Thursday, January 15, 2004

I became the proud owner of my car today. After nearly four years it is officially paid off. Amazingly, it is also still in fairly decent condition and still quite drivable. I hope I don't jinx things by talking about my accomplishment openly. This one has been a long time coming. I bought the car on a whim late one Friday afternoon in March of 2000. I worked at my hometown newspaper at the time designing advertisements and the one for a certain respectable used car dealership came across my desk and it sounded interesting. A six year old car with just over 20,000 miles and by the looks of the picture it was in perfect shape.

I did what any snap decision maker would and finished my day at the office rather hastily and went straight to that car lot. I immediately got out of my car and began to inspect this incredible deal (on wheels). It was only seconds before a salesman stepped outside. We had a short conversation (while standing in the waning sun wearing short sleeves) where we asked each other questions about our respective vehicles and in a few minutes we stepped inside to discuss numbers and was on my way to a test drive in just minutes.

I drove the car to my parent's house just a few miles away for my dad to take a look at the car and told him the history of it and the price. At this point I had nearly decided I was going to be buying this car. Come on, it's a no brainer, it has a SUNROOF! That was the one feature I was looking for in a new car. It would improve my life ten-fold. A hole in the roof some people might say but it was so much more. Not quite an open air ride with it removed but much more sensible than a convertible - especially in Minnesota.

We looked it over in the driveway as the setting sun made our shadows grow ever longer. In a few minutes I was headed back into town to the dealer. While I had been gone, they had looked over and driven my car (a Chevrolet Lumina Z-34). They were also prepared with a trade-in offer. It was lower than I had expected and I was suddenly aware that this deal was going to cost me a bit more than I had first imagined.

Quite a bit more.

The trade and a down payment - being that I still owed money on the loan for my trade-in.

We tentatively agreed on the deal and I was told they would have to check with the bank the next morning. I got the call around 8 AM that defining Saturday morning. I had been accepted for the loan but would have to place an even larger down payment on it than first expected. The down payment would nearly cover the payoff amount on my current car but being a thrify fella I just happened to have a smidge more than their asking amount in my checking account. They told me to stop in around 2 PM to make the exchange and pick up my new car. I had told them up front that I would be keeping the after-market rims and tires on my trade-in and the CD player. I quickly got to work removing the CD player and they said the wheels would be taken care of in their shop.

I had my dad follow me with the original wheels in his truck to complete the deal. They were a tad upset at the condition of the original tires but a deal is a deal. I made sure they didn't see those until the papers were signed, too. Later the following week I had my dad again stop by, this time to pick up my wheels where they again stated their displeasure with the condition of the tires I had given them. Again, a deal's a deal and it's a but late to try and get more from me. After all, they sold my trade in just a few days. What can they complain about???

It seems to me that no matter what, when you make a deal on a car, the person buying always gets short changed in some way. I remember when I bought the previous car - the one I traded in. That may be a bit of an exception. I walked into the showroom to express interest in the black Chevy in the lot and looked for the most desperate looking salesman. Desperaion will make people do strange things. Such as give a buyer $2,500 for a trade of a 1990 Chevy Beretta with pretty high mileage and some mechanical problems as well as more than its fair share of scrapes, scratches, dings and chips. It had been int he ditch three separate time and the last one brought in contact with a fence. Note to self, even 15 miles per hour on glare ice is impossible to navigate an unbanked curve. Especially with some guy behind you who turns out to be real smart ass after I walked to the gas station a block away. He stated the obvious, "I REALLY slowed down when I saw you go into the ditch back there." I called a tow truck and called for a ride. I was on the way, that morning, to one of my college classes. Damn 8 o'clock classes. When I turned the accident into my insurance company, I simply took the money and paid off a chunk of my college debt. Come to think of it, accidents - none of which were my fault - paid for most of that year's college courses.

Now with my current car paid off, a feat I haven't accomplished for six years, I have that much more money to put towards other bills. Other bills such as credit CARDS, furniture, oh yeah, can't forget the wedding. That's the biggest bill and the honeymoon is the direct cause of credit cardS being used in its plural form.

That's right - GASP - TWO credit cards. Yeah, yeah, I know that alot of people have many more than one or two credit cards. I am probably lucky to have just two, neither of which is maxed out. I pledge never to do that either. I saw how my parents fought their credit cards for years and have finally paid them off. i never want to experience that. After all, a car is tough enough. How will I ever buy a house???

To find out you'll have to... Stay tuned.

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