My first ever snow run was in the books and my heart was set on a 4Runner.
It was on this run that I learned about a local club in our area which my neighbor had helped to create. He had helped gather together a group of people who love their vehicles, and who love the outdoors. The first meeting I attended was at a local food and beer spot. I pulled up in my Impala to a parking lot full of lifted Land Cruisers, Tacomas, and FJ Cruisers.
It made my heart hurt.
This was early January, and I was a long ways away from my savings goal for my new vehicle purchase.
In December I had attended a friend’s Christmas party, and it just so happened that her husband did financing at a large dealership in our area. I was immediately drawn to him as I have never before gone through the “true car buying experience.” 2 Hours later my ride home was dragging me away so we could leave. I couldn’t tell you the names of half the people there, or even how many people were there. This man loved talking about ways to finance, and I loved asking questions about it.
Merry Christmas! Here’s a 2 hour conversation about car financing!
It was wonderful.
The conversation mostly confirmed what I already knew. A 4Runner would be on the high end of my budget. Make “car payments” now so I become used to living with the added expense and confirm that I can do it, then use this savings as my down payment. (I had planned to not make any purchase until at least July) A longer term loan with the lowest possible monthly payments was in my best interest. If finance issues arise, my car payment will take up the smallest amount of my bills as possible. And when finances are good, I pay above and beyond my minimum to pay off the car early, saving me the high interest cost if I had taken the full time span to pay it off. But realistically, I shouldn’t have been discussing payments at all.
The best car to buy is one I could pay for in cash.
Financially, I should not be purchasing something I technically can’t afford. I didn’t even have 10k in my account at the time, let alone the 20-30k it would take to buy a 4Runner in the PNW. (People LOVE 4Runners over here. Just like Minnesotans seemed to love their Jeep Cherokees.)
On top of that, my Impala worked just fine.
I had made little to no repairs to it. It was in wonderful shape. It even got me through snow drifts at work without issue. (Although I do need to thank my neighbor for giving me some snow driving lessons while we were out in his Land Cruiser. I applied these lessons to my Impala and they made all the difference!) What I’m trying to say is, replacing my Impala was stupid. It was a perfectly great car that did everything I needed. I even folded the back seats down and slept in the trunk out camping. The only criteria it didn’t fit? Ground clearance, and it was 2 wheel drive.
So why buy a new (to me) car you ask?
Because I wanted it.
I didn’t kid myself. I didn’t lie to myself and say “I need the ground clearance” or “I need to make it through the snow.” I knew I could get by with what I had. I had just paid it off in full that December; I was officially car payment free. (My mom said she cried when that last lump sum arrived because it felt like I “no longer needed her”. Mom, that will never be true.) As we’ve learned from Part 1, I have always wanted and SUV. I finally had a full time job, a stable income, money in my savings account, and a new hobby. I was itching to finally purchase the car I wanted rather than the car that fit an immediate need.
So I pinched pennies, found a roommate, and starting searching.
P.S. The featured photo isn’t of great quality, but it most accurately represents the relationship between my mother and I!