Yesterday morning, we picked up Son #2 from camp. Although he had a great time during his week away, he was so ready to come home. I hadn't received the letter that he promised to write and I asked him about it. He said he couldn't use his "quiet time" in the evening to write because the counselors insisted the campers shower every evening! (Something that wasn't insisted on last year, apparently, because I sent Son #1 and Son #2 to camp with 7 clean changes of clothes and they returned home each with five (!) clean outfits!!! ICK! I was told by the camp counselor last year that it wasn't an unusual phenomenon.) Too busy showering to write a simple letter? If you knew how long Son #2 spends in the shower or bathtub, you wouldn't be surprised, either.
Anyway, on to Gloria and Steve. "Gloria" is our 2002 Dodge Caravan. She's a lovely shade of red (metallic flake) and has served us well. Son #2 named her 'Gloria' on the day we bought her in January 2002. She was a true Mom-mobile.
Anyway, we had been considering upgrading to a newer vehicle for while, preferably something with a peppier engine. Of the minivans, I find Dodge to be the most affordable (okay, cheap). Finding a base model in the color I like - Gloria's color - is difficult, and I don't want to spend a bunch of money on options I don't want. Dear Hubby occasionally checks the Dodge website for locally available inventory and wouldn't you know? A dealership in Hammond had a red 2006 Dodge Caravan with a V6 engine (Gloria didn't have a V6). We decided to take a trip over there after picking up Son #2 from camp.
Before continuing, let me tell you that I HATE shopping for cars. It's my least favorite thing to do - tied with going to the dentist. (Well, actually sitting in the waiting room at the hospital is my least favorite thing, but going to the gynecologist ranks higher than car shopping for me. You get the point.) Car shopping with three kids is even worse!
Dear Hubby and I play Good Cop/Bad Cop when we visit car dealerships. I make a really good Bad Cop. Dear Hubby is very patient, very diplomatic and will listen to the sales guy's entire spiel. Not me. I let Dear Hubby handle the test drive and the negotiations. Not in the "little woman doesn't know anything about cars and complicated financing" way. More in the mega-b$#@% way: I'm with three kids who have short attention spans, and mine's even shorter. Patience? Sorry, I'm attempting to reserve that for the kids (Son #2 is making up for lost time and driving Son #3 nuts).
This is what I said: "I want this vehicle in this price range. I want about this much for my trade, I want an interest rate no higher than X% for 60 months - when you two (meaning Sales Guy and Dear Hubby) make that happen, call me. I'll be out walking around with the boys." Far from feeling emasculated, Dear Hubby finds this amusing. He and Wayne (Sales Guy) get to work. Wayne offered us about $800 less than we wanted for Gloria, although still a fair price. (Let me tell you, Gloria is a mess! We made no attempt to spruce her up because we just going to "take a look." We weren't planning on buying.)
However, Wayne countered by offering a greater discount on the new van than Dear Hubby expected so it balanced out. I'm called back inside. Boys are running around the show room, generally being noisy. Wayne's office is barely larger than a cubicle so all six of us couldn't fit in there. I approved the deal. Dear Hubby takes the boys to see the new vehicle while I fill out the credit application. Son #2 dubs the minivan "Steve."
Time to let the finance guy do his job. Dear Hubby and I hang out with the kids. It looks like we're getting a new minivan. I refuse to get too excited, because if I find any part of the deal that I don't like, I WILL walk away. Next it was time to sign the paperwork. The young guy who cleans and moves the vehicles is taking a break so he entertains the kids in the showroom (balloons, free baseball caps, etc.) while Dear Hubby and I are discussing the details with the finance guy. This biggest thing to me is the monthly note. You are NEVER supposed to discuss your desired monthly note with anyone - especially the finance guy. They can be sneaky. If you're not paying attention, they can adjust the term of your loan to make the monthly payments fit your budget, but you end up with a 85 month term. Okay, I'm exaggerating slightly, but I've seen it happen.
The monthly note is slightly higher than what I wanted, but still within my comfort zone. The term is 60 months. (I'd love to finance for 48 months, but with gas prices being what they are, I don't want to drive my car note up that much per month or else I won't be able to afford to fill the tank.) So far, sounds good, we tell Finance Guy, by the way, what's the interest rate on the loan? 8.11% with Chrysler Credit Corp. That's awfully high. "I have to get back to the kids," I tell Finance Guy. "See if you can find us a better rate with another lender." Then I left the office.
Dear Hubby patiently waits while Finance Guy checks with other lenders. Meanwhile, Wayne sees me come back out and knows something's wrong. He actually looks scared. I tell him the interest rate was outrageous but I'm sure Finance Guy will find something better. He does and my monthly note is right where I wanted it to be - to the penny. I give my blessing and we proceed with the paper-signing.
Son #1 is a little teary-eyed at this point. He's going to miss Gloria. He said the same thing about his bunk bed when he moved into his own room a few weeks ago and when we dropped Son #2 at camp a week ago. He got over both very quickly. Besides, Steve practically IS Gloria (with a zippier engine, power locks and windows, and cruise control). We had a little school of Christian fish on the back of Gloria: two large silver ones, and three small silver ones, representing each of us. Son #1 wants to get the same for Steve. I tell him we will. He'll learn to love Steve soon.
Buying Steve means I don't have to take Gloria this week for the front end alignment and the scheduled maintenance she's due before Dear Hubby and Son #1 drive to Boy Scout Camp in Alabama. They leave Saturday and will be gone for a week. They'll be driving Steve instead and will have a few other boy scouts with them. So much for the new car smell! ;-)