In March of 2020, I suggested to Cliff we buy a car. He thought our old one was fine, but it had some issues that worried me; I don't drive, but I'm really good at worrying. I was bored sitting around during the pandemic, and the toilet paper shortage had already begun; I think that was my main motivation for wanting to do something exciting, even if it was wrong.
I guess I was thinking about a used car at first, because our sole income is what the two of us get from Social Security, and and the income from mine is pretty small. We had no payments except the necessary ones like electricity, cell phone bills, and so forth. Credit card bills are paid in full each month. We don't have any rent, house payment, or property taxes since the grandson bought our place, so that helps. I figured we could manage a car payment of $250. Since Honda has the best track record on Consumer reports, I thought that's what we should get. Cliff liked his sister's Honda, so that suited him. Notice I was the one all along who spawned this "let's buy a car" idea; he thought it was all just talk.
I called a couple of dealers who had nothing, old or new, we could buy for a $250 monthly payment. I asked Cliff, "What about a lease? I think that would be a smaller payment." He said something to the effect of, "Well, call somebody and ask."
The nearest Honda dealer could not get the monthly payment that low.
I don't know how it happened, but the dealer I called next was in Jefferson City, Missouri... 125 miles from home! When I realized that, I started to apologize and hang up, but the man said he might be able to help us. I asked if we could lease a new Honda for $250 a month; he said he'd call me back. When he did, the answer was YES! That was, however, only if we kept our mileage under 12,000 a year. The way things turned out with the pandemic, we wouldn't have driven more than that anyway. But we didn't know that at the time.
Everything was done over the phone. We told him we wanted the cheapest version they had of the Honda Accord, sight unseen. We did choose a color (white) and the interior color (gray). Three days later, a couple of guys drove to our house in our brand new leased car. We signed the papers and they bid us goodbye.Cliff has always liked his oldest sister's Honda Accord. It's a quiet, comfortable ride. So we were surprised to learn that our Honda was not so cozy, especially for Cliff, with his aches and pains. It seemed smaller than Rena's, and the ride wasn't nearly as smooth. We did like the fact that we were getting 38 miles to the gallon on the highway, though! We'd put up with it for three years and see what happened.
Yesterday as I was getting ready to mail our monthly payment, I noticed a line on the top part of the bill, the portion of the bill you don't send in.
Payoff amount: $18,634 Payoff good through August 08, 2021
I'd never noticed that before on our bill, and did some googling... only to find out we could actually BUY this car right now. I did not consider that option because Cliff is not comfortable in it, but I casually mentioned it to him. I was shocked to find out that he seemed interested. I asked about his problems getting in and out of it, and the not-so-smooth ride; he said, "We don't travel anyhow; it's fine for around here."
So this morning I looked up the Blue Book value of our very basic Accord with no bells or whistles. It's in perfect condition, not a scratch on it; and we've taken it to the local dealer for service at the proper times. The trade-in value is from $23,119 to $24,587. The private party price is from $26,376 to $28,049.
So we could actually buy the car for $18,634, license it (taxes I think would be around $1,100, so there's that), and possibly sell it for $28,000? What?????
Wait till Cliff gets up and hears the news.
But wait, what would we use for transportation? A tractor? Because right now, you can't buy anything on four wheels without paying a huge price; there's a shortage of cars for sale, old and new, thanks to the pandemic.
Ah, there's the rub, as Hamlet would say. To buy or not to buy; that is the question.
We'll just wait and think about this one month at a time. The option is always there, only the payoff is less each month. So what's the hurry?