Time To Say Goodbye: Breaking Up Before Valentines To Save $$$
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There comes a point in any relationship where a decision has to be made:
Whether the relationship is something that is worth continuing and pouring further resources into,
Whether the benefits of maintaining that relationship are dwarfed by the effort to keep it going.
In the past, some might say that I often did not recognize the exit point in a timely fashion and therefore placed myself in a “beating a dead horse” situation.
Call it sentiment, call it complacency, call it cluelessness, and you probably would be right on all accounts.
Well on February 12th, I ended a very long term relationship, to be frankly the longest I have had as an adult.
I know a lot of you are likely shaking your heads saying, “Xrayvsn how could you! Just two days before Valentines!”
To be honest, it was purely a cost saving maneuver (I can feel the XX segment of the audience glowering at the screen at me right now).
But it is the truth.
As I looked at the future through my crystal ball, all I could see was dollar signs getting bigger and bigger.
So I finally pulled the plug on the relationship and unceremoniously ended it, especially when I already had a replacement in mind.
Okay, before you start coming at me with pitchforks, let me explain.
The relationship that just ended was with my first “attending physician” car , the same car I infamously wrote about as one of my great financial mistakes (#6a to be more precise) as well as being highlighted in my AUTObiography post.
[Surely you did not think I was talking about my relationship with my recently minted fiancee, did you?) Shame on you! 🙂 ]
It was a car that I could not afford at the time, as I was drowning in student loan debt, and required bank financing.
I lessened the magnitude of this financial mistake by holding the car as my main daily driver for 11 years and 230k miles, and then passed it to my mother in 2015 when I upgraded my ride to the 2015 Tesla I currently now drive.
I remember back in 2015, I asked the Tesla dealership how much I could get for a trade-in value of the Mercedes and they came back with $250.
Given that I had just put new tires on the car for almost that amount, I decided to keep it.
All was not lost as the Mercedes was put to good use.
My mother took over as the primary driver and used it to run errands as well as pick up my daughter from school.
Even when the Mercedes was my daily driver, I was periodically hit with some expensive repair bills as well as the pricey routine maintenance required.
In the past few years it was not unusual to be responsible for a $2-4k repair bill each time when parts invariably started to breakdown.
By always having the work performed at the local Mercedes dealer I also ensured that I was paying top dollar to get my car back on the road again.
But pay it I did, because it was far more convenient for me to pay the bill and keep my fingers crossed that the car would be trouble free for an extended period.
As my mother was not a high mileage driver (averaged about 6k miles/year compared to my 25k miles/year), I foolishly thought that this would make the Mercedes relatively cheap to own for several years at least.
I was also secretly hoping to at least keep the car until it hit the 2nd high mileage award for a Mercedes at 310k miles (500k km).
[Several years earlier I did receive a high mileage badge and certificate when the car hit 155k miles (250k km).]
However as the repairs started to increase in both frequency and price, I had my doubts that I would be getting that 2nd Mercedes badge.
The final straw happened on Feb 10th.
My mother sent me a message saying that there was a red warning light on the display with the message to go to service and a message about the battery/alternator.
Late last year, after another service visit of $2.5k, the service advisor mentioned that there were some other big ticket items that would be required in the future (his estimate was an additional $3k would be needed).
I called the service department and inquired how much an alternator would cost ($1500-$1900) and/or battery ($500).
I knew at this point the Mercedes was a lost cause and vowed to replace it ASAP.
Not knowing when the Mercedes would breakdown and leave my daughter and mother stranded on the side of the road, I began looking for its replacement in earnest.
My car qualified for lifetime roadside assistance from Mercedes (a program discontinued in 2011) because I purchased it new in 2004.
However if a free tow was required, it would be to the nearest Mercedes dealer where I would have to get the repair done or else be financially responsible for the tow.]
I knew the Toyota Camry was a reliable car and that it was much less expensive to repair than any German automobile.
My fiancee just so happens to own a Camry and has been very happy with it.
I ended up finding a used 2014 Camry that just came up for sale by a local Toyota dealer that checked all the boxes.
Even better, the dealership offered double what Tesla did, and gave me a $500 trade-in value for the Mercedes which had 256k miles on it (I originally bought the car in 2014 for $40k).
A surprised reaction.
When I first told my mother that I was getting rid of the Mercedes, she actually became quite sentimental.
Even though it was my first real car I bought as an adult, it was she who had become quite attached to it.
She even tried to convince me that, because it was a German luxury automobile, it could continue to go on for much longer if I would just go ahead and put it in for service.
As she was not footing the bills, I could understand her point of view.
But I was pretty adamant that the Mercedes had to go.
She was also not too impressed that I wanted to go with a Toyota, thinking it was a step down in quality and reliability from the three pointed star brand.
After showing her article after article of how the Toyota Camry is one of the most reliable used cars out there, as well as telling her that there would be many improved technological and safety advances that would be in a car a decade younger, she finally came around.
She still was quite emotional, especially when we were taking personal items out of the car prior to the trip to the Toyota dealer (she actually broke down in tears).
I took the wheel of the Mercedes for the last time and drove my mother and daughter to the dealership about 30 miles away.
Thankfully there were no issues for the trip and the warning lights that my mother had described never appeared.
The 2014 Camry we had purchased had 111k miles on it and appeared to be in great condition cosmetically and mechanically.
The dealer had done a 160 point Toyota inspection, replaced the front brake pads, did an oil change, and had detailed the car for us.
Driving the car home, I could already see the huge improvement in ride quality and it just felt safer.
One huge bonus for my mother was that this vehicle had a backup camera.
After just 1 day of driving the car on her own, my mother messaged me saying that she loved the car and could now see why I thought the Mercedes had become a piece of junk.
I could have probably fixed the Mercedes for about 1/6 the cost of the Camry and press my luck on how long till the next mechanical issue cropped up.
However since neither my daughter or mother are well equipped to handle a breakdown, upgrading the car to something safer and more reliable was worth it to me for the simple peace of mind it provides.
I am sure this car will not be immune to some need of repair in the future, but I do not anticipate the same expenses for labor and parts as those for Mercedes.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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