Friday Financial Foul Ups: Stretching Yourself to Have a Comparable Car to your Friends

This week’s Friday Financial Foul Up will feature a guest post by Elle. Elle has been blogging over at Couple Money for a couple of months on how she and her family handles their finances. To follow Elle you can check her on twitter (@Elle_CM) or subscribe to her blog. Enjoy her story about sticking herself with possibly one of the worst car loans I have heard of in order to keep up with her friends’ cars.

If you would like to add your own financial foul up to this series, please contact me here.

My foul up deals with car loans.  I was eager to have a comparable car to my friends, but my income really didn’t fit in with my car fever.  I went from one bad car loan into another.  It took 4 years to get out of the second car loan (worked hard to pay to off a bit early with my husband’s help).

The Situation

My first two cars were bought with cash and while they were older cars (’85 Nissan Sentra & ’90 Geo Prizm), they were fine for a working college student.  After awhile I felt like I deserved a newer car since I worked so hard between my job and school.  It didn’t help that my friends were telling me how old my cars were.  Frustrated, I looked around and found a used car, a VW Passat, for a good price, but it really was out of my budget.

I totaled the car in an accident a few months later and apparently the insurance company said I would receive a check for the difference.  I was getting a ride to work, but my family said I needed get another way to work.  When I got a check from the insurance company for $2,000 (the difference between my loan and its worth), I went ahead and got another car loan. I had the car loan for 4 years and it was a burden to my finances.

Where I Fouled Up

Let’s break down the numbers and see how bad this loan was:

  • 2000 VW Jetta
  • Purchased in March 2005
  • APR: 13.75%
  • Purchase Price: $10,056.87
  • Gap Insurance: $450
  • Processing Fee: $399

It’s painful to see how much I spent with this purchase.  Looking back on it, I realized I allowed ego and peer pressure to cloud my judgment.  The first clue that this was a bad idea was when the dealer said I needed a co-signer.  If I couldn’t afford it on my own, I shouldn’t have bought it.

Even though I paid the loan off a year earlier, I still paid way too much for the car. Can you believe I was willing to get a car loan with almost 14% interest?!  I also feel horrible that my mom co-signed with me on the loan. I know she wanted to help, but I now realized this wasn’t the best way.

What I Learned

The good part about my financial foul up is that I learned some lessons and I’ve made some changes to my finances.

My car is not a reflection of my financial status. I really wanted to get a Jetta since I was in high school, but it wasn’t for its reliability (though my car hasn’t been awful like I’ve read).  I wanted it because it was in style (actually in 2005 it had already went out of style, but forget that…) and I wanted to have a newer car.

I should have waited before buying another car. I could’ve paid my friends money to take me to work and go around their schedule until the insurance money came.  I could’ve been hunting for a car from the classifieds so when I did get the money, I could’ve gotten a car.  Paying cash for a car would’ve fit my needs and gave me more breathing room financially.

I should’ve gotten a used, paid for car with the insurance money. Having my mom co-sign for the car loan was a bad idea. I was never late, but it still was a strain as she now had a car loan in her name.  I felt so much better when I called her to let her know that the car was completely paid for.

Not having car payments has definitely given us more freedom in our budget. My husband has used his savings and bought a LCD TV.  The rest of the money saved is going towards our house fund, a better use of the funds in my mind. :)

Do you like this series? Check Out The Previous Foul Ups:

Foul Up #11 – Revanche (A Gai Shan Life) – Sibling Bailouts Cost More than Just Money
Foul Up #10 – Brad (Enemy Of Debt) – There’s Nothing Interesting About Interest-Only Loans
Foul Up #9 – Jason (Redeeming Riches) – Buying a Car with a Balloon Payment at the End
Foul Up #8 – David (Money Under 30) – Being Too Eager to “Move Out” and “Move Up”
Foul Up #7 – Matt (Debt Free Adventure) – Upside Down and Paying The Price
Foul Up #6 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – Overdue Books Prevent Me From Renting an Apt
Foul Up #5 – Kelly Whalen (The Centsible Life) – Poorly Planned Vehicle Purchase Costs $24,000
Foul Up #4 – Stephanie (Poorer Than You) – Signed My Life Away at Age 17
Foul Up #3 – Deliver Away Debt – How I Wasted Over $10K and 11 Months
Foul Up #2 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – Quick Fixes to Weight Loss
Foul Up #1 – Brian (MyNextBuck) – How I Didn’t Earn $3000 in Free Money

13 Responses to Friday Financial Foul Ups: Stretching Yourself to Have a Comparable Car to your Friends
  1. Jeff
    December 11, 2009 | 7:47 am

    Good story

    I’m glad you shared it with us and will never make that mistake again. “We are not our cars” The moment everyone realizes that the better they’ll be, of course that’s just how I see it. There must be plenty of people who love to look good in their G-rides,just look at all the ad dollars that go into promoting them. I’m sure your husband has seen them on the new tv.

    I’m not sure how $10,000 in rims can make a p.o.s. car look good, but I’m not about to try it with my Cobalt :-)

  2. Meg // CarsxGirl
    December 11, 2009 | 12:47 pm

    You don’t mind if I giggle at the VW reliability jest, do you? 😉 I’m sure I’ll get a VW someday…. It’s a rite of passage to have a Beetle project, or maybe a Karmann Ghia restoration.

    Thankfully, for all my car addiction’s cost me, I haven’t gotten in over my head. I have a tiny car loan on my 19 year old 240SX, for building credit. (Young and need to work on it and what not.) But all the mods are paid for paid for. That includes a new engine & parts for the swap, though the turbo isn’t in order yet… (Oops?)

    Jeff — I want to see a pic of these $10k rims, LOL. And here I was, wasting my time pining for a nice set of Volks or Works for $3.5k…. (And yes, I am getting some for that 19 year old 240. Hopefully in the next year or so.)

    Overall, it’s a good lesson to learn and hopefully someone else learns from it too. Just because something is important to you, doesn’t mean it’s worth going into debt for. Ever.

  3. Brian
    December 12, 2009 | 6:24 am

    @Jeff – doesn’t it seem like everyone makes this mistake when they are car shopping. In part, if i didn’t have a “comparable” car while in college, i probably would have been looking for an immediate upgrade.

    @Meg – Oh i had a reliable VW for quite a while (sort of) until… well… until i totaled it. I do miss my VW, it was a good little car. Absolutely agree with your last statement. Just because its important, doesn’t mean its worth going into debt for.

  4. Esther
    December 13, 2009 | 1:00 pm

    I like the Jetta myself. Great girl ride.

    Brian – You have an amazing ability to get others to write on your site for you, without having to write so much yourself. How do you do it? Sincerely, it’s an amazing talent! Do you just ask people and promise to write for them in the future or something?


  5. Brian
    December 13, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    @Esther – I think this series is a lot of fun, and i think people actually look forward to telling others their mistakes so that they can learn from them. This is just an outlet for other writers to voice their experiences. I could easily write a mistake i made along the way each week, but where will the abundance of knowledge and learning come from if its just my perspective on things. Everyone that has helped out with this series has done a great job, and i owe them all sorts of favors.

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