I love this crazy loco life. Where do I begin?
Hmmm... we ALMOST traded in our car this week. For those of you not in the know, we're all kinds of crazy upside down on our car. We bought it new. Then, my kids jumped full force into thrashing it with all their might. There's a scratch that circles the entire car right at the same height of my son's handle bars on his bike. It's been puked in, peed in, I've lost track of the amount of spills... (WHY do teachers always send home these adorable little seedlings in yogurt containers full of wet potting soil?) I was detailing it in preparation for the trade in and I thought, "If my car knew that it was going to a better family it would probably clean itself."
So, we should have known better when a dealer in Seattle told us he could swing us an AMAZING deal that sounded too good to be true. Take the trade in? Sure, no problem! You don't want to put a down payment? None needed! Oh yeah, we have several vehicles that match what you're looking for and cheap too! We faxed him all of our paperwork and he said we were pre-approved & the monthly payments would be less than our current car payment. We made the hour and a half drive to the "big city" as soon as we loaded the kids on to the school bus on Tuesday.
We were excited to hurry out and see the vehicles in person when we got there, but he whisked us into his office promising we could check the inventory out later. He set a sizable pile of paperwork in front of us. We didn't quite understand why he wanted us to fill out the same papers twice if we were already preapproved but whatever... Then he asked how much we wanted to put down. We reminded him that he had said zero down. He alternated between making no eye contact and long, blinkless, creepy amounts of eye contact. He explained that he couldn't take the car as a trade in unless we put a big down payment AND tacked the difference on to the next loan resulting in gigantic monthly payments.
"Okay, no thanks then." we said and prepared to go home.
Then, he changed his story. All of the sudden, he COULD give us the original deal he had promised. He finally agreed to let us see some vehicles. Now, on the Internet they had a whole other inventory than the one we were now seeing. We were supposed to believe that all of the mini-vans that we had seen online had magically been sold the night before. (In this economy? ALL of them just like that? Yeah, right.) We test drove a few (although the salesman preferred to just circle the block. Good sign there...) He was desperately trying to talk us into an Excursion and while I totally dug the fact that it had NINE seats, that whole 8 miles per gallon thing wasn't cutting it. Not to mention, it was a diesel and diesel currently costs more than gas, so... no deal! Then, we test drove my dream car. It was a GORGEOUS, fully loaded Yukon with 8 seats, flip down DVD player, Bose stereo system... I could go on. I wanted it. BAD. Suddenly, I didn't care about gas mileage anymore. I was chanting, "I don't drive much anyway." in my head. I'm a stay at home mom. No need to commute = no need for commuter car, right?
So, it was a very sad day when the dealer said that the only way that we could finance the Yukon was if we keep the car. I sat there crunching numbers in my head, trying to justify having both vehicle payments. Sure, one of them would just be sitting there unused most of the time, but... what's paying a few hundred dollars a month for a vehicle you don't even drive, right? I'd put a for sale sign on the car, but once again... Same reason we can't trade it in: no one's gonna be willing to pay enough to balance out what we owe on it.
That dealer though... Man, was he persistent. He had a whole bunch of ideas up his sleeve for how we could "make it work". One of them included a series of bounced checks. No kidding. Now, ordinarily, there's a certain amount of people skills required to work with the public. Alienating your customers is typically frowned upon. I think this guy considered that part of Sales 101 though. He basically called us stupid right to our faces for not agreeing that his plans were genius. The hubby and I went over our budget and discussed in depth what we could cut and what we couldn't. The dealer (a divorced bachelor) insisted that we didn't need to spend so much on groceries and household items. Apparently, he didn't realize that there is in fact a different dollar amount for a family of six than for a family of one. He actually said, "You couldn't possibly spend that much on laundry soap and toilet paper each month. Just buy one ply." I have 4 kids. One ply or not, Costco sized cases of TP are a big expense around here.
In the end, the reality was that we really need to be putting money in savings and stocking up on food storage, etc. Slapping a few thousand down for a down payment and dishing out an extra car payment each month felt a little like standing in the middle of a windstorm with a pile of cash in the palm of my open hand. Hours into our negotiations the hubby and I looked at each other and said, "Let's go." and stood up and walked toward our car. Our burden. Our learning experience. Our dependable, fuel efficient little car full of scars to remember by. The dealer followed us, screaming like an angry toddler that didn't get his way, "I thought you wanted a bigger vehicle! Good luck cramming your family into that thing! Thanks for wasting my time!" I expected to be disappointed on that car ride home, but it was the opposite. I was proud that we had made the right choice. We laughed like crazy at the lunacy of that car dealer that was most likely a coke head from the look of things. And we were content in the knowledge that we actually already had what we needed and that life isn't about getting what you want but appreciating that you have what you need.