You know the epiphanies that occur during the sometimes awkward transition from college to full adulthood? We call them Second Puberty.
There comes a time in every car’s life when it needs a new timing belt. And with my old 1990 Acura Legend, neither I nor my parents wanted to spring for it. It was time for me to buy my own car.
No matter how old you are, buying your first car, being responsible for the payments, the insurance, is a milestone. It’s a big responsibility. You remember getting your license at 16, right? Being able to drive gives you a sense of independence. You’re no longer bound to your parents to get to where you’re going, even if you’re just driving to school or work. It’s the principle of the thing. It’s the same when you buy a car. This time you’re really and truly on your own. No more looking to Mom and Dad when it breaks down or when the brakes need to be replaced.
I can give you a list of all the things I did wrong when I bought my little Yaris, beginning with doing very little shopping around and basically buying the one that looked the nicest on the manufacturer’s website. I didn’t know anything about negotiating, list prices or receipt prices. I only test drove the one car and decided I liked it the best. And worst of all, I bought it new. Though the Yaris has maintained its value pretty well, there was still that chunk of depreciation as soon as I dove it off the lot.
Driving it off the lot was an exhilarating experience. I did it all by myself. I made the decision, I purchased it with my own loan that only I was responsible for. It was almost scary how easy it was to walk out the door with my new key in my hand and that new car smell in the seats.
But coming away with the car was only part of what made it real to me. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents. We had agreed together that it was time for me to buy a car, and they even gave me the Acura to trade in as a down payment. When I told them that the new car was mine, that everything was signed and done, they were a little shocked. They expected to have to help more, at least by cosigning the loan. I stood on my own two feet and did it by myself, no training wheels. I didn’t do it particularly well, but it was done. It was scary, but it felt really good.