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Cars: from my Financial Resume

I have written about my Financial Resume before. I have made some good decisions, and bad ones too. Many times luck played a large role in whether it was a good or bad decision. This was written back in 2007 for your reading enjoyment.

So now we have run down my two significant purchases, which are both houses that I have lived in (I think owned a bit presumptuous, since the bank OWNED most of both houses, really). I tend to remember things by cost, so what are the subsequent major purchases by price in my life?

University tuition kind of counts there; however, I was fortunate enough not to have had to foot that bill, so I will not be counting that on my resume. I think that the cost of Education is always a good thing and is a positive investment, even though you never get any tangible assets out of it. So I must rephrase that last sentence: you get a better job, you get more self-esteem, and you gain knowledge which is tangible assets, but not quickly “price tagged.” If you are doing a Financial Resume, then make sure you include your education costs. However, remember that as long as you didn’t borrow from a loan shark, this “investment in yourself” is a success no matter what. Give yourself a gold star!

Your Car is a Money Pit?

What did I blow lots of cash on next? You guessed it, the money pit cars I have purchased in my life. I would dearly love to live in a city where having a car is not a necessity, unfortunately where I live in Ottawa means the mass transit system is not a usable option for my family (although we do use it to get the kids to school, that is another price area). I did try for a while to have only one car and take the bus, and that worked somewhat, but the amount of time I was spending on the bus was driving me crazy, knowing that my journey in a car was only 12 minutes (it was 60 minutes on the bus). We’ll discuss this point later.

Let’s start at the current money pit. The present Van I have I bought new (I try not to mention it by brand and type, primarily out of fear of being sued), which I decided I was going to do, given I had bought my earlier Van used and had some issues with it (read later for that story). However, I got fooled into spending too much money on my new Van. I got pressured into buying earlier than I wanted with a threat of “… 0% financing is going to go away soon…” bull poop. It stayed around for another year (but I still bought the Van earlier than I wanted).

I didn’t buy the extended warranty when I bought the Van (another mistake since I ended up purchasing that later for more than the initial offer). The Van itself is still under warranty, so its high costs so far are Snow Tires, Oil Changes and one brake job. So far, I would grade this purchase as a “wash” I have enjoyed having a new car, but I paid too much for it, and I suspect this car is going to turn into a money pit after it goes off the extended warranty.

I should have bought a used Honda Van, but then again, I might have had to pay as much as I did for my North American product. I would view this as a lesson learned and put it on my resume as an essential learning experience.

What Did I Buy?

Previously I bought a used Plymouth Voyager. It was pretty well most of the time. Still, it had its “peccadilloes” and odd behaviour, and I was foolish enough to have it serviced at the dealership (which is a HUGE mistake, given I have a very reliable and honest mechanic who I was dealing with at the time).

The Van itself was reliable for about three years. Still, after that, it started to go “downhill” quickly (that made the van 5 or 6 years old, which is about when Voyagers fall off a cliff, metaphorically speaking, in terms of service costs, in my experience). Head gasket jobs, brake jobs, paint problems, air conditioning failing. This convinced me to buy the new Van that I currently own. I kept the Voyager around for a while as a second car, but it guzzled gas too much, so I donated it to a friend whose daughter’s Van had died. The Voyager stayed on the road for a long time after getting rid of it, so maybe I was also paranoid (once I lose confidence in a car, I cannot drive it).

Overall I’d mark this purchase as a good buy. I bought it used, paid it off quickly, managed to get a lot of big stuff fixed out of what was left on the warranty, and got rid of it when it became a significant financial burden. Maybe not a gold star for this one, perhaps just a blue star.

When I disposed of my Voyager, a dear friend was getting rid of her nine-year-old Honda Accord (trading it in for a nice Toyota car), and they offered her $2500 as a trade-in. I offered to pay for that car since I knew it was economical and well maintained. The friend was gracious enough not to harass me about paying off the car either (which is embarrassing since you should always pay friends and family FIRST). The vehicle is still on the road. I have put about $2000 worth of radiators, tires, windshields and brakes into it, but that is over three years, and it has been very reliable. I view this car purchase as a Gold Star on my Financial Resume. It was a reasonable price, and it has been a reliable second car for almost three years.

Are Automobiles Worth It

The moral is to buy used and know the reputation of the person from which you are buying the vehicle.

Financial Resume

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