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Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Broken Door Handle Saves me $8 a Day!

In our graduate student years of poverty, Mr FS and I would look longingly at some of our friends who were married to people gainfully employed: we would sigh, "I can't wait till we're in the middle class." And even many years later, we still can't believe our good fortune: here we are, in the middle class.

At the moment, we have a sub-middle-class car situation. Frugal Son--who is trying urban life sans car--borrowed our "new" (10 year old) car for a trip. We were left with our older car: a sturdy Toyota Camry circa 1998. We love it!

A few months ago, Mr FS opened the door on the driver's side and the plastic handle broke. With some duct tape, he managed to fix it. A few weeks ago, I opened the door on the passenger side and broke that handle. Sadly, Mr FS cannot fix it. We will probably get a new handle, but we have been busy.

We did wonder: was this a sign from the universe that we should get another car? I told Mr FS that many frugal types (our role models) believe in saving $250 per month in a car fund. That way, when you need a car, you have the money. We have managed to save for our next car. But--as in “O God, make me good, but not yet” (is that really from Evelyn Waugh?)--we are thinking "We are grateful that we have saved for another car, but we don't want to buy one yet."

I figured that each day we hold on to the old Camry, we are saving about $8.00. And how often does anyone sit on the passenger side? At most, twice a day, during our commute, which is only two days a week. Therefore, we are saving about $8.00, every day we hold on to this car. Think of how much money one would need to generate that kind of interest payment--especially in this day of ridiculously low interest rates!

Every time Mr FS and I go somewhere together--which necessitates opening the door with a screw driver--we say "Yes! We are in the middle class." We said it today in the parking lot at Whole Foods (Miss Em wanted to try the $2.99 wine), where we had by far the worst car, not even counting the door handle.

Do you ever put off a major purchase even when you've saved enough?

16 comments:

Patience_Crabstick said...

Evelyn Waugh? I associate that quote with St. Augustine.

I think it makes sense to continue to drive the camry, even with the broken door. If it were breaking down and leaving you stranded, that would be one thing, but who cares about a door?

Frugal Scholar said...

PC--That's what I thought too--but EW came up on a search. Do you know the source? Confessions?

Duchesse said...

Here, if a car does not have working interior handles it would not pass the vehicle certification required for new license plate tags.

I'm all for driving cars into the ground but prefer not owning them. Am trying to convince Le Duc to go car free... he says maybe after the winter but I want it now. We can easily rent one if needed and the cost to operate and maintain is about $400/month.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Oh, you're so right. Mr FS can open it, but I am a klutz. Henceforth, I am riding in the back when I'm a passenger. SCARY! Thanks.

And you are lucky to live in a city with good public transport and the availability of Zipcars or similar. Hate car ownership!

Hadilly said...

Why on earth haven't you fixed the handle? I think taking care of things is an important part of being sucessfully frugal. Drive the car into the ground by all means while saving money. It doesn't sound like you need a new car, just a new door handle.

Patience_Crabstick said...

It's book eight, chapter seven of The Confessions.
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/texts/sundayheraldreview.html

Northmoon said...

I once drove a car for three months without being able to open the driver's side door. I climbed in the passenger side every time, over a stick shift! It was a bit weird when my boss was leaving the office at the same time as I was :(

Agree with Duchesse, for frugality it's better not to own a car if you live in a big city.

SewingLibrarian said...

As a youth I prayed, "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet."
From The Confessions as Patience said.

SewingLibrarian said...

Also, we just had a door handle fixed. Until it was fixed, it DROVE ME CRAZY! I don't see how you can stand driving around with a broken door. :-)

Duchesse said...

Sewing Librarian, I smiled at your comment- it gave me a flashback.

My sister and used the phrase so often with my mother: "I don't see how you can...". She would answer, "I lived through the Depression, *that's* how I can."

SewingLibrarian said...

I hear you, Duchesse. My mother also lived through the Depression. To this day I don't tell her what I spend on some items.

Mademoiselle M. said...

In any other case, I would say, don't buy a car yet - but right now, I must speak from personal experience....

A few weeks short of my 25th birthday (not too long after dinosaurs roamed the earth, but before the madness known as Hansen struck the music scene), my car was struck and dragged by an 18-wheeler, which made a right turn from the center lane, without signalling.

My car was totalled at 35 mph. The fact of my still being here is so remarkable that I pretty much believe anything and everything you tell me about a Supreme Being or Beings.

When the semi stopped, the trailer of the truck was six inches from my head, and I had to climb out the passenger side of my car. With the car still running, and smoke everywhere, I found that the passenger door was stuck. A bystander had come running, and after the longest 6 or 7 seconds of my life, he wrenched the door open, and I flew out of that car like a bat out of hell.

I realize my circumstance is unusual. So very unusual. But those 6 or 7 seconds, of being trapped, were some of the worst in my entire life.

So if you choose to be frugal and not buy a new car - please, get that handle fixed. That handle could save your life, or, at very least, spare you some genuine, gut-wrenching, hair-greying panic.

Duchesse said...

Didn't want to share my story, which is like Mme. M's. Our car flew off the road on black ice and rolled- we both had to get out via passenger door, pitch dark, smell of gas everywhere- because I thought you would think, Well that's an exception and not going to happen to me.

So that's two of us. Your life is worth more than the price of a door handle. Even riding in the back does not guarantee you might not need that exit.

Frugal Scholar said...

Thanks to all for the prodding and motivation.

Shelley said...

Have you considered scrap yards for parts (ie handles)? They were my Dad's first port of call in nursing along an old banger. I'm all for hanging onto a car that is still viable. I loved one of my second hand cars, but heeded the advice of a trusted mechanic (such a rarity!) when he told me that I was spending more money to keep an old car on the road than it would cost for a newer, more fuel efficient one. There does come a limit, but I applaud your hanging on!

Michelina Douglass said...
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