Stretch, Reach, and Replace

Some replacements that’ve needed to happen for a long time are now happening at once. It’s unsettling.

First is my laptop. It’s old, it’s busted. It has developed a habit of shutting off at random. After some testing, I determined it was either a) that my installation of Windows XP somehow got pooched or b) the power circuitry, cdrom, or battery is intermittently killing it. So, I uninstalled everything, backed up my important stuff to my desktop machine, and reinstalled Windows.

Reinstallation is, for some of us who live on our computers, a debasing ordeal; all your customizations are lost, all the hacks, programs, and shortcuts you take for granted to get your stuff done are completely undone. You realize what it is about the default configurations that drive you to make those changes. And now I’m going back through all that.

So far, everything is fine. The power did zap off during the install so I had to restart, which makes me wonder if it’s actually the hardware instead. If it is, and if I can’t get this thing to run confidently, then I’m essentially without a laptop again and I’ll need to replace it, which is a pricy possibility.

Second, yet foremost on my mind, is The Dragonfly, my 1993 Mitsubishi Mirage. It’s thirteen years old, smokes like a train, fails emissions tests, and is falling apart. So, after eight and a half years of faithful, everloving service, I have to give it away.

In that regard, it’s time to replace it with another car. After very little looking around, I’ve found the car I want: a green 1999 Honda Civic LX. Four doors, five speeds. I test drove it yesterday, and it does well. I put a deposit on it to hold it, and the dealer offered $200 on a trade-in of my Mirage; basically giving it away (with a car that old, I’m pretty sure, the wholesalers will sell it for parts).

What I’m worried about most is this: money. The car, after all taxes, title, license, and dealer fees, will be $9321. I can swing that through financing. And I have $1000 available in my bank account to go towards down payment. But the dealer, it seems, wants $1500. I’m trying my bank’s financing to see what they can offer. A $500 difference won’t make much of a change in the monthly payment amount, but it’ll affect my interest rate. I guess if I can borrow out of my 401(k) plan at work, I can make it all work out, but everything will have to wait until Tuesday when the work week picks back up.

I know that I want this car, and that it’ll treat me well for years, but I am completely full of trepidation. There’s this feeling I get when it comes to dealing with large amounts of money, like I’m in trouble with my superiors or something. I felt it twice every semester back when I was in college: once at the beginning when I signed my promisory notes for student loans, and once at the end when I was signing another loan to round out my account for finals. I felt it when I signed the financing for my Mirage. And I’m feeling it now.

Am I making a $9321 mistake? Did I make a $200 mistake on the non-refundable deposit? Am I outstretching my reach by affixing my signature to the dotted line without more research, more digging, more financial wisdom? I hope not.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?