Tag Archives: car

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.

Shopping for a Car: The Unnecessary Saga

*edited to add: the reason I am considering such an old car model is that for the next 2 years I have the remainder of my DUI sentence with increased insurance premiums. I am paying $120 per month right now for very basic, no comprehensive insurance due to the DUI. The punishment was deserved, but I do not see myself buying a nice car which requires comprehensive insurance. My original plan was to keep my old car around until the end of the sentence so I wouldn’t have to worry about comprehensive insurance, but it’s pretty much dead now. So I’m trying to buy a car that will get me through the next 2-3 years that won’t require even more expensive insurance. I forgot to mention this.

There seem to be as many models of cars as there are people in the world. Big ones, small ones, fancy ones, simple ones, Japanese ones, American ones, European ones, new ones, old ones, really old ones with expensive surgery to make them look like younger ones, et al. And today, with my poor, destroyed ’99 Toyota parked silently in a carport space waiting for its end of days, I know it’s time to get a new(er) car. It’s been time for a while. Since, in 2011, when it was hit and had the front bumper ripped off. A year later, the insurance company finally agreed with me that the accident wasn’t my fault and send me the remainder of a $2000 check. But, the car, worth less than this with 200k miles and a leaky engine, wasn’t worth repairing. I started to hunt for a new car. Yes, in 2011.

It’s getting a little (extremely) ridiculous that I haven’t purchased a car yet. The two issues at hand are 1, determining which car to get, and 2, figuring out how to pay for the car.

When I bought my last car, I went about it in my typical anxiety-ridden way. While I was curious about the plethora of choices out there, I quickly limited my  choices but determining I should get a  Toyota or Honda. I didn’t like the Honda logo or body styles (superficial, yes, but I am) so a Toyota was the winner. I didn’t want a Corolla because they were, well, ugly (I had no idea about performance comparisons at that time.) Prior to deciding on a Toyota I nearly bought a used Chevy Aveo or a used Saab hatchback from two different dealers. Those were the only two cars I tested out before deciding on the Solara. Continue reading

Finding $15k – $20k Liquid for a New Car

It’s (over) time to purchase an updated car. My current beater may be adequate for a gangbanger from the worst part of town, but it certain isn’t appropriate for a serious professional. In the next two months (after taxes are done and I confirm I don’t owe the government all of my money) I’d like to make a purchase of a new (used) vehicle. Based on my research I’ve determined that car will cost about $15k – $20k. I do not want to pay for this with a loan, so instead I’d like to figure out how I can make $15k – $20k liquid from my existing savings and upcoming income. This will be challenging because right now I have $400 in my checking account.

The biggest challenge is not in finding the cash to buy the car outright, but in making up for $20k of lost savings when my goal is to save $50k a year and I’m already behind! This means I’ll be relying a lot on bonuses this year (which I hate doing since they’re not a sure thing) and/or needing to look for second income opportunities. Regardless, I need to buy a car. I don’t need to buy a $20,000 car (and I probably shouldn’t with my sky-high SR-22 insurance costs), but I wanted to figure out how I could potentially access $20k by May 1 to make the purchase. I can work backwards and scale downwards in my car purchase price from there. Continue reading

Shopping for a Used Prius

Ok, so I’m not personally shopping for a used Prius — my boyfriend is — but given his conflict- and people-adverse nature, I’ve found myself in the middle of a car-buying situation. My boyfriend is 100% sure he wants a Prius, even though I told him it’s kind of dumb to get a Prius because he doesn’t drive enough for the gas savings to make the extra cost worth it. He says (and it just might be true) that used Prius’s aren’t actually more or much more than other non-luxury, non-hybrid cars.

So we’ve driven all around looking for a Prius that has a good track record (ie Carfax) that isn’t in a hideous color (ie isn’t white or red) and seems to be reasonably priced. He’s looking at the 2005, 2006 and 2007 models. For some reason, all the ones that have around 80k to 150k miles are priced at $10,999. That doesn’t seem terrible — I bought my Solara for $7,500 in 2006. Still, I hate the stress of buying a used car and figuring out if it’s a lemon before you put your money down — even if it’s not my car and it’s not my money.

The experience, however, makes me glad that I’m still driving my beat up car, and I’m not yet in the market for a new pair of wheels. Which reminds me — tomorrow is my DUI court hearing. Ugh, not looking forward to that. I still can’t believe that I got myself into this mess in the first place, but so goes life. I may give up driving altogether for a while depending on the outcome of the court and DMV hearings. So, it’s really important my boyfriend gets a car… his is broken now, and if I can’t drive and he doesn’t have a car, we’ll be in a bit of trouble given we live so far from the store.

Tales of a DUI: The worst is still to come

If you follow my blog, you know that last month I had three glasses of wine, waited three hours, thought I was ok to drive, drove one block from a parking garage and pulled over realizing I wasn’t ok to drive, and managed to pull over across the street from five cop cars waiting, patiently, to catch anyone leaving the bars that might be remotely intoxicated. I didn’t even get pulled over, the cop knocked on my window after I parked.

You can read my earlier post of the details, but the short of the story is that I made a mistake, and now I have to pay for it. Thank goodness I’m not in debt, that I’m single, and that my financial responsibilities are too myself. Still, the whole procedures of having a giant DUI stamp on your head are, rightfully so, a giant pain. Hopefully you’ll never have to experience this in person, but so far I’ve spent $3,000 on a lawyer, expect to spend $2,000 on a fine, and who knows how much more in car insurance once I’m found guilty or take a plea bargain. Then there’s also the cost of the drunk driving classes, the cost of missing work for court and DMV hearings, and the cost of any interest you need to pay on loans to cover all of those fees.

Beyond the dollars lost, getting a DUI is, I hear, another 10 years of headaches. Again, I take getting a DUI seriously, and have learned my lesson and then some. That doesn’t change how frustrating the whole experience is, once you get in trouble the first time. This is probably true for any criminal occurrences, but I find it odd that you’re arrested, go to jail, let go in a few hours, and then you’re in this waiting period of freedom for a month or more before they have time to hear your case. It wasn’t clear at all how much I should pay for a lawyer, or if a lawyer is really going to make a difference in the result of my case. I was so frustrated by the situation that I didn’t want to “shop around” or negotiate like I normally would. One of my friends had a DUI a few years ago, so I asked her what to do, she recommended this lawyer, and I just said OK. I was incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to think about it or talk about it any more than necessary.

After getting a DUI, you have 10 days to request a temporary license from the DMV (at least in California.) Then you have another DMV meeting about a month after that. There’s another hearing, in court, to set the date of your pre-trial arraignment. Apparently the first DMV hearing can be attended by your lawyer, and you don’t have to be there. Same thing goes for the first court hearing. Then you don’t have to go to the second DMV hearing, but you can, and it may help. And you’re required to go to the pre-trial arraignment in court. After that, I think how it works is that you can take a plea bargain. I assume this will come with the big fine, requirement to attend what I like to call “I’m a dumbass” courses, weekender work (free orange vests and sun!), and likely a license suspension for a month plus five months of a limited license that lets me drive only to work and back. Plus, for 10 years I have this on my record, which really isn’t too bad unless you get a second DUI (which I won’t), but it apparently means you can’t travel to Canada and if you ever apply for a job that asks if you have a record, you have to put this on your application, which will probably hold you back from some opportunities. For 10 years. Until I’m 37, I’m fucked.

That is, unless my lawyer can somehow prove that I was unlawfully arrested. There’s a small possibility there — I wasn’t pulled over — the only reason the cop bothered me at all is because someone apparently called 911 on a car leaving the parking garage around the same time I left. I don’t know what detail they have on the car leaving the garage, but from what I overheard while at the jail, the report said the car was a different make and model than the one I drive. As I was parked at the time when the cop walked up to my car, knocked on my door, which I then opened, and he asked me to step out of the car, and things went downhill from there.

There definitely are some laws (albeit minimal ones) to protect people from being unlawfully arrested. I’m not sure exactly what happens if they prove you were breaking the law after you were arrested — the fact of the matter is that I had .11 BAC and I shouldn’t have left the parking garage to begin with. A huge part of me wanted to just plead guilty, but the way the law works you are screwed if you do that, and you’re much better off trying to fight it, even if that means you end up with a plea bargain for wet reckless or a slightly smaller fine. I hate that I can’t just own up to my error and call it a day. Instead, this is a nightmare. And a month after I was arrested, the nightmare is only beginning.

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!

170k Miles and 4 Years of Used Car Ownership

In 2006, I bought my first car. While my parents, at the time, had a new car-only buying policy, my financial situation led me straight to the used car salesman. The purchase would be the largest buy I had made in my life, and every second of the process I was nervous and unsure of myself. All I knew was that I wanted to buy a used car, that I wanted to buy a “good” used car, and that I didn’t want to spend more than… $8,000 on my car. Though less would be better.

I spent a lot of time at used car dealerships. I almost bought a lot of cars that I’m glad I didn’t end up with. Certified used vehicles are the biggest waste of my money in my (current) opinion, but maybe that opinion will change after I buy a dud one day. My trip to the Chevrolet store had me sitting in a certified car that I thought I wanted. It was way more than $8k, but it was only one year old… a rental that was ready to be sold. It was shiny and new-ish. It was a red Chevy Aveo. I didn’t really love driving it, but at 22 and getting ready to buy my first car, I figured I’d grow into it. I was literally sitting down at the bargaining table when I started to negotiate terms, and I realized this car was just going to cost me more than I was comfortable spending. I wanted to pay for my car outright, and that wouldn’t be possible with this car (unfortunately I can’t remember its price tag, but I think it was around $13k). I’m very glad I walked out of the dealership that day.

Later in my search, I drove a used Saab that I fell in love with, despite the whole hatchback style not being me at all. I really fell in love with the idea of owning a “luxury” car when the pricetag was comparable to the crappy Aveo I almost bought. In fact, I think the Saab I was looking at was around $9k. But then I read up on Saabs and discovered that despite their top-notch performance in crashes, the cost to repair the beast would be ridiculous. I moved on to the Toyota dealership, when I knew I was closer to what I’d ultimately buy.

At Toyota the certified cars were expensive. I test drove one that was sporty and too low to the ground. Apparently I need a car that’s slightly higher up to feel safe. I test drove a Camry and really liked it but due to the price tag it was a no go. I started to consider if I should buy a more expensive car and just pay per month like most people do. That’s when I turned to Craigslist.

More nervous then ever, I scoured the Craigslist postings for a Honda or Toyota in my price range. I’m not sure when I first saw the older Toyota Solara model, but I fell in love with its sleek design minus the huge pricetag. I never thought I’d buy a two-door car, but I realized that I didn’t know anyone in the area, and chances were I’d basically be schlepping myself around with maybe one other passenger. Four doors just weren’t necessary.

The Solara I found for sale was around $7k. It was a 1999, which seemed old but not necessarily too old… (it was 2005 at the time, so it was 6 years old). The almost dealbreaker was the mileage on the car… 130k miles. Now, maybe it was a mistake to buy the car with that many miles, but I haven’t had any issues yet. The most important thing to me was figuring out WHY the seller was trying to get rid of the car. He had a reasonable story — he had a baby, he loved the car (which was always owned by his family) but needed a four door and planned to buy the four door Camry version of the model.

He agreed to get the car inspected so I brought the car to a guy who was supposedly a Toyota specialist and paid $100 or something to get the car checked out. The guy ran through a few small problems with the car but told me it was in really good operating order for so many miles and the year it was sold. And I was sold. I needed a car and I was tired of looking. I paid $7,000 via check and watched the money wipe from my bank account. But it wasn’t that scary, I still had some savings left, and I really was excited to buy my first car.

Since then, my car has been running fine. Knock on wood. 2006 – 2010 makes my car at least a four year purchase, or about $2,000 per year plus gas and insurance. I’ve had to replace the breaks and tires, but otherwise it’s doing ok.

I’m glad I didn’t spend money on a new or newer car… being as this is my first car, I’ve dinged it up a bit, mostly driving into inanimate objects. I wish I hadn’t, but I’m a better driver now and know how to avoid most scratches (at least ones I cause) if I get a nicer car down the road. I love my car for its sunroof, it’s design, it’s cost (even though I could have gone cheaper.) I love my car for keeping me safe during one accident and somehow not even getting too much damage from it (I didn’t hit anything, I just had a really bad day and was exhausted and spun off the road into a ditch by accident.)

My car now has over 170k miles on it, so I’ve put on about 10k miles per year. I’m not sure if that’s considered a lot. I don’t drive much but I generally take one or two longer road trips per year (longer being like 5-6 hour drives) so that’s adding up and undoubtedly wearing on my car. Since my boyfriend drives a really old clunker which can’t accelerate well, we always take my car. I wish he had a better car so we could trade off car-driving duties, but at least when I use my car I can drive… I doubt he’d let me drive his car if he had one he liked!

Now I’m wondering how long my car will really last me. I’d like it to last to 200k miles, which would be 3 more years, I guess. I don’t know how I could sell the beast, it’s too dinged up to be worth much now, unfortunately. So I plan to run it into the ground, figuratively speaking. I’d love my next car to be a Prius but those things are damned expensive, even used. Heck, I may buy another Solara (though a newer model) because I’ve been happy with Toyota quality and my car. It’s not fancy, it’s not a show car, it’s just a car that’s a little nice to get me where I need to go.

How much did you spend on your current car? How long do you expect it to last you?

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.