Wednesday, January 19, 2011

...It's Called Mad Money...

Because you’re mad you have to spend it? I’m just guessing.

The first couple times the heat went out in my car, it was kind of funny.

I had a modified version of the Omarion song replaying in my head: I got this icebox where my car used to be, icebox where my car used to be. Ohhhhhh, I’m so cold, I’m so cold, I’m so cold…

A few thousand dollars and several tow truck rides later, the laughter had died down considerably. The last time I took my car into the shop they made it plain to me that I needed to cut my losses and move forward. “When we’re done, you need to drive straight to the dealer and trade that piece of [crap] in before it breaks down again.”

I have a billion (well, three) reasons not to buy a new car.

  1. It feels a little out of priority to buy a new car while I’m still renting an apartment.
  2. I’m annoyed at the thought of driving a new car during winter, also known as car-skiing season. (We become God’s game of curling with our cars as stones.)
  3. The idea of having a car payment again sucks.
I don’t believe in spending money just because it’s there. As far as I’m concerned, every dollar has a purpose. I’m one of those people with multiple savings accounts who also squirrels money all over the house just so I can get lucky and accidentally find it again later.

Plus the mad money pile to be sure I always have cash readily available if I need it. (Came in handy when we had that big black out in ‘03) and the annual piggy bank for my year end splurging. You feed the pig at least a dollar a day and at the end of the year buy one thing you don’t need for a price you shouldn’t pay and then move any remaining money to the savings account. The last two years I didn’t even splurge.

My savings is divided into three pots:

  • “House money” for down payment, etc, and other potential moving and new home expenses
  • “Gambler money” for my very slow entry into investing
  • “Pink Slip money” in case I get the boot at work.
My total for the external accounts (not counting the 401K) is a 5 digit number, which means I won’t be flat busted (hahahaha, that's such a funny expression) if I do dip into it, but since I’m sure that I’m further behind where I should be for a chick my age, it’s still making me anxious.

I was up at night for weeks at a time trying to figure out which pot was going to give up a little soup for this car situation. It was obvious I had to do something. Driving around with my head out the window like Ace Ventura with smoke floating up from my hood only worked that one day because it wasn’t that cold outside, but there was no way I’d survive the winter. (And yes, I really did that. I had to go to work, man.)

I called my mom and prefaced the conversation with, “No matter what I say, just keep saying ‘poor baby.’” She agreed, but since Moms reserve the right to rescind on any agreement where kids are involved, by the time that call ended I felt about this (*) big, but at least I had some direction.

I was apparently missing the obvious. I save in case of emergency. The possibility of having my car catch on fire counts as an emergency. (“Can you trade in a burned car?” my mom asked sarcastically)

Now here’s the good part.

I drove my old hooptie with the nice new parts in it to nearest dealer the day after getting it back from the repair shop and drove home with a very nice, shiny new vehicle in all black everything.   I didn’t feel nervous or nauseated so I guess I did the right thing. I went over all of the other reasons in my head that I did the right thing with “spending” some of my savings money:

  • Technically I didn’t spend a dime. Between the incentives, the trade in, and my good credit score, I left with cash back (deposited immediately into my savings of course), a fantastic interest rate, and super low monthly payments.
  • The car starts
  • The engine doesn't overheat just from backing out of a parking space.
  • I have heat now.
  • My brakes work without thinking about it first.
  • I can see through the windshield.
  • I have music again! ~Oh how I missed thee.~ And commercial free satellite radio, at that. About three songs in, they played Omarion. It was “Touch” instead of “Icebox” but that’s a good enough sign for me.
Omarion  ~ "Icebox"

and "Touch"

and "Entourage" because now it's on my mind

And "My Hooptie" by Sir Mix-a-Lot because it's funny.

Old African Proverb I found in a book yesterday: Save money and money will save you.

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