Monday, March 29, 2010

Have We Got A Deal For You

So as you can imagine Pete's memory is a bit different than mine.  I could care less about gas prices.  Getting rid of the Jeep because my hair was always a mess and a cat peed in it one night was all the motivation I needed to live in the luxury of new car smell...I will let Pete tell you the rest...

I think couples make the majority of their worst financial decisions when they make their first car purchase. They get rolled over by the purchase of the car and that hubris never seems to go away. Borrow more money? Sure, why not? Everybody does it! Does what? Borrow money until the cows come home. That purchase is so important because it sets in stone the myth of how debt is needed in your life. I overheard someone once say, “yup, got a new car! Just can’t seem to get away from car payments”!

You would hope that be the second or third go around, the wise Pete would be a bit wiser. Alas, tis not to be true.

Back to the story. Well , after yet another grueling day of filling up the tank with $45 in gas, we both decided that the Jeep was not practical. Practically speaking, that was an understatement. Getting around in car that was 6 feet off the ground is great when you are an Army Sergeant in Post WWII reconstruction Berlin; it’s not so great when you live in the relatively domestic, rubble-free thoroughfares of .com-San Francisco.

Anyway, we hung out with a couple that made a wee bit more than we did. She was a nurse, he was a slightly senior officer on the cutter that I was on. Often, the four of us would go out to dinner, movies, cocktails and more, and, on one particular and fateful night, we all pulled into a Volkswagen dealer.

I am sure the car lot flies could smell the fresh meat (and impaired judgment) of the twenty something’s that just dropped out of the sky. The more affluent couple were pulled one direction, and Lisa and I another. We were shown a Jetta. It was very Euro-cool. Sleek, but boxy-sporty, but rugged. And, here’s the kicker…It came with a free snowboard. Talk about status. We wanted it and Volkswagen was all but thrilled to oblige. So we went through the motions of getting the car, sitting in it, test driving it, opening the trunk, and getting pulled into an office while someone went to get our licenses back. While we were stuck in the blasé deal making room, Lisa and I heard a round of applause! Lo! There were our friends, new Passat keys in hand, with a semi-circle of applauding, rabid, grinning car salesman surrounding them.

I wanted the Jetta and Lisa wanted the Jetta (and the applause) but it was too expensive, especially since we were upside down on the Jeep. “Why not lease?” the demure salesman implied. Lease? I’m not so sure…my dad always said that is a bad deal. “hmm, too bad. Here are the keys to your jeep.” Wait a second…not so fast…what is this lease thing anyway. “It is a way to own a car but, er, pay less for it.” I was hooked. I started to visualize Lisa and I, snowboards externally mounted, piping hot cappuccinos in the cup holder, zipping up the well groomed but twisty highways on our way to Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, as I day dreamed, the salesman droned on and on about residuals, mileage, and other stuff that I really didn’t care about and wishing that he would just get on with it and give me a pen to sign something. Anything. Just give me the car.

As we drove home in that zippy little motor coach, some of that stuff started to sink in. “What was that about mileage?” I asked Lisa. Not sure, something about 17 cents a mile if you go over our limit. “What is our limit?” I don’t remember…whoa, check it out! Heated Seats!

Well, we were in the hot seat alright. And it was getting hotter.


  1. Wow, I love this financial story- I think we've all been there! And although I know there is (hopefully) more of the story to come, I had to share the class that I am just finishing up with my hubby called "Financial Peace University" from Dave Ramsey. It's a christian-based system that teaches you how to work as a team and it has been fantastic. Local churches host the 13 week class for free - all you have to do is buy the materials. So if anyone out there wants to get their finances in order and actually be on the same page with their spouse, I highly recommend this class (the myth about always having debt and always having a car payment sounds like it came straight from the book). Can't wait to hear the rest of this story!

  2. I have found and fell in LOVE with Dave Ramsey. We have had lots of ups and downs and now we are TOTALLY in Finacial Peace. We got there on our own ...but found Dave recently and feel like we were right all along....stay tuned for more details.