Monday, August 31, 2015

What's the Deal?

I used James Bragg’s car buying process that he lays out over on the Clark Howard blog he posted. This is my experience with it.

I created this two weeks before.

Sheet 2: Car Want

I placed the car I wanted right at the top. This was what I would tell every dealer so they would be working with the same information.

Toyota Prius V Three
No Accessories

I didn’t want White. Then I found out there was a premium for the “Pearl” paint. And heck no.

I went to Toyota,, KBB, and NADA to figure out a starting point for the car. Then I reread James Bragg’s car buying process and made a big note:
“James Bragg said to ignore all this.” 
But I had it already and it was nice to refer to while I was getting proposals.

KBB gave me the best itemized list for an Out-the-door price. I put it in my spreadsheet and was again happy to have it as a guide of types of things to expect.

My plan was to not spend more than $27,700 out-the-door for my new car. It worked within our budget and it was less than all the sites said. Also, it was not that far off from what I have been quoted in the past. Never once in this process did I tell anyone this price.

This was a simple sheet of information to refer too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Fun Part

Spreadsheet time!

Now it was time to build my ammo for buying this car. I created this months before. Assessing how much car I wanted and could afford.

Sheet 1: Interest Calc

There are a lot of auto loan calculators out there. But this is about my familiarity of the system. And who wants to be pulling up a site with a bunch of ads while talking to the Financial person at a dealer?

I made my own calculator in Google Docs that I could access on my phone:

Total Price
Int rate
# of payments

Monthly Payment
Total paid on Loan
Interest paid

There are a lot of ways to calculate these numbers, I used a teaching lesson.  I compared it to the Auto Loan Calculators on other sites. I felt comfortable with the numbers it was giving me.

Next to it I had to make a calculation for 0% interest: (Since dividing by zero is bad.)

Total Price
Int rate
# of payments

Monthly Payment
Total paid on Loan
Interest paid

Do this for yourself.

It seems so simple but every part you can put yourself on a familiar footing helps in the process. I had my sheet to look at with numbers in a format I was familiar with, and in dealing with Finance, it helped.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The 2015 Toyota Prius was decided on. I contemplated all the Trim levels, Two, Three, Four, and Five. (It is very odd that the first/lowest Trim model is Two. I’m sure there is a reason, but I’m not curious enough to find out.)

Why would cheap me buy up?

If everything goes right I will have this car for 10 plus years. I don't care about the navigation system. It will be nice as a back up, but Waze is so much better. But the more adjustable driver seat, cruise control, and the larger screen in the front, that I will spend the money on.

Also, I read a lot about the different trim models. There were quite a few reviews that viewed the cost for what you get between the Two and Three a good choice. This was not necessarily the case for the Three and upgrading to the Four. Hot pleather seats? No thank you.

In looking at dealer inventory the bulk of the Prius V’s being sold was Threes and Fours. There were actually quite a few dealers that had more Threes than the leather interior Fours.

When dealing with the dealers I would be dealing with something they had in stock and planned on moving a lot of them.

My choice is Toyota Prius V Three.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Making the Miles of Money Work

Beware … Math ahead...

On my WORST average week I drive 110 miles 3 times and 55 miles twice. And this driving pattern doesn’t look like it will be changing much in the years to come.

110 miles x3 + 55 miles x2 = 440 miles/wk
for 52 wks = 22,880 miles /yr
or if I look at just the school year 39 wks = 17,160 miles/yr

I round this down to 17,000 miles/yr and assumed $4/gallon for gas.

If I bought a replacement car that got 24 miles/gal to drive:
17, 000 miles/yr / 24 miles/gal x $4/gal = $2,833 /yr

If I bought a car the got 40 miles/gal to drive:
17, 000 miles/yr / 40 miles/gal x $4/gal = $1,700 /yr

$2,833 /yr - $1,700 /yr = $1,133 /yr

$1,133 /yr / 39 wks * 3.5wks/month = $102/month saved

Looking at the 60 month loan savings:
$1,133 /yr x 5 years = $5,665

If I keep this car for 10 years:
$1,133 /yr x 10 years = $11,133

I know this is a lot more driving them most, and it is focused on the school year. But this is my world right now.

If we were planning to buy a $20,000 car I can use the gas savings to actually buy the car I have wanted for years.

BUT wait theres more…

I made this conclusion in 2014, a year ago. Why did I not buy then?


Consumer Reports pointed out that it could not recommend the Prius V because the IIHS, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, rated it poor. Link to the 2014.

What can be seen cannot be unseen.

You see those pictures?

I couldn’t do that to myself. Steering wheel into the chest. And that moving front wheel into my legs?! If I wanted an unsafe car I would just keep the one I was driving.

Luckily Toyota had already announced that they were redesigning the front of the Prius V to meet the new standards and was releasing it for 2015!

Not only did Toyota fix the issues in the 2015, they improved it, and the Prius V became a 2015 Top Safety pick from the IIHS.  Link to the 2015.

That was it. A 2015 Toyota Prius v will be my second car.

All of this was a 6 year process remember. Critical thinking about what I wanted and needed in a car.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Choosing the Second

I have been watching the Prius line since it was released in 2001. I would have never bought it then. But over time that changed.

I TRIED to be open.

I looked at a lot of cars in the last 6 years. After 11, 12, ...17 years I was expecting my Corolla to die on the side of the road at some point.

As you can see in my description of my Corolla I really do look at cars as a mode of transportation. I was looking to replace it with a little bit more room in the back.

I changed my mind a dozen times between brands and models.

The Prius V came out in 2012. IT WAS PERFECT!!

But the price... (I am so price sensitive I pull out a calculator at the fast food place to really see if those “Meal Deals” are actually deals.)

I didn’t see the need to spend more than $20,000 on a car. Maybe I could afford more but ...why?

Every feature car sellers put in front of me was another thing to break over time. In 10 years would that Tech be relevant? I was not excited about anything except the safety features and fuel mileage changes.

Then I looked at how much I drive. Household situation change and the Math decided me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I still Point Out My $1000 Floor Mats

Now that I knew I was going to buy a 1998 Toyota Corolla, my dad and I started watching newspaper ads.

At the time I had credit, but no income. My dad and I pre-qualified at my credit union. If you are not a member of a Credit Union, find one here. I am actually a member of two different ones now.

All those Corollas on sale in the Newspapers were going for $13,999. So that was the goal.

Newspapers ads by law have to print the VIN. If they tell you “We sold that already” you can ask to see the bill of sale.

My father and I didn't care. Even if the dealer told us it was not there... we walked the car lots and matched the VINs.

My dad and my mother did this for her car the year before, for a 1997 Toyota Previa (they own it still btw). Nothing like having an ad for a car in hand and being told it was “sold”, then finding it and asking why they lied.

I was ready for this process when buying my car.

The weekend paper actually had TWO for $12,999! $1000 cheaper then I planed on. I didn't care what color, I wanted one of those.

We went to the Dealer and surprise! No games?!! He said they had both in stock?!!

Dealer: What color would you want?
Me: Lavender!
Dealer: OooooOOOookay. Let’s see. Sorry. No lavender. Any other color?
Me: Fine. Whatever one is on top of the list.
Dealer: Black?
Me: Sure.
(My husband is very grateful that this happened btw.)

We did the paper work. You know that takes hours, from the credit checks, approvals, dot matrix printing things up etc. Toyota Financial would beat the Credit Union offer. Great! We will go with that.

We had a problem.

The black car on top was not one of the $12,999 cars. We did all this paperwork and NOT for the right car. And in the two hours BOTH were bought.

I stared at him. I could tell that he was not playing at a game. I knew his daughter from school and in my heart he was really hoping to help me buy my first car.

He figured out that the difference was the black car DID NOT have floor mats included. It was different and that was enough to make it not qualify for the $12,999.

I pulled out my folder with my last 5 weeks of Newspaper clippings. Showed him the $13,999 was the price that I wanted to buy this car at. It was a regular occurring sale. And I was willing to wait until it happened.

He got $13,999 approved. And I bought my first car.

Now you would think it would end there.

But no.

I asked for the floor mats to be included.

Monday, August 17, 2015

What color: Lavender?

I rode the bus.

I rode the bus everyday to college. Now in some areas that is not shocking but in Southern California that is not a common occurrence. In Orange County, the county of urban sprawl it is almost impossible. My college campus was called a “commuter school” most people didn't live on campus.

I was really lucky. There was a single bus line that would go from two blocks from my parents house and arrived about two blocks from the campus.

I did that for 5 years getting my Engineering Degree and Minor.

My dad early on told me he would put down a car deposit, but I would have to pay all the rest, insurance, gas, and payments. At the time I could make that choice, I put it off until it was a graduation gift.

Two years before my graduation I started looking at cars. Reading Consumer Reports in the library. Listening to what people liked and didn't like about their cars. I really listened to what broke first.

A big one that I remember is no electric windows. Nope. Not on my car. I just would not fix it. Hand crank for me.

Four months before I graduated I was hosting a weekend long conference on campus. As President I would have a lot of places to go to around town. I took that as an opportunity to rent a Corolla and take it for a real test drive. (Just don't tell the rental agency that I scuffed up a corner on a pole coming out of a parking garage.) The Corolla was everything I needed.

It was perfect. I wanted one in Lavender.

Friday, August 14, 2015

It runs!

I have been shopping for a new car for the last 6 years. I WANTed to replace my 1998 Toyota Corolla. When I bought it Past Me told Future Me would keep it for as long as it drove or 20 years, whichever came first. Crazy? Me? YES!

Any day it was going to kaput on the side of the 5 Freeway.


My 1998 Toyota Corolla is still getting 24/26 miles per gallon. It is still in pretty good shape. No body work is needed, but the paint is totally shot. Saying it is black is generous. At the tire place I told them the car is “Blackish” years ago. It says "blackish" right there on the paper work.

Air conditioning works great. I replaced the inside door panel after replacing the outside back-right-side-door handle that broke. The key pins to start the car sticks and you have to commune with it just right to turn it on. I stopped using the radio because it would suddenly GET LOUD, and I just never cared about fixing it.

Years ago I pulled out a light bulb on the dash. It was blinking because the Airbag was not likely to deploy. It was 10 years old at the time. There was no way I was expecting them to still work.

It passes the California smog check, at least it did a year ago. I just replaced the starter last year. It has a really slow leak at the top of the engine block. Oil needs to be watched and added as needed.

Oh, did I mention the duct tape? The windshield wiper fluid container has duct tape on it to keep the fluid from evaporating out from the giant hole on the top. It happened because of opening and closing to check the oil. But the windshield wiper fluid still squirts out!

It all works. Just needs general maintenance. aka. lots of babying the quarks.

NEEDing a new car changed with The Spawn. Why did I NEED to replace? Safety.

When I bought the Corolla, airbags were just going in, side reinforced doors were not yet required, and LATCH was not fully implemented, etc. keeping the Corolla was being “penny wise and pound foolish”.

I should have replaced it as soon as she was born, but that was not something as a household we could fiscally do. Time has changed that a little bit. Enough to make carrying a car payment again a more flexible idea.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Second One

I bought a new car. My second car ever. New car is a 2015 Toyota Prius V which is to replace my very first car a 1998 Toyota Corolla.

I used James Bragg’s car buying process that he lays out over on the Clark Howard blog he posted here.

I have this nervous energy and I wanted to share my car buying process with you. Here I am on my Warcraft blog talking about car buying. The Spawn ended up sick for three days so I used that time to type this up.

I am doing this because I know you are all capable of doing this process. I have seen the spreadsheets you have made and/or used to game.

You are goal oriented whether that is downing a boss or collecting all the pets in game.

You might go into LFR blind now, but when you go to really raid you will at least watch a YouTube video.

I don’t understand why anyone today would walk into a dealer's home turf and let them run the show. That is raiding blind.

I will tell you how Mr. Bragg’s process went for me. But I have some story time with Hydra to do first.