Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Money in the Bank: Numero Uno

My good friend Smart Mouthed Broad started a weekly themed blog post. She was inspired by a spin topic from Sprite’s Keeper about being sensible with money during these economic times.
I appreciate Smart Mouth including me in her initial group of askees. But I have to admit, I feel a bit unworthy. I’ve never had a lot of money in the bank. My parents were both horrible with money and did not teach me a thing. Now THERE’S a post or two. On just how bad they were with money.

Learning how to manage money has been like a cultural anthropological experiment for me (kind of like raising kids). I knew what NOT to do, but I had to use my observation powers to figure out some things TO DO.

So here’s my tip for my first roll with this theme. It helps when one does not give a flying fuck what others think of the car one drives. This, I did not have to learn. I’ve always been this way, albeit, a lone freak during my early adult days.

I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. Land of image equals everything. If you live in Southern California, please do not get offended. But…true story. Just before I moved to Hawaii, I was hanging in a club one night, making time with a decent looking chap who was talking me up. Within three minutes he had worked into the conversation (without my asking) that he drove a Porsche and that a few nights before he had been at some famous actor’s house for a party (rubbing elbows with famous people is as important as one’s car, clothes, and accessories – I guess the celebrities fit into the necessary accessories category).

I was young and my 20 year old VW bug was alright by me. When I got to Hawaii, I soon sold my car for a moped. Paying my own way through college, I decided the insurance and what not unnecessary expenses. Besides, I could wake up at the very last minute and ride that moped right up to wherever my class was, a real perk when one is cocktailing one’s way through college.
After marriage, my husband rode my moped to work and I (who worked farther away) took his…guess what Mr. Right drove…you got it, a VW bug.

When we had daughter we needed a car with seat belts to strap in her car seat. Hubs’ grandma knew an old man at church who was selling his 15 year old Ford Fairmount with low mileage for $700 and we snapped it up. My friends made endless fun of this clunker car, but having no car payment enabled us to save up money for our down payment on a house. It is not easy buying a house over here, but we did. We’ve done nothing much else since, but we are homeowners.

I now own a hatchback hybrid – first car I ever bought brand new. I share it with my daughter, who drives it to UH everyday as this is cheaper than her dorming. I either catch rides from hubs or take the bus to work since I only live a few miles from the school where I teach.

So there it is. My advice for saving money is to drive a car one can afford and to not let a car be a money drain,nor an accesory, nor an extension of one's ego. Head on over to Words of Wisdom From a Smart Mouthed Broad to see what other money tips are circulating.

Ours was white....


35 comments:

Liz said...

Great tip! My car was originally my sister's, my parents bought it for her when she was a Vista volunteer in Montana, she drove it back to NY and then couldn't afford the insurance to keep it. When I needed a car, I bought it from her for a dollar and a microwave that I didn't need anymore. It's not fancy, but it gets me where I need to go and that's all that matters!

Mama Dawg said...

Unfortunately, the only car I could afford was one where I could make payments. Sigh....I hate money.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

How could anyone be offended by the truth of your LA comment? That's exactly why I have so much great writing material. I'm not into cars as a status symbol either and I never have been. Just get me from point A to point B and I'm happy!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

How could anyone be offended by the truth of your LA comment? That's exactly why I have so much great writing material. I'm not into cars as a status symbol either and I never have been. Just get me from point A to point B and I'm happy!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Status symbol! That was teh term I was looking for! Thanks 24.

mama - I'm happy you can afford the payment, plus you drive a long way..

Liz - love the dollar and a microwave trade ; -)

Casey said...

Very smart tip. My first car was an old beat up VW bus that I paid for myself (and paid my own insurance too). I've never owned a "new" car until we got our Mazda 5 after Graham was born but my husband's company has a deal with Mazda and we paid cost. I'm baffled by people who get ginormous cars and equally ginormous car payments when they could get something used and save some money.

bernthis said...

I live in L.A and u r sooooooo right!!! Don't worry about me, as most people know I drive a car I lovingly refer to as a c**kblocker. It's so old and not sexy it is scary but I HAVE NO CAR PAYMENTS thank you

Cairo Typ0 said...

Excellent advice! We have always been more motivated by economic and practical concerns than what was cool. I'm a big fan of the old clunker becaues other cars get out of your way since they know that if you hit them, unlike the beemer they just cut off, you're not that worried about your vehicle. LOL

Midlife Jobhunter said...

My 17-year-old son, who is stuck driving the 1997,157,000 mile family van, is either learning what's important or discovering a path to salvage his reputation. Funny thing, though. He'd rather drive that than my VW bug.

derfina said...

AMEN. I'll take my piece o'crap paid for beater over a car payment any day.

Jan said...

I think it's GREAT advice - for years while my two oldest were growing up, we didn't even own a car. We took the bus or walked everywhere.

mo.stoneskin said...

I wonder what the schmuck with the Porsche is upto now, probably hanging around those parties still...or maybe things changed and he drives a Bug now!

Eudea-Mamia said...

Did you happen to sleep with Mr. Porsche? I would love to know just how tiny his package was.

I'm afraid I live in Dallas (think landlocked LA), home of the SUV, which I proudly own. In my defense, it's American made and paid off - wonder what GMC did with all my money?

only a movie said...

That is wicked good advice, Ms. Pseudo.

My car is 6 years old, but I've only had it for 2 years. I plan on driving it forever. :-)

Sunny said...

good advice! I still ride bicycle, though

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Great advice. MHS is a "car" guy and that's important to him. I hate car payments! We're a match made in.......? My current car was an anniversary surprise because he couldn't get me to go to the dealer with him. I like to drive 'em til the doors fall off. I'll link you up asap!

Christine said...

That is a fantastic tip! When it comes to paying for car washes and waxes and whatnot, my dad used to say, "Your car should work for you; you shouldm't work for your car." I think that relates here!

Just B said...

That is such good advice. I have feeling lots of people are restacking those priorities these days and a nice car is not as close to the top as it used to be.

I too did not learn good money management from my parents (mom has serious spending issues, which are accomodated/ignored by dad). But this past year has forced both my husband and me to become smarter with money. I'm actually really proud of us for what we have managed to do in the last two or three months. My quick tip is track all your spending for three months and then make a budget that you can stick to.

Debbie said...

My husband and I drive our cars until they really, truly, cannot be driven another mile. His last one burned on the side of the road. We are with you!

Kristan said...

I think that's great advice! I have an appreciation for nice looking cars, but mostly I need mine to get me from point A to point B. Now that I live where it snows, I admit I'm willing to pay for 4-wheel/all-wheel drive and some good heat (mostly to defrost windows) but that's about it. I'm thinking a pre-owned Subaru is up next? Once I run my Jeep into the ground, that is.

Beth said...

Great advice!

My parents helped me buy a new car when I was 16. I drove that car for 13 years (almost 500,000 miles).

I have a newer car (2 years old) now as my sons have inherited the older cars. I plan on having the newer car for years and years.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I don't want anyone to feel judged if they drive a car they love. This was meant as a money saving tip only. Cars are not a big deal for me.

I will, however, save money and scrimp like crazy to travel. I just prefer experience to things.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Oh, and stoneskin - I bet that guy is still hitting bars and still trying to pick up girls with cheesy lines ; -)))

thistle said...

Oh my god...i think we could have been living parallel lives as kids, my parents were/are horrible about their money...and taught us nothing about how to handle it properly. Making adult financial planning really challenging. I have made so many mistakes, but i'm now accustomed to being poor, so i don't expect nor demand too much.

oh, and my cars...always driven until the doors fall off. The one i'm currently driving is on it's last legs methinks...rather sad really, kinda attached to it.

McEwens said...

That is a true thing! My husband take the bus to the hospital, why drive and pay the gas?

D'Arcy said...

Agreed.

I've had the same car for 8 years. No car payment. Old and dented, but I still love it and plan on having it for another 8.

smiles4u said...

I totally agree with you! Great tip to share.

anymommy said...

Love this tip. Our is a used minivan, donated by our parents. She ain't pretty, but she gets us around!

Maggie May said...

Great tip and timely topic. UGH!! Sorry, that wasn't directed at you :)
Just at money!

Sprite's Keeper said...

You are so right. One of my relatives is pretty wealthy (Dude, share the wealth!) and drives a 97 Toyota Corolla that he bought used a couple years ago. We all make jokes that he's putting money in the headliner, but he's smart.

Robin said...

My last car was a 1992 Volvo DL that I drove until the transmission literally fell out, nearly 200K miles. Now I have a new Volvo (leased) but I walk to work 4 days out of 5 so I literally have to remind myself to check the gas level, I probably fill the tank once every 6 weeks. That right there is a huge savings, plus good excercise, plus better for the environment.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I love the idea of living where one can walk to work.

flurrious said...

I don't care about cars at all either. I mean, I'd love to have a new Prius, but my 1994 Corolla (how gauche) still has, realistically, many years left to go. I don't drive that much, so my cars become unstylish and old long before they actually need to be replaced.

starrlife said...

I've always believed it was silly to buy brand new cars since they are losers in value, bad investment. Before I had a child I'd never paid more than $2,000. per car. Since then I've been the proud owner of 1996 Subaru Outback, it's been great to have the all wheel drive for the hills of snow and extremely reliable!Of course AAA is always a good idea. Good post Pseudo!

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