Debt Reduction, Everyday Living, Random!, Relationships, Where My Money Goes

Ch-ch-ch-changes: The Auto Edition

I will never forget my first car – it was a 1988 two-door Pontiac Sunbird that was an electric teal shade. It had belonged to my cousin Jenny and bought for $1,200 when she decided to upgrade to a better car.

The Sunbird was more than a car or a mode of transportation – it’s up there with my second-grade boyfriend – a nostalgic true love of sorts. My love for driving and road trips in general stem from that first car – that sense that the road holds adventure, that no matter what situation I would find myself in – I had the means to escape. Owning a car also taught me responsibility and gave me a wonderful sense of independence.

Basically – there are no words to describe how much I loved my first car. No other car that I ever owned has come close to the ‘Bird and the thousands of miles that I put on it between the time I was 16 and when I finally gave the car to my dad when I was 21. The Sunbird was swapped for his 1986 Chrysler LeBaron – a car my dad deemed to be more reliable (although I think he just wanted to drive the ‘Bird … and who could blame him?). To paraphrase the B-52s, the Chrysler was as big as a whale and served me (and my friends) well until I graduated from college.

I could bore you with the progression of cars that I’ve had since the Chrysler (three to be exact), but long story short is that after college I got my first in a progression of car loans and this month for the first time in nine years, I am not sending a check into the bank to pay towards my car. I am now the proud owner of a 1999 Mercury Sable.

Wait a second, you say – what happened to Michelle’s beloved Saturn? Well – here’s another short story … my husband’s grandmother is now in a nursing home and can no longer drive. Hubby’s folks sold Grandma’s car to us. I, in turn, sold the Saturn and traded in my sporty little sedan for the car I’m affectionately calling “The Tank” (I informed my husband the other day that the car’s moniker makes me “The General.” He snorted in laughter and rolled his eyes. Sigh.)

But to come full circle and what makes me feel massively better about selling my beloved Saturn is that it is now the first car of a young man named Aaron. I’ve already been informed that he found six pens lurking in the depths of my car and will be waxing the exterior of the car once it decides to stop raining in Minnesota. My attachment to the Saturn wasn’t very logical, but to have someone buy the Saturn and appreciate it more than I did? The Saturn is in a very good home and is probably suffering some culture shock from not having about a month’s worth of takeout wrappers in the backseat and getting waxed on a regular basis.

As for me and the Tank, it’s probably suffering its own brand of culture shock – Grandma’s Glenn Miller CDs are now mixed with my Pearl Jam CDs and I have discovered the hidden secret behind those oversized sedans I used to sarcastically refer to as “grandma cars.” There’s a lot of horsepower lurking under those unassuming hoods – Grandma cars can go really, really fast. While I have yet to fall in love with the Tank, the speakers are killer, the purring of the engine allows a certain amount of stealth (hubby no longer hears me when I’m pulling up the driveway) and at 61,000 miles – the Tank and I have a long future ahead of us with many road trips. And screaming toddlers – my mother very helpfully pointed out that the backseat is just perfect to someday hold a car seat.

Plus, I’m one step closer to being debt free. That makes the Tank worth its weight in gold.

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5 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-changes: The Auto Edition

  1. I informed my husband the other day that the car’s moniker makes me “The General.”

    Or, you could just go by Tank Girl!

  2. Glad to hear a positive spin put on this! It’s hard to give up something you’re attached to, but sounds like it’s a good decision.

  3. Congratulations. I think everyone has a Sunbird in their past. The more cars I own, the less attached I’m becoming–and I think that’s a good thing.

  4. I have always loved “grandma” cars since the first time I got to drive one – generally grandmas know how to drive in style 🙂

    While I have done a pretty good job in my financial life, the one glaring thing I think I’ve done wrong is how I’ve handled cars. I dove in head first right after college and bought a brand new full size pickup that was probably way beyond what I needed – that in itself wasn’t horrible though, except that I leased it for 3 years, THEN started in on a 5-year loan, THEN when it got totaled in an accident, started in on an even more expensive pickup and another 5-year loan, THEN when I had made a good dent paying off that one, somehow got talked back into a 2-year lease on another new one. By the time I got to the Saturn view I have now (3 years old), I had really blown a LOT of money on cars and really had nothing to show for it 🙁 Not to mention all the $ I spent on gas filling those hogs of pickups

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