A Story About Our Vehicles
When Bee and I met in the spring of 2005 he was driving a tiny little two-door Pontiac Firefly. It may not have been the fanciest car, but it was perfect for him – big enough for one single guy, extremely fuel efficient, reliable, and got him from A to B.
At that time I was newly single again and walking or using city transit to get around, but quickly tired of Nanaimo, BC’s pathetically slow and infrequent transit service. I used part of a student loan to buy myself a used Ford Explorer. Initially I was going to buy a little sedan, but by this time Bee and I were getting more serious, and we wanted a bigger vehicle to accommodate our mutual love of camping and road trips.
What a mistake!
First of all, that vehicle was a serious fuel guzzler. As a low income single mom and student, it was a real drain on my bank account. Secondly, it was terrible on icy roads and I soon discovered the 4×4 was no longer operating, so when it snowed or rain froze on the roads, I was SOL.
I took to calling Bee’s car “Superfly” cause that car could plow through snow and ice like nobody’s business! The only problem was it was a royal pain in the arse installing and uninstalling my son’s car seat in the back of it. And it had no storage at all for our beloved camping trips.
Sometime around 2007 Bee’s sister K. was buying a new car and offered to sell her old mint-condition low-mileage ’88 Toyota Corolla to Bee. It was a four door and had a lot more storage, and now that we were engaged, we needed a family car. I managed to sell my piece of shit vehicle we became a one-vehicle family. We’ve been driving it every since.
It has been a great little car. It’s reliable, it’s super low on gas, it has enough storage room to get the job done, and it gets us from A to B.
That said, over the past couple of years we’ve noticed parts are starting to wear out on our car with increasing frequency. We spent around $600 on repairs and maintenance in 2011, and closer to $2000 in 2012. It’s still running well as far as major parts go, and probably will continue to run well for awhile longer, but it’s old and worn out, and we’re ready for a new car.
We sat down and made a new car wish list that included the following: 2008 or newer, excellent fuel economy, 4 door sedan (not a mini-van or station wagon), roomy with at least as much storage as the Corolla, low mileage, automatic transmission, and costs less than $12,000.00, all in.
The car hunt began, and after months of Bee’s extensive car research, we narrowed it down to a Toyota Corolla or Matrix, but what we really wanted was the Toyota Prius (but slightly out of our price range). We looked at all of our financing options and decided to get a home equity loan and roll it into our existing mortgage to keep our monthly payments as low as possible. When we purchased our home it was appraised at over $75,000 more than we paid for it, so we felt confident it was a done deal. We applied for financing, went and walked around the Toyota Used dealership lot looking at what was available, and waited impatiently for an answer from our broker.
Two weeks later we got our answer. Financing denied. Apparently the housing market has slumped a LOT since we closed on our mortgage, and the bank appraised our house $45,000 lower than last June. They will only finance up to 80% of the appraised value, so no go.
Back to the drawing board. We knew we didn’t want to do a traditional car loan because the monthly payments were out of our comfort zone, and as we own and operate our own family business, we need to have a pretty good amount of cash flow available year-round to account for the business being so seasonal.
We were out of options and said a simple prayer asking God to provide for our need by either giving us a new car, or extending the life of our Corolla for at least another four or five years when our mortgage is up for renewal.
Then it happened. My 80 year old grandpa recently agreed to move into assisted living due to health complications, and he no longer needs his car. It’s a 2008 Hyundai Elantra (comparable to the Toyota Corolla), very fuel efficient, one of the roomiest sedans on the market, and he’s giving it to me! My dad is in Ottawa, ON right now helping him with his move and will be driving it back to BC (via the warm southern states) the first week of March. It has less than 20,000 km on it.
My gratitude and excitement are beyond expression. I’m overwhelmed with thanks. How do you even begin to thank someone for a gift like that?! I called my grandpa and made a (rather pathetic) attempt to thank him. I asked him if there’s anything I can do or give him in return to thank him and he said, “Yes. Enjoy it. It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.” What a blessed granddaughter I am to have a grandpa like him.