Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

I bought a car! August 24, 2008

Yep, you read correctly.  I bought a car.  Technically I don’t have it yet (it’s in transit) but I’ll have it in about a week.

I first went to Herb Chambers Honda to test drive a Civic.  When I got back, all I really wanted to know was what sort of price they were going to be able to give me.  But they definitely gave me a bit of a runaround, and I felt very pressured to buy the car right then and there.  I was there alone, and really wasn’t ready to make any decisions just yet.  They kept pointing out that they could accommodate any monthly payment my budget would allow.  I kept asking what interest rates they could give me, or the lowest price they could sell it to me at, and they continually changed it from rate to monthly payments…very sneaky.  Because, as you and I know, you can basically make a monthly payment of any amount, as long as you stretch out the payment schedule long enough.  And who wants to pay all that extra interest?

So, that was Tuesday.  I was busy the rest of the week, until Friday evening.  This time, Aaron came with me.  We went up to Commonwealth Motors.  I took another test drive with the Civic they had available.  The woman that showed me the car was really friendly, and took me around the dealership to see all the benefits they had.  I could tell what she was doing, but I let her show me around.  We started talking about cars, and I asked if they could go any lower on the price.  Like at the last dealership, she got her supervisor, who is more likely to actually make a deal.  So he said he could go as low as $17600, which was okay, with an MSRP of $18,430 or so.  Still, I wasn’t quite ready, and wanted to test drive other cars.

So, Saturday morning, I got an email from Herb Chambers Honda (yes, I gave them way too much contact info).  I called them at the number they mentioned, and the guy got his manager, who said they could probably match the price I got at Commonwealth, and that I should come in.  Well, Aaron and I headed over there, and since his car needed a tuneup, we dropped it off at the nearby dealership, (free parking!  except for the cost of the repairs not covered by his warranty)  and headed over to the Honda dealership.  It turns out that they didn’t have any more of the Civics in blue, which was the color I was hoping for.  They did say that they were willing to go as low as $17550, but that they couldn’t go lower than that.  I wasn’t too keen on buying a car without trying any other types of cars, and I also knew that Commonwealth had a few blue cars coming in, so I figured I’d wait and get back to them.

The manager actually offered to have the salesman drive us over to Herb Chambers Toyota in the manager’s car, which I thought was really nice.  Maybe they were hoping we’d come back, or they just wanted to be good guys, but either way, it was a good thing.

We got to Herb Chambers Toyota and had to wait around a bit.  All the salespeople were busy with other customers.  However, a man named CK, who apparently works more in the internet sales department, saw us waiting and offered to help.  I appreciated that.  I told him I was looking for a Corolla, and he had us go out on a test drive.  I found the car to seem a little more “normal” compared to the Civic, which seemed to have a bit more “space age” look to it, especially when it came to the dashboard.  I also noticed that the Corolla had a smoother ride.  I guess they say that it has a looser suspension, which means you feel less of each of the bumps on the road.  The salesperson at Commonwealth said that that meant that the Civic and other cars that touch the road more are safer because you’ll always be on the ground.  I’m not sure how much I believe that.

So, we talked a bit more with CK, and he was really nice.  I felt a lot more comfortable there than at the other dealerships.  I collected as much information as I could, and then Aaron and I headed over to the Super 88 food connection to grab some lunch.  It was pretty darn tasty.  I was going back and forth on which car I preferred.  I knew that really, it was my decision, not his, not my family’s just mine.  And I really hate making decisions (it took us a while to figure out which place to get food from!)

In the end, I decided that the Corolla just felt better.  The smoother ride and more normal looking/feeling car appealed to me.  Not sure if it was because it was the last car I looked at, but either way, I figured I couldn’t really go wrong.  I figured that if I could get a similar deal on the Corolla as was promised on the Civic, I would be happy.

So we headed back, and CK found a car fitting my needs (the Corolla LE) and was looking for a blue car for me when he found the listing that showed that ZERO blue cars were being made for them.  I’m not sure how exactly that happened, or what exactly that meant, but I had to decide if the color was that important.  Luckily, my second choice, silver, was available in the trim level I wanted.  I opted for the LE over the base (CE) because it had power locks, power windows, cruise control, and a few other options.  Yes it’s more expensive.  But I wanted to be happy down the line.

So I was handed off to the actual salesman, and he was able to give me ~$1000 off the MSRP.  In retrospect, I should have asked if he could go lower, and I’ll probably be kicking myself down the line for not trying to get it lower, but there it is.  I signed forms that scared me, and put down a deposit.  My car will be in off the trucks in about a week.

It’s a strange feeling.  It was such a big decision, moneywise.  I know I’ll be happy in the end, but I also know I probably could have gotten a cheaper car if I had gone for a used car.  I’m getting my loan through AAA, like I mentioned before, and they’ve got a rate better than the dealerships could offer (they don’t have deals on the fuel efficient cars because they’re already in such high demand!)  So, I’ve got to decide the length of the loan (likely 3-5 years).  Luckily, they don’t have any added fees for prepaying (I wonder if that also means if I completely pay it off early they wouldn’t have a problem with it) so I could technically get rid of that debt sooner.  It actually is the lowest APR of all my loans…4.49%.  My fixed rate student loans are at 4.5% (not too much higher) and my variable rate loans are currently at 5% (though that wont always stay).  It’s another barrier towards being debt free.  And unlike education, you can’t quite label a car purchase as “good debt”.  But I do plan on having this car forever (relatively speaking), and so I’ll try to get my money’s worth.  I just need to buckle down and work even harder at paying off my debts.

Next step is getting car insurance.  I’ll let you know what happens with that.

And now it’s time for bed.  I’ve got to get up early for work tomorrow so that I, you know, can make some more money to pay off all those bills.

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13 Responses to “I bought a car!”

  1. Kendall Says:

    Yay!!! uh …. though I forgot to tell you that deciding on a specific color of car puts you in a bad bargaining situation … that’s what my dad says anyway, but I don’t see why. It seems to me that if you want a specific make and model that would be mush worse than if you wanted a specific color. But you didn’t get your color anyway, so there’s that. ooh. maybe you should have asked for more money off since they didn’t have your color. I don’t get the no color rule … oh well. I’m excited for you new car!!

  2. Used Cars Says:

    It really is such a big decision buying a car. It almost feels overwhelming your first time. It sounds like you did a lot of research, though. You should be happy with your purchase for a while.

  3. drcorner Says:

    Congrats on getting the car…you did the right thing by not caving in right-away when he offered you the discounted price, ’cause if you did he would’ve known you were desperate and marked the price up in other areas.

    As for the insurance, don’t forget to see if it’s possible for an experience driver with a good record to sign with you, reducing your rate dramatically.

    BTW, I wrote about a new eco-luxury car on the horizon that may peak your interest for your next purchase down the road…check it out and comment on what you think. Thanks.

    http://drcorner.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/gms-new-electric-car-has-over-33000-pre-buyers-already/

  4. Money Maus Says:

    Yay! New car! I wanted a blue Civic in high school, but got a silver Civic instead. My Honda has been great. Over the past 6 years I’ve had it, it’s had the normal tire/brake/rotor issues but nothing more. It’s held up to a LOT of elements. Great job on the negotiation & financing it prior to purchasing it! Most of my friends have car loans around 5%, so you got a fantastic one. Enjoy the Corolla! 🙂

  5. Big Winner Says:

    Congratulations on your new car! The Corolla is fun to drive.

  6. Penny Says:

    I am so excited for you and your new car! I really want to buy a car soon, but I think I will wait until next year at least. I just worry that my car will start messing up and I won’t know how to fix it.

    Thanks for the comment today by the way! 🙂

  7. […] debt to have a car.  And I kept saying I just wanted to pay off the car as soon as possible.  But as I mentioned before, my interest rate is actually lowest for the car out of all my debts.  And that’s when Aaron […]

  8. Jerman Says:

    Congrats. You should post the price you paid for the Civic on http://www.realcartips.com

  9. Serge_Honda Says:

    Honda – the best car in the world.
    Thank you for your site.

  10. […] The BF said with all the lines it looked like something out of a movie set, and re-reading Stephanie’s review she seemed to agree too! While I think it was cool, I could see myself getting tired of that real […]

  11. […] may recall that, a little over 2 years ago, I bought a car.  I had gotten a new job that I was going to need to drive to (no direct public transportation […]

  12. Miranda Says:

    Congratulations on the car. In the future I would recommend checking the message boards at edmunds.com before buying for prices as well as http://www.truecar.com to make sure you’re getting the best deal.


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