Thursday, March 12, 2009

Car thoughts and grocery stuffs

Monday, I started relearning how to drive a manual. Given my previous experience (though there isn't much), I'm finding that I'm picking up pretty quickly.

I'm still debating back and forth about our car situation. Actually, that's part of why we are *finally* getting me to relearn stick. I've been tossing around different ideas on how to best manage our cars. Mine is now, by my definition (and my mechanic's), a "clunker". It's only going to get worse too. That's the trouble with a car that gets stuck in a flood, no matter how short lived that flood was. Here's some of the options I was debating previously.
  • Retire the car all together, buy a new one immediately with a substantial down payment with a loan from USAA or a 0% interest loan from the dealer, make the necessary changes with my insurance company, and deal with the costs of two car loans.
  • Pay off my husband's car and make all outstanding repairs to it (using the $5k for that), retire my car, donate it, cancel the insurance on it, and have only one car for my husband and I to share while saving up for a new (brand new or used) car.
  • Hold off on a new car, run mine into the road (using it only for driving to work, no driving the baby in it unless it's an emergency), pay only liability on it, pay off and fix up my husband's car (with the $5k), and save up for a new car for me (because I want to pay it with cash, if I can). I'd put the money that we would have been paying monthly on his car loan and on the car insurance into a bank account, which should add up pretty well.

Now I'm also debating:

  • Hold off on a new car, run mine into the road or until August (no driving the baby in it unless it's an emergency, driving to work only on bad weather days), pay only liability on it (until I retire it), fix up my husband's car (with the tax refund), buy a bicycle to ride to work (again, with the tax refund), and save up for a new car for me (because I want to pay it with cash, if I can) while paying off my husband's car asap.
To help me get a better grasp of my options, I talked to my insurance company. Before making any decision like this, always (ALWAYS!!!) call your insurance company first! The representative ran the numbers for me, and the difference between dropping my car all together or just having liability on it is nominal at this time. With the "multiple car discount", it is worth holding onto our second car. If things get too difficult, then we can drop the insurance after donating the car. For now, a yearly cost of $60 to $80 is not going to make a huge difference. (Yes... apparently that's per year.) I also had them check on how much it would cost in insurance to replace my car with the 2008 Hyundai Elantras I've been checking out, and the cost for the new car with all the coverage my old car had is a minor difference too. That's because they have another discount for covering new cars (as opposed to used or certificed pre-owned cars).

So, all in all, it feels like I have a few weights lifted from my shoulders in my decisions on the cars. I do have to say that I do have my eye on getting a 2008 Hyundai Elantra. The guy knocked it down from $17,500+ (I'm sure it was closer to $17,900) to under $14,000... and that's before any haggling and such. I wonder how low we can actually get it. We have pictures of the VINs and package information, so we can do more pricing research. Knowing that the beginning cost for a "manual" gear shift is typically cheaper than an automatic by over $1000 does make it tempting to go in that direction, but that would take some more though, as my husband and I both feel that it's nice to have one car with and one car without. This is so we can choose the better option depending on the expected driving conditions. (A manual in NYC is a huge pain!)

Groceries this week was definitely more than the $50 allotment, but with good reason. There are amazing sales on whole chickens and corned beef at the local A&P, which I plan to stock up on. The weeks that we use those items will be lower in grocery costs as I will deduct them from those totals. All in all, that's how you save money. Find the truly good deals and take advantage if you can. We can, so we will. Besides, chicken is such a good deal when you use is in as many ways as possible (down to the bones, baby). We might also grab more cabbage. At $0.09 a pound... well... it's definitely worth living off of for a while. We haven't gone back to the grocery store yet, but we'll see. Our two whole chickens have been boned, the meat separated, and the bones boiled to make a broth. Did I mention my new found love of making broth?

Oh... and we haven't been following our menu too strictly this week. We were going to have Corned Beef with potatoes and cabbage (which we did have), Lime Chicken tacos, and stacked tortillas. Oh well. Fortunately, we can make these next week and save money that way. There's nothing wrong with not following your menu if it's more suitable and just as practical to hold off on certain items. Carry over can be a good thing.

No grocery shopping rundown for now and maybe not for the week. I just didn't have the time yet and probably won't for a bit. Next week I'll start up again.

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