Money Mistakes Chronicles #1: My First Car

by Matt B

Not maroon, but the same car I had!

Not maroon, but the same car I had!

Throughout our lives, we ALL make thousands of mistakes with our money.  These mistakes are sometimes large, sometimes small, and everywhere in between.  I hope to make the money mistakes chronicles a series, with posts from myself (I’ve made plenty over the years), my readers and fellow blogging community.  If you have a good story for the money mistakes chronicles, blast me an email and share your story.  Hopefully, I’ll get some wonderful stories and we can all learn some lessons in the process.  I will give all requested credits and links if requested, and if anonymity is what you prefer, I will make you a 73 year old ex-carpenter from Boise.  Or perhaps a 18 year old exchange student from Antarctica…We exchange with them, right?

First car stories are a dime a dozen.  That makes this one worth 1.2 cents.

My First Car

On my sixteenth birthday, I got my drivers permit.  Less than two months after beginning to drive I totaled my Father’s car.  That is a story in itself.  About seven months after that, the long, dreary winter of upstate New York was over and I was finally ready to get my license.  If I recall correctly (this was over 11 years ago), I passed my test on the first try.  This was an unusual occurrence where I grew up as the instructors liked to send a message by failing first-time test takers.

I could FINALLY get my own ride!  Luckily, and I use that word very loosely, a kid that I worked with was selling his car.

It was not long before I was standing in Scott’s driveway with his father, exchanging money and telling my own dad that I would be home in a while.  The transaction had been planned for a while and I had already checked out the car (Scott drove it to work every day), so I waved goodbye to $600 and said hello to sweet freedom in my brand new (to me) 1988 Ford Taurus.

Yes, it was old.  Yes, it was louder than Cape Canaveral on launch day.  But it was all mine.  It felt good.  The feeling was only temporary.

Once the wonderful euphoria wore off and my new ride was just a way to get out of the house and get where I was going, things started to go wrong.  First, the already crumbling exhaust system completely fell off.  Up next was the overheating issue that got me stuck for an hour on a mini road trip an hour away.  The final coffin nail was the deteriorating transmission system.  If I remember correctly, my car lasted about six months.

Between the repairs, the headaches and the hours I wasted trying to care for her, I came to the conclusion that she did not like me as much as I liked her.  It never seems to work if you love something that does not love you back.  So we grew apart.  She stopped wanting to go out.  She would say that she was too tired, or couldn’t move.  Excuses.

After a few weeks of holding out, hoping she would respond to my gifts and attention, I gave up.  She was dead to me.

Despite being a gigantic financial mistake that could have been avoided, I learned a lot from my first car.  It taught me a lot about patience, researching purchases and a little bit about working on cars among many other smaller life lessons.  I know that my father would have never allowed me to buy the Taurus had the price tag been any higher.  I also know that he wanted me to learn a lesson from it.  He taught me that way sometimes, and it works.

Would I trade my first car experience?  Not for the world.  Would I have a few choice words for my 16 year-old self?  You bet.

Have a story for the Money Mistakes Chronicles?  Email Me your story now!

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