Like most planning in my life, this too slowly blew up in my face. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a control freak with certain aspects of my life- this car search was one of those things I had very little control over.
This whole story starts about 6 years ago when I bought my first car. I had visited my local BMW dealership with my dad to “just look” at my potential purchase. I ended up driving away in that car 8 hours later. The process was long and exciting. It was the biggest investment I had ever made besides my education. I was the proud owner of a 2013 BMW X1. The almost $600 monthly payment would later choke me to financial death and lead me to more issues down the line. It was white, had a few bells and whistles and made me feel good about myself. I bought it with the intention of putting miles on it for work while keeping its value over time. The honest truth: I felt good about the pricy name, the steering column was tight which made turning the wheel a workout and it looked like a duck. It was a total mom car- but not the cute kind. I experienced a lot of issues with the car and the dealership in the years to come. I would often have longer than expected appointments, parts that needed to be replaced would be forgotten about and one of the service members legitimately stalked me. After putting 75,000 miles on it within three years, I had decided it was time to move on. Looking back now, if I had just kept that car a little longer I would have avoided what happened next.
In the summer of 2016, I was itching for something new. I wanted to get out of my deal before the warranties would be expiring. As I began looking for my next option, I went on countless appraisal visits. If you think first dates are awkward, try taking your car out on a date. It was matchmaking hell. The potential dealerships would list me the reasons why they didn’t want to take my trade. During this process I would find out that my first car had parts that were being recalled causing a lot of issues for owners like me. I felt very discouraged. I felt like the reasons I bought it in the first place seemed like a lie and I felt trapped. After a bit of negotiating, the best option I found was to sell the car and work it into a 3 year lease with BMW. Financially, it was more expensive but in the long run, I would have a fresh start. I walked away with a 2016 BMW 320i. She was red, sporty, sassy and fun. She fit the new phase of my life but she never felt like mine. She always felt borrowed. Even when I turned her keys over a month ago, I didn’t feel anything about it. It’s important to mention that this car was a phase. Like all things in life, there is a purpose. This car’s purpose was to bring me closer to financial freedom and to reset my priorities. It was fun to have a sassy car to drive but it wasn’t fun to think about all the money wasted on something materialistic. The car represented a version of myself that I was willing to lose in order to find the my true self.
In March, I began looking at my car options. I knew I wanted an suv, panoramic moonroof and heated steering wheel. You may look at this list, puzzled and that’s ok! What’s why it’s my list and your must haves may be totally different. The most important feature- it needed to be well within my new budget.
Things I learned this time around:
Be true to your budget. I fell in love with the 2019 Chevy Blazer but it was $600+. This time around I wasn’t going to fall into that trap again. Although, you should definitely test drive this car. It was spectacular!
Speak up: I often had issues with car salesmen getting back to me. I had to stay on top of them to get the right information and eventually make the deal. Be seen, be heard and remember that no one gets paid unless you are happy.
Test drive and then test drive again: I almost went with a bigger model than I ended up with based on one test drive. I am glad I drove mine more than once.
Listen to YOU: Do not forget whose opinion really matters. I almost had someone talk my into keeping my red car because THEY liked it. I almost got the bigger model than what I have now because THEY liked the passenger room. I decided that the chances of me being a backseat passenger in my own car was highly unlikely which lead me to my final decision.
Leasing vs buying: I decided to lease again. Given my track record of always wanting something new, leasing seemed to fit my lifestyle better. This helped me to decide on a trendy upgrade. This way- if I hate it in three years I can hop into something new! If I still love it like I do, I can decide to buy it out.
So here she is! My 2019 Jeep Compass Altitude. She’s sassy, sporty, fun and she has checked off all my option “must haves” while very comfortably in my budget.
Who knew the car buying process would carry so much more than cargo! It can be emotionally draining but it doesn’t need to be. Just be true to yourself and your check list. Life is crazy enough, you might as well enjoy the ride 😉
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