The car fantasy is an expensive one…

Despite my thoughts that I can’t get anything scratched off my to-do list while I’m on holidays this week, I still seem to find enough idle time to look for trouble.

Over the last few days I’ve been overwhelmed with this thought of a car. Perhaps it’s good to remind yourself every so often why you decided to do, or not do something.

By the end of day yesterday, I actually tried to logically think about why I got such a bee in my bonnet over this idea over the last few days. Sure, I’ve thought of a car lots of times over the last year of not having one. There have been two distinct occasions when I really pursued the idea. On both of these occasions, I’ve had a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Without sounding like I’m whining (which I’m not intending to do), my life is a pretty busy one. With a full-time and part-time job, two kids (albeit not toddlers at 17 and 22), three cats, a home and property – I don’t have a lot of spare time. I like to live in a neat and clean home, I like my property to look like I give a darn, and I like to cook and feed myself and my girls healthy meals.

All of it takes time. Time to prepare, time to clean up, time to shop, tick tock, tick tock.

It’s amazing to me how quickly the little household machine can unravel once there’s a change. Over the last week or so, as my youngest has been sick, it means that I leave the house less and sit with her more. We add a few extra medical appointments and trips to the pharmacy to the list. This means I grocery shop less (just time, not money) and start piling those little pieces of paper with a promise I’ll deal with them later – if I can find them again.

After only four or five days of this, I start to feel anxious. What I haven’t done very well in the past is express to my friends and family how they can support me when these things happen. I have a pattern of glossing over things, to insulate my family and try and do it all myself.

The result is I don’t do all the stuff I normally do, which is okay, but it starts to wear me down.

Yesterday, I got to the point when I just thought about how much time I could save if I could just run to the grocery store with a car instead of bringing up my bundle buggy from the basement, and walking four blocks in the rain to Food Basics. The thought of trudging up the street only wore me down further. Then I start to think of calling cabs again for SickKids, car rentals for Thanksgiving, and it all seems to blur together.

I actually went to a Volkswagen dealership yesterday. Looked at the new Jetta, as well as a 2006 Jetta and a 2006 Hyundai Accent.  The used Jetta has a sticker price of $12,900, and the Accent has a sticker price of $7,890. Today, I’m actually going for a test drive.

What I know today that I didn’t remember yesterday is that there’s no way I can be a car owner right now. Volkswagen is offering open financing at 2.9%, which is cheaper than I can loan myself money for.  But I also reviewed my spending on car rentals to date, for the first time since May.  By the end of September, it’s been a full year since I’ve been a member of AutoShare.

My average transportation spending now (excluding public transit), with 12 full months under my belt, is $187/month.  This includes car rental, fuel and insurance AND taking cabs. My most expensive month in the last 12 was my first – October 2009. Why? Thanksgiving in three different towns on three different days. This year will be similar.

After I got home from the Volkswagen dealership yesterday, I ran some of the options through online car insurance quotes. The 2006 Jetta would be about $250/month in insurance. That’s actually a pretty good deal, and better than I expected – but it is still more than I have to spend.

I haven’t looked up the numbers for the Accent yet, but I likely will today, just to assure myself that this is a dead end road.

Let’s say I found a cheap car at $250/month over three years. That would presume I have a down payment from somewhere. Where? My line of credit that I’ve just managed to whittle down to sub $5,000? From my TFSA that I’ve just worked so hard to max out for 2010? From my fiscal parking lot (as I call it), where I’m socking away money to pay my taxes for 2010, and cause it to be short when it’s tax time?

Add another $250/month (conservative) for insurance. Add an amount for fuel. Add another amount for maintenance. Minimum $600/month.

I think I can walk four blocks to Food Basics quite a bit for an average transportation spending of $187/month. I can also walk the four blocks to the AutoShare car parked down the street more often if I need to.

More importantly, I can ask for help when I need to. I have oustanding neighbours, a few good friends who are local, and family. Now when people say “is there anything I can do to be helpful” I must learn to say “yes, would you mind coming over for an hour and helping me _____”.

There are other services I can avail myself of better as well. I can order groceries online. It’s not the most frugal thing to do, but it’ll still be cheaper than owning a car. My pharmacy will deliver as well. Yesterday I learned that SickKids can provide a service to get me to the hospital, if I need it. Wow – how come I’m just learning this now?

So, today I’ll go for a test drive or two. I’m on holidays – why not. I’ll tuck away the information I’m learning now for the future. Jacq’s over at Single Mom, Rich Mom made a suggestion yesterday – perhaps I can take a look in the US when we plan to go and see Mickey in 2011.

Have you made decisions when you’re overwhelmed that you’re still living with?

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. My mom told me that when we were kids, if she didn’t know how to drive (and of course) didn’t have a car, she would have gone crazy.

    This is exactly the situation you’re describing above that would have mentally killed my mom. It’s all fine and dandy when everything runs like clockwork and you don’t have to worry about kids being sick, running to the drugstore, etc.. but when things like that happen, it throws off your schedule for everything else.

    Especially in an urban city like Toronto.

    Reply

  2. Ack!!!! $250/month for insurance?!? What about if you didn’t get a newer car and didn’t have to get collision?
    I agree with your post of today – don’t torment yourself if you know you’re not going to go through with it. Or shouldn’t go through with it. It will happen when it’s meant to happen – at a better time than now. You’re SO smart to look at it logically long-term like you are and not to make decisions like this based on knee-jerk emotions.
    Kudos to you!

    Reply

    • Thanks Jacq. Yep, insurance rates are a tad on the high side here at the centre of the Universe. I’ve put the word out to a few friends to keep their eyes peeled for a small car, reliable, around $4-$5K, and there’s entirely no rush.

      Perhaps it’ll take another year or so to find the right vehicle, and for it to come into my life at the right time. I’m sure insurance would be less for a less desireable car. Good idea about not getting collision. You’re so smart!

      Reply

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