April 26, 2004


Okay, I need to stop and BREATHE. I'm obsessing about getting a new car. What new car, you ask? The only new car I would consider purchasing.... the Mini Cooper!

Well, the Mini Cooper S model, to be more specific. My old '83 Honda Civic is in smog hell right now, so much so that I think it would take several hundred dollars to get it back up to spec and driving around nicely. The problems may just be the final catalyst for me to put the old car out to pasture and get a new car.

I've had my eye on the newer MINI's for at least a couple years now - even before they hit the market, as my aunt (who, conveniently, works at a BMW dealership) mentioned I would look good in a MiniCooper. I was online the next day and fell in love.

My obsession with the vehicle has come and gone in phases, but now it's kicked into overdrive. I'm on MINI forums and checking out the MINI website nearly everyday designing my dream car. I've gone to the credit union at work and retrieved an application for a car loan, I'm even considering drawing funds out of my IRA to bolster my down payment amount. I've been on several auto loan finance calculator websites and called my insurance company for a quote.

I know exactly which options I want and which I don't need. I've decided that I prefer the body-type and power of the "S" model over the standard model. I even found a cool site that manufactures custom gear shift knobs (I'm especially fond of this custom knob).

Financing is going to be the first major hurdle. My credit is not perfect, and while I've bettered my credit rating by leaps and bounds, I'm still only average - and considered a "risk". From some early information from the credit union loan advisor, I could be looking at an APR of anywhere from 8 to 12.5%. Yikes.

Second major hurdle - finding the MINI I want. I'm a bit lucky in that my aunt works at a BMW/MINI dealership and I am, from what she's told me, able to receive a family discount at the lot. But MINI's are, from what I've gathered, difficult to come by. Unless I'm lucky enough to find one of the two colors I desire in stock at the lot, I could be looking at a wait of several months. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the lot has a good inventory selection currently. I would rather not patronize another lot unless I absolutely had to.

Third obstacle is the down payment. I have what would translate to an 8% down payment in savings right now. Not the greatest. I could spend nearly half that to fix my current car, or I could withdraw three or four thousand from my IRA and have a more than reasonable monthly loan payment. I am not currently contributing to this IRA anyways, as it is a rollover account from a previous 401K plan. I would receive a 10% penalty PLUS be responsible for income taxes on the amount withdrawn - but since I don't plan on withdrawing the entire emount, I'm not so worried about that. I will still have funds left to withdraw towards a down payment on a home (yeah right, like that'll ever happen!), and I currently have a pension plan through work. And I'm relatively young. Can you tell that I'm trying to make myself believe that that's an o-kay idea??

The fourth, and (hopefully) final obstacle is me. I have a predisposition of being irresolute, and I'm not the best at decision-making (don't tell my bosses). A few years ago, I was <----- this close -----> to purchasing a new Honda, but walked away because I wasn't 100% certain of the purchase. Many people have told me that's a good thing - exactly what someone should do in this sort of purchase environment. But, I feel it might hold me back from ever dropping the thousands and thousands of dollars a new car requires. Also, I have a bond with my old Honda. I haven't named the car or anthropomorphize her in any way (wink), but I tend to grow too attached to my belongings. The thought of turning the car in for the $400 or so the state would give me to junk it turns my stomach. I'd much rather pass it down to my youngest brother for when he needs a car (really, it's an awesome car, just needs several hundred dollars worth of work and then it's vrooming).

(Sigh...) I need to get back to work now, but if anyone has any first-time car buyer experience or advice to share about anything in the vehicle ownership realm, I'm all ears!

posted by julie at April 26, 2004 01:54 PM