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Do I have to buy another car?

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I am starting to think about summer. The warmer weather, hours on our back deck enjoying the sun and Princess being home for spring break make me think summer. And I’m beginning to think that I may need to break down and buy another car. Ugh!

Definitely not rushing into it. Lots going on this summer…

  • Princess will be home and working full time. She is spending this week looking for a summer job.
  • Gymnast will be working full time…hopefully. He’s got a great job at a restaurant that he loves so I’m hoping he can get pretty close to full time hours there. It’s about 2ish miles from the house.
  • I am most likely going to need to go to Texas for a while to help care for my mom as my dad is going to need a knee replacement. He is her primary caretaker followed by my sister and then two of my brothers help out regularly too. I had thought 1-2 weeks, but my dad thinks I may be needed longer.

Depending on where Princess’ job is, we may be able to get by with one car. But we must be able to get everyone to their jobs. And I’ve had to pick up going to Atlanta again every once in a while. It’s a delicate balance.

My thought is that I would leave the car when I go to Texas and they would have to coordinate things. Which would be delicate but doable.

Ugh, I don’t know. We’ve got a small savings account set aside for a car but it’s not near enough especially with car prices these days.

Life would be so much easier on this front if we lived in a larger city where services like Uber or public transport were available. (We are just getting DoorDash service.)

I would much prefer to get through another year without a second car. Princess has done well with living on campus with occasional trips home. It’s been easy for me to get Gymnast to and from work (and he’s schooling virtually so no rides to school needed.)

I guess it’s better to be prepared and not need it rather than need it and not be prepared. Would love to know BAD’s thoughts on a good budget for a good, reliable used car these days…


34 Comments

  • Reply Elizabeth |

    Sigh…. I predict that the commenters will roast you over this one. There are so many questions about what happened with the last few cars you’ve posted about. I’m not here to judge and I completely feel for you. My comment won’t be very helpful.

    My opinion is that parents shouldn’t buy kids cars (especially kids who have gotten into major accidents!). You didn’t say the kids are expecting a car and I hope they aren’t. It’s not realistic for anybody to assume they should have a vehicle provided by someone else. 2 miles isn’t that far – I don’t know what the streets are like but an almost-adult teenager can ride a bike and take a taxi once in awhile if the weather is bad. You have a lot of medical debt and buying a second car (especially with the cost of the additional insurance) will be a huge dent in your budget.

    I know this year is heavy and hard. Sending you strength and positivity.

    • Reply Hope |

      Unfortunately, taxis and Uber are not an option in our tiny town or problem solved!

      Due to racial issues, history of harassment and so on, the route to Gymnast job is not safe for anything other than car. There is a longer route which he does have to take sometimes when he walks, but it can’t be his standard mode.

      This car would be primarily for Princess who goes to school 2 hours away and will be working full time this summer and most likely through the school year as she much pay her own way. Or at least most of it going forward.

      • Reply Barbie |

        Why would you buy a house in a town where your Black children can’t walk around safely?

      • Reply csdx |

        If the car is going to be for her, and it’s so she can work to pay for college, why not cut out the middle man and just give her the money you would’ve spent on a car? $3.6k (300/mo) less than what a reliable car would cost anyway. She can still even work just be more limited to on/around campus jobs.

  • Reply Emily N. |

    Is Princess likely to earn more than the cost of a car? If not, it would be cheaper for her not to work.

    • Reply Hope |

      She must pay for college…and save for spending money during the year too. The cost of her schooling out of pocket this year was just shy of $8K which I covered (her dad paid $700). She had saved almost enough for $300 per month in spending money.

      This year, she knows the cost is on here.

      • Reply Hannah |

        I think the tricky balance is if in person work for her is worth it at this point. I understand that the plan was for her to pay for this semester, but if you have to pay double the cost she needs to save to buy a car, then it doesn’t make sense. Could she try to get a job where the twins or a friend works, so she could carpool? Could the younger ones maybe pay some amount to get rides from someone they trust? Cars are just ridiculously expensive and the insurance costs might make it more expensive for the kids to work. It’s a weird year, don’t be afraid to pivot away from the original college plan.

      • Reply Emily N. |

        Right, but is Princess able to earn more money with a car than the cost of the car plus gas, insurance, and maintenance? It’s very possible for someone to buy a car in order to work, but end up earning less than the cost of the car. I’m asking if you and Princess have done the math on this one.

  • Reply Megan |

    When I read that Gymnast’s job is 2 miles away, my immediate question was: is there a safe way to ride a bike for that commute? Bikes are much cheaper than cars, after all.

      • Reply Cwaltz |

        Why would you buy a home in an area where you think it is unsafe for your minor child to ride or walk two miles? I have two children who do not own cars. One of them is transgender. I make sure my children have a phone so if there are problems they can dial for help( me or 911) but otherwise recognize you can not place them in a bubble.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    What about the car gymnast had a wreck in? Wasn’t there insurance to cover replacement?

    • Reply Hope |

      Not our car. But yes, there was insurance so he is paying the deductible back.

      • Reply Anonymous |

        Wait, Gymnast crashed someone else’s car? Yikes, all the more reason to hire an attorney for him. It seems your youngest have a lot of wrecks, i can’t see buying anything but a beater car for them to share. Your insurance is going to be insane.

  • Reply Steveark |

    I don’t think you can afford it. Your kids are old enough to figure some of this out on their own. Let them. Maybe they can earn enough to buy a shared junker car?

    • Reply Hope |

      Sharing is not really an option since Princess goes to school almost 2 hours away.

      • Reply Kerry |

        But maybe Princess won’t be coming back as often or will be able to figure out alternatives if she is paying for her own tuition and spending money. Maybe she’ll have to seek higher paying work away from your town. Putting tuition and spending money AND a car on her is a lot, especially with the crazy car market and gas prices. She may be able to think outside the box to meet her own needs.

      • Reply Angie |

        So you’re looking at getting two more cars, not just one to share between them? I definitely don’t think you should fit that into your budget and there really isn’t a reason to.

        No one “needs” a car for school. Especially since it sounded like she struggled a bit on her first year. Kids who have cars at school are generally taken advantage of to drive people around and get into mischief. How many times is she actually driving back and forth to school and for what reason? When I was in college I only came home 4x per year and my parents picked me up or I took the train. And that was only the first two years. After that, I had an apartment and my own car that I purchased myself. If she wants a car to drive back and forth more than that she should save for it. Jobs can be found walking distance or on campus.

        Gymnast totaled a borrowed(?) car in a horrible accident and is lucky to be uninjured. Your insurance before this was $500 a month. I get that you want him to have a job for some responsibility and time out of the house. But do you really think he should be driving so soon? Is the responsibility gained from a job worth all the money you need to put out for him to get there (insurance and car)?

        They can always set up their available hours and shifts to be when you can drive them and/or carpool each other. Or they could both work at the same place or near each other so they can easily share. That’s what my brother and I did during summers off. It’s won’t be easy and they may not reach full time hours because of it. But it’s an option. You seem a little too focused on having your kids work as much as possible rather than thinking about the big picture. There’s more options than you’re letting yourself have they just are out of the box.

  • Reply Lou |

    I am so lost with what has happened to all the cars mentioned in the last few years. A recap would help. I feel like looking back at how previous cars worked out and what happened to them and how much the purchase cost you per year (eg purchase price minus sale price divided by the time you owned them) would really help make the decision about a future car purchase.

    • Reply Hope |

      Princess car was bought and sold for pretty much the same amount $2K-ish. That money plus a little other is in a savings account for a new kids car when the time comes. This post is asking…how much more should I save with the crazy used car market as we certainly cannot get something that will get her back and forth to school for $2K these days.

      (No mechanics in our family either so really don’t want a money pit.)

  • Reply Walnut |

    This sounds like Princess’s problem to solve, not yours. Let her take the lead and pitch a solution to you.

  • Reply Den |

    Leave your car when you go to Texas.

    Can the kids get rides from people at work for a small fee? Is there a teenager in town who would be willing to give rides for a small fee? Is a scooter an option for Gymnast to get to work?

    I would try and tough it out for the summer. Used cars are so expensive right now.

  • Reply JP |

    Purchasing cars right now is atrocious! I am about to sell my used 2016 subaru back to the dealership because they will pay me MORE than what I purchased it NEW for in 2017. Also, what about a rental car for those few times you need to go out/drive the longer distances? Hold off purchasing for as long as you can….

  • Reply Susan |

    You mentioned a route that Gymnast can walk to work? Why can’t he bike that route? I can’t imagine it is cost effective to have a car for him/insure him with a major accident on his record. Can he talk to colleagues and get rides to/from work (offer to pay?). I was in a terrible accident years ago and was unable to drive. I paid a friend to drive me to and from work for about a month. Two miles is really not far at all. Another option would be for Princess to try to get hired at the same restaurant. Didn’t she work there before? I think the best option is to reach out to family and friends to see if anyone has an old car they are thinking of selling. That way, you at least know history. I still think getting a car for a 2 mile one way commute for a teen to work is madness in terms of money.

  • Reply Sasha |

    As the mother of a biracial child it makes me sad for your children of color that you chose to buy a home where it would be unsafe for them to walk in their town, especially when where you live is not tied to where you work. When buying a home I specifically looked at how the town went politically and how diverse the schools were in deciding where to raise my family. With that said, it is hard to understand how someone with over 100k in debt could reasonably believe they should ignore that and buy a new car. Once they have a job they should be able to carpool with another worker their age and perhaps offer toward gas money. No one needs a car at college that lives in the dorms, it is definitely a luxury. I do hope your family is able to find a safe summer alternative to adding to your total debt.

  • Reply Laura |

    It’s obvious from your responses you’ve already decided to do it, so good luck. Try to get something cheap at least.

  • Reply Klm |

    Princess getting back and forth to school is for monthlyish visits and vacations, right? Not more often than that? I’d be inclined to buy a junker for in town sharing, not have her bring a car to school (parking on campus is surely not free). I understand that she needs to work, but working in or around campus seems a better bet than buying a car so she can drive to a job to… pay for the car.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Will your son even be allowed to drive? I assume you have the car your uncle bought and you have been paying back. I would have Princess see about buying something inexpensive and both of you drive your son around.

  • Reply Shanna |

    Since you work from home, you may need to set up a schedule to drive them to work and pick up. They don’t need a car sitting at their employment all day. Or maybe they can pay one of their brothers a small stipend to help drive them back and forth. There have been so many car accident with your kids, maybe they should have to save for their own cars at this point? What about a moped for gymnast?

  • Reply Kim |

    Have you considered looking for a “forever home” in a town that’s not so racist your kids can’t walk or bike alone?

  • Reply Melissa |

    Just another strange post where we ask more questions and it still makes no sense.

  • Reply angie |

    Sigh. I feel like her mind is made up on this one. It’s not a good idea. I have no idea what happened to the other cars.

    So to answer your question, no, you don’t have to buy another car. But my guess is you’re going to buy a very new car soon.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    My question in response to your question is to ask what your budget says you can afford to save for a used car? You have added line items for a lawyer. You have added line items to pay back medical debt. It seems you may or may not subtracting some for school for Princess since her first year is over. It is really hard to advise someone without a snapshot of their budget.

So, what do you think ?