Tag Archives: car

Dancing on the Budgetary Edge

Dancing on the Budgetary Edge

I’m buying a new car.

Not the actual car, but pretty darn close!

Okay, not a NEW car.  I’ll never buy a NEW car.  But this is pretty darn close.  It’s a 2013 Kia Soul, it only has 60K miles on it, and it even has some bells and whistles.  And it’s a manual transmission, which actually makes me happy.

I’d gotten pre-approved for the car loan from my credit union, but after some finagling and confusion, the dealership was able to finance me at a much better rate, so I’m going with that.  The only downside is that I have to pay the tax and title out of pocket.

Cue the financial panic.

I get paid on Friday, and wouldn’t be able to pick the car up before that anyway (punishment for losing the photo card on my license renewal).  But of course this week is mortgage week.  So between the two payments, that takes my ENTIRE paycheck, plus the last of my (admittedly small) emergency savings.

I went ahead with the commitment on the car.  Between the quality of the car and the improved financing, I can’t lose the opportunity.  And I’ve been in tighter financial situations before with less signs of light at the end.  I just have to make it to April 15 when I get paid again.  But I still am panicking and feeling out of control.

I have a couple of different coping strategies in these situations.  My favorite:  I bake.  And then I eat everything I baked.  I’d like to avoid that.  I already can’t fit into my size 12 jeans (thanks, Trump) and I’m committed to doing better on the diet front.  So now I’m cleaning.  Starting with the kitchen.  I’ve spent the morning scrubbing and sweeping, and it’s looking pretty good.

I also made planning and distraction lists in my bullet journal.  First I made an austerity menu.  This coming week is already covered (the joys of 2 week at a time menu planning), so it’s just the next two I have to sweat.  I did pretty well and ended up with only an 8 item shopping list, not counting milk and cereal.  We even only resort to pancakes once!  And that’s more because the kids like it than because I had to do it.  My well stocked freezer is paying off.

Then I made a list of jobs that need to get done.  What I had PLANNED to do for the next few weeks was work on the new garden beds, but the money for lumber and dirt all just went into the car, so that’s a no go.  Instead I’ve just made a list of all the other yard chores we need to get done in advance: Cleaning up the yard, finishing off the bike shed, turning the existing beds, that sort of thing.  Some indoor stuff, too.  All things that need to get done but don’t cost any money.  There’s probably enough there to keep me busy until next pay day.

I had hoped for that weekend to be an orgy of gardening, but RL continues to hold me back.  We’re going to Hershey Park with Rachel, Matt and Uly on the 15th, which will be fun since we’ve never been.  Then the 16th is Easter Sunday, and I’m worship associate at church that day, so there’s half that day, and I’m not sure what will be open anyway.  So I’m going to take Monday and Tuesday off as well.  By that point, I will have earned a couple of personal days, and the kids are still off on Monday for their spring break, so I can impress them into labor.

I can do this.  It will be worth it in the end.  The new car will make up half its monthly payment just in the gas I’m going to save.  And I’m hanging onto the van until I get all the dirt and lumber home that I need (I’m going to miss being able to haul anything I need or find curbside whenever I want!), but hopeful after that I can sell it and restock my emergency funds.

Life on the edge, baby.  Gotta know how to do that dance.

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Mini(van) Victories

Mini(van) Victories

I fixed my car last night.

This wasn’t a check the fluids/change the windshield wipers kind of repair, either.  This was ELECTRICAL.  Scary, scary stuff, right?

Well, not really.  But scary enough for this newbie.

Last week, the heater in the van stopped working.  Mostly.  I could still get heat out of it, but only if I had the fan on high.  So either I was freezing or melting.  Not good when it’s only February and you’re expecting at least two good storms over the next few months.  But I really didn’t have the money to get it fixed.  As usual when I’m desperate, I turned to the internet.  A search of “Grand Caravan heat only on high” turned up a bunch of YouTube videos and a post on the Car Talk website.  “It’ll cost $600 to get it fixed” was the first thing I saw.  Bleah.  But the responses were all opposed to this.  Everyone else in the discussion said this was a common problem with Grand Caravans and that it was the heater blower regulator, a $12 part and an easy self-fix.  Well, easy for them, think I, but for $12, it’s worth taking the chance on, right?  At least I’ll already have the part when I have to take the car in for the repair.

Found the part on Amazon for $11.95.  Once again my Prime membership pays for itself.  Ordered it on Friday (along with a tart pan, three springform pans and The Force Awakens soundtrack), and it came on Saturday.  I was running around too much over the weekend to do the repair then, so when I got home from work last night, I went back to those YouTube videos and started watching.  Once I got past all the scary testing instructions (I don’t have a multimeter.  Not sure I want one.  Seems like a good way to get myself electrocuted.), I found out that yes, it is easy.  There are two sets of wires going into the unit, both in clips like what you clip the ethernet cable into your computer with, and then two hex screws.  One of the videos even told me the size of the hex, 8 mm.  Now, I don’t have metric hexes in my tool bag.  The ones I have are all imperial.  But you know where I do have hex heads?  In my mini bike repair kit.  Sure enough, there was the 8 mm, so out I went with that, the replacement part and a headlamp so I could see what I was doing.

And you know what?  It WAS easy!

Took me five minutes.  If that.  The hardest part was getting the motor power cord out without pulling the wires out.  That sucker did not want to come out, but after 10 years, who could blame it?  Other than that, it was easy out, easy in, plugged everything back in, turned the key and voila!  And it was so satisfying to have fixed it myself!  Especially since I saved myself so much money.  Even if it was only $150, it was still more than I had to spend, and really, considering how easy this was?  It would have been a little embarrassing.

I think maybe the bike repair class helped me with more than just learning how to fix bikes.  I think it gave me a bit more confidence at fixing anything.  I still don’t regret the $200 I spent to get the washer professionally fixed, because they were able to get the housing back on properly which I haven’t been able to do for 3 years, but I did have the confidence to look it up, find out what the problem probably was and decide no, I couldn’t do it, rather than go into it ignorant and vulnerable.  You don’t have to know how to fix everything, but knowing how to fix anything makes you a little braver in taking a stab at other things.

I did get new windshield wipers this weekend, too.  But I let the clerk at the auto parts store put them on for me.  Because I’m lazy and it was free.

I got the title for the van in the mail last week.  I guess it’s all mine now.  Which yay!  But also eek.  Small voice is saying, “You could get financing to get a new, smaller car now…”  Not yet, brain.  Not yet.

The rear windshield wiper has stopped working.  I should go look that up.  Maybe it’s just a fuse…