Sunday, March 9, 2008

Passport to Financial Freedom

So my husband drives a scooter. He has a Vespa GT 250. It's a great money & gas saver and he really loves to ride it. However, cold weather and rainy days prove to be problematic with such a mode of transportation. He has been more than patient and amiable this winter season, but I hated to hear stories about how he rode out to a client meeting in 20 degree weather and had to defrost his hands before he could focus on the meeting. Thus began our search for a second vehicle for Nathan. We began our search a couple months ago by looking at brand new Honda CR-V's. This would have been for me, of course, and we would have had to finance this vehicle 100%. We decided that maybe we should wait until I have a job to purchase a $25,000 car. However, after a month or so, we again realized that this one-car, one-Vespa situation was not going to work for our family.

Enter Dave Ramsey.

We have been going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University with our Community Group this semester. It has really shaken our whole view of money. We are learning how to 
manage our money instead of our money managing us. We have been very blessed - the only debt we have is our home mortgage. Why would we willingly choose to change that? So, with a new perspective on debt, we decided we probably shouldn't take-on $25,000 of debt if we didn't have to. We began looking at cars in the $10,000 and below range. This would allow us to only take on about $5000 if debt instead. That seemed like a great compromise. But once again, the voice of Dave rang out in our ears saying, "Don't be stupid!" There seems to be a common theme amongst men. Once they get interested in something, it seems to consume them. My wonderful husband is no different. Suddenly saving money became almost like a game to him. We started at $10,000 then moved to $8,000 then moved to what we could pay cash for then landed at a $4,000 1997 Honda Passport with 180,000 miles on less than ideal condition.

Passport to Financial Freedom

Nostalgia overcame Nathan when he laid eyes on his new ride. You see, this was the car of his dreams when he was 16. Now I must back up and paint a picture of the place we found this car - QC Auto Sales. (It just screams "class" already, doesn't it?) We had found the car on and called QC to set up a time to come look at it. It was being kept at their overflow lot in the ghetto of Fayetteville. We reached the lot before the salesman did and took a quick peek at the Passport. When the salesman finally arrived, he was an Iranian man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth - did I mention that he was smoking in a car that they were trying to sell? Well, we take the car for a test drive. Nathan is sold - this is the car he wants! But dealing with used car salesman is very similar to playing poker. With our poker faces on, we tell him we'll think about it and drive off. We had just watched a Dave lesson on how to negotiate. So, we begin to plan our attack. The next day, Nathan goes to the bank and withdraws 37 one-hundred dollar bills. (Dave had taught us the power of cash.) He walks into QC Auto Sales with a big wad of cash and says, "I want the car and here is $3,700." (Looking back, we probably could have offered a lot less - but hey, we're new at this! $300 is still $300!)

Shady Dealings

If you haven't quite realized the type of used car lot that QC is yet, the rest of my story will give you a clearer picture. Nathan sat down with the salesman to fill out the paperwork, including the Bill of Sale. As they were filling it out, the salesman looked around then said in a hushed tone, "You know, since you are paying cash, I could write $2,500 on this and your sales tax would be less." Somehow the text about how it's a felony to mis-represent the sales price didn't seem to catch this guy's attention. Needless to say, Nathan told him to write the correct price, recognizing that this guy's true motives were not to save us money but to pocked the $1700 difference. After an uncomfortable hour or so, Nathan walked out with the title to his new Passport, telling them that I would be bringing him by later that afternoon to pick up the keys & the vehicle. The icing on the cake came when we returned to get the car. Nathan had called the salesman to let him know we were on our way. He told Nathan that he was not at their office but working at his restaurant that he would be opening soon - Asian Fusion. (because there's not enough Asian restaurants in Northwest Arkansas...) Once again we returned to the ghetto of Fayetteville, where we located Asian Fusion. As the salesman tossed Nathan the keys from the roof of the ridiculously painted building, I couldn't help but think you really do get what you pay for.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

What a great story! It kinda sounds like our new honda