I’m not gonna lie. The thought of financing a car makes my stomach churn.
As someone who’s had the bottom fall out three times in the past ten years, there’s a reason for the sweaty palms, dry mouth, and upset stomach.
Like most Americans, I got hit hard in the recession. First with a job loss and the subsequent financial disaster (raiding my 401k so I didn’t end up on the streets. Same for my savings),and then the loss of my car when a 16 year-old totaled it while chatting on her cell phone.
A health crisis three years ago wiped me out physically and financially. To this day, I think I got through the 2013 L.A. Auto Show on sheer will. No way was this Cinderella going to miss the ball.
I rebounded in early 2014 and picked up a social media gig with a local business owner. She abruptly changed course in January 2015, shuttering her practice and leaving me jobless.
Lightening struck not once, but three times. And people wonder why the thought of financing a car makes me hyperventilate and become nauseated.
Back on my feet
Currently, I’m what lenders would consider a “good risk” for a modest car loan.
In other words, I have the “right stuff” to make the leap: income from a stable source, a stellar credit rating, and a gig that isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.
My solid credit score will put me out of reach of predatory sub-prime lenders and their shenanigans.
The bad news? I’d qualify to finance an used car under 10K because of my modest income. Good cars in that range are few and far between; most of them that I’ve looked at have mechanical issues or have been treated badly. A loan payment and repair bills?
I test-drove a car yesterday that is a possible strong candidate. A cash transaction would be ideal (I could flip the car a few months down the road and use the proceeds as a down payment) but not realistic. It would take years to save up; I’m not 16 anymore.
I need my life back. There are friends to visit, classes to take, appointments to tend to, and additional income opportunities to pursue. My current method of getting to work involves playing Transit Roulette with a crumbling small city bus system that frequently runs late, or not at all.
I want to be part of a volunteer cadre of drivers for a local non-profit, giving rides to their clients as they go to job interviews, attend classes, and look for work. I’d like to return to the city college that gave me my start as a lifelong learner, this time as an outreach and tutoring volunteer.
I want to take some time for myself and take a drive along the coast, or along the winding Ortega Highway. My best ideas come to me from behind the wheel of a car.
I really wish I could talk this over with my dad, who had a clear-headed view of life’s tougher choices. I wish he could see me as I take this significant leap.
Join me for the ride in the coming days as I check out the different financing options available to me. In the meantime, could someone pass me the saltines? I feel queasy.