Graduated Learning: Life after College

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

I finally have my car! September 16, 2008

It all started when I got a new job.  Remember that?  Those were good times.  I knew I was going to have to buy a car for the job offer I accepted, but I figured I could work my way through that slowly and surely.

Then I started narrowing down my choices.  I knew I wanted a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic.  So I went to a few different dealerships to see what kind of deals I could get.

This is where it gets tricky.  When I originally put down my deposit (on August 23rd) they told me that I’d have to wait a bit for the car to get here.  They didn’t have any meeting my specifications (not too fancy, not too basic), as Corollas are in high demand due to the recent rise in gas prices (though they’re going down…but that’s another story).  They told me that the car should be in NYC by around the 28th, at which point they’d have the VIN for me (so I could finalize my insurance and everything).  They also said that after it hit New York City, my car would take about a week to get to Boston.  And I was okay with that.

The 28th rolls around.  No VIN, I don’t think it had even reached NYC.  A week passes.  By then, the car should be in Boston.  No such luck.  Basically, I kept calling.  Friends suggested I call and threaten to go elsewhere (or not just threaten, but actually go elsewhere), or demand extra perks for having to wait so long.  On September 9th I called a few more times.  By then, the car was supposedly in New York City, but they still didn’t have the VIN.  I was pretty angry, because I was then told that they had originally told me that the car would be here by mid-month…which is NOT what they had originally said.  I called and spoke to the manager.  I started out trying to be really demanding, but he somehow had a way of calming me down (that’s why he’s the manager).  But I believe talking to him helped, because they knew I was serious about my car…maybe. And that maybe they’d give me a bit of money off of the car, or give me a few free oil changes or something.  He suggested that he could get me a rental car for the interim.  His main excuse was that the transit from wherever the cars came from was delayed by all the hurricanes.  I wasn’t so sure about this.  By the 11th, I was assured that my car would be in Boston by the 12th-15th…which calmed me down a bit.  I finally knew the end of the debacle was in sight.  By then, I figured it was worth it to just wait instead of see if I could get a car through another dealer more quickly (and I didn’t want to go through the whole hassle again).

The afternoon of Friday the 12th, I get a phone call.  My car was here!  FINALLY!  Of course by that time, it was too late to finish up the financing before the weekend…but I figured that I could go in on Monday to get the loan finished up at AAA.  I plan with the dealership to come in on Saturday to do all the paperwork.  I get a call Saturday morning…the dealer informs me that they don’t have the seal yet.  I really have no clue what that is.  I agree to wait until Monday, when they should have the seal, because at this point, I’m figuring I can’t do anything until I have the check for the dealer.  That, and I felt pretty lazy.

Monday, I head out to the dealership after work.  I’ve called the insurance company (since I finally got the VIN) and had my insurance selected and the information sent to AAA for finishing up the paperwork.  I sign all sorts of forms, and have the necessary forms faxed to AAA.  They try to sell me all sorts of different “packages”, including Lojack and assorted teflon coatings and things for the car.  He even said that I could extend the warranty to 8 years for almost $2000 extra.  I am almost certain I don’t want that, but call home quickly to confirm.  It was funny, because the guy said “I wouldn’t let my brother buy a car without this package” in response to the warranty and lojack.  He rattled off a statistic that a Carolla is the 3rd most likely car to get stolen.  I head home after all the paperwork and wait.

Today, I went to work as usual, but took a few hours off to get this car thing all settled out.  I’ll admit, it’s pretty convenient that I am allowed to modify my time at work, which allows me to use some time for appointments and the like, and just make up the time within a few weeks.  Anyway, I get out to AAA, and sign all sorts of papers, and then drive over to the dealership with a hefty check.  When I show up, my dealer seems a bit worried that they wont get everything done by the end of today (since it took me a bit longer than expected to get to the dealership).  I cringed, but hoped for the best.  I drive back to my place (I borrowed my boyfriend’s car) and try to get some work done.  Within the hour, I get a call from my dealer saying that everything should be done by 5pm.  I get out, take the T to the dealership, and sign a few more papers, and drive off.

As I’m driving away, I’m freaking out a little bit.  It’s like a new toy…it’s exciting!  And I’m having trouble coming to grips with buying a new car.  But the funny part is, it’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made, and I am not regretting it.  Which is really weird for me…I’m always second guessing my decisions, and looking back and wondering if I did the right thing.  But in this case, perhaps I know that, at this point, it’s pretty much too late, I’m in it for the long haul.  And I’ve wanted/needed a car, and this fits my needs.  So I’m happy.  It’s a big step, a “grownup” step, and a pretty large addition to my debts.  But I think I’m going to be okay.  It’s a weird feeling.

Whew.  So, yes, I probably should have stopped waiting sooner, and demanded more.  But I think they’re willing to give me a free oil change or two.  And I’ll be happy to finally have a car of my own.  I’m excited to see how many miles per gallon I can eke out.

Have any of you had experiences like these?  What “grownup” steps are you taking?


Buying a car: updated August 17, 2008

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 5:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

So, it seems that there are a few posts floating around the blogosphere about buying cars.  First off, Kendall followed up her last post with a more detailed description and reasoning behind her purchase.  I also saw that Trent at The Simple Dollar posted a discussion on Leasing vs. Buying new vs. Buying Used.  And then The Consumerist linked to a post at the Consumer Reports Cars blog about the most fuel efficient cars in certain cost brackets.  So this has definitely helped me with my decision.  I’ve also found myself looking around at the cars near me on the highway (but I keep my eyes on the road!).

Reading those posts, along with talking to friends and family, I’ve narrowed down my choices quite a bit.  I’m thinking my top choice is a Honda Civic, and my second choice is a Toyota Corolla.  I made this decision based on price, gas mileage, other owners’ experiences, and style.

I’m leaning towards a new car, since I plan on owning a car, and as my friend Patrick said:

Basically my advice was to buy a “lower grade” new vehicle vs. “higher grade” used vehicle. I bought a EX Honda Accord because I was looking for leather and sun roof and speed, etc. In the end I should have bought a brand new Honda civic (or similar) for the same cost without all the amenities. It’s hard to know what’s happened to your car before (mine is fine, but it has some quirks that always makes me nervous when something seems like it might go wrong).

Basically my advice was – if you’re on a budget and you can buy a reputable good car w/o every amenity, that’s better then buying a used car with everything “blinged out”.

I thought that was pretty good advice.  And I agree with him.

As for how I’m going to pay for the car, this is where all the tricky personal finance stuff comes into play.  I’m starting to realize that I might just have to get a loan.  I could technically use up all of my savings to pay for the car, but that really is not the best idea.  And while there is not likely to be a loan out there with lower APR than my ING account is getting, it’s better to have a bit of savings around than to have less debt (in my opinion), mostly because it’s important to have an emergency fund sitting around.  So yes, mathwise, it’s not the best choice, but emotionally and for hedging against going into more debt if an emergency happens, the loan is a better choice than taking all the cash out now.  Besides, I’ll still need to pay for insurance (another whole collection of decisions).  As for where to look for loans, I’ve gotten a bit of advice.  My friend Craig mentioned that he found a local credit union that has pretty good rates, especially if you have another account there, and that the credit union also discounts your rate if you do automatic payments.  And my mother pointed out that AAA (which is probably a good thing to have anyway if you have a car) has car loans for pretty reasonable rates.  So I’m looking at that too.  I’m guessing it’s a good idea to have the loan ready before you buy a car, but I’m thinking I should at least go take a few test drives to determine if I like the cars that are at the top of my list.

Well, hopefully I can get over to a dealership some time this week to get my next car buying step going!

And thanks guys, for your advice!  I really appreciate it.


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