Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mommy Car

B and I bought my car in a big big hurry. I graduated from law school, we had a car, but B drove it to work every single day. I had fully intended on getting a job in downtown Chicago, and to take the CTA to work every day, just as I had done for law school. I never anticipated that I would end up working in the suburbs, and my perfectly placed condo, 5 minutes away from both the Red Line and the 145 express bus would be basically useless. B's cousin was the finance manager at a Honda dealership, so we rushed out there after my first day of work to pick one out. We fully intended on buying a used Accord or Civic, but on an new paycheck and emotional high, I wanted a Hybrid. His cousin pointed us in the direction of their new hybrid car, the Insight. He promised us that we wouldn't pay a penny more than he would if he bought one. I recognized it as Leslie Knope's car from Parks and Recreation, asked if they had one like hers, in white. They pulled it around, and I signed and drove off.

As a 26 year old who was buying her first car after her first day of work as a real lawyer, I clearly did not look at my five year plan. I can't believe I never even considered that I might have a child before my car payments were up.

But, I loved my car. I could fit it in the tighest of spots, which was number one on my list of car-needs. My street in Chicago was one way, narrow, and crowded. Past 7 pm, you would be lucky to get a spot within a 3 block radius. I get 45 mpg, which was amazing for my over an hour commute from my city condo to my suburban office. It' so narrow, that I could drive speedily down any tiny Chicagoan two way street without worrying about side-swiping the parked cars. It's a cute utilitarian hybrid that I was just head over heels for. The only time I ever questioned my car's awesomeness was on a trip back from the airport for my Bachelorette weekend, when I had three people in the very small backseat, and 4 people's weekend luggage in the hatch. I swear, it was the only time.

Until I was 7 months pregnant, with backpain, shopping for carseats and living in a city with ample parking dominated by SUVs and luxury sedans. My little car stands out like a sore thumb in this place.

With the carseat installed, the front passenger seat has to be pulled all the way up. Like, all the way, knees hitting the dashboard for anyone over 5 feet. So yeah, that's not awesome. Luckily, it's mostly just me and Mia in my car. If my Mom is in town, B and I will switch so that we can enjoy the luxurious and spaciousness of his Honda Civic. (Yeah, it's a problem when your big car is a Honda Civic)

I've been complaining that my car is too small for this city, for this family. Wanting a new car seems so silly and indulgent, considering that my car is three years old and was purchased brand new. But with Mia's stroller, carseat and one other person, this car is just too small for us. We decided that we'd wait until at least one of our cars was paid off before we could consider another car. Having only one car payment would make such a difference in our budget. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that his payments would be over by the spring of 2013. I got so excited! 6 more months and I could get a real car! Since bigger cars cost so much more, I started looking at used car listings. I fantasized about a Mazda CX-9, or really anything that would allow for two carseats and still fit a passenger in the back. B and I started having very serious discussions about gas mileage v. a third passenger row. Serious, serious, serious.

But, he double checked, and it's the spring of 2014. BLARG.

It's not a big deal of course. Nothing in our lives has changed. We have one child, one car seat, and  small dogs. We want Mia to be at least three years old when she gets a sibling, so we're not even in the realm of trying for a second. But, for those couple of weeks, I was really looking forward to some leg room.


  1. Talk to me on Saturday, or better yet before Saturday. My "car guy" will be at the party. He is AMAZING. Got me my original sedan when I moved here in 2006. Got me my Saturn Vue SUV last April. If you're set on waiting until one is paid, I can understand. But when you talk to him, he makes sense of it all. I had like 1.5 years left (would have finished this November) and he found me this 2009 used Saturn that still had like a year or two left of the factory warranty, found the right bank to finance me to get to a payment I needed (plus talked to his friend at the dealership to even get the car for cheaper to begin with), he's a God--in that I don't know how he works the miracles he does. Tell him what you're looking for, what you want your payments to be, and off he goes and will find you something asap. And he doesn't let friends drive anything he wouldn't let his own wife drive. (Which is why he attempted to find me something that still had part of it's factory warranty left.) The lowdown is he works for an auto financing company in town, that also sells used cars. But he'll only put you in one of his loans or his cars if that's what you need. His are more for "difficult" to finance people. (When dealerships have a customer whose credit is so bad they can't finance them in-house, they refer them to his company.) Anyway, the company is owned by Mr. Findlay (of all the Findlay dealerships) so he has relationships and access to used stock at any Findlay owned dealership in town as well as California, Arizona, Utah, etc. Many weekends he is out picking up a car from another state and driving it back for a friend/client. And he does it free of charge. He just loves cars so much he wants to help people shop for them. Seriously, talk to "B" before Saturday, so if you two decide, you could get the ball rolling right there. You could easily trade in your car for the down payment. If you have extra for a bigger down, great, if not, simply tell "C" (my guy) that and he will find something for little (trade in value) to no down payment required.

  2. Sweet, thanks! I think it's definitely not in the cards for us to trade my car in until the payments are up, what with the extra costs associated with a bigger car (going from 45 mpg to 20 mpg is going to be a tough pill to swallow!!), we definitely need to only have one car payment before it gets traded. But getting introduced to C so that we can get back in touch with him at Tybalt's 3rd b-day party would be awesome!

  3. It is certainly great to have a Honda Insight, since it is a hybrid car which makes it fuel efficient. But sadly, it is not the right car the fits your new life as a mother. Anyway, I think it would be good to get yourself an SUV the next time you buy a car. It has more space capacity, which makes it suitable for growing family like yours.

    Erwin Calverley

  4. Nothing beats the excitement of shopping for a new car! And I think by this time, you already purchased one that fits you and the rest of the family. What vehicle did you get? I think it is important for you to get a bigger vehicle. Since your family is growing, you need to provide them with ample space in the vehicle, and make sure that they are comfortable inside the car. With a bigger vehicle, you can make sure that the kids and stuff will fit in just right.

    -Ernest Houston

  5. It’s been two months since you posted this, Frenchie. I hope by this time, you have already bought the car that can accommodate Mia’s stuff and your entire family. Well, like what Ernest is suggesting, a growing family like yours will certainly need a bigger space. Sooner or later, your family will grow bigger. Thus, it is necessary to buy a vehicle with a bigger space. However, you should also consider the dimension of your parking space. You should choose a vehicle that is spacious enough to accommodate the entire family, but small enough to fit in your parking space.
    Patrick Gauer

  6. I think 2014 isn’t that far, especially with how fast the days seem to go by. Anyway, 2 years can allow you to better prepare for your eventual car purchase. Try to research now about recent models that are good for the family. It’s okay to research about the latest models, since these won’t be that new by 2014, and their prices would’ve probably dropped by then. I suggest that you choose vehicles with a high fuel economy, so that your family won’t have to splurge on gas. =)