Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In anticipation of Thanksgiving...

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and I have much for which to be thankful. There are the usual, major things, beginning with a great family, and good health. And then there are the everyday, material things...enough food to eat, a roof over my head, a job. Cool weather...it seems like just yesterday we were sweltering in Dallas, in the Endless Summer, but tonight I'm bundled up in my gameroom, glad to be inside, because outside there is a driving, cold rain beating against the roof and windows. I haven't turned the heat on yet, and the house is decidedly cool, but I'm cozy in my footed, one-piece pajamas, snuggled beneath a throw and a comforter.

I'd planned to take PTO this week, because I very much need the break, and taking 3 days PTO to get 9 days off in a row is my kind of bargain spending. But today, Monday, I ended up working a horrendously long day, because I simply had too much work to not spend today working. Which means this was yet another day that I also didn't get to go test drive cars. It has now been a month since I totaled my Honda Fit in a fender bender in the parking lot at Target, and I'm still in a rental car. I have to find a new car this week. It's not a lack of trying on my part, but since dealerships are closed on Sundays, and since I work long hours Monday through Friday, my test drives have been limited to Saturdays, one of which I was down and out with a stomach bug.

I hate to admit it, but all of this had me feeling rather sorry for myself, until I read a letter in one of the car forums where I've been lurking, seeking advice on the purchase of a car. I felt incredibly spoiled, reading that letter. It was from a woman just a little younger than me who was asking for advice about buying a car. She was trying to decide between 2 cars, and asked if anyone on the car forum could advise her which would be the better deal.She still had a teen at home, although she said she would soon be an empty nester, and the car was mostly for going to the grocery store and doctor appointments. Each of the cars she was considering had 100,000 miles on them. The dealer had told her that one of them had been in an accident, but she wisely read the Carfax report, and it had, in fact, been in two accidents. Both of the cars needed some very basic repairs that the dealer was working on. She wrote that her absolute limit was $7,000, and added that she hated haggling.

A couple of guys from the forum gave her some very sound advice. One of them said that from the descriptions she'd provided, she ought to be able to get either car for about $5500, and not have to pay more than that. He steered her toward Edmunds, and told her in no uncertain terms not to tell the dealer that she hates haggling. One of the other guys told her what sort of repairs would be routine on both of the cars, considering their age.

It's true that she and I have very different needs insofar as cars are concerned. I gather she lives in either a small town or a community with excellent public transportation, since by her own description, she only needs a car for light, occasional driving. I have a daily commute of over a hundred miles, a combination of city and highway driving. In the 3 1/2 years that I owned my Fit, I put just under 80,000 miles on it. So I need a reliable car with good gas mileage. This is one of the reasons I look at new cars: I know they lose a couple thousand dollars in value the moment they're driven off the lot, but the standard warranty on small cars (the only sort of car I'm considering) is 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, and with the driving I do, 36,000 miles will always come first, specifically, about 18 months after I've made my purchase. It doesn't make sense for me to get a car with a lot of miles, that's already beyond the warranty.

And yet I feel guilty, contemplating the purchase of a new, or almost new car, when there are so many people out there like this woman, hoping for a bargain in a car with a 100,000 miles on the engine. We take so much for granted...

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