Okay, so my title is misleading. My wheels most assuredly aren’t free. They are, however, a substantial improvement over my old mode of transport.
I’d been talking for a while about getting another car, and finally hit the point of pulling that trigger a few days ago. The final straw was when the already-intermittent AC sputtered to its ultimate demise. I had already been talking with a sales person who was offering me the moon if I’d just buy a car from him, any car, any how. I’d planned on dragging the husband unit out with me, since he ostensibly wanted to be involved with the selection.
Mind you, when I say the AC was the last straw, I don’t say that lightly. The old car had 160K miles on it. It NEVER had high beam headlights, not from the time we acquired it. We put two clutch systems into it in as many years, and it was popping out of both reverse and 5th gear. It was known to overheat – in winter – so we knew that summer was going to be a bitch at best.
That sunburnt beige monster is what I’d been driving for the past several years. Cars don’t rust around here. The sun does, however, destroy the paint.
Yet I was doing my best to postpone the inevitable because I knew we have money coming in mid-June, and with my credit I was going to have to plunk down some serious cash to buy a car. Except, I didn’t.
My credit card company has a free notification system that tells me if anything hits my credit, and it also gives me periodic updates on my credit score. I’ve been digging my way up from a few decades’ worth of starvation wages whilst working in the radio biz, and have been a good little consumer, paying my bills on time, and all that rot. My bills consist of a couple of credit cards and a PayPal credit account, so revolving lines of credit. We retired the mortgage and the last time I had a car payment in my name was probably ten years ago.
When the car lot pulled my credit numbers, the credit card alert popped up and told me my credit score was in the “poor” range. Not quite to the 400 numbers, but low enough I knew a car wasn’t going to happen. I know enough about how credit works to know that wasn’t the number that I’d been assigned at my last view of credit score. I assumed it was because of the credit pulled from the car dealership, and hoped that when they pulled it, they got a little higher number. I was praying I was at least into the low end of the “fair” category.
Welp, I found out one little detail about my credit card company. Their numbers lied. Like, significantly.
Up at the the top of the page, you’ll see the new baby. Not a Maserati, I know, but about a thousand percent improvement over what I was driving. My only real beef is the seats, which are miserable. I’m going to spring for a lumbar cushion, which should address the concave back to the seats. Who designed those things, anyway? A teenager, for whom a perpetual slouch is normal?
The salesman showed me my credit report printout from the big three agencies. My credit card company lied through its ass. And I couldn’t be happier about it, because I was able to drive off the lot without a down payment, and bought a new car. Not just new to me, but new as in, the odometer had 20 miles on it after my test drive, full factory warranty, and more. It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever bought a new car. It came with all my must-haves (automatic, air, and cruise control – because I’m OVER trying to fight my way around a standard, with my knees!) It also came with a lot of bells and whistles, including roadside assistance. But not, ironically, a spare tire.
We’re going to be getting that spare tire, and a jack, soon. Even if I have roadside assistance, it’s stupid not to have some things. I also ponied up the extra to extend bumper-to-bumper coverage for 10 years/100K miles, not just the drive train. It’ll probably be fine, but I’m not taking chances.
Since I didn’t have to wait for the cash to put down on it, I’m debating whether to just pay a lump sum so I can pay the loan off sooner, use the money to cover a year’s payments and sock cash back that would otherwise have gone to a car payment, or what. I’m leaning toward the former, but part of me says to hang onto the cash in case of emergencies. It’s a nice conundrum in my world. How do I spend XX thousand bucks?