My intentions were innocent enough. I needed a car. I was trying to work full-time and get back into training for rowing. I needed a vehicle to get to the lake for early morning workouts. I had $2000 saved and I applied for a $6000 car loan. I figured I could get a decent used vehicle at this price.
My previous car experience was a few years driving the family kid’s car: a rusted out VW Rabbit that leaked when it rained. It rains a lot in Vancouver.
I knew very little about cars or how to buy them. Neither did my boyfriend. His previous car experience was leasing a new Honda that he eventually offloaded to his mother when the car payments were above his means.
After discussing it with my boyfriend (please note: this is not the man I married) he easily convinced me that used cars were a bad investment. I should lease something new. Something that was under warranty. He sweetened the deal by saying he would split the lease payments and insurance with me. The small catch was that his credit score wasn’t very good so I would need to apply for the financing myself and have the car in my name.
The warnings were all there. Boyfriend advising me to do something he himself had done that hadn’t turned out well. A verbal commitment to split the costs but we never hashed out the details on what we would do if we broke up. Boyfriend advising me to spend more than I could afford on my own.
Despite all the warning signs I leased the vehicle. I was blinded by the Volkswagen’s looks, the smooth ride and how fun it was to drive. At the time I could fit the costs of it, the 50% that was my share, into my budget. I could pay for it but I certainly couldn’t afford it. I was working full-time, making the minimum payments on my at the time $9000 student loan and had a couple thousand dollars in credit card debt (debt that was in the US – another story for another day).
A year after getting the car I moved to Victoria, BC and my boyfriend moved to Toronto. I became a full-time athlete, essentially unemployed, and I had the full lease payment and car insurance to pay on top of my living expenses.
Never buy a car with your boyfriend.
It was my mistake. I don’t blame the boyfriend. I signed the lease and I decided to go for new instead of something affordable that would be paid off in a couple of years.
But what a huge mistake. Eventually I was getting an athlete stipend to live off of and eventually my athlete income went up when I won a medal at the World Championships. Unfortunately that was after a few years of struggling and a lot of credit card debt. Leasing a car I could not afford was a big part of that debt.
I’m not alone in making this mistake. You wouldn’t believe how many women I know who have a similar story. A boyfriend convincing them to get a car they couldn’t afford, promising to assist with the costs and then the woman is stuck with car payments and insurance that she can’t afford. Seems to be a hallmark of women in their early 20′s. If I ever have a daughter she’ll be warned.
Cars are money pits.
Cars are not investments. They are finite. They have a life span and maintenance costs. They depreciate in value with age.
When I finally sold the vehicle a few months after buying it out of the lease I made back a little above the buy out cost. I had no car but a lot of debt from owning one.
Can you see why being car-free holds such an appeal for me?
Anyone else ever buy a car they couldn’t afford?