Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Car Dilemna......Help a Slug Out!

I've got a choice coming up soon involving cars--buying them and how many.  I'd appreciate any advise/help anyone wants to chirp in with.

We have 2 cars at present: Hubs commuter car for work and my minivan.  I don't work outside the home so my car is only used for errands and such and when we need a vehicle for carrying loads of stuff and/or loads of people.

We use to have a 3rd car.  It was an old Toyota that had belonged to my mother and then my oldest brother.  When he died, we bought it off of his estate for a really good price.  Since it still only had 65K miles on it even though it was about the same age as my oldest child, we had hoped that it would last through the last kid's teen driving years until he went off to college.
But the stupid 16 yr. old driver who hit Daughter and I last May changed all that.  The car was totaled and we got $2,400 from her insurance company which wasn't enough to replace the car....IF we could have found one that old, in that condition, with that few number of miles on it.
And with Daughter leaving for summer job and then college the next month, there was no point in replacing the car then.

Now that we are about to need the 3rd car again, since #2 Son gets his learner's permit later this week(crossing fingers he passes!lol), we have a complication.

Daughter has changed her career goals and what she needs to do to get there.  She has decided that she no longer wants to go to medical school, nor does she want to get a 4 year degree.  She is finishing this semester of college and transferring to the local community college for a 2 year training program and an Associate's degree in Applied Sciences in Nuclear Technology Engineering. 
Basically, my daughter wants to be Homer Simpson's boss.

This new track of her's will have her living at home again full time and commuting to school.  She will need a car to get to school plus she will eventually have a part time job and need a car for getting to work.

#2 Son will need a car for the part time job he hopes to look for as soon as he starts driving.  Plus he will also have music type rehearsals next year he can drive himself to, though he doesn't HAVE TO do this.  Two years out, his senior year, he MAY need the car to commute to a local college, if he does the Young Scholars Program(seniors take college courses for 1/2 a day in this program and they have to provide their own transportation).  At this point we aren't sure if he will qualify for the YSP or if he'll even want to do this(it's optional).  So though he wants a car that's for his use only when he gets his license, he doesn't need one.

So our question is this.....Do we buy 2 cars or 1?

Hubs thinks we should buy 2 junk cars.
He feels that since the older 2 kids had a junk car available for their use in high school, that we should provide a junk car for #2 Son as well.  That the Daughter will need a car in the Fall is definite but he also thinks buying 2 cars(and paying insurance/maintenance/repairs/registrations)is the way to go, in case they both need a car at the same time.

My feeling is just buy 1 car.
If we have the same amount to spend whether we buy 1 or 2, by buying only 1 we can get a better car.
And a better car is a safer car.

Paying insurance on 1 car is less than paying it on 2 cars.
Paying registration on 1 car is less than 2.
Paying for repairs/maintenance on 1 is less than 2.
Those are my financial reasons.

Daughter will NEED a car, but #2 Son won't NEED a car his Junior year.  In the first place, I won't let him drive a car to school every day anyway until he is a Senior.  He can take the bus for free.
The parking lot at our high school is nuts.  More accidents happen there than on our roads in town, because you have all the new/in-experienced drivers in one place at one time and they are constantly hitting each other's cars.lol  Both the older 2 had fender benders with other bad teen drivers in the school parking lot.
I would never buy a new car and let my kid take it to the school's parking lot!!  It's insane....
#2 Son can take the bus and get rides home on days he has activities....or he can ride the bus home and then take the car back to school for his rehearsal days.  We live about 1.5 miles from the school so it's no big deal.

If both the kids have part time jobs and need the car at the same time, one of them can take the minivan.
It's not fashionable but it's wheels to get you someplace.  And I can arrange my needing the minivan schedule around their needs.

As for Daughter's new direction....She will be living at home her 1st year at the comm. college.  Then she plans on moving out and getting an apartment near school.  Any car we buy for her use while living at home does not go with her.  She has been told she will need to arrange her own transportation once she moves out again.

At this point, the spare car can go to #2 Son for his use.  He can use it for his rehearsals, for school or for school and the Young Scholars program, as well as to get to his part time job.

Now if Daughter decides NOT to move out(God forbid!)until her 2 year's of school is over, we can re-evaluate buying a 2nd car then.  Perhaps then we purchase a car that she can make payments toward and eventually buy from us?

Besides the added costs of buying 2 junk cars, when the kids leave home(1 in 1 yr. or 2, the other in 2 yrs.), we will have 2 cars to sell or otherwise get rid of.  I consider throwing money at cars akin to throwing money into a big black sucking hole anyway.

Let me add in that Daughter will NOT be spending all the college money with this new tract, that we had set aside for her educational use.  She has already hinted that any money we don't spend in the next 2 years on room & board since she is now commuting should be hers to use to get an apartment and buy food for herself in Year 2 AND should be used toward buying this car she needs to commute to college starting in the Fall.  If we buy 2 cars she will decide in her own mind that the car we buy for her to commute in is HER car and she'll expect us to let her have the car when she leaves home.
We have told her that any money she does NOT spend on educational purposes is NOT her's to keep and that includes if we use some of the money to buy a car for her use while she lives at home. We "might" bankroll a cheap apt. near campus the 2nd year but we are NOT bankrolling her car needs if she leaves home.

Hubs and I need to sit her down and make perfectly clear about the parameters on this college money.
It is also not being held for her use into eternity.  There is a time limit on how long she takes to finish school.  She can't keep changing her mind for the next 10 years and coming back for more money for school.

So I'm in the "buy as little as possible in cars as you can get away with and then ease into more cars/spending if you truly need it" camp.
Hubs is in the "just buy it all now and don't worry about anything" camp.
But he doesn't do the books around here, I do!lol

So what would you do....buy 1 or 2 cars?
And is there anything I am overlooking in this?
I really need some advise or at least an independent pair of eyes looking at this situation.



  1. I am for buying one better, safer car. I drive an old questionably-safe one (a 1999) and I'm keeping it. I had thought we'd want to keep our tank-like 2005 SUV and give it to the kids but we're about to sell it. Not because it's not safe, but because it's too big and it's unreliable as it gets older (not a good make of car whereas my old car is excellent.) We'll replace the SUV with a 2009-ish safer car eventually (not this year, maybe not next year.) We just bought a 2012 car. I didn't realize how much safer new (a few years old) cars are, but now that I know, no more junkers for me (except my 1999 which I don't consider a junker. I hope my kids will not have to drive it and it'll be just mine till it lives out its usefulness.)

  2. You see how your daughter's plans changed so quickly after you had a plan in place? That is likely to happen again either with her plans or #2 son's plans. Don't spend $$ on 2 cars based on today's plans. Heaven only knows what tomorrow will bring and there you will be, out the money and holding 2 junk cars.

    Make a plan you can live with for the next year. Renegotiate or re-strategize after that.

    Your daughter is wrong-thinking about the college money being hers and that she might get a say in how it is spent. I would nip that in the bud right now. That money is YOURS. You earned it, you saved it, and earmarked it for school. Not apartments. Not cars. If she isn't using it for school, then it can be rolled over to #2 son's school, OR, here's a thought! For YOU! Study what you want with that $$ if the kids are going the less expensive route.

  3. I'm with the previous commenter. I would buy one decent car, & share it to ease the scheduling burdens. If your daughter wants to move home, does she have a part-time job that can offset the cost of a car?

  4. This is why we only ever had puppies. Since buying a car doesn't depend on a BOGOF deal, I'd just by one.

    In the day, we had to save up and buy our own cars -- even if we were in school. I don't think you "owe" any of your kids a car just because it was done before.

    Can you determine how much more housing and other expenses would have cost and compare that to what the cost is at home? Then maybe use that difference to determine how much to spend for a car.

    I think I'd be a lousy mom. I'd make my kid pay for their own car. Good thing dogs don't drive!

  5. One good car is better than two junkie ones. Seriously, don't even consider two junkie ones. Believe me, you'll make due.
    Now, remember this advice so you can give it back to me in 7 years or so.

  6. I'm on the side of buy one decent car. Two older cars can nickel and dime you to death. Unless the hubs likes to tinker and is good at fixing and replacing.

    One car and the use of the van when necessary sounds very reasonable to me.

  7. He can take the bus for free???? I need to make my daughter read this post!
    She inherited her brothers (ours) car when she turned 16. She's made it her own and driven it every day since. Giving kids rides to school for free and since her schedule is so crazy, her having a car has really freed up ours...
    I say buy one car for now with use of the van when it's an emergency...
    That's a LOT of gas to purchase!

  8. Ahhhh we are stilling living the same life. All I can tell you is what I know so this will be short.LOL but true.
    The problem with buying one good car is you may end up needing two cars. You aren't going to sell the one to buy two cheap cars. Also, your daughter needs the better of the two cars. I know that it sounds terrible but if someone is going to break down it is better that it is your son. He is only 1.5 miles away.
    I would decide how much you are willing to spend and then go from there. See what you can buy. Maybe you can find a car that was owned by a little old lady.


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