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Good News and Bad News (and More Good News)…

June 26, 2011

So, which do you want first? The good news? Great, here it is. Through months of saving and trying to stick to our budget, we’ve managed to save enough to get the sprinkler system and grass installed in our entire yard! We’ve even squirreled away enough to add some trees, a sandbox, and a pump for the well.

Okay, now for the bad news. We are using all of that money to buy a new (to us) van. We’ve been driving a 2000 Pontiac Montana that we bought a few years ago. We tried to pay it off a little early (which we were able to do, but not by much) and it has been a pretty decent van. It seats 8 with the bench seat in the middle, has a rack on top for luggage, has two sliding doors (one is on a remote), and is pewter/brown/charcoal colored so it doesn’t show as much dirt between washings. We’ve liked it. But over the last year, we’ve had to sink a bunch of money into her just to keep her alive, and our mechanic finally broke the news that he thought she was about done for…

So, now we’re in the market for a new van. Here’s what we’re looking for: A van that seats at least 7, has a rack on top, is highly-rated for dependability, has between 40k-60k miles, and is about 3-4 years old. We’ve really narrowed it down to a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, or 2008 or ’09 Chrysler Town & Country. Still a lot of study to do before we plunk down our sprinkler money… Actually, this video makes me want to buy a Toyota…

It stinks that we won’t be able to do our yard this year, as the children were very excited to play on grass, etc. But, we feel pretty blessed that we now have a few thousand dollars saved for the van, since we would always rather have a small monthly payment.

The plan:

We had to spend about $600 to get one part of the van fixed before our trip to Lake Tahoe. We will pray that the transmission doesn’t go out (it may last another 50,000 miles, who knows?) while we’re on our trip. We keep saving money, and actually maybe get the sandbox built (since that is our children’s favorite), and start looking for a van in the fall, hopefully saving enough to put down almost half of the money. Next spring, after continuing to save, we start the yard again…

I’m glad we didn’t start the yard too quickly or go into debt for any of it! If we would have thought, “Let’s charge it, and we’re sure we’ll have the money by fall”, we’d be in a huge mess right now. We couldn’t have known that we would be buying a van this year, but that is the reason we try to be smart and frugal with our finances, right?

Lessons Learned:

  1. Rarely do things go as planned
  2. Try to save up and pay cash for everything
  3. Consumer debt is horrible and almost always makes things worse
  4. I hate shopping for vans
  5. Try not to be too let down when plans are ruined
  6. Seriously, van shopping is lame

Any ideas for a van you like?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    July 6, 2011 11:20 am

    We love our Honda Odyssey. We do the lease option, as we don’t like all the ‘unexpected’ repairs that come up as a vehicle gets older, and it’s always under warranty. Not the best situation for everyone, but it seems to have worked to our advantage since 2005.

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