I am in the lobby of Carmax selling my first grown up car.
I bought it in 2007 when I was converted to full time at my first biotech job. The summer before I went to work at my current job. When I finally decided to jump into the world of dating- didn't start well. Just before I joined team in training - which was such a fun experience and a huge boost to my mental health and the reason why I started this blog.
Because it was so entwined in the fun and excitement of my early 20's you'd think I would be sad to see it go but I am not. It was such a poor financial decision and I felt almost coerced into or like I had gotten myself tied up into buying it. I was so ashamed of the financial pickle I'd gotten myself into. No, it is actually a longer story.
In college I paid my way with grants, loans and work study. Every September I'd meet with the financial aid department and we'd go through how I was going to put together the cost of classes and room and board for the year. Work study was an integral part of that and I started the lab tech job that I'd have for the next four years on my first day of class freshman year. I always quip that seeing my loan amount each year was the biggest driver for doing well and staying on track to graduate in a timely manner. I'd divide my costs out to determine how much each lecture was costing me and that price made it so the only classes I ever missed were when I was interviewing for grad school (if my college roomie still reads this then yes I still count when I'd drag myself to 8am physics halfway through). But I also realize how I missed the fact that if my job was contributing to the total cost per quarter then I couldn't have any extra expenses or I should've gotten another job for those. In the early 00's they still sent credit cards in the mail and before I knew it I had a couple. And I didn't understand them. Fast forward to moving to CT for graduate school. More money on my credit cards to get there and get settled.
But then I was living the life. I had a stipend every month and quite frankly I felt really lucky and basically rich but FREAKED out over the credit card debt I'd gotten into. I genuinely didn't know what to do. No one that I was close to had enough money to be any good at it and I didn't ask the ones who may have. So I called a debt consolidation company I found online and started making payments. I didn't use credit cards. I was so proud of myself.
Now back to that car dealership in 2007. Still debt free, still not using cards and finally employed in a real job. I was mortified and ashamed when the financing came back on the first car I test drove. I was so embarrassed that they saw the debt consolidation on my history. By this time I'd started reading Suze Orman and realizing what a silly thing it had been to do the DC on (what I now know was) such a small amount. But again instead of acting in my best financial interest I took the impossibly bad rate on that first car I tested. It makes me sad for 25 year old me. I was too embarrassed to keep looking for better financing or to have to go through a credit check at another dealer. I was also probably too lazy to figure out what I was going to do for a car while I saved for one and I was just ready to have the car question answered (so as not to be embarrassed). I bought it, the first car I test drove. And when people would ask if I loved my car they'd get a hesitant or forced smile.
As I continued to have a real job and to extinguish the tiny flicker of shame I always had when I saw my car I worked to pay it down quickly and our relationship improved when I owned the title outright. But I am not sad to see it go (though, I was a bit sad no one we offered it to wanted the old girl). I guess it'd be redemptive to see it as a symbol of growth but it wasn't. For me it sort of symbolized how often I would do dumb stuff so that I don't have to feel momentary shame- even when that shame is unfounded. I would tell my 25 year old self to go easier and that she shouldn't be ashamed about something that she was really working hard on. And I am sorry that past me had to feel that way so often and that current me still does occasionally.
* the car max motto is "the way car buying should be" and totally inspired this post
PS. These heads are the BEST financial decision I've ever made and they still haven't ceased to be funny.