I remember the last time my car died and left me stranded. I was on my way to work and about to pass through the busiest intersection on my commute. Multiple lanes of traffic were trying to merge onto the freeway, and the lights were short. People frequently ran through them without stopping. I eased my car into the right turn lane and yielded to oncoming traffic. While I was watching for a break in the line of cars, my car just died. I tried to restart it and nothing happened. I tried again and nothing. Again and again. The car wouldn’t start, and I couldn’t move. I sat there in that lane with the cars lining up behind me and swore very creative swears. My mother would be ashamed.
I flicked on my hazards and stuck my arm out to wave cars around me. There was plenty of room to go around, but people weren’t paying attention. The honking started and eventually the smart ones realized that I probably wasn’t going to move. I called my office, my husband, and my mechanic. Unfortunately, my mechanic greeted me by my first name because our bleeping car forced me to see a lot of him. In the 30 minutes I was stranded, hundreds of cars passed me. One woman stopped and asked if I was ok. Bless you, ma’am. A man in the large pickup took offence to my stalled-out vehicle, rolled up beside me, and screamed unintelligible profanity at me. To whoever you are… you, sir, are an asshole. Finally, the tow truck arrived, and a nice man loaded up my car. He brought his dog with him. Dogs are cooler than people some days. I sat in the cab of his tow truck until my husband came to pick me up. Fortunately, Mr. Cents wasn’t far away.
My relationship with motor vehicles hasn’t always been a pleasant one. We’ve never been in a bad accident or anything (knock on wood), but, for some reason, we seem to have particularly bad luck with cars. Our used cars seem to die quickly. We’ve been the victim of multiple break-ins, mild fender-benders, and random hit and runs while our car sat a parking lot. Our cars seem to attract rocks and shopping carts. We manage to park next to careless door openers. Honestly, this probably isn’t bad luck, but more the result of living in major metro-regions full of idiots.
The incident in paragraph one was the first time we tried to live without a car payment. It lasted 6 weeks. My husband’s vehicle was paid off, but we knew it wouldn’t last for more than a couple of years. We needed to start saving! So, we bought a used sports car from a coworker we didn’t know very well. It was made by a well known manufacturer and had very low mileage. And it was CHEAP! We could pay for it with cash and not have a car payment. My friends, WE CHOSE POORLY! We thought we did our due diligence by checking its history, and taking it to a trusted mechanic for inspection. It was not enough. Said-vehicle spend 3 of those 6 weeks in the shop, baffling our usually awesome mechanic. In addition to leaving me stranded, it also leaked gasoline for a while. Seals and hoses rotten out. Multiple parts needed to be replaced. There were thousands of dollars worth of repairs.
I hated that evil, broken sports car with a fiery passion. Once a vehicle dies on me, I never trust it again. We were TIRED of repairing used cars that broke down. Even worse, we have almost always lived in major metropolitan areas where you risk your life pulling off on the side of the road.
We decided to trade the devil car in at a considerable loss for a brand new car. Financially, not a smart move because the car depreciated like crazy. However, I feel safe driving it! It’s never broken down (knock on wood). It has amazing gas mileage and is fun to drive. I love it. Even though it SUCKS buying a new car, I know its history, and I know the maintenance was kept up to date.
This 4th of July marks a day in history for the Cents family (a happy accident that we did this on the 4th). After a failed first attempt at car-loan freedom, Mr. Cents and I are the proud official owners of two gloriously paid-off vehicles. We have no car payments! I LIKE this feeling! Even better, both of our cars still have plenty of life left in them and are in good working condition (knock on wood 2x).
So far, we’ve hit two major financial goals for 2017:
- Pay off our smaller debts -CHECK! We paid off our cell phones and our water softener.
- Pay off our last car loan – CHECK!
- Start saving up to pay off our student loans. – A work in progress. Sallie Mae, we are going to get you out of our lives.
All in all, it was truly a great 4th of July weekend. My parents and sisters came to visit us which was awesome. We chilled at the house, ate too much food, went to see Wonder Woman (loved it!!!!), etc. My two-year-old nephew terrorized the dog and laughed hysterically at EVERYTHING. I had no idea throwing stuff and catching the dog could be so entertaining. He also figured out how to delete apps off my sister’s phone and take hundreds of selfies (yes, hundreds!!). Funny to me…not to my sister.
How was your 4th of July?