Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saving on Vehicle Expenses

Vehicle Expenses can make or break you.  You can go to a car dealership, finance it and walk away.  In addition, you get car insurance (which you have to have full coverage since it isn't yours yet since you are making payments), and drive away.  Oh wait, don't forget about smog, registration, and the other fun things that come with car ownership.  Fun right?  Well, if you want to be spending more money than you need to. 

I personally think it is smarter to purchase a used car.  I will tell you about my personal experience.  I bought a car from my brother when I was 17.  He had bought it used and had been driving it, but wanted to get something newer.  I paid him $500.  He said he could have sold it for $1500 to a friend, but he would much rather sell it to me.  In addition to paying the $500, it needed some work on it.  I paid a mechanic who is a family friend, about $1000.00 to do all the additional work needed.  It really needed a lot of work.  Truth be told, I can't remember everything it needed, but it took him days to do it.  I drove it a while, until it started breaking down.  I will admit to all of you that I know nothing about vehicle maintenance.  First it was this and then it was that.  The tires were done for and I couldn't find the little lock thingy for the wheels.  The mechanic friend looked everywhere in the car and couldn't find it.  He had to end up breaking the lug locks off.  It took him so long.  Then something else broke down.  The final draw was a New Years Eve.  I was driving home and it was raining.  The car started smoking and I was stranded somewhere.  I had to call my ex and have him come get me, which I was so thankful he did come and get me.  Gotta love being friends with your ex still.

After all the money I had put into getting my car functional and with all the upkeep, I talked it over with my mechanic friend.  We decided it would be better for me to find a good used car that was a bit newer.  My car was a '92.  I didn't even get the water pump worked on.  I listed it on Craigslist for $500.  The first guy that came by to take a look at it bought it with cash right on the spot.  He said it definitely needed work and he towed it away. 

I looked on Craigslist and in the newspaper for a good used car.  I found that so many cars were so overpriced.  Some people listed cars for way more than the Kelly Blue Back Value.  I lucked out when I found a '03 Dodge Neon for $6800.00 in the local newspaper.  This was in 2005 that all of this happened.  I had my dad go with me to go take a look at the car.  The guy lived downtown.  He was afraid that he was going to be losing his job because, as he said, the economy wasn't looking so great here in Vegas and he worked for one of the casinos.  He just had a feeling.  He just wanted to get rid of the car payment and be done with it.  He even showed me how much he owed on it with a statment from his loan.  I drove it around and it drove smoothly and nice.  It only had 23,000 miles on it.  I negotiated with him and he accepted $200 less for the car.  I gave him a deposit of $50 to hold the car.  I called my credit union and got it financed for a 3 year loan.  I called my insurance company and found out how  much it would be a month to insure it.  They wanted a lot.  Then we started talking and my representative found out I was a single mom.  She said, "  I didn't know you were a mom.  If you had told me that before you would have only paid x per month for your insurance."  It turned out that since I had a child, I got an additional discount.  I never knew that before.  Turns out I would be paying less for full coverage than I had been paying just for liability on the car I had.  I was so happy when I got my car.  It was just perfect.  I started paying extra per month on my loan and got it all paid off pretty fast.  I have done my regular oil changes and take my car to our mechanic friend who saves us so much money.  He is a sweet, retired, Christian guy who doesn't live far from us.  I love paying him to tend to my car instead of some company.  He doesn't rip me off.  He is very honest and upfront about my car needs.  Recently I had a busted headlight.  He went to the junkyard and couldn't locate one to replace it.  In turn, he took some plexiglass and made me a headlight and sealed it with this sealer.  I also needed a new motor mount on the car.  He charged me less to fix all of this than I would have paid for a brand new headlight.  My biggest advice to anyone is find a good mechanic who is honest.  I love having an honest mechanic.  He does it all at his house.  If he can't do it, he tells me. 

I have been driving my car for 5 and a half years now, and it is still running.  Yes, it needs a little work, which I plan on scheduling with my mechanic pretty soon here now that I am working again, but I would much rather have a paid off car and paying for a little maintenance work than having a monthly car payment.   I just put a little aside for a car fund in case of maintenance work being needed. 

Yeah I could go buy a newer car, but I think it is much smarter to drive this paid for car.  :)

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