First-time car buyer

I just moved to the frigid state of Minnesota, with a lot of mixed reviews from other people in my head regarding public transportation. The only thing that is consistent with all the people I’ve spoken to is that it is COLD. Freezer burn type of cold.

On the topic of public transportation, I’ve realized that in the city (Minneapolis), it’s good. In the suburbs, it’s not. At first I thought I’d be working close to the Airport in Minneapolis. It’s only later on I found out I’d be in the suburbs in the middle of nowhere. And to further burst my bubble, there was an opening in Atlanta for the same position which I didn’t get because there was already an Atlanta associate there who was available. So, I’m stuck with the cold in the middle of nowhere.

But that’s not a bad thing! Please don’t interpret my words above as a complaint, I’m simply stating facts – it is what it is. It’s a new, different experience which I’m sure will teach me something interesting and build character and all that fluff. It’s a new perspective which will require new approaches. It’ll broaden my American experience. That’s never bad.

SO transportation … what to do? My options are:

Uber everywhere – only available in the north part of the suburbs, which means I can uber to work (considering that it’s a 13min wait for a 5min drive, and uber drivers don’t like that – they give bad ratings) but I cannot uber home from work, which means I gotta either walk home in order to catch an uber to go elsewhere, or wait on a coworker to take me home, then I can catch an uber to take me elsewhere. I can uber to Walmart (which is 44mins walk), but I can’t uber back home cause uber is not available in that area. Who is gonna walk for 44mins, with groceries, in this Minnesota Winter? Not me, ma’am. So, in this location, uber is inconvenient, but a cheaper option. This runs at about $2000 considering each ride is approxiamately $8 to work.

Walk. Definitely ok in the summer since it is 35 min one-way, but NOT okay in Minnesota winter, especially when the sidewalk is covered in snow. It’s the suburbs. It doesnt get shovelled. I can also ask my coworkers for rides on bad days. Which is everyday.

Rent a car. Will cost $6000. But if they extend the contract for another 6 months, that’s another $6000. Do I think they will extend? I’m roughly 70% sure they may do just that.

Buy a car. Costs somewhere between $5000 to $14000, and of course I’m looking at the low end. I can drive around freely, but what if they DON’T extend the contract, and what if I have to return home? It would be a waste. But I can sell it back, and make half as much as I did when I bought it. But then buying and selling a car is SUCH a hassle.

At first I thought between ubering, walking and asking for rides I’d be ok. And you are right, I probably would. I could beg a coworker to take me grocery shopping with them whenever they went. So why buy a car? Truly, it boils down to independence. If I really need something, like groceries, a cashiers check, a run to the post office, etc, and I need to leave from work, there’s no way to do that aside from asking a co-worker, because, again – no bus, no uber. I can’t believe that co-workers will ALWAYS be available when  I want them to. Also, if I’m going to be here beyond 6 months, it actually may be good for me to have a car to get around. Note I will most definitely sell it back, unless I’ll be here longer than expected.

Okay, so at this point, I’ve tricked myself into thinking I need a car. I looked at one for $13200 and loved it but my bank account did not. I needed to go cheaper. My friend suggested $5000 to $7000 range and I thought that was affordable. I read up buying cars on Dave Ramsey’s site, and he was adamant about getting a car you can afford, and NOT financing it, because the interest rates will kill you. I saw good reason behind this, especially since I only expected to have the car short term.

I visited a used car dealer, and honestly, the cars were crappy. I was at a point where I thought I may not find one and should just live without one, when I went to another dealer which was a good median between the 2. Think Goldilocks & the 3 bears! Papa bear’s car was awesome but too expensive for my budget, mama bear’s car was well priced but may cost me an arm and a leg in maintenance, baby bear’s car was actually just right. A give and take, if you will.

Mind you I don’t know much about cars. I only looked at the mileage and cost and how it sounds when I drive it – not much more than that. I know car gurus would look at wheels, and open up the hood and all that. Inside the hood looks like gibberish to me. But one day people, one day. I’ll get there.

So after spending one hour on the phone with insurance (AND that’s so expensive too!), I drove home my baby bear car – 2014 Ford – with 100,000 miles already on it (that’s the ‘give’ in the “give-and-take”). Even though highways still terrify me and I’m still getting used to the roads here …. I am actually happy to have my little car! I really like the luxury of going wherever I want, when I want, making any spontaneous stops as I like, it’s really a freeing feeling, but definitely an expensive feeling too….


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