Thank you for all the advice and perspective on what car to buy. This is the first time I've been looking at buying a car and making the right choice is nearly paralyzing.
Here are the dirty deets on what I'm looking at, numbers wise. The most I'm comfortable paying on a monthly basis is $225/month. I can't emphasize enough how that is the absolute most I'm willing to pay and even the idea of that amount makes me want to throw up. I understand that is not a huge car payment compared to many but for my situation, that's where I'm at.
That averages out to a car loan of $10,000. When I look at used cars for $10,000 or less, it's nerve wracking. A car in that range will be older, roughly 2008 at best. And it will have a lot of miles, nearly 100,000 in most cases. By the time I paid off a 4 year loan, it would be time to get a new car. Stretching my budget and financial comfort zone so much while still driving a car that could come across several problems at any time just didn't feel ok. Even thinking about it now puts knots in my stomach.
However. If I bumped my budget up to $14,000 I could afford a 2013 car (used of course) with 40,000 miles. A car like that could last me 10 years at least. If I had a 4 year loan, I would have at least 6 years of no car payment. But that bumps my monthly payment up to $305. *Excuse me while I dry heave*
So this dilemma lead me to my last post where I simply don't know what to do. But then life made the decision for me.
I went over to a local credit union where I found the rate of 2.99% to get pre-approved. They dropped a big bomb on me that my credit is all screwed up from 2 unpaid bills that I never received. Apparently all my moving around has left a few bills that did not get forwarded. When a bill is mailed to you, you have 30 days to pay it. There is no legal requirement for them to call you or email you before it gets sent to collections. Who knew?
Between those hard credit hits and my high debt ratio with student loans, it puts me in the "maybe" category for qualifying for a loan. If I tested it and applied anyway, the poor credit would hurt the terms of my loan at best. At worst, I would not qualify and I would have another soft hit on my credit from the application. I guess that solves my problem before it began.
After a few incredibly frustrated Lauren Conrad tears, I called the collectors and got the bills paid from the parking lot of the credit union. The pleasant man named Mr. Royal explained that it will take 45 days for my credit to be redeemed. December 19th to be exact.
I am thankful my car still runs relatively well and I'm praying every day that my car works one more day as I get closer to December 19th. I think chances are good but as always with a 198,000 mile car, ya just never know. It helps that I've been listening to Amy Poehler's new book on CD so it makes me enjoy my time driving whenever necessary.
In the meantime, in true Katie fashion, I came up with a plan. The spending challenge is still completely in tact and in fact, even more important than ever. Instead of putting all my extra money towards debt, I will be saving every single penny I can find until December 19th. The goal is to save enough to get my expected loan amount down from $14,000 to as close to $10,000 as I can get. That way I can get a longer lasting car without going drastically over my comfortable monthly payment.
I'm expecting to save at least $2,000 with the hopes that it could be more. Whatever I can save myself now will ultimately reduce my monthly payments and leave room for extra money to go towards my student loans.
It bugs me that the spending challenge is being rerouted a bit. I hate that I'm tacking on more debt but I'm determined to get rid of it all one way or another. I am not giving up and trust me, I'm learning a lot along the way. I have to come to terms with the fact that I will be entering my 30's with debt, unless I win the lottery that I don't play.
So that's the scoop. The count is on and I'm being more frugal than ever to make this as painless of a blow as it needs to be. In fact, I found a quarter on the front walk and you bet I snatched that up!