I just made my final payment on my 2005 Blue Toyota Corolla. I love it as much today as the day I bought it used 5 years ago. I hope to drive it for 10 more years. Obviously this is not a luxury car, but it is the biggest blessing to me. One less monthly payment feels amazing.
When I came back to Orange County in 2009 after my trip around the world, I didn’t have a single thing to my name except a lot of credit card debt. I slept on an air mattress, walked to a nearby coffee shop to use free wifi, and took home extra El Pollo Loco salsa to liven up the taste of the cheap meals I could afford. For almost a year I didn’t have a car. I borrowed people’s cars, took the bus, rode borrowed bikes, paid people for rides, carpooled or walked to all the multiple jobs I pieced together.
This was the price I paid for traveling, for starting over. It was fun, but it wasn’t ideal. Being independent, it was so difficult for me to depend on others when it came to transportation. To be late to things because the person picking me up was late, to not be able to go to things last minute because I couldn’t arrange a ride, to be stranded, to spend $20 I made on tips for someone to drop me off because I was out of the way, to wait hours after my shift ended for someone to get off and drop me off.
I got my car the weekend before I started another additional job, where I knew no one, and couldn’t walk, bike or bus to. I received a tax return and I planned to use it for the down payment on a used car. My sister-in-law, per my brother’s suggestion, came with me to a couple of dealerships. I immediately saw why. The way she negotiated was nothing short of an art form. There wasn’t much room to negotiate on my part because the only money I had was my tax return. Having multiple credit card payments, I needed a low monthly payment as well.
There came a point where I thought the car salesmen was actually going to cry because my sister-in-law was so ruthless. She got 3K less off the price, but what was most impressive was their final argument over a $9 difference in the monthly payments. I was ready to say yes, but she never flinched. Their argument went something along the lines of :
sister in law: That’s $9 more a month than she can afford.
car salesman: what’s $9 really?
sister in law: what’s $9 to you?
car salesman: $9 is nothing, that’s lunch!
sister in law: so you’re gonna buy her lunch every month?
Needless to say we got the exact deal we wanted. I was ecstatic. I still am. I am so glad that it belongs to me. That I can drive wherever I want whenever I want. If people need a ride I don’t hesitate to offer. I love it more now that it’s fully paid off. 3 years ago I finished paying off my credit card debt, and now this. Next on the list is my student loan and then I can buy a house! Now that I am not piecing together multiple jobs, have my own internet at home, and have more options than the El Pollo loco menu – I don’t think about upgrading to a newer car. I am just so grateful for the journey my car took me in the last 5 years & I want to celebrate it being completely mine by keeping it until it’s blue body gives out.
Moments after buying and driving the car off the lot. My brother’s dog Picasso taking a look.