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Starting to Review the Next Step


Within 8 weeks of this post, I will be consumer debt free.  I will also have saved approximately $5,000 from new jobs, odd jobs and selling a few odds and ends here and there over the last few months.  Now I have to plan the next step.

If I kept going at the rate I’m going with no other changes, paying $2,400 per month towards debt, my student loan debt would be wiped out by the fall of next year.  Isn’t that amazing!

However, we are going to need a car especially by September when school starts back, not to mention the idea of traveling in our sardine can is starting to give me and the kids hives.  Just a quick trip up to one of Little Gymnast meets had us all saying “never again.”  And since I’ve taken on new work with teaching both in person and online, I am definitely going to need some help in getting everyone everywhere.  Not to mention, both the twins are ready for a bit more independence.

We have already established that the twins will be paying 50% of their car insurance, plus gas and maintenance on their car.  (It’s in great shape so other than routine stuff, not anticipating any big bills for the time being.)  That means I will up my insurance payments a bit to help them out (anticipating $100 monthly increase on my part.)

So my thought at this point is to find a family car, obviously older that gets relatively good gas mileage which would be comfortable for us to travel in a bit (remember two trips to GA to see family over the next 5 months.)

I know there are going to be lots of opinions on this.  So the facts are…when this happens my only debt payments will be to my student loan currently right at $300 per month.  I will have $5K saved from recent odd jobs (this does not include approx $3K in my EF.)  So tell me what you think…



  • Reply Heather |

    I would try a Mitsubishi outlander. they are considerably less than a mini van or sports utility, and get 25 miles per gallon. They have 3 row seating also (which fold down if you don’t need-room for the dogs). Brand new (which I know you wont do) is 24000- used would be less.

    It is understandable why you need a car- this is the route I would go.

  • Reply Juhli |

    You could rent a vehicle for your trips for a lot less than buying one. Just something to think about.

  • Reply first step |

    Depending on how much time you have to search for a car before you leave on your trips, I would suggest renting a minivan/larger vehicle instead of trying to find a car to purchase right away. If you rent through Enterprise at a location away from the airport, it should cost $200-$400 for a weekly rental, and you’ll know it will be reliable for lots of driving. Plus you’ll have assistance from the rental company if you need it. Good luck with your search!

  • Reply Den |

    I like the idea of renting a van for your upcoming trips – that takes the pressure off of you to make a quick decision.

    I would suggest you think about the next 5 years of your family’s life. Will the twins be off to college (far away or near by)? Will you need to haul dorm stuff, apartment stuff, gear back and forth for college? Will you and princess and gymnast be the only ones travelling long distances at that point?

    When our oldest headed off to college 7 years ago, there were a lot of trips in our full sized van full of dorm stuff and college buddies……and over the past 7 years (2 more kids started college too) we’ve done a lot of hauling of stuff! Now we’re winding down on the college years and have a mid-sized SUV that we can use to pull a U-Haul trailer for college stuff twice a year. The rest of the year, the smaller size is perfect for hubby and myself. So my advice would be to look ahead a few years — I hate to buy and sell cars, so a long term solution would be nice.

    Having said all of that – it sure would be nice if you could save up some of the $2,400 monthly debt payment for a few months (maybe until December?) and have a nice pile of money to pay cash for your next vehicle.

  • Reply Catherine |

    Hope, I think you’ve done such a great job on your debt reduction and I actually like the idea of you buying a car – in part because you have made such great strides, but in part because you have been doing a bit of Xtreme Debt Reduction and I think it would only be a good thing if you continued to juggle debt reduction while also planning, spending, and dealing with real-life situations. It is like the difference between going on a cabbage soup diet to lose weight for two weeks vs. making lots of small sustainable changes in eating habits that stay with you your whole life. You will be faced with situation where you have to spend money or decide how much your time, comfort etc is worth, and it’s good to find the balance between meeting those needs and being fiscally responsible. I think if you can make those decisions while still being in the debt payoff mindset, you might be less likely to “binge” and make an expensive purchase once the debt is paid off.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Is the $5000 in savings in addition to living off the previous month? If so, then I’d say that 5,000 is the nice start of your car fund. I would definitely not purchase a new car until all of your consumer debt is paid off and you’ve given yourself a few weeks to breath that feeling in.

    I would only look at cars in a price range where you can purchase them with cash and don’t forget about tax, title, license and insurance costs. When you’re looking at cars, write down the VIN so you can get a car insurance estimate and figure out what your licensing fees will be.

    Remind yourself that all good deals can wait 24-48 hours for you to sleep on it. Do you have a mechanic that you use to check over the car? Always get a second opinion. It seems that you have a lot of research opportunities here, so start up a spreadsheet and let the fun of buying a car with cash begin!

  • Reply Kerry |

    I’d put off buying a car for yourself, and build up a savings balance equal to the pay-off for the ex’s car that is still in your name. I don’t like making plans while financially tied to someone else in that way, especially when you’ve been divorced 5 years. In case his financial situation goes south and he’s faced with losing the car, you can be generous and pay it off, title it to him, and wash your hands of it. Plus, that would improve your long-term credit score and finances. I know you don’t think of it as your car, but legally it’s your car and you are responsible for it.

  • Reply Amanda |

    I think it would be helpful to know what you envision? How long would you finance a car, what is your max payment, have you started looking at the type of car you’d get it? I am not opposed to you getting a car because it seems like the right time.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Is Zipcar an option where you live? They have different types and sizes of cars, so you can rent the car you need. However, I think renting a Zipcar by the day isn’t as cost efficient as using a rental car company – at least that’s what I’ve been told.

    Anyway, I just offer it up as another alternative to buy you more time in making a decision.

  • Reply Brooke |

    As a compromise could you rent a minivan for the summer trips, but aim to pay cash for a 10K car in September? 5,000 in savings + some leftover in July + 2,400 August + 2,400 September. It would totally stink to get rid of a payment and then go back into debt for a car.But I understand wanting to help the twins have a car to get around and the help that would be in terms of logistics.

So, what do you think ?