As readers of the comments to my last post have learned, the car is not in good shape. I’m not exactly sure what happened to it to get it to this point, but to quote from my spouse’s email to me about what the Saturn dealer said:
Ugh, it’s the engine, I mean the whole engine. Something broke inside of it and pushed some crankshaft out so basically we need to rebuild it or buy a “new” engine.
My spouse did call me to tell me the news, but he also emailed what he remembered as far as details. So, the engine – dead. Cost of replacing it? Around $3700. I said $3500 before but that was my brain doing some self-preserving rounding trick on the numbers, I guess. Plus there are any random incidentals like the tow to the shop so the total will be above $3700 if we go this route, but I am going to just use that number right now for simplicity’s sake.
So again, back to the “options”. We could buy a new (to us) car instead of fixing this one. It is something I am sorely tempted to do, but as far as our overall budget and debt load, an option I don’t think I am comfortable with. We still owe ~$3300 on this car, and we’d have to roll that into our next car’s payment. We don’t currently have the money to pay off this car and buy a new car and pay it all in cash. At all. I have to think on this option more. I’m not sure how comfortable I am buying a car that is more than a few years old and having a payment on it still. This car is 7 years old, so I don’t know why my brain thinks like this, but all I can wrap my head around is buying a 3 year old car for $10-12,000, not buying a different ~7 year old car for a lot less. How much less? I have no idea. At this point I’m babbling so I’ll move on to other options. I haven’t discarded this idea but I’m not leaning towards it either right now. Ask me again in three hours and I might feel differently. I do think a $3700 car repair might qualify as “driving the car into the ground”, though.
We’ve done some research on possible other places to take it to get it fixed (we’d have to tow it there of course) and my spouse is currently calling around to see what our options are on that front. I honestly have no idea how that will pan out. I’ll know better later this afternoon.
So, that leaves us looking at – what if the $3700 number is what we are left dealing with? The Saturn dealer offers financing. Yes, the evil of financing. I would generally reject that out of hand, but they do offer 90 days same as cash so if we took advantage of that, it would give me a little time to gather up as much money as I possibly could. My thoughts on that is to pay $1000 immediately and put the other $2700 on the 90 days same as cash plan. Then when my transfers out of the ING subaccounts go through as well as my spouse gets paid again (within the next week and a bit), I pay another $1000. Then I will have about 80 days to come up with the other $1700. I would snowflake anything I get my hands on for the next two months directly to that $1700 and if it doesn’t completely get paid off, I can decide then if I want to pull the remainder from college savings accounts or if I want to balance transfer the remainder to one of my two empty credit cards.
And that begs the question – what if another emergency happens in the next 90 days? Honestly that’s something that I can’t completely wrap my head around but obviously is a very real possibility. Paying everything possible to this debt before rebuilding the emergency fund leaves us open to another disaster as well. At this point, I genuinely can say I am just trying the best I can to not let this become the beginning to a huge downward spiral. And everything else aside, I am trying the best I can to figure out how to minimize the damage to our finances and maximize our options so that we turn this around as fast as possible. That may necessitate revising the above to rebuilding the $1000 emergency fund before paying off the remaining $1700, if we go that route. I don’t know yet. Still… thinking.
The destruction of my spouse’s student loan will have to wait. The $175.17 left on the 0% credit card will have to wait. We’ll get through this, whatever we decide to do. And whatever that is, for the first time since I started the blog, that debt number is going to up this month instead of down. Sigh. And I will definitely keep you posted. Your thoughts and comments are welcome, my brain, still in shock.