Tag Archives: cars

The $3,000 Budget

How far does $3,000 go in Dallas, Texas for a couple?

I cannot believe how much has changed since April. Remember my post “Working on our First Post School Budget?” I did not have a car, a job, or anything really! After working some numbers, I believe I have our first budget. Here it is:

Let’s just say it’s pretty tight. Despite the fact that $3,000 is a lot of money, it doesn’t seem to go very far! :( And I live in Dallas, TX, an affordable city! I totally feel for the PF bloggers living in pricey cities! We have a $111 buffer, which I believe we may spend sooner rather later during the month. I am hoping the gasoline bill is not as high as I am predicting. We are going to be living 5-10 minutes away from my job, and I hope my hubby finds a job nearby! Everything is also five minutes down the road.  I, also, don’t know if my company will pay for my cellphone. I hope they do, at least partially.

Line Items:

  • Rent is an estimate. I have been looking at apartments and they all range between $700 to $900 depending on location and amenities. The cheaper the apartment, the more buffer.
  • Cash Allowance- I have budgeted a cash allowance for my hubby and I. Right now, I plan for a $50/ a week for each of us.
  • Car maintenance fund- I have also budgeted $100 for car maintenance. This should help pay for tires, oil changes, etc.
  • Christmas fund-  I am putting away $100 a month for Christmas gifts, so when the time comes we won’t go over budget.
  • Vacation Fund- Budgeting $100 a month for vacation expenses.
Some thoughts:
  • I am not sure how families do it. $3,000 for 2 people seems like a lot, but then it just disappears on rent, car insurance, etc. Hats off to the families who can. I know my mother always managed to find the money to pay stuff, and her budget was/is LESS $3,000 per month for 4 people.
  • I am so grateful to NOT have loans of any kind. I don’t know if I could pay off additional debt and stay under our budget. This is motivation for me not to rack up any debt.
  • You might notice that I say “I” or “me” when I talk about the budget. I am married, but  in the end I am the one who handles the finances. My hubby doesn’t like setting limits or paying bills or setting financial priorities. He leaves it to me.

What do you think? What is your budget like? Do you stay under it usually?


I bought a car!

Friday was an awesome day for me. I bought my first car!!! Here is how the process went:

  • I started looking at cars from dealerships. We test drove a Hyundai Elantra (too small), Nissan Sentra (ok), Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic Sedan, Honda Civic Coupe.
  • During my run Wednesday, I saw a Honda Civic Coupe for sale in the neighborhood and immediately called the owner to test drive. We test drove it that night, and I fell in love with the car. After test driving so many other cars, the coupe was the king.

Negotiation Process:

  • We looked up KBB and Edmunds value to compare. We, also, saw the car fax to make sure the car had received proper maintenance.
  • We sat down with the private owner and showed him the cash we were willing to offer. Cash talks! The private owner was asking $13,900 for a 2007 Honda Civic EX Coupe with 58K miles, navigation system, leather seats, and sunroof. We brought $12,500 to the negotiation. He, only, went down to $13,000.
  • We decided to walk away from the negotiation to consider the deal. In reality, $13,000 was our max price, so at that point we were ready to pay for it. We called back an hour later to accept the $13K price. We, also, asked for permission to take the car to the nearest Honda dealership to get a Pre Purchase Inspection.
  • We took the car to get a Pre Purchase Inspection ($100). The service department came up with a couple of minor things (brake light, power steering flush, side motor mount replacement because its worn out a little bit, and the need for new tires in the next 5K to 10K miles). The total came up to be $1200. A little overprice due to dealership inflation. However, we used these facts to further negotiate a better price!
  • After the PPI, we sat down with the owner and explained to him what the inspection found out. We convinced him to drop the price by $500. After a couple minutes of agony, he agreed. He signed over the title and we gave him $12500 in cash!
  • We paid $700 in taxes, title, and license (TTL).
  • In total, my car came out to $13,300 ($12500 + $100 + $700). The best thing is that I will have no car loan to pay in the future! The car is all mine :) Evil laugh.

Lessons Learned

  • Dealing with a dealership is a hassle.  They wasted so much of my time with small talk! Plus, they never wanted to negotiate price unless you were willing to sign right then and there. I would have paid more than $15K for the car I just bought. Eliminate the middleman!
  • The process of buying the car was so much easier through a private owner. I think it helped that the private owner lives 3 minutes away from my in-laws. It felt good knowing the money was going to a friendly neighbor. I, also, did not have to sign pages and pages of fine print. When we decided on a price, we made a note explaining how much the car was bought for, and the title was signed over.
  • Always get a Pre Purchase Inspection if you are buying form a private owner. For us, it was a great investment that dropped the price of our car. It paid back in less than an hour. Plus, the things a dealership quotes, can usually be done by you or a trusted mechanic for less. As far, as the tires, I probably won’t need new ones until the winter.
  • Be friendly during negotiations. In the end, both parties felt satisfied with the negotiation. I was happy because I got my car for a great price. The owner was satisfied with the price we offered. I’m sure he was glad to be done!
Meeting my needs and budget
  • I really wanted to stay under $13K for my car. $10K would have been great, but I quickly found out I could not get the car I needed for $10K. I only went over by $300 and I stayed under $15K.
  • My parents did not want me to buy a used car. They really wanted me to get a new car with warranty so I would not have to worry about anything. They suggested I put down the $13k as a down payment and finance the rest. I put my foot down and explained that I did not want a loan and I wanted to stay under my budget.
  • Check out my post Buying a Car Part 1 to see what I originally wanted. I got the best price, great gas mileage, a car that drives well, ok insurance :) , and on the plus side, a great interior!
  • I am really, really hoping this car lasts me till 150,00 miles :) . Maybe even 200,000 miles!

What do you think???


Buying A Car Part 1

It’s April! Graduation is six week away and this month is going to be crazy! Between finishing up graduate school, finding a job, getting a car, and moving, I am not sure how I am going to survive. This blog is the only thing keeping me sane! Let’s just say I cannot wait to graduate.The time to start researching for a car has come.

I initially thought I wanted to spend no more than $12,000 on my first car, but I am not sure if that is going to be enough. I am willing to stretch the budget to $15,000. Although that will require a bigger loan. I currently have $10K saved up. I want a small affordable car with great gas mileage and low total miles. Four door car is a must! I am planning to keep this baby for years!

I have been looking at US News Rankings of Best Affordable Cars. This is the new 2012 list, but I am looking at previous models of the ranked cars since I am buying used. My husband, currently, has a Mitsubishi Lancer (paid about 13K). I like the car, although, the engine is noisy and it shakes when it gets on the highway. All in all I would not mind getting another one. Some people have told me to look at the Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, or Hyundai Elentra.

Things I am looking for in my car:

  • Great Gas Mileage
  • Best Price
  • Drives Well
  • Low Monthly Insurance Rate

I am not much of a car girl. I don’t care how pretty the interior is or if it can hit high speeds on the highway. I don’t drive over 70 mph, anyways. I honestly just want the best fuel economy for my buck. Oh, and I don’t want a super tiny car, unless it is a mini cooper ;P

I need to narrow down the list to three cars. Any preferences, comments, advice?