ROOT OF ALL EVIL
For the love of money, people will steal from their mother. For the love of money, people will kill their own brother. For the love of money, people will sell you a car on craigslist that can’t pass smog and you will learn your lesson.
The last two weeks have been hell for me. Not really. Like, things could definitely be worse. But they’ve been wack. A young woman crashed into my car two weeks ago while it was parked outside my home. The car was totaled. My insurance company cut me a check. I’ve stated on here several times that my focus is on the guns and not the butter. Well, that got tested.
Here I was with no car and enough money to get something nice if I was willing to pay a note. I started thinking about how cool I would look in my new Lexus and I said to myself, this is a sign to go get it. But then the other side of me popped up and I had that angel on one shoulder, devil on the other moment. My voice of reason was saying, “All that stuff you talk about owning things that matter and your first idea is to pay a note? Why don’t you save as much of that money as possible?”
So I did what anyone would do. I went to test drive my Lexus. LOL! Turns out, the model I thought I wanted isn’t even dope to me. But moreso, as I looked around at dealerships I thought about how close I am to paying off all my debt. And how I made goals to set aside enough money to have a down payment on a house. I thought about how if I could just be patient enough to stick to my plans, I’d thank myself later and that then, I could get the car I want.
Once I got the money in my hands, I knew I had made the right choice. But now came the next challenge. Finding a used car. Let me tell you something. This is one of the most stressful and strenuous processes I’ve ever been through. I hope that you never have to replace your car within two weeks. Fortunately, my insurance covered a rental, so I had a replacement car. But each day that I didn’t find something, I became more stressed out. “How am I gonna get around?” “I have obligations. Work to do. Rehearsals.” I tried to stay calm and for the most part I did, but underneath my calmness, I was furious and frantic inside.
1. Online Shopping: I frequented Cargurus.com, Carmax.com, Autotrader.com etc. These sites weren’t great to use to me. I wouldn’t recommend them. So many cars are salvaged titles or over-priced or you can’t get in touch with the dealer. Or it’s a scam.
2. Used Car Lots: Ironically, having cash turns them off. What! Who knew? They’d much rather have the customer take out a loan to make the buck from financing. I visited a few different dealerships with cash and absolutely none of them would negotiate the price on the cars less than $300. And they were very over-priced for the worth. There’s no way I’m going to pay a note on a piece of crap, nor blow my whole cash-out on one. I also wouldn’t recommend this unless it’s an only option.
3. Craigslist: Well here’s where I made my choice and yes, I regret it. My story is the horror story you fear. The first car I was supposed to see from a craigslist seller, told me at the last minute that he didn’t have the pink slip and that he was waiting on it. So basically, he was going to scam me. The second person, I drove 45 min away to go see + I paid toll, and when I got there the car was all oxidized and beat up. The photos didn’t reflect this at all. But that’s not even the worst part. When I drove it, the transmission was slipping and it was painfully obvious. Of course, I passed on that. The 3rd person I called said the car had already been sold. Then he said in a muffled voice, “Oh no it’s not.” I said “Excuse me?” and he said very clearly, “You sound hot. Send me a picture.” I just hung up in his face. Boy was I frustrated. I’ll come back to this.
4. Buying from a friend/family: A friend of mine was selling his car at a fairly reasonable price. Just before I was going to buy it, he told me he would be having heart surgery the next day. I made him an offer on the car and he needed time to think it over and discuss with his wife. I’m sure he would’ve given it to me, but I didn’t feel right trying to negotiate a car deal with a guy about to undergo one of the most intense surgeries ever. So I decided I would leave that alone.
5. Car Auction: Another friend of mine took me to an auction. I found an affordable Honda Accord & an older Lexus SC400. I lost on the bids though and didn’t see anything else that I really wanted. Most of the cars were BMW’s or Mercedes Benz’s and I did not want any part of either of those cars due to the expensive maintenance. I found out quickly that this process could be long and also that none of the cars came with a warranty and the average price for something basic, during bidding, came close to eating up my whole check. I grew restless with this process and decided to move on.
6. Back to Craigslist: I found a car. Test drove it. I liked it. It was within my price range. I got the pink slip, filled out the transfer of title form, got a written receipt and went on about my way, excited and happy that the process was over. Until I got home and realized I didn’t get the smog certificate. To make a long story short, the car wouldn’t pass smog and the seller disappeared. So guess who was stuck with the repair costs? You guessed it. Me!! I can’t discuss any more than that. But, jeez what a tough squeeze I got myself into.
I took the car to get an oil change/inspection, of course after it did in fact end up passing smog, and after driving away from the auto shop, I realized one of my brake lights that had just been tested and was working, had just blown. I came back and a line had developed. I got out of the car trying to catch the attention of the employee that helped me, but he was busy. Then, out of the corner of my eye to my left, I see a car with “JUST DIVORCED” painted on the back window in the same fashion a “JUST MARRIED” announcement would be done. I went back to my car to grab my phone so I could take a photo. I took the photo and laughed and then I walked back to my car, got in and shut the door. I backed out thinking I’d just come back later. But my gut said, no just go back and wait. So I did. When I pulled back in, the woman who was parked in front of me waiting in line for her oil services (not the person with “JUST DIVORCED” on her car either), jumped out of her car aggressively and came over to my window saying with sass, “EXCUSE ME! DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME!!!? Caught completely off guard, I laughed. But I stopped quickly to not escalate the problem. “No ma’am, I don’t have a problem. I just came here and they inspected my lights and now it’s not working, so I was trying to get his attention and I was undecided on if I wanted to wait or come back later.” she says, “OH! CAUSE I WAS LIKE, DID I DO SOMETHING, AND DOES SHE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME?” I know she was embarrassed. She walked back to her car with about as much pride as you could in that scenario. And in my car I just laughed to myself like WTF! I never even looked her way!
I had to invest a little bit in my Craigslist car. It’s definitely a downgrade from the car I had before. I’m hoping it will last me at least two years while I save money and pay off debt. If I stay focused, I’ll be debt free in December of this year. And if I stay on track next year, I’ll have the down payment for my home.
The thing that I’m learning is that being independent and making smart choices is difficult. And sometimes things go horribly wrong. I felt like I failed at this process and was a bit disappointed in myself. Especially because I was tempted to get a brand new car. But I am proud that I resisted that temptation. I was able to set some money aside. And I saw the whole situation through until the problems were all resolved.
The world is bent on taking everyone’s coins. It’s all a get-rich-quick scheme. So what I gained from this situation is to be ruthlessly protective of every dollar I spend and to let nothing but morals and good sense keep me from my coin. Read the fine print. Be very careful shopping online and in person. Know the worth of things. Make sure the car I buy can pass smog if ever I have to repeat this process. And most importantly, stick to my plan. My guns are having joy and happiness, financial stability and independence, being debt free, having a nice savings account. A home. And then I can worry about my car being dope. or what shoes are in my closet. So, I’m going to do everything I can to get there. These are the sacrifices I committed to when I made these plans. Now it’s my job to execute them until they’re completed.
As horrible of a scenario this was for me, I learned some valuable lessons. These are growing pains. Signs that I’m not a kid anymore and also a liberating experience to learn to take life by the horns. It’s easy for me to express myself artistically, but to apply that to my personal life in a tactful but assertive way can be challenging. So, I’m growing.
As always, I wanted to share my story so that you can learn from it and laugh at/with me. I cried a few times during this process. But so far, I survived it and I’m looking forward to proving to myself that on a personal level, outside of my dreams and hopes, I can take care of myself and survive in this world without letting it break me. And I don’t have to be a slave to debt.
In the midst of all this, I’m working on new music and have rehearsals for my Motown review shows. I have a few cool things in the works. I can always use your support, so if ever you’re able and or want to, you can donate to my music on the main page of my site or support by grabbing the CD! Be well!
Thank you for reading. Listen to #BeWithYou below: