The youngest child is away going to college and doing relatively well, but she’s in a tough situation in terms of being able to chart her own course – for various reasons.
She’s pushing through, and we’re helping her as we’re able – paying for her books and related school costs, and sending her money each month to help with living expenses and to have a bit of pocket-money. She picks up odd house-cleaning gigs from time to time, but her employment options are limited by the fact that she doesn’t have a car.
So we thought we’d maybe do something to change that. I did, anyway: Jill humored me.
We knew the day would come when we had to think about getting the kid a car. My parents did it for me. Jill lived at home while attending Fresno State, but she had access to a family car. So soon it would be our turn.
Not exactly a circle-of-life moment, but not far from one, either.
We stopped by CarMax a couple of weekends ago to check on cars – just to get an idea of what it would cost to add a vehicle so the youngest child could have wheels at college. Call it a recon mission. It was nearing dusk and a chill wind was blowing, so Jill remained mostly inside and I did a quick walk past several dozen available cars parked near the showroom.
That’s when I saw her: A 2012 VW Jetta with a stick. She was a deep brown with a complementary interior. My brain went into a quick spin that went something like this:
“I love my Jetta. If we have the youngest child drive my Jetta, I could drive this Jetta and all will be right with the world.”
Mind you, my Jetta is a 2005 with about 110,000 miles on it. We take good care of our cars, so the interior and exterior are still in good shape. I don’t drive it very hard, to the point that my mechanic always marvels at how clean it is when I take it in for service.
I went inside and we went through the process of checking on the price, to include monthly payment. We discovered that we both have good credit – no surprise there. Bottom line: $1,500 down on a five-year deal at 1.85 percent interest with a monthly payment of $325.
Dream shattered. That was too much of a monthly payment, along with insurance for a third driver – a teenager at that.
Fast-forward a week to last weekend and I see an ad in the Daily Republic from the Fairfield Ford dealership, advertising a 2014 Ford Fiesta for $59 a month on a two-year lease (Fine print: three at this price, 10,500 miles a year with a 15-cents-a-mile hit for excessive mileage, etc., etc.). I show the ad to Jill and we agree it’s too good a deal to not go and check it out.
Off we went.
They had two cars remaining at that price, both white. We took one on a test drive and it handled well. We both thought the youngest child would look good driving it, so we went back inside to get the low-down.
It turns out we didn’t qualify for the $59 monthly lease. That’s reserved for those coming in off a prior lease and entering a new lease, which we weren’t. That little gem was in the fine print – one of the etc. references above. We did qualify for $79 a month, so we moved ahead with the process, and learned that our credit qualified us for an interest rate of 0.25 percent on the lease.
About three hours after we walked into the showroom, we drove the car off the lot and took it home.
Tune in next week to see how everything works out.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.