The Value of Money (When You Have None)

Two days ago, my dad bought me a used car.

And I’m kinda terrified.

Buying a used car “As Is” feels like a huge gamble and this time, I’m betting with someone else’s money. Driving it into the city, I’m already thinking about all of the possible ways I could mess this up, what with the red light cameras, speeding cameras, parking tickets in all manners of meters, street cleaning and Cubs night games. I panic that someone is going to take the mirror off while going down Ashland, or side swipe it and not leave a note.

I’m also waiting to hear how it checks out with my dad’s mechanic, nervously hoping another few grand doesn’t need to go into it in order for it to last.

I’ve also come to realize how important it is to take care of your things, something I’ve never been good at. Cars require maintenance to retain their value and can last a long time, so long as you stay on top of things.

This is about having money available to pay for things like oil changes and tire rotations or more major fixes. I have no concept of savings and haven’t had any sort of savings account since I was a kid. Without credit, I don’t have the means to take care of anything remotely major.

I recently was told I have to get a crown on one of my teeth. Easily $500 out of pocket, hence the reason I’m searching for other ways to have it done. I honestly have no idea how anyone pays out right for anything, though I’m obviously out of touch when it comes to planning ahead.

I’m not good at buying one amazing thing at $100 versus four not so well made things for $25 a piece. I don’t invest correctly or see the value in purchasing high quality items that will last. My boyfriend is always asking me why I waste money on cheap, uncomfortable shoes. He’s suggested I throw all of the crappy ones away and getting one or two pairs that are functional. It makes sense when he’s saying it to me, but he’s never there when I’m browsing the Payless BOGO sale, or walking up and down the aisles of the shoe section at Target. Plus I can’t imagine not having a shoe collection, even if it’s made up of poorly made plastic sandals.

Ever since I got pregnant, things have become about money, a huge issue in my life I haven’t been ready to come to terms with.

I’ve been buying used things for the baby, which has been awesome, but also makes me a little leery. It’s not that I distrust these women, but when someone walks out of their place to hand me a $50 monitor and there’s no way for me to know if it actually works, I feel unsure.

If shopping at Crossroads is any indication, it can be hit or miss. I’ve definitely walked out with items that had tears or cosmetic flaws that I didn’t thoroughly check for and could not be returned.

I have no problem buying used. But there’s a certain amount of comfort you have to have in hoping the deal is worth it. The majority of the time, you’re not left with a lemon.

I think I’ll feel better when I hear back about the car.

And please don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to own one and know that I’m lucky and pretty underserving of it.

-Carly

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