My car died. Husband and I joked that we, at some point, wanted to move down to one car, but we were not thinking this soon! So last week was a rough jumble of a rental car and heading to work together. Husband’s car is a manual, meaning stick shift, meaning a completely new way to drive in the already chaotic stop-and-go that is my commute to work.
At first, I completely balked. There was no way I was going to learn stick, it is too hard, you can just get that out of your mind RIGHT NOW. I was completely freaked. There are two other options for me: either I can take the bus, or I can bike to work like Husband does. I don’t want to bike because I get sweaty and gross pretty easily, and plus I would have to change at work and we’d have to equip up the second bike for me and that would cost MONEY. The bus is fairly simple, I would only have to take two to get to work. The downside is that I would have to leave the house over a hour early to make it to work on time, and it might take me longer to get home.
Deep down, I just wanted a regular, automatic car. I wanted to just snap my fingers and have the money to buy another car, no questions asked. At work, I was asked several times why Husband and I just don’t buy a replacement car. It’s funny because I think people think I’m joking or exaggerating when I say that Husband and I don’t have the money for that. But we really don’t — we’re already spending almost 300 on Husband’s car payment a month, then about 500 a month in student loans and 450 for credit card payments, not to mention 400 for Stepson’s daycare and over 800 on rent. Maybe that’s TMI for coworkers, but I don’t care. This is our reality. It’s why I unplug all the electronics before I go to work each day and why we shop at Aldi’s, why Husband biking was crucial to our gas budget.
So, buying another car is a pipe dream. Where did that leave us? The position money wise that we’re in right now says we can’t think about buying another car until the end of 2013 — a year and change from now. In that long stretch of time, at some point, there will be an emergency where I have to drive Husband’s car. So I agreed to learn to drive it, on the condition that I wouldn’t be forced to drive it to work until I felt completely comfortable about driving shift. In the mean time, we’ll get a monthly bus pass for me.
My dad, who taught me how to drive back in the day, took me out twice this weekend, and in his patient, easy-does-it manner taught me how to drive a shift stick. I know about clutch, gears, and the car dying while you’re waiting at the intersection. I practiced getting it going on an incline and rolling my eyes when someone behind me honks. I drove from Joliet to Barrington, a good hour drive that involves side streets and major highways, and the car only died ONCE. Which, Husband pointed out, was excellent as I had only begun learning the day before. It was crazy, but exciting to be able to do something I thought I would completely suck at. I still need to work on shifting smoother so I’m not wrecking the car, but Husband thinks I’m a lot harder on myself than is warranted. He and my dad were teasing me because sometimes, when I worried the car was going to die as I got it started, I would go, ‘Shhhhh. Shhhh.’ But they also both agreed that anything I could do that was keeping the car from dying was worth it.
I don’t think I’ll drive Husband’s car to work everyday. Driving shift in the city is a pain in the ass — you’re constantly shifting, half stopping, and it’s definitely easier to stall out. Husband doesn’t even really like it, hence why he bikes. We’re hoping that between my tax rebate (which we still haven’t gotten yet) and some other extra money that mightmightmight be coming in, we can close in on paying off the car. Already our auto insurance went down 20 without my car on it, and we’re talking about how we can limit driving during the week and on weekends so we can keep the gas budget low still (Husband’s car only gets 18 mpg and has a turbo, meaning premium gas, meaning $$$). City stickers for cars are $100, so only having to buy one this year is a big relief.
Yes, I just spent an entire post talking about a car. Our finances are a constant juggling act, and something like this just sends all the balls up in the air, complete chaos. I like to have the chance to get it all out, write it down, see in print that yes, this is happening to us, and yes, it’s very scary, but we have a plan, and we’re making our way through it, slowly but surely.