Friday, May 2, 2014

I need a moratorium on "big events"

Last week, my older car died.  Well, it didn't really die.  It is still running well at 200,000 miles.  But, it wouldn't pass inspection due to some damage and subsequent rust on the underbody.  That created a quandary for my wife and me.  We barely need a second car.  My son drives our second car 90% of the time.  But, on occasion, we need to be in different places, and we need a second car some of the time.  My wife certainly needs a car to take care of household business in the winter on days I'm skiing and she isn't.

The car could be fixed for about $3000.  Its value was about $5000.  With that many miles, it didn't seem to be worth fixing.  The dealer didn't really want the car.  A car that won't pass inspection isn't worth a lot wholesale.  But, Subaru WRXs are highly sought after in the used car market.  Hobbyists love to re-build them, make them faster, and even an older high mileage car has value.  Trying to sell it also meant dealing with web sites like Craigslist.  I've sold a number of things on Craigslist over the years - electric keyboard, guitar, snow tires, and a pair of skis.  In every case, an advertisement brings out scammers and oddballs.  It just seems to be the rule with that site.  It seems that every time I've listed something on Craigslist that I get an e-mail offering 20% of my asking price within minutes.

Knowing that everyone there wants to bring the price way down, I listed the car for $3500.  Within minutes, someone wanted to know how low I would go in price.  I told him $2500, in cash, by Friday.  I sent him pictures.  I honestly explained every known issue with the car.  We agreed to a time.  I cleaned the car, filled out the documents for a sale, put the snow tires in the back as a freebie, and even washed the car.  I confirmed the time and place with the guy.  Of course, he never showed.

(Oh yeah, another guy offered to trade me a used Motocross bike for the car.  Only on Craigslist.)

We had already talked to the Subaru dealer about getting a new Impreza, and I basically wanted the cheapest car on the lot.  We have no need for extras in a second car we barely use.  We were planning to give them the $2500 from the WRX sale as a down payment.  So, after the no-show, we went to the dealer.  They were willing to give us $1200 for the car.  We'd just have to pay the rest in cash.  We picked out a car.  We didn't even want to test drive it.  My three previous cars had been variations on the Impreza, so there was no need to drive it.  Color didn't matter.  Features didn't matter.  Price was all that mattered.

We were just about done with the deal, when the salesman went to get some paperwork for the trade.  I looked at my phone and I had an e-mail from someone wanting to know if I'd take $2000 cash for the car.  I told my wife.  She immediately suggested it was an accomplice of the guy who'd stood us up, angling for a better price.  But, I had to find out.  I replied and told her where I was and that the car was ready to go immediately.  If we couldn't do something fast, it was going to be traded in.  She agreed to meet.  So, we gave the Subaru guy a deposit on the car and said we'd be back in the morning, and we'd either trade the car for $1200 with some cash or give him all cash.  We met the woman and her boyfriend (or maybe husband - not sure).  I gave her every chance to slip up, reveal that she knew something I'd sent in e-mails earlier in the week to the other potential buyer.  Nothing.  So, it was probably fortuitous timing on her part.

Her boyfriend and I drove it.  I explained every known problem.  She offered me $1800 on the spot, after offering $2000 an hour earlier.  She explained it was due to 2 tiny rust spots.  I started to argue that $2000 was a good deal.  And then I stopped, signed the papers and took her cash.  I have a new Impreza.  It's white (I think they call it pearl) and kind of ugly.  But, it fills the void.  I haven't even driven it yet.

Last July, we had some huge repairs on a different car.  After that, we traded that car - a car we really liked, locking ourselves into a car payment that we didn't really want.  In August, I had an abnormal result in a routine lab test.  In September, my mother died unexpectedly.  In October, I had a prostate biopsy and found out I had cancer.  In January, I had major surgery and missed half the month from my regular job and the entire month from my ski instructor job.  And, there were a few other things going on that I'm not going to mention here.  And now, another major car issue.

Right now, I need some calmness.  I want to go to the gym.  Go fly fishing.  Hang out with my wife.  Run, hike, ride my bike.  Watch my daughter play lacrosse.  That's it.  Simple things.  No big surprises.  At least for a while.

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