Replacing The Beast & Love For The CarMax Return Policy

It’s been over a year since The Beast went belly up (see obituary below).  I have been hesitant to write this post because I know many of you were attached to her and, well, it was just too damn painful.  But a lot of lessons came out of her passing that I thought the best way to honor her would be to share with you her replacement story.  After all, this alone saved me from what would have been the second biggest financial mistake of my life (you can read the first HERE).

First, a few words of advice…

When replacing the love of your life a car that you have had for many many years that has seen you through thick and thin and everything in between, don’t just go with the size or type of car you had before without reexamining your needs. You’ll want to reevaluate your current vehicle requirements before taking the plunge.

Examples:

  1. Have the kids have grown from their car seats?  Maybe a third row is no longer necessary.
  2. Not off-roading any time soon? Ditch the Hummer you bought to look cool and get something more realistic and emission friendly.
  3. You’ve decided you no longer need 8 cup holders in your automobile when 5 will suffice?  Downsize said cup holder requirement.
  4. Are you about to have a kid??  It might be time to upgrade from the 2 seater Smart coupe to a more comfortable 4 person Prius.
  5. One kid about to start driving?  Maybe it’s best to revisit the new car idea in another couple of years.

The last one, I didn’t have that option.  The Beast was dead before I actively started looking for her replacement.* But I did have an idea of what I wanted. My personal list of requirements for my new used car included:

  1. 4 Doors
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Cruise Control
  4. 4 windows that worked
  5. Gas mileage better than 18mpg (which is apparently what a lack of compression does to a 17-year-old car)
  6. Less than 90k miles
  7. Under $10k

Things I wanted but weren’t necessary:

  1. Option to build out another sleeping platform
  2. Silver in color – I’m fancy like that.

Pretty standard.

Knowing The Beast was on her final miles, I had already been preparing mentally for what her replacement would be.  Buying a new car was a big deal for me!!  I had been with The Beast for 15 years and she was EXACTLY what I wanted when I got her.  I was hoping for the same clarity when purchasing this next car and eventually narrowed my choices to the Honda Fit.

I searched Craigslist and Honda dealers for weeks before finally focusing my sights on CarMax. I found exactly what I was looking for.  A 2016 silver Honda Fit with everything on my list….except the price.  I originally thought I would buy something 5 years oldish but, as sometimes happens when shopping, I lost my thrifty superpower when I found this car.  It happens.

CarMax Purchase

Buying at CarMax is a simple transaction.  You see the car, you like the car and if it is in the store, you can buy it that day.  If not, they will ship it to you for a nominal fee.  There is no wheeling and dealing or negotiating.  You just go, buy, and drive.  I realize for most frugal folks this may seem like a loss – we love to haggle and get the best deal, but in this case, I didn’t have the mental capacity to sit in an office with a sales manager going back and forth on price so he/she could find a way to come out ahead.  I just couldn’t do it.  Instead, my friend John and I went in, bought the car (I financed it with the intention to pay it off in the next few months with no early payment penalty fee), and soon after I drove off with new plates, tags, insurance, and a smile plastered across my face.**

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Continue reading “Replacing The Beast & Love For The CarMax Return Policy”

Road Trip Finances, Factoids, & #VanLife Wisdoms

This post is a long time coming (as are all of my post’s these days!), but I’m finally still enough to write it.  If you happen to be following along on Instagram, you know my road trip is over.  Long over.  For the past 6 weeks, instead of driving state to state, I have been hopping around from house to house and working a bunch (but more on that in an upcoming post).  I figured I could write a 10,000-word post about the conclusion of my trip OR I could just show you how it all went down.  Thanks to my friend Tonya* at Budget and the Beach, that’s exactly what I get to do!!

Can I just say how incredible Tonya is to put that together??  She has insane editing skills to be able to cut some of my inappropriate use of language and bawdy humor and still have enough to work with…not an easy task!  Of course, she couldn’t fit the entire road trip in so I feel I would be doing you a disservice to not include the following photos.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I am adding 10 for good measure…

FRIENDS, FOOD, and FUN (in no particular order)

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Finally made it to Carmel-by-the-Sea – on my Places To Visit list for over 10 years!  CHECK!!

Continue reading “Road Trip Finances, Factoids, & #VanLife Wisdoms”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go…

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Seaside, FL

So far, I have been on the road a little over one week.  In 9 days I’ve driven 2599 miles and spent $290.69 on 115.42 gallons of gas…it’s been worth every cent.

I didn’t have any expectations for this journey, but I did have a variety of reasons for setting out on it:

  1. I wanted to escape the brutal chill of January in Chicago.
  2. I wanted needed to untangle some of the thoughts in my head.
  3. I wanted to shake the dust off my physical being.
  4. And financially, I could.

The road has taken me from Springfield IL to Nashville TN, Atlanta GA, Destin FL, Mobile AL, Lake Charles LA, Amarillo TX, and finally to Longmont via Denver.  I have visited with family, friends, and even dropped in on a ChooseFI meetup in Atlanta!  If you aren’t following along on Instagram (hint hint), here are a few pics from the road… Continue reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Go…”

It’s Coddiwomple Time!!

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Aka – Wanderlusting’s less known sister.  The one that takes the desire to travel and rolls with it.  I stumbled across this word a few weeks back and as soon as I read it, I knew it was created for me.  And today I roll…

THE BACKGROUND

I have always loved a nice long road trip.  The wind in your hair, tunes on the radio, random sites like a giant Paul Bunyon and The Worlds Biggest fill in the blank.  When I was in high school I got my first taste of road life while following The Grateful Dead on a summer tour.  I LOVED the idea of packing up, driving out, settling down, hanging with friends, selling my crafts (I was really good at sewing patchwork clothing and crafting hemp jewelry 😉 ) listening to music, sitting by bonfires, and camping at night.  If it wasn’t a two-night city, we got to pack up and do it all over again the next day.  The Dead community gave me my first insight into van life and all that came with it.  When Jerry Garcia died, I switched to Phish tour (cool, but NOT THE SAME).  Town after town, parking lot after parking lot, grilled cheese after grilled cheese…I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.  Even the gas stations and Walmart bathrooms.

Soon after high school, I took to the road with my best friend Marisa.  The plan was to drive her 69 VW bus across the country eventually making our way to Boulder CO, aka the hot hippy guy mecca of our world.  The VW never made it.  Apparently, 4 bald tires, a bus with no heat (in February) or working windshield wipers, and a starter on the fritz is a recipe for disaster.  Not to worry, though the bus didn’t make it, Marisa and I eventually did…via a Greyhound bus.  I am happy to report that indeed there were a ton of hot hippy dudes to be found.  😉

Fast forward 20 years and I haven’t been on a road trip since.  I mean, I have gone on long drives with specific destinations – when I moved to Ashland OR or visited my sister in Bar Harbor, Maine.  But I haven’t driven just to drive.  I haven’t had a chance to turn left on a whim instead of going straight…until today. Continue reading “It’s Coddiwomple Time!!”

The Do’s & Dont’s of Walking the Camino de Santiago

Taking a break from finances today to talk about my other passion – travel!  This is a continuation of my guest post So You Want To Hike the Camino De Santiago published today at GoCurryCracker.com.  If you are interested in knowing the In’s & Out’s of walking the Camino, please hop over there to check it out.  If you’re interested in the Do’s & Don’ts, keep reading…

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Points along my 2013 Camino

Of all the lessons I have learned in life, I have learned the most from my mistakes.  The Camino De Santiago was no different.  It took a failed first attempt to wisen me up before being able to successfully complete the 500-mile hike multiple times since.  Today’s lesson is for you to learn what to do and what not to do before ever setting foot on the trail so, unlike me, you can be a first-time success.  You’re welcome in advance.  🙂

First, a brief bit of history…

The Camino De Santiago is an ancient footpath in Spain with many starting points but only one ending point, Santiago De Compostela (SDC).  The history of  The Camino dates back to the middle ages when it was once (and still for some) used as a pilgrimage to the visit the remains of St. James The Apostle, located in SDC.  Since then it has also been used as punishment for thieves, bragging rights for Kings and Queens, and more recently, for historical, spiritual, or tourist related purposes.

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Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on hiking nor on the Camino itself, but the following are tips that I have picked up over my past 5 Caminos.  I hope you find them useful!  🙂

The Do’s & Dont’s of Hiking the Camino De Santiago

First, the DON’TS:

1.   DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE – this one should be easy for most but let me break it down just in case there is any doubt… Continue reading “The Do’s & Dont’s of Walking the Camino de Santiago”