Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ridin' dirty

Well friends, I did it. I bit the big one and bought a new car. A 2011 Nissan Versa, in fact. Here she is:

I've been calling it Strawberry, but Jellybean (or, "the bean") also has a nice ring.
I found her at the end of the work day on Friday after spending hours upon hours on Edmonds, Auto Trader, and KBB. She was at Cherry Hill Mitsubishi/Suzuki and listed for $9,995 - just $5 off the top of our budget. I read the website over and over again, trying to see if the list price included incentives that I knew I wouldn't qualify for (like military or student discounts) or if that was the price with some crazy down payment, but didn't see anything. I made an appointment for the following day in order to "lock in" the internet price.

When we got to the dealership, I let the salesman, Al, know that I absolutely could not afford a price higher than the one advertised on the website. If there was any reason they couldn't give me that price, he should show me other cars. He was very nice and checked with his manager before coming back and confirming that was the price I would get. Obviously, I test drove the car and it was awesome, but that's not too hard when you're coming off a 2002 Saturn with 176,000 miles on it.

The worst part about the dealership was how looooooonnnnggggg it took to sign the actual papers! Our appointment was at 11:00 AM and we didn't leave with the car until almost 3:30 PM. Granted, there were a lot of people at the dealership, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that I wasn't the only person buying a car that morning. Moral of the story: Either go when they first open, or wait until the afternoon lull (around 3:00 PM).

Also, because of all that waiting, I got hooked into a few fees that I might not have ordinarily signed to had I not been so bored. The first was the motor vehicle fees. I had every intention of registering and transferring my license plates myself; However, the finance manager told me they "don't allow it" and that they would be handling the registration and tags. Ugh. The second fee was a warranty. Initially, our salesman asked if I wanted to add a 4 year warranty for $10 more to my payment or a 6 year warranty for $20 more. I declined. About a half hour later he came back and said "the finance manager called in a favor and we were able to get you a warranty without increasing your monthly payment." Okay, sounds great! However, what they really did was charge me for the warranty ($1,900), but had the bank lower my interest rate so my payment was the same. I told him I wasn't happy with that behind the back switch (couldn't he just have gotten me the lower interest rate in the first place?), but honestly, I was too hungry and tired to care at that point. So I signed.

My payments are $180 per month for the next six years. I have a 3.6 % interest rate, which is better than I expected, but I'll still probably refinance with PNC next year if their rates are still low. I'm not happy about making car payments for that long, but honestly, I feel less stressed with the thought of the car payments, than with the thought of driving the Saturn around and hoping it makes it through another day.

Plus, it's got all sorts of crazy awesome features that I've never had in a car before, like power windows and locks, keyless entry, MP3 compatible (hello, Pandora!) and, my favorite, cruise control. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the stellar gas milage - 31 MPG on the highway!

so many features!
So, who wants to go for a ride?

Friday, January 18, 2013

get down (payment)

I finally input my December expenses into the online tracker. I was still in the hole almost $500 for the month, which actually isn't as bad as I thought, taking the extra Christmas spending into consideration.

We're still spending way too much money on groceries. By my count, it's between $300-$400 a month, and that doesn't include when I ask the Hubs to stop on his way home and pick something up. I definitely need to get back into the Fresh 20 groove (which I still owe you a post about) and start using coupons more frequently. I started drinking green smoothies again, which pretty much eliminates the need for any breakfast foods (the Hubs isn't a big breakfast eater).

I did cut down on the Wawa spending, though I didn't give it up totally like I wanted to. I think on every visit to Wawa, I would buy something, get back to my car, and then say "shit! I'm not supposed to be coming here!" But ya live and learn  - I have yet to buy anything there this month!

I've been putting in applications left and right for part time jobs. I recently received an e-mail from Revel Casino for a Restaurant Host job; However, they want to interview me next Wednesday at 1:00 PM. Uhhhh, clearly, that's not going to work out, since I work a full time job. Of course, there's no contact information for the Recruitment Office in the e-mail so I'll have to try to get a hold of someone on my lunch break today to see if it can be changed. I also received a call from my current job's Human Resources for an interview for another position in the Courthouse's Civil Division. I'm pretty excited for that - hopefully, it will come with a pay raise!

But enough about me, let's get to the point of this whole post. You're already aware of my car troubles (if not, see here) and the subsequent search for a new one. The other night The Hubs and I were talking about what we were looking for, how much we can afford per month, and what we plan to put down. Since 2012 was a pretty disastrous year for us, financially speaking, we really don't have a big pile of money to throw down on a car. The Hubs thinks this is fine, since we're not purchasing a new vehicle, but I'm leery that not paying anything except taxes & tags will screw me in the long run.

After doing a little research, I've found we're both right, but The Hubs is a little more so in our case (but don't tell him that). If we were buying a new, or even slightly used (say a Certified Pre-Owned), then I would be correct by wanting to make a larger down payment which would cover the car's depreciation during my first year of owning it. But, since we're buying an older model, it's already had it's maximum depreciation. Edmund's recommends 10% for a used car. At the $9,500 price tag I'm looking to spend (or stay under), that's about $900 plus the $600-ish for sales, so about $1,400 all together. I think that's a number we can handle, provided that the dealerships are willing to negotiate their sticker prices.

The one thing I'm not worried about? My interest rate. Even though I might be the worst credit user in awhile, my credit score hasn't suffered, and I think I'm still bound to get a nice rate. I'm hoping for 4%. In any case, I better bone up on my negotiation skills:
car shopping pretty much makes me want to jump off a building

P.S. if you follow me on Instagram (@kathyquicktick), you'll see just what I did to my Kohl's card the night after this post.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the three f's

Fury, Frustration, and you can imagine the last F.

First (no that's not the last F hah!), lets start with something non-financial. I have gotten massive nosebleeds for three of the last five days. I'm talking takes a half hour to clot kinda stuff coming from waay up in my nasal cavity. It's a ton of fun, as you can imagine.

I still have not purchased a vehicle. I've only been to three dealerships so far, but pretty much no one's willing to negotiate on the prices of cars I am interested in and we all know I can't afford a ridiculous car payment right now. I probably can't afford a car payment at all, but driving my car for much longer is no longer a viable option. Almost two weeks ago, I spent $430 to replace the engine and transmission mounts (rubber rings that hold both pieces in place); However, that did nothing to solve the transmission issue. Admittedly, the jerking is better than it was before the repair, but I still can't accelerate rapidly, which is an issue when 30 out of the 35 miles of my commute are on the Parkway. There's part one of the Fury.

Fury: Part Two (it's a three part show) involves receiving a bill from my primary care physician last night for my flu shot. Apparently, Cigna decided to terminate my coverage 11/17/2012 even though I was supposed to be covered until 12/28/2012. Now I'm in a massive appeals battle with them. This is equal parts Fury and Frustration.

Fury: Part Three happened on the way home from work yesterday when I realized I needed to pay my Kohl's bill soon. I logged on and saw they charged me a $25.00 late fee for last month. Additionally, because I was "late" they ratcheted my interest rate up to 25% and wanted a minimum payment of $70.00! This was my last straw with Kohl's - I don't remember if I blogged about how they hiked up my minimum payment for absolutely no reason a few months ago. After asking other people who have charge cards with them, I found out I was the only one who suffered that increase. I called to "decline the changes", but was told if I did, they would close my account all together. Since I haven't had my Kohl's charge that long, closing the account would actually look worse on my credit report than keeping it open, so I didn't do anything about it. Last night, I called Customer Service regarding the late fee, and the representative said "I guess we'll take your word for it and remove the late fee." I went bananas on her. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. "Of course you're going to remove the late fee, because I have never made a late payment in the two years I've had your card and I've made your company a lot of money" is what I said to her not so nicely. At the end of the conversation, I informed her I would be transferring my remaining balance onto one of my other credit card and no longer shopping at the store. Which is exactly what I did. 

The third F, as you've probably figured out, rhymes with Duck and ends with You. Not you personally, readers, because I love you all for reading this blog and I would never ever ever say those things to you. It was a big middle finger to the universe. At other points last night, it ended in F-It because I was feeling quite depressed about our financial situation and had no other words for my feelings. It's still pretty accurate for how I feel today, too.

I'm sure it'll all get better, but the question is when? I'm tired of waiting.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Well, we did it. We made it to 2013.

From reading my friends Facebook posts, it seems like 2012 was a pretty stinky year across the board - Maybe the Mayans didn't mean to predict the end of the world, but were forewarning of a crap-tacular year. If that's the case, they hit the nail on the head.

I love the start of a new year. It's so fresh & cleansing. Needless to say, I love resolutions. I see the new year as a time to look back on the goals I previously made (if I made any), see where I'm at with them, tweek or make new ones. Because, really, aren't resolutions just goals with a fancier name?

Obviously, my goal/resolution is to keep on the saving money/paying off debt train - keeping in mind my long term goal is to pay it all off by the time I'm 30 (a little less than three years), but for 2013, my specific goal is to stop being lazy in all facets of my life. Or, at least, less lazy.

On the money front, it means to continue being proactive in tracking my spending, saving where I can, and - the big one - getting a second job. It's a move I've been putting off, but since getting a new car is literally right around the corner (this Saturday, in fact), it's something I have to do in order to avoid falling off my own fiscal cliff. Getting a second job will also help reign in my spending - I can't spend money when I don't have the time to do it, right?

On the savings money front, my friend Jenn just sent me this photo today:
Is anyone else up for the challenge? I'm going to go "Punch the Pig" right now! (that's PNC talk for putting money in your savings account)

Did you make any resolutions this year?