My Family

My Family

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On Car Shopping

So, despite what you may think, I'm here to tell you that sometimes, God cares about what car you will be driving.
No sarcasm's true...and I'll tell you why.

With baby #7 on the way, we knew we had to look for a "new" car.
We have never purchased new, and didn't intend to this time.
We knew we had our tax return and a bonus coming up, and were looking extensively for a full size van with 12 or 15 seats.
(Our current van, while full size, has only 8 seats.)
We received a lot of advice from many different sources, the most repetitive of which was that we just needed to lighten up when it came to seatbelts, and travel with one child unbuckled or buckled in with someone else. (Sorry...we're just not into lack of safety as a realistic option.)
We were thrilled when we located a 15 passenger van in Las Cruces (2 hours away) at the top of our price range.
We were sure we could negotiatie the price to a point where we could pay it off with the money we had.
We made the trip down to Cruces, Pat drove the van...(imagine it handling just like our current van!), and we made an offer.
Our offer was a little higher than the cash we had on hand, and so we were trying to work out some temporary terms with the owner of this (very small) heavy equipment sales lot.
He told us that he would need to discuss details with the business partner in charge of finance (his wife), which we understood, but weren't necessarily thrilled about since it would mean another trip down to Cruces to finalize the deal.
We were grateful to be "given" a little bit of time to chew on the deal...and when we were told on Monday that we would have to come up with the amount we did not currently have, it was almost a relief to have a bit longer to consider whether or not this was the car we needed to buy.

Throughout that week, I spent a lot of time on the internet, looking for a car that met our requirements.
It just so happened that a friend of mine, Suzanne Dye, stopped by the day I was driving myself crazy, looking for just the right deal.
She and I talked quite a bit, and she said she would talk to her DH about the details and see if one of the cars we were considering was better than the other.
Within a couple of days, they had found a used Suburban (1997) with 9 seats, right within our price range.
The only problem was that this particular car had 140,000 miles on it.
We had thought about a Suburban initially, but eliminated it due to our lack of finances, and our desire to stay debt-free (Thanks Dave Ramsey!)
The odd thing was, as we prayed about the two options, logically the van seemed perfect, almost too good to pass up, and yet it was very clear that the Suburban felt more *right*.
It didn't make any sense logically, especially with so many miles on it!

We hesitated to move forward with either option...neither felt just right.
It was acutally VERY frustrating to deal with what we thought were our options with the amount of money we had available and not feel like we should move forward with either choice.
We felt like we were spinning our wheels...and finally went to the Lord and asked for his inspiration and guidance in this process as we felt like we had eliminated all of our logical options.

On Friday, (almost a week after we had looked at the van), I had what I thought was a random thought on the way home from the bus stop.
My thought was this, "When we were looking for Pat's work truck last time, we considered a Suburban...but the manager(s) at the time felt that a "regular" engineer should only drive a truck, not an SUV. I wonder if a Suburban would be an option this time."
(Pat has to have a work "truck" at his work is paid for mostly by the company...(we were paying about $20 of the monthly payment out of pocket)...and it has to be fairly new...every 3rd calendar year he has to get a replacement--it's the Runtzheimer program if any of you have heard of it. This just so happens to be the year he needed to replace his truck.)
The thought was so fleeting, that I actually didn't remember it for most of the day.
By the time I remembered it, it was late on a Friday afternoon, but I called Pat at work and mentioned it to him.
For the first time in this whole ordeal, something felt REALLY right.
Pat was incredibly optimistic about the idea, and mentioned it to his supervisor that afternoon.
His supervisor was optimistic as well, but Pat knew he needed to talk to his manager...which wouldn't happen until Monday.
It was a long weekend.

It's not hard to complete the "rest of the story".
Pat received approval in mid-March, and we were chomping at the bit to go and buy our car!
However, again, we had to be patient.
Our weekends were booked until the first one in April.
We debated, and came VERY close to going over to AZ to get our car on a weeknight...(10 hour round trip with all the kids in one about insanity!)
However, we felt prompted to wait...and so we did, although it was probably not with the level of patience the Lord would have approved of.

When we headed over for Pat's work training on Monday night, our plan was to drive both the truck and the new Suburban home, and sell the truck hopes of making about $2K more on the sale.
It was a bit odd to hear Pat tell me Thursday morning that he felt he should discuss trading the truck in as part of the negotiation for the Suburban.
I did trust though, that he was following the promptings he had received, and so off he went to the dealership...
The deal was finished after 7 hours...and we saved $2K in taxes because we had a trade in. Amazing coincidence?
I don't think so.
No headaches left over trying to sell a truck before we had to make 2 payments in May.
We wouldn't have even considered trading the truck in had we made the weeknight whirlwind trip.
All the pieces in the right place, making for a (long, drawn out) spiritual experience.

If we play our cards right (or pay our bills right), we'll be to the point where we can roll our debt snowball onto the Suburban payments and pay it off by the time Pat needs a new work truck.
That means, in 3 years, the Suburban won't just be for personal use on nights and weekends, but it would actually belong to ME!!
Woo Hoo!!
The van will meet our needs when the baby comes...seating 8 of us for daily errands and runs to the bus...and the Suburban, with its 9th seat, will be our vehicle for family trips...on nights, weekends and vacations.

It really is a perfect solution.
So perfect, I could not have thought of it on my own.
I'm glad God cared...and allowed us this opportunity.
I'm also glad we listened.


SalGal said...

I only hope we're as blessed when it comes time for us to get an SUV. Our kids seemed to have been genetically engineered by the Jolly Green Giant, so we need the leg room!

Papa J said...

It makes me marvel to realize that god has concern for me/us.

Code Yellow Mom said...

This is a GREAT story...It is so wonderful to know that God will help us with even the details of our life. And good for you, having the patience and faith to wait until something truly perfect came your way!

wendy said...

What a great car story! I love our 'Burb! Have fun with your new car!

Denise said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog! I had to come see who you are (lol!) and I found this amazing story. Many would write it off as good luck, but I'm with you. God is in the details. Enjoy your new Suburban!

Perry said...

Given your road and how it gets at times, the Suburban will be much nicer than the 15 passanger "bus" you were looking at. I think its great that Pat was allowed to go the SUV route with the Runzheimer that makes this all possible. I will say, I miss my truck quite a bit but Jamie and I are driving two debt free cars and it is VERY liberating. I guess I will get to see the new 'Burb in less than 3 months, looking forward to it.

Sarah said...

Car shopping has got to be the most stressful thing ever - I'm so glad this experience has the picture perfect ending! And I'm amazed to hear that many people actually told you that lack of seat belts was an option for your family. Who could do that to their kids? I can understand if a parent occasionally has to put themselves out of a seatbelt for their little one but not giving a kid a choice about safety? Crazy.