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Car Expenses

February 25th, 2009 at 07:28 am

LM started his new preschool yesterday and did extraordinarily well. I think it is a really good fit for him. & for my pocketbook. Yay!

We took the van in yesterday. The gas pedal was sticking and I self diagnosed it as a dirty throttle body. A couple of hours and $110 poorer, the car is good as new. Chalk it up to one more problem I have NEVER had in a car. On the internet I read that it is not a common Dodge problem. Lucky me. (I have driven a couple of cars well past 150k miles that did not have problems with power doors, power locks, nor dirty throttle bodies, but whatever. Always something stupid with this van. Things that all our other cars have last 150k+ miles without issue. The van's mileage is 60k, which also makes it one of the newest cars we have ever owned).

Not sure I will ever equate new cars with "longer lasting and more reliable." Dh's $7888 Ford has 100k miles & is 8 years strong. It's given us less trouble than the Dodge and the 30k-miled Mustang I once owned. It's obvious when it comes to Saturns and Toyotas why we have had better luck going extremely used. But the cheapie Ford has treated us quite well! IT can be pretty hit and miss with cars. This is why I prefer to buy used more - let people drive them into the ground and then we can read the reviews about which ones are safer and last longer. The Ford is the only worthwhile newer car purchase we have ever made. Spending $12k on a van bought us more room, but not much else. At least I didn't mind when the 8-year-old Mustang I paid $6k for with virtually no miles needed a lot of repairs. At least they weren't superficial ones (the windows always worked) and I hadn't spent over $10k on the car in the first place. I got a significant discount simply because it was an older model - it was virtually new otherwise. & it's repairs rivaled my "about as new" minivan. Average $1k/year, which I find ludicrous.

But the most reliable and least repaired cars were my 200k-miled Toyota and my 150k-miled Saturn. I drove them for 10 years. They both cost me in the realm of $1k. A 15-year-old Toyota is looking like a pretty good purchase these days. I wonder often if they also just don't make them like they used to. The Ford will have to last 40 years to even out with the fact I paid $2000 all told for cars I drove for 10 years. $200/year = 40 years to equate to $7888 purchase price of Ford. {This is precisely why we have a relatively small mortgage for our age and region}.

The outside is shinier but that is all I Can say about our newer car purchases.

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I hadn't thought about it but this year we will also hit 10 years' home ownership. Like December 31.

Not much to report. We will be about $1k-$2k more in mortgage debt than when we started. We will have borrowed $30k to double the size of our home and to add land and a garage, etc. We will have borrowed $5k for the last refi of 4; having paid cash for second home purchase closing costs (as well as the first) & all other refis.

We will have lowered our mortgage payments from $1500 to $1100 monthly, with lower interest rates. So we pay 25% less for twice the house since we moved to a lower cost region and because interest rates have continued to drop since we first bought.

I think it is less of a milestone for us because basically we always owned. I also think that owning a condo was a good financial move, but in that regard maybe not as exciting. We will have actually owned LAND as of 8 years this December. Maybe we will celebrate 10 years of land ownership in 2011. That is far more exciting I guess. Maybe I can boast paying off 5% of our original mortgage by then. Wink I don't sweat it. When I was in college a studio apartment in 1995 cost as much to rent monthly (on the bad side of the tracks) as our current mortgage. I don't mind the progress. & We still plan to pay off by age 45 anyway, so don't take my nonchalance as a love of debt or unconcern for mortgage. I look very forward to paying that sucker off. Just, one thing at a time. Paying significantly less for our mortgage than rent is reward enough in the interim. & is the primary reason we did buy. Even in this market, our house rents for about $1800/month, minimum. Home ownership has treated us good.

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I almost forgot. There is talk of forcing people to cut water usage by 20% in our city. I wonder how this will be monitored/enforced/punished. What if you water usage has always been extraordinarily low?

Don't get me wrong - it's a good thing - the water waste here is INSANE. But having come from drought country, even with flat water rates we always bathed less, used clothes/towels longer before washing, only do full loads of laundry and dishes (with our water conserving appliances - full loads use less water than hand washing), watered the lawns less, and used the "mellow yellow/brown flush it down" rule. I was wondering how in the heck we would save 20% as I draw the line at bathing every 3rd day. Why should I bathe every 3rd day when so many people I know can bathe once a day and cut their shower water usage in half? Ugh. I did realize dh and I tend to be shower hogs. We could always cut to military showers. 5 minute showers may even help. I guess even we have room to cut. I don't know though. We will have to fight with the HOA over how green the lawn should be in summer. This will be a good thing in that regard! The green lawns are ridiculous and the only water usage we have to speak of is when we have to water the lawn twice a day in the summer heat to keep it green - lest we get nasty grams from the HOA - I always found that whole thing insane. The rest of the year we really use little water.

Well, this week is just a crazy busy week. So I should probably get going!

5 Responses to “Car Expenses”

  1. lizajane Says:

    My DH would have taken a $5 can of PB Blaster and sprayed it in behind the gas pedal. It's a lubricant and works wonderfully. Of course, it might not have truly fixed the problem, only patched it. And, for something like a gas pedal, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Think of it this way - that $110 probably prevented a worse expense if the gas pedal stuck and you ran into something or somebody one time!

  2. monkeymama Says:

    Actually, $110 I don't mind. It's a minor car repair, and yes, I wanted it done right. It's just if I have to take the van in 10 more times this year (which I may) then I won't be happy.

  3. North Georgia Gal Says:

    I love my Fords! I have never had any trouble out of them!

  4. whitestripe Says:

    where i live we have had water restrictions for many years now. ours basically involve, at the strictest of times, no washing of cars (unless at a car wash), watering of gardens every second day between the hours of 5-6pm. We also had water saving booklets delivered to our house along with little timers you stick in the shower that go for 3 minutes (and DF and i found we always shower in LESS than that time). Also water usage was monitored by the council and any abnormally high usage houses would have visits from council workers who would try to work with the households to help them reduce their water usage.

  5. zetta Says:

    Our HOA recently approved new landscaping guidelines to let homeowners replace grass with low-water-usage landscaping. We're now allowed to have a larger bark/mulch/rock area than before, or to use high-quality artifical turf, but not allowed to convert the whole front yard to rock. It might be worth visiting your HOA meeting to ask them to research revising the rules in light of the water crisis.

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