into two without the full comprehensive coverage I signed up for it, and low and behold it got broken into again and I got it fixed for “free.”

Meanwhile I just paid off my dermatologist bill and put my medical claim filings into an envelope to be sent out. Now I just have to get my health insurance set up on auto pay and I’m set… as long as I have enough $$$ in my checking account. I’m keeping it fairly low, which is scary for me. I usually keep a few thousand dollars in savings with free overdraft in case I overdraw my checking. I refuse to let myself rack up credit card bills, so I use my debit card for just about everything. That kind of sucks when my bank account runs dry, but otherwise works quite nicely.

Crap. I got pulled over.

I can’t blame anyone else for this mishap. My registration expired… a while ago. However, I paid the $120 registration fee at the DMV (which, I think included a late fee) and was to get my smog checked by Jan. I had until Jan 1 to get my smog checked and get my stickers for my plates.

Of course, being the procrastinating idiot that I am, I waited a little too long to get this done. I received one ticket (for $35) for my expired registration while my car was parked in a public lot. So I finally got around to getting my smog checked THIS MORNING. I paid $90 for my smog check & an oil change that was overdue.

Ten minutes later, I was driving on the freeway and I got pulled over.

I showed the cop my smog receipt and the little registration card (that may or may not have been expired… I’m a bit confused about whether it expired on the 1st of the month, or at the end of the month.)

The worst thing was that somehow my insurance card had gone missing. I kept it in my glove compartment, but the robbers threw everything out of my glove compartment when they went through my car last month. I thought I had put everything back, but apparently my insurance information was missing.

So now I have this “notice to appear” paper that says that I have an infraction for an expired registration and it also notes that I did not have insurance on me, though neither the infraction or misnomer boxes are checked for that. I’m not sure what that means.

The cop said that I should get my sticker and then go to any police department with the paper. He didn’t really explain whether I’m going to owe a zillion dollars or if I just need to prove that I’m actually registered to avoid paying.

This really sucks because today I decided I’m going to start being really tight on my budget and living with a minimal amount in my checking account. I figure I’ll spend less if I pretend I have less to spend. Simple psychology ought to do the trick.

Except now I’m worried I’m going to get an overdraft fee because of all of these unexpected expenses. That’ll teach me to stop procrastinating, eh?

I owe quite a bit of money for different things… $200 for health insurance… $150 for my cyst removal bill… $35 for my ticket… and now who knows how much more for this other ticket-type-thing.

Right now I have $600 in my checking account. I’m supposed to get paid Monday for my work… so that would bring me up to $3900. BUT I plan on putting $1000 of that in a special ING savings account for taxes. That leaves me with $2900, and I have to pay rent in a few days. So I’m at $1850. Not so bad, but after I pay all those bills, plus my phone bill, plus the cable/internet bill, plus the gym bill, plus buy a new phone in two days (my old one is lost and I am eligible for the discount on a new phone on Monday)… well, I won’t have much money left for food.

At least this setup will keep me from spending money on clothes I don’t need!
At least that will keep me from

Stolen Credit Card

Did I mention that my car got broken into a month or so ago? I thought all that was stolen was $4 in cash and two checks (for $400 and $50). The $400 check was canceled and sent to me again. My aunt refuses to cancel the $50 check (that was a gift) because she thinks I’m stupid for leaving my car door open with the checks in it. Fair enough.

So… apparently I am really stupid because I must have left this Amazon.com Credit Card lying around in my car as well. I kept meaning to throw it out… I signed up for it on a win wim (I wanted to buy perfume, they had a $30 if you sign up for a card now deal, and I couldn’t resist at the time). But I keep one credit card because I know how I get with bills in general (if I could put all my late fees into one investment account I’d be rich by now.)

Anyway, these crooks stole the card that I hadn’t even activated. I didn’t find out about it until today when I received a bill for the card. $103 of charges. Interestingly, all the charges are at a gas station about 30 minutes north of here. I guess my car thieves travel to my ‘hood to break into cars at night. The fuckers.

The good news is that the customer service people were nice about it and won’t make me pay for the charges, or so they say. I’ll see about that in 14 days when I get the papers I have to sign, and then I’ll find out if I don’t have to pay it.

At least it was my credit card and not my atm card.