Saturday, December 27, 2014


As I write this, I'm sitting at Michelle's place in Sun Valley. In and of itself, that's a good thing. It means that we got some of Joy's back Disability money. Not all of it, but enough to make a pretty radical addition to our lives - a new car. Well, not new new. But a 2013 Ford Focus five-door is nothing to sneeze at, though we very nearly did.

The plan for a new car was simple enough - simply hand over a massive wad of cash to a willing dealer. I'd already chosen a Ford hatchback/wagon, simply because they had the most options in our price range. We'd decided to put down $10,000 as either outright payment or a hefty down payment, because I had one dealership in mind and one only. Sound Ford in the Seattle suburb of Renton runs ads in the Seattle Times that border on the ridiculous - BUY A BRAND NEW FORD FOR $9,000!!!!! - and I was fully intent on getting just that, just stopping to pick up a cop of the Sunday paper and walking into their lot bright and early and saying "I want this car right here" while pointing to the ad. But just to be safe, we looked through their selection of used vehicles as well, picking out a 2013 Focus five-door similar to the one we settled on. We wound up leaving for the big city a day early and spent the night at a hotel in Auburn to be fully rested for the big day, and got there five minutes before they opened.

Did I mention they didn't have an ad in the paper that day? Or that the used car we picked out wasn't there? We bit the bullet and found a very nice Focus that was pretty close to fully tricked out that would cost us $17,599. Add in taxes, fees, and a new warranty (though the car's power-train warranty was still good) and the cost ballooned to nearly $22,000. And did I mention that my credit sucks great big floppy donkey dick? We dug into some of the cash reserves we had and added another $1,500 to the down payment and agreed to a five-year loan that would've cost us $310/month. Between Joy's SS/D and my job, we could handle that. They handed us the keys and told us they let us know who'd handle the loan in a few days. From there, we took a nice walk through Ikea before heading into deepest, darkest downtown Seattle to do some shopping at Uwajimaya. The Seahawks were beating the Forty-Niners a few blocks away, and by the time we finished our shopping at Uwajimaya and the nearby Daiso, post-game traffic was cluttering up the International District, though by the time we made it up to the more Vietnamese neighborhood above the ID on Broadway, you wouldn't have know there was a game going on.

So what were we doing heading towards Capitol Hill on Broadway, pray tell? Picking up my old friend Ed Durgan for a feast at The Crab Pot down on the waterfront. This was when the Focus' awesomeness began to assert itself, as I was able to link my new phone (Michelle's old Galaxy S3) to the car and make calls simply by pulling a lever on the steering column - a welcome-to-the-21st-Century moment if there ever was one. The Crab Pot was awesome - best crab I've ever had, and there were plenty of leftovers for Ed to take to his wife, who was busy with a tenants' meeting in their condo. The car purred along the highways home to PA, easily averaging 37mpg. We even gave the car a name: Sterling, based on its dark-silver-almost-pewter color. This car would be more than suitable for the upcoming trip to Reno to visit Michelle and the kids for Christmas. Things were going pretty smoothly, until I made one tiny little mistake: I told my dad about the loan.

He wouldn't have it, refused to let me pay a loan with a ridiculously high interest rate - remember, my credit sucks big floppy donkey dick - and instead chose to offer me a deal of his own, where he'd assume the final costs of the car, about $8,300 after we called the dealership and dropped the extended warranty. We then drew up a contract where we'd pay him a lower payment at a much lower interest rate for a much shorter period of time, saving us thousands of dollars over time. We agreed, signed, and handed Sound Ford a check the very next day. I just hope they turn off the feature that allows a creditor to shut off our car via its GPS sensor, now that no bank or credit union is involved in financing the vehicle. I shouldn't complain, but this sums up my relationship with my dad pretty easily - reading me the riot act when I need help, then rushing in to white-knight me when I don't. We could have handled the payments, with a plan towards refinancing the loan with out credit union after a year. But this is a lot easier at the end of the day.

We also bought Joy a new laptop, and we plan on buying her a new external DVD drive for it in a few days, as well as a new external hard drive some later on down the road. And Calvin just called to ask us if I'd buy him some vodka before we headed home. We can handle that, so we're getting up early tomorrow to buy him his booze before hitting a casino buffet and heading back home, stopping in Bend to visit her sister.

There's one more obstacle to face when we get home, though - buying a new home. We've been looking at new fifth-wheel trailers, and Joy's had her heart set on one in Sequim, though the remainder of her back Disability money has yet to arrive, which will likely cause us to have to buy a different rig. At least this is the best time of year to buy an RV - dealers are pretty much desperate to unload excess stock this time of year and are offering some great deals. We'll see what happens, I guess. Things are looking up for us - now if only Joy would relax a bit.....

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