Cash for clunkers

So the government is giving away money if you turn in you crappy old car and buy a new one. And it turns out that Mom’s old Volvo (which is falling apart) just qualifies. It just scrapes by not being too old and it just scrapes by not getting too good of gas mileage.  Now, I’ve actually vowed to never buy a new car, but we’d be getting $4500 for this:

How could we refuse?

The whole program ends on Monday (the 25th), so we looked at the cheapest, lowest-end new cars and decided to take a look at either a Toyota Yaris or a Honda Fit. My friend Theresa happens to sell both so we gave her a call. 

All Fits and Yaris’ were sold out! In fact, they usually have 60+ new Toyotas on the lot and they were down to 11. Wow. But we went in to have a look at a Civic just to see.

It’s not the sexiest thing I ever drove. It’s middle of the road and solid in every way. But it’s a smart decision and with $4500 off the price, we decided to see what the payments would be like. Now, with both of us self-employed and Charles new to the country (eg no credit history), we thought it might be tricky. But we checked it out anyway.

It turns out that, since I’ve been in Australia for the past 7 years, I too have no history now either. Seems my Amex (which I’ve had since 99) doesn’t count.

So they offered us a rate, which was pretty high but good for not having credit, and we thought about it and decided that we really need to start building up our credit ratings and the only way to do that was to dive in and buy something like this on credit.

Off we went home to gather up the remaining things we needed: proof of title and insurance for the last year. On the drive I was was wondering at how far I had come in a mere hour – about to buy a new, Honda Civic, on finance.

Now, there was one small question in our minds. We had arrived in the U.S. just a little more than a year ago and we were trying to remember how fast we had been at getting the car up and going. Charles was joking that we’d find out that the insurance kicked in on the 26th -one day after the deadline. But I found the insurance and it read the 18th! Then I dug around for the last piece to the puzzle, finally found the title and it read… the 27th. Too late. By two tiny days.

So no new car. But what a roller coaster of a few hours.

The interesting thing is that we’re still thinking of buying something on credit -which I would have NEVER considered before all of this. I always just buy outright. So, the program is doing it’s job, I suppose.

Oh, and to bring it all back to Gus, here he is with a balloon that one of the salepeople gave him as we waited. An hour later it escaped out of the car and he watched it float into the sky. He just watched and didn’t cry. Wonder when that will start happening. But for now, I’m realizing, it was a nice symbol for the day.


4 thoughts on “Cash for clunkers

  1. You can buy a new car for $4500 off the MSRP, without a clunker, any other day.

    Don’t sweat it.

    You can buy a used car on credit, for half the price, and it will get the job done.


  2. And one last thing. I guess I have a lot to say.

    I just read this on a blog:

    “Someone pointed me to this car buying diary by potatohead. Very useful stuff if you’re in the market as well, and a great example of how this community looks out for each other, even in non-political areas.
    I particularly liked this bit of advice:

    If they leave the desk, you do too. Take a nice long walk, and they will have to go and find you. This cuts down on the back and forth dealing between the lackey you are dealing with and the sales manager who is really controlling things.”

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