Let me apologize in advance because this may be a looooong post but I promise, it’s worth it! If you remember, I recently wrote We’re Almost Debt-Free: Part 2, and shared that my car was on its last leg, tire and everything else.
I was not excited about this–getting out of debt was my singular focus this year. How could we do that if we had to purchase a car!
Well, that’s life, isn’t it?
Try as I may to plan things perfectly, I learn more lessons from the unplanned and the imperfect.
The hubby and I had been diligently searching online to find just the right vehicle. We had main criteria for our search–a comfortable 3rd row and price. Price was very important because we had set our budget.
We knew we had to pay cash and that was final.
I shared before that we paid off my last car in 2009 and not having a car payment is now just a way of life. In addition, I remember the dread and hopelessness of 2008, when we could not make our payments due to the loss of income.
Read more about that here, Is A Low Car Payment Bad?
I never want to be in that place of vulnerability again–never, so CASH and TITLE is the only way.
I will also go ahead and say, TO GOD BE THE GLORY for His plan. He guided us, preserved our minds and caused everything to fall into place. And while not all the details were clear, we remained in faith and refused doubt and fear. Our expectation was that this would work for our good.
The Process of Making Big Financial Decisions
Buying a car is a big decision and it’s important to gather lots of information.
Securing your financial position is first and foremost.
So before we visited the car lot, we decided what we could afford. My trade-in, which was worth a lot to me, had a retail and a trade-in value. After researching stats on Kelley Blue Book, we settled on an acceptable range of $2500 to $3000 for my car.
Next we looked at our cash position, took a huge gulp and decided that we would only spend $10,000 out-of-pocket. Now remember, we have been planning and saving so that we could pay off debt so this was not an easy one! But. God.
There it was, $13,000 to purchase a reliable and dependable, (I like to drive cars to 262,000 miles!) vehicle with a 3rd row. It had to be a workhorse and my experience is that certain brands, with regular maintenance and care, can go the distance. With that, we narrowed down our brands and jumped in.
Another major part of the process was having agreement. As a married couple making a major financial move, we needed to to remain in-step with one another.
We had so many details to talk through during this last month. If at anytime those talks turned into heated debates, someone (usually me) would say , “Let’s drop it, because if we are not in agreement, this won’t work.”
Sound familiar? See Amos 3:3 NKJV…
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
or from The Message Bible…
“Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?”
Kissing Frogs Before the Prince
Finally it was time to test drive cars. Although I have to admit that at times I felt somber and was even a little resistant–I’m sure the car salesman appreciated that–but I didn’t really want to part with my car.
I had that car–and she was faithful–for nearly 10 years, which is probably why I needed to get rid of it.
After a while, I had to check my attitude and find gratitude because even on this detour, God’s plans are better than mine–regardless if I lay them out on big posters and attach nice spreadsheets to them.
I was in His Safety and everything would be alright.
Was very nice! It had the new car smell, leather interior, DVD system, navigation, low miles, and was very well maintained. However it was listed for $15,900. Surely they would come to our terms on the last weekend of the month! They had to work with us if they wanted a commission, right? We made our case with the dealer, brought our hard-sell and after a bit of negotiating, nothing. We walked away from a net deal of $12,900 out-of-pocket. Out of budget. Drats.
After about two weeks, we were referred to a guy who would buy a car for us at auction. Great, now I can find a steal. BTW, we only wanted one make and model so that also kept this interesting. Another week passes, and we find two cars that we would like to bid on. Our guy was out-bidded on car 1, but successfully secured car 2. My husband brings the car to me to test drive and I hate it. The exterior had several chips and a few rust spots. The interior had been dogged and it did not drive well. The price was well below budget but at the point, it didn’t matter. We decided to have an expert look over the car and he discovered even more issues. Drats two times.
At this point we had to improve our strategy.
We went up on the budget by $1000 and expanded our search out-of-state. Anything in the Southeast was fair game. We noticed that cars in Georgia were lower in price and there was a larger inventory.
But Georgia–how would we take two cars, what if we drove there and could not work out a deal, what-if…what-if…what-if?!?!
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Car 3, The Prince:
A dealership in Georgia had our make and model and the price was dropped to $13,994. Online it was perfect–all the bells and whistles–but it was nearly 4 hours away! How could we verify the condition? Our dear friends in Georgia did not live close enough to check it out for us and we knew that we were running out of time. We had to make a move and soon.
The morning after the price drop, I woke-up and knew that we had to go to Georgia. We cancelled meetings at work, secured after-school care for our sugarplum (thanks dear friend!) and rented a car.
We did not want to chance driving my car that far. Remember, we were nervous just driving her to uptown!
En route to the dealership, I called to inform them that we were interested in the car and that we wanted to test drive it. The salesman said that the car had generated lots of buzz due to the price drop and that we should get there as soon as possible.
I explained that we would be there by 1:30pm (not because we were coming from NC, didn’t want to give up too much information!) and that was the best we could do.
So after a little negotiating, they agreed to hold it until we arrived.
Securing and Closing the Deal
While the car drove extremely well, it did have a few cosmetic imperfections. Nothing major for a 7-year old car but if I’m spending the money, I’m entitled to my opinion and I kindly made that clear to our salesman.
While we wanted (needed) the car, I wasn’t afraid to walk away. That wasn’t our goal but it’s a signal that we mean business and want to negotiate.
Two great negotiating rules that I learned in real estate:
- Sometimes walk-away power is your greatest power.
- Negotiations should be fair–each party getting what they want without feeling manipulated in the process.
Also whenever you make a major decision–seek counsel from experts. We secured an independent car mechanic who specializes in foreign makes to complete a pre-purchase inspection for $50.
It took about an hour and they test drove the car and performed several system checks.
Overall they gave the car a positive rating and recommended a few future repairs. Now we had information to take back to the dealership to help our negotiations!
With it all said and done, we negotiated $950 off the price–even after the salesman said there was no wiggle-room.
When you hear that, your response is, “Well, can I please talk to the sales manager? Thank you!”
Paying Cash for the Car
Finally we are led to the finance manager’s office. It became obvious that his goal was different from ours.
We were asked 3 times to finance the car and “enlightened” that we should keep our cash and let it work for us in some other way.
Apparently (in his words) they were not making money on the car because we were not financing the deal.
Clearly he had no idea who was sitting opposite him and I had no sympathy for his position.
We were grateful beyond measure that we could pay $14,000 in cash from our own account and not flinch.
Thank you God for bringing us from bondage.
Thank you for bringing us to a privilege that we had not imagined for ourselves when we were struggling and satisfied with just making payments.
To God Be The Glory.
We walked away not owing anyone anything but love.
The Final Step
Well if you have read this post from the beginning, (I thank you for your patience) you might be thinking $14,000 out-of-pocket is greater than the budget of $11,000. Aaahhh, you’re right.
What about Lexi, as I called her? We still had to sell Lexi.
Two days after purchasing the new car, I get this text from my hubby:
My husband did a great job working with the auction guy–that’s right, the auction guy who also owned a small used car lot–and Lexi sold in 24 hours, with multiple offers!
And we know that in all things God works together
for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.
Our net cost was $11,650. Yep, a little over $11,000, but I would not change one thing.
We got what we wanted, how we wanted and for that I am grateful.
Please be encouraged that you can do amazing things in your life when you trust your true source and give Him the space to work on your behalf.
As I got out of the way and yielded to this next level, He worked victoriously for us and He can and will do the same for you.
What thing in your life do you desire to see God work out for you?