"Enjoy the LITTLE THINGS in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The New Van for Our Crew


I almost forgot to post the picture of the van.  It has been a craZy week here.  So, this is the new ride my little crew will be riding around in for the next 10 years or hopefully more.  Hopefully, it will carry us through many years, miles, and memories with our little family.  The weather has been bad and my husband has been sick since a couple of days after we got the van so we have not gone anywhere in it.  I made two trips to Wal-Mart for quick runs which is less than a mile from my house and that is all, so last night we loaded the kids up and the sick husband and went for a joy ride.  I did not realize that my husband has not even driven it, yet... even for the test drive!  That will change soon... after he is well I suppose.  I will be the one driving it most so, I did the test drive at the dealership since I need to make sure I can handle driving it.  Honestly, you would be surprised to find that it drives very much like a minivan.  It is just a little bigger and I would say that it drives sort of like a large truck.  I feel very confident driving it.  I think the only thing that would make me nervous is backing it up and parking it, but it has a backup camera and sensors that beep if you get too close to something.  The really great thing about the backup camera is that you don't just get the view out the back window.  You see all the way to the ground, so you see if you are going to back over a toy, curb, person, etc..  

We all really enjoyed our little ride last night and one of the things we purchased for our kids for Christmas was a dual screen portable DVD player for travel so we got to try that out last night, too.  Now, let me shift gears a bit and go all "frugal talk" on you.  Originally, I had purchased a dual screen DVD player in mid-November for $99, but my husband went to some of the Black Friday sales and was able to get a similar one for $49 and I returned the one I had bought.  That is HALF the cost!!!  Okay, back to the topic at hand.  We drove all over so my husband could see how it rides... down, small roads, bumpy roads, long smooth highways, over railroad tracks and even to Wal-Mart, again... so I could run in and get my sickly husband more juice and extra meds for his throat.  All was happy in van land because they were watching a movie in their new comfy ride.  Clearly it does not take to entertain us all.  I considered treating them to ice cream... but... I cringe at the thought.  Ha!  I think I will wait until a warm day when we can order ice cream and eat it OUTSIDE the van.  I have already gone to the auto parts store and looked at options to completely cover the carpet to save it from us all and I am considering Scotch Guard for all the seats.  Yes, I may be a bit extreme, but I want it to last and be a nice vehicle for our family.  It is nice to have something nice.  Not that our other van was not nice, but it had already been through 10 years of us... and... well... it just wasn't quite as new anymore.... the carpet did not fair well with drink spills.  I plan to try to do better with this one.  

I was about to end this post, but in keeping with my recent decision to make this blog about how we make it all work as a large family I want to also include the budget aspect of this van for us.  You might be asking how we have a large family and afford to just go out and buy a new van like this.  Well, I want to be sure that I answer that question.  Our budget is low for our family size and in all honesty we are considered poverty level, but you would never know that because we are totally not in poverty.  We have well above what we need and even well above our "wants" most of the time.  For the last couple of years we have been totally debt free.  That means our house, cars, etc. are completely paid for and the only bills we have or monthly expenses like electric, water, gas, food, life insurance, etc..  

We are not longer debt free after this purchase.  ;)  BUT we did not just go out and buy "new".  It is mostly new and new to us.  We actually looked at and older van that would have been a great purchase, as well, but when I considered the years ahead and how many years I would need to make sure this last for the cost difference we decided this was the choice for us.  We don't buy new.  The reason is that as soon as you drive that thing off the lot it depreciates greatly (meaning the value instantly goes down).  This van is a 2013 "program car" and it only has 25,000 miles on it.  It was HALF the cost of a new one just like it.  HALF!!!  We got it for $19,900.  We did buy the additional 7 year warranty knocking that up almost $3,000 more, but our experience had been that those warranties pay off in many cases.  And we did not HAVE to do that.  So, what is a "program car"?  I think that can mean many things, but my understanding is that this vehicle was on lease to someone and once the lease was up they turned it in for a new one.  I believe this one may have been a rental van because there was a small sticker on the window stating that there would be a $250 fine for smoking in it.  This van shows no wear except that there are some very light spills on a couple of the seats (and you have to look very hard... and I plan to clean them off).  There was a tiny ash tray part missing in the back which will be replaced under warranty and I just need to go to my local Ford dealership and order that part this week.  To finance this van with really low interest (2.?%... I can not remember exactly) will only add about a $1,000 over the lifetime of the loan and our payments per month will be about $552 a month for 5 years.  Of course, we plan to pay that off early.  Consider this, also... I will be selling my other van.  We could have traded it in for $3,000, but we can sell it ourselves for closer to $5,000.  Normally, I would immediately take that money and pay it directly to the car payment, but in this situation we are actually supposed to be saving for another upcoming expense so we plan to immediately apply the money to that savings when the older van sells. Sometimes we juggle money here to make things work, but we make it work and that is all that counts in the end. 

To elaborate a little further I could have this payment for the van and a payment for the other savings (medical) and that would be two bill payments each month.  The way we will be doing it we will still have the same result (amount of money financed), but only one payment for the van.   The medical will be paid off and it will all be at the low interest of the van financing. If I chose to put the sell of my older van towards this payment, I would knock that loan down quick but I might end up needing to finance the medical at a much higher interest rate (using a credit card of line of credit account at probably a 9-10% interest). In the big picture the way we have chosen will save us money on interest fees.  I should note that I still plan to save the medical amount if I can swing it from my monthly budget and that money will just build our savings for any other needs.  We also plan to pay the van off early buy making extra payments when possible.  The goal will be to eventually be debt free again soon.  I'll update on all that much later as time passes.  Feel free to question me on that and hold be accountable in the future.  I love having budget buddies!           



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