Diane's Odyssey

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Diane’s Odyssey

I like the pun, Diane! It looks like Diane’s major decisions will be the financial ones (how much to pay. where to get the money from) for her NEXT vehicle …


So Adrian says, “Tell me about your car” and I go, “So, what ya wanna know?”

What I drive:  2000 Honda Odyssey (Minivan)

Bought it new in Sept 1999 (had it 9 years) – Honda had just remodeled the Odyssey and there were waiting lists.  We paid $2000 over invoice, got off the list, and added roof racks, a cassette player, and a security system.  The options for paying cash at that time were to pay off the house or pay for the van.  At that time, interest rates were higher on vehicles (as they’d been all my life until recent months), so we (I was married at the time) paid off the van, for $28,100.

Today, with 215,000 miles on it, edmunds.com and Kelley’s blue book disagree on the value.  Edmunds gives it about $2100 selling to a private party, and Kelley’s says $4675.  I tried a quickie “black book” estimate at a local dealer’s online trade-in estimator but it could not compute an estimate without seeing the vehicle.  Neither of the estimates even provides an option for a security system.  I’m inclined to think Edmunds is more realistic, but hope that when I go to sell, the buyer is looking at Kelley’s.

Now Adrian wants to know, ” Why don’t you take public transport, ride a bike, own a rickshaw i.e. why do you need a car?”

When I was in Ohio, I considered riding a bike to work, but it’s 10 miles by car, probably 12-14 by bicycle and with iffy weather, not safe to assume that I would be able to ride home even if I could ride to work.  I also often went to a gym after work, in the dark, which was not on a bike path, but near busy roads (I don’t ride on streets).  Different kind of workout from the bike.

SO, then I considered doing it once a week and taking the risk;  also not being able to get groceries or drive to the base (customer’s facility) if I needed to attend impromptu meetings (and the bicycle is unacceptable for the kind of dress I would need).

Currently, in NC, we are debating whether or not I need a car or should use one that is available here.  We are keeping mine because we need transportation for an 80-pound old english sheepdog and the owner of the other vehicles available does not want to use it for that purpose.

Finally Adrian wants to know:  “What/when/how (much) is your next planned vehicle purchase and how do you expect to pay for it?”

I may sell the van this year;  probably most likely by March 2010 or transfer it to my son at that time (when he turns 16) – it’s original intended disposition.  At that point, we will reassess what to do about doggie transportation, and hopefully have a solution.

If I buy something else, it must be safe, capable of transporting what I need transported, have adjustable sideview mirrors without leaving the driver’s seat, a great stereo system (CD and cassette preferred, but may opt for an MP3 add-in if available or another option we devise (i.e., need not be built into the vehicle), and suitable for any other purposes I may have at that time.

Hopefully, that’s answered all the questions about transportation.  I don’t know if I’m on a bus route here, but mostly my trips are to doctor’s offices in an unfamiliar city and to the grocery stores.  Can’t tote as much as I buy on a bus, and I would waste a lot of time using a bus to and from relay stations (which is how I think they are set up).  My van gets 20 mpg, which apparently is still pretty good for a van.  I’m using it a lot less frequently, and it is here for trips back to Ohio to see my sons.

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Reader Comments

Diane, is there anything wrong with the van? I wasn’t sure if there was from your post, or if you where planning on trying to sell it and purchase another vehicle.

If it is still running fine, I would keep it and just focus any “new vehicle money” on going toward your Money Making 101 and then Money Making 201 steps. Our GMC Envoy is 8 years old, but I plan on driving it until it falls apart to keep from spending money on such a depreciating item, lol. Just IMHO.

A 16 year old boy driving a minivan?:( Good idea, but I’ll bet it isn’t his:)

@Diane – We can’t live without our own transportation here in NC, it is not dense enough to have feasible public transportation.

@Adrian – We have been discussing about the cost of the vehicle itself. How about the cost of transportation? It varies if you travel far for work or if can opt to work from home to offset some of these costs.

@ Mark – True; we don’t have a ‘budget’ item for transportation costs, yet. Just a clear idea that we want to keep 75% of our (hopefully, ever growing) Net Worth in investments … and, as little of the rest as possible in depreciating ‘assets’.

We still have a ways to go on our financial journey …

Hey Diane, a good way to get the true value of almost anything is to search for already sold items on ebay.
You need an account to do an advanced search, not sure if you have one.
Ebay’s great for research like this because there basically the perfect supply and demand model.

Not sure what car your looking at next, but if your putting on lots of miles, and looking for value, I would stick with the big three Japanese car makers, Toyota, Honda, and Nissian, and in that order.

@ Diane – Seems like you have a debt to pay … AND a car to buy … any thoughts as to how you’re going to find the money for both?

Hi everyone – thanks for your comments!

There’s no debt on the minivan (if you thought there was, Adrian – not sure what “debt to pay” you’re referring to) and am not planning to buy in the near future – we have 4 vehicles outside for 2 people, one is used by my fiance for work and is work-provided. I can use the others for most things.

In an update, my soon-to-be 15-year-old son said that a friend of the family said he would give him his old car. Not sure why, leaving it to his Dad to decide if it qualifies as a use-and-learn vehicle. Neither of us believe kids should have fast cars or expensive cars – mostly believe “wrecks” are the best for them to learn on: dents are less noticeable, but mostly he can learn how to fix a car himself. So, looks like he won’t want the van at this point.

Mark – most of the US is like that, too. Some of them are trying to improve other forms of transportation, but we’re so spread out, it’s not likely. Your point on the cost of alternative transportation is a good one.

Josh, no advanced Ebay account, but good advice: Thanks!

Lee – Do 16 y.o.’s own anything usually? Would be nice if they could afford the insurance.

@ Diane – I was talking about the $63k debt that I see here:


…. so, I gather that if/when you sell the minivan you will NOT be replacing it and the ‘doggy transportation’ thing is a side issue?

@Lee & Diane – I think most 16 year old’s get cars these days. I had one before I turned 17, although I had to pay for it with my own money and get my own insurance (but I think the trend is now parents buying their kids first vehicles and insurance from what I’ve been seeing and in fact- I wrote a post about how teenagers are in the perfect position to put aside some money during their high school years on Wisebread.com and do you know the comments I got?! Parents saying that the idea was ridiculous, kids shouldn’t be expected to save the money they earn on jobs nor would they do it if they understood the value of compound interest and how much those first few thousands would be when they were ready to retire; if kids work during the summer how will they take trips to Europe and attend soccer or music camp, etc. I am still in shock!)

@ Debbie – it depends on where you are coming from in a socio-economic level. My parents provided vehicles for us, but they were not brand new. When I first started working, I knew a parent (man) who gave his 16 yo daughter a beautiful new sports car that became the death of her – not skilled enough to handle any car, let along one with that much power.

Schools are becoming more competitive (and by school, I mean college – most folks I know who went to college always refer to it as “school” (as in, “Where did you go to school?”) and that is part of the “sign of the times” where more and more people are getting college degrees. In an effort to differentiate themselves, that means more people are getting master’s degrees or looking to put a “better” school on the diploma. The trips to Europe, the soccer and music camps, are all part of what can go on a college application. Someone who stayed at home and played video games (which is what it looks like my sons are doing) will have to be creative in making that into something that built character or skill. Someone who shows that they worked during the same time period shows a lot about their own socio-economic class – one, they felt a need to work for the money, and two – they are a worker. SO they get one bad knock along with the good one Did you ever hear the expression, “Don’t call me ‘Sir’ – I work for a living”? Those are the guys who work during the breaks – they are good workers, hard workers, but not the ones who had life handed to them on a silver platter. Folks who enter the officer corps of a military service after being prior enlisted are penalized for that enlisted time, believe it or not. Just check and see how high up they go in the service. It could just be part of their attitude.

Those parents are setting up their children for a different competition than the one you are most likely familiar with. The kids themselves tho would be more likely to save if we did teach them about money. Mine keep wanting to save their money and have us spend for what they want. I’m not sure what they’re saving for – I have to remind them that their grandparents sent them money instead of a gift so that they could buy themselves what they wanted. I hope they buy me a good rest home one day 🙂

I don’t plan on replacing the mini-van, but I can’t think what transportation there is out there that would suit me better. I love being able to toss just about anything I want into it and go. I had wanted an SUV, but the van got better gas mileage, and given how much heavier it should be over cars today, gets probably a better mpg per pound that those “fuel efficient” cars I see on TV. I mean something that is the size of a bug on a windshield getting only 34 mpg is pretty poor in my book. And I’d be the one squashed if I hit anything with it!

No, if I get rid of the van now, I’d use one of my df’s vehicles, until such time as we decided to swap out one of those. Basically, we have his vehicle available for my use, his truck available (but only has a front seat, well, there is a squished up space where a smaller dog could fit, but I have an Old English Sheepdog and he is big and strong, not small and lithe, so that wouldn’t work well for him.

So, we’d most likely have someone come up with a solution for doggy transportation before I sell the van. It’s also still the only way I can “run away from home” if I ever get the urge, so like every “old” person out there, I don’t want anyone to take away my keys yet!!!

@ Debbie – I’d love to see the link to the article (and, comments!) … our children know that if they want cars, they will need to buy their own. We will contribute (prob. up to 50%) …

@ Diane – Thanks for the clarification.

@ Adrian http://www.wisebread.com/help-your-teenager-earn-their-first-million I admit the math isn’t perfect, but the general idea was high schoolers have a great opportunity to start their investments during a time when most don’t have a ton of financial obligations to worry about. Once you hit college and the “real world” that all changes – plus you lose time.

@ Debbie – Thanks. The principles are sound: start as early as you can, invest in anything that provides a return greater than inflation, and wait … presto … a million bucks! You may not even need Making Money 201 🙂

@Adrian – except I’m not 16 any more 🙂

@ Debbie – It was more of a generic “one needs to do this …” rather than a ‘you’ (as in Debbie) needs to do that. Oh, to be 16 again 🙂

[…] Diane and I have a discussion around what comes first, the “debt or the car”? It’s moot … Diane know what she needs to do! […]

I’m with you Adrian, my stepson is 16 now and knows that if he wants a car, he’ll have to purchase it himself, just like I did when I was 16.

While I was a teenager, living in Tennessee, working part time to buy my own car(and better school clothes than my parents could afford), many of the other kids were getting freebee cars from their parents, as well as the finest school clothes from regular mall trips, as well as escort trips to the finest colleges to ‘scout out the best’ and get ready for the Ivy League.

Interestingly, i’ve made contact again with many of them on Facebook and even seen some of them back home when we go to my parents house for the holidays in Tennessee. Most of them have lower income jobs now and aren’t doing so well unfortunately. Even the school’s ‘top 10’ and ‘most likely to succeed’ have been struggling for many years according to their own statements.

I think many of them are wishing that their parents didn’t give them everything they wanted even up through their college years. They now unfortunately have to learn stuff about money in their 30’s that they could have started learning as a teenager. Stuff like “no” and “I can’t buy that” and “I guess i’ll have to roll my sleeves up, delay gratification and save”.

@Debbie – Good to hear (or read) your voice again. I agree with your points on the benefits of starting early. My kids are now 8 and 10 and have started receiving an allowance.

They get 2/3 in cash and 1/3 in a savings account. It goes into the savings account automatically (just like Mom and Dad’s investing).

I figure if I get them into the habit of setting aside some of their “income” now, they’ll be more prone to start early as you mention in your article.

Keep up the great work and I wish you much success.

[…] inspiration for this post comes from a comment (on a post by Diane about her car), where Debbie says: I think most 16 year old’s get cars these […]