Sold the Second Car

Day 84 | $35,083 paid | $55,634 till freedom

The Murano just left my driveway. Good riddance. Washing two cars and a motorcycle was a serious pain in the tuches.

It was a somewhat interesting series of events that led to the sale of the vehicle–beyond the whole revelation that I should get rid of it in the first place.

I posted the Murano on Craigslist at $10,300 on Thursday. When I’ve sold cars before I’ve usually gotten a bite or more within 24 hours, so when there were no bites by Saturday evening, I decided to get an appraisal at Carmax for an additional pricing data point. They offered me $7,000 on the spot.

I bought the car for $9,300 a little over a year ago and that was a fair price then, so I felt like $7k was a lowball. On the other hand, I also felt sorely tempted. I’ve sold a few cars on Craigslist–2001 Honda S2000, 2003 BMW M3, 1997 Porsche Boxster, and it has never, ever been a pleasant experience. Coming home from work early for a tire kicker, wasting time going on test drives with joyriders…the whole experience just sucks.

So the prospect of getting $7k on the spot to be rid of the Murano was quite appealing. However, Carmax offers stand for seven days, so I decided to go home and aggressively lower my Craigslist ad. I reasoned that giving myself seven days to sell it anywhere above $7k was a better option than letting it go right away for $7k.

I dropped my ask down from $10,300 to $8,900 OBO with “motivated seller” in parentheses. I got a call a half hour later from a guy who asked me for my bottom dollar. I told him $8k. He told me he’d call me back. He never did. Great, I thought to myself. Seven more days of this crap.

This morning I got a call from a different guy who asked to come by and take a look at it. Piruz showed up with two of his buddies. He was a shifty fella who avoided eye contact, but cash is cash, so I showed him the car.

Piruz and his buddies looked the car over meticulously and then we took it for a five-minute test-drive. When we got back, Piruz asked me for my bottom dollar. I told him $8k, still $1k over the Carmax offer. He came back with $7,500, told me he would pay cash,  and also said he was looking at a few other cars and would definitely be buying one of them today if he didn’t buy mine. He also pointed to his very sharp-looking 2005 Infiniti FX45 and said he paid $9k for it. (Sure you did.) Then he pointed out all of the rock chips on the hood of the Murano and the gouge on the rear bumper and said that that a clean Murano on Kelly Blue Book goes for $8k.

I walked around the car and took my time thinking it over. I had paid $9,300 for the car a year ago. Did it really depreciate $1,800 in one year and 4,500 miles? I hardly think so. But maybe I paid too much for it then? And I had bought it from the original owner, so do these guys get a second-owner discount?

I told Piruz $7,700–cutting the gap by more than half to show him I wanted to do a deal. He came back with $7,600. I laughed out loud, and I thought to myself, really, we’re going to play the ol’ meet-in-the-middle game? Yawn.

I shook it off and told him deal. He said that he had to run home to get the cash and he’d be back in ten minutes.

Thirty minutes passed and he never showed, so I parked the car back in the garage. It’s exactly this kind of crap that makes it so annoying to sell a car.

Twenty minutes after I parked it in the garage, I got a knock on my door. It was them.

Piruz told me that he had $7,500 in cash on him, but his wife had the last $100 and she would not be available until the evening, and she could deliver it then. He didn’t have an ATM card.

That was the final straw. I told him absolutely not–we don’t do the deal unless I have $7,600 in my hand. They magically produced another $100 from the Infiniti. Un-freaking-believeable.

 I counted it all up, we did the paperwork, and they went on their way.

Ugh. I hope they all take showers…so dirty.

On Track
Anyway, that puts me at $1,900 for the motorcycle + $7,600 for the Murano = $9,500. I assumed when I decided to sell the bike and the Murano that I’d get $10k, so that’s close enough. The delta to my goal in June was $5,800 when I balanced my books at the end of October, so if I can track to my budget from here on out and get a $12k pre-tax bonus, then I will be able to pay off all of my student loans by the end of May (month 9) with a surplus of about $1,500 to put into savings or, more likely, spend on deferred expenses.

And I still have my $1k roadbike to sell.

It’s also worth mentioning that I’m getting insurance savings of $29/month by selling the Murano. So my 6-month insurance premium went from $1,026 ($171/month) at the beginning of NMHD to $308 ($51/month) for a savings of $120/month or $840 for the rest of NMHD, which I didn’t even factor into the already existing $1,500 surplus in May!

(By the way, I ended up putting comprehensive back on the S2000 at $18/month in case of hail damage and theft. The car’s a vulnerable soft top and thieves love the seats which retail new for about $7k as a set.)

I also told my roommates that they can share the garage space on a weekly basis or one of them can buy it outright at $35/month. Obviously, I’m hoping one of them buys it outright.

It’s funny–my pre-Harvard “fleet” (of one) now almost identically matches my post-Harvard “fleet,” which no longer includes the Murano or motorcycle.  The red S2000 below is what I sold in the summer of 2007  before starting at Harvard, and the silver one is what I’m driving now.


I’m unapologetic. It was a hell of a car then and it’s a hell of a car now, and I think silver looks better than red, anyway. I still get that same ear-to-ear grin these days that I did back in 2007 whenever I counter-steer out of a tight bend, the back-end swinging around, the whole car getting sideways, and the tires screeching across the road as the engine screams at 9,000 RPM.

Without the Murano and motorcycle in the garage, my life already seems so much less complex and cluttered.

And I’m so close to living below my means. Once I clear my student loans (originally $1,056), my living expenses will be reduced by a third. With my mortgage ($1,440), car insurance ($50), internet ($50), cell phone ($85), utilities ($175), groceries ($300), drycleaning ($40) and fuel ($160), I will have a monthly living cost of $2,300, or $27,600/year. I could cover that by making $35k/year (assuming 30% tax), which is less than a third of my current salary. Of course, my calculations do not take into account non-essentials like entertainment, traveling, clothes, toys, or unforeseeables like repairs and maintenance on the house and car, but I think my point is clear–now that I’ve downsized and once the debt is paid off, doors will be open not from just a career perspective (e.g., starting/joining a start-up), but from a life perspective.

So What Now?
So I’ve got what could be a loan pay-off in May with a surplus of $2,340 ($1,500 + $840). This assumes four things:

  1. Continue to decrease expenses: I have to spend according to the budget I’ve laid out, which has a severe travel-and-entertainment cost challenge.
  2. Maintain existing revenue: I have to continue to be gainfully employed in my current position.
  3. Increase revenue: I have to keep my roommates.
  4. Increase revenue: I have to get a $12k pre-tax bonus in April and continue to eschew a 401k contribution.

#2 and #3 should be slam dunks. I like my job, I’m doing well and getting positive feedback, the company is doing well, so a termination or lay-off is unlikely. I don’t like having roommates, but I can grin and bear it.

#1 is certainly a challenge. Going from $1,400 entertainment spend per month to $50 isn’t easy, but even if I get a little reckless in this area of my life–which I don’t plan on doing–I still won’t jeopardize my chances of a June pay-off given all of the May surplus I have. The thing is, in the past three months, I’ve gotten used to the frugal lifestyle, and I’m not going to give up on it any time soon.

#4 is completely critical but completely unknown since I just started a new job. While my performance has been good, it has not been exceptional, which would bring in a higher bonus.

Taking a broader view, anything can happen–I certainly know that, as life has been known to throw a curve ball at me from time to time. Even my tax estimates could be way off and throw me for a loop. But if this were a novel, it sort of feels like we’ve reached the climax, worked through it, and now all that’s left to do is to hunker down, keep living frugally, keep working 11 to 12-hour days, keep the roommates, and walk away from my student loans in May.

I’ll keep on keepin’ on and I’ll keep y’all updated along the way, but I feel like–and this will be clearly evident when I balance my books on Thursday–that there’s now a shift in the goal. It’s no longer can I pay off my student loans by the end of June, but how early can I pay them off? For example, if Michael and I get this landscaping job that we just quoted yesterday, I won’t be toiling on the weekend for the sake of the $5,800 delta in June. Instead, I’ll be working to pull in my deadline to somewhere sooner than May or June.

All in all, I feel really good about things. The bike and the Murano do leave a hole of sorts in terms of pleasure and utility, respectively, but they also remove a burden from my shoulders, and I think that the benefit I get from the latter outweighs the former. Cheers.


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13 responses to “Sold the Second Car

  1. Tim

    Curious, are you contributing anything to retirement? What are you thoughts on it?

    • not right now, Tim. I was contributing 10% before NMHD and will resume after. All details can be found on my Brass Tacks post on 8/31.

      “First off, much to the chagrin of all financial advisors everywhere, my 401k is getting chopped. Completely. Ah, glad I brought my work laptop home. Give me a just a second. Okay, zeroed out. Thanks, Hewitt, for your user-friendly, easy-to-use online platform. 10% of my pre-tax salary is no longer going to my 401k, and 4% of it is no longer getting company-matched. Yes, I am walking away from free money. Bye bye. Now that 10% will be taxed and will go to my loans. It’s too bad I can’t go back in time and put 0% contribution on my first day of work. I guess if I do get fired from my day job, I can use that $37,500 as my Screw You fund.”

  2. Christeen

    Started reading your blog last week after coming across it via via, as so oftens happens. I realise that I’m totally outside the demographics of your blog being a 43yo married mother of 1, living in Brisbane Australia, but I thought I would add my encouragement anyway. It was a big, hairy, audacious goal you set yourself so imagine the big hairy feeling of accomplishment you’ll have when you get there. Even though we don’t have any debt other than our mortgage, I’ve been inspired to start looking at our situation and start planning a goal to get our mortgage paid off before our 9yo daughter finishes primary school and then saving enough money to be able to send her to university so she doesn’t have to have a HECS debt at the end of uni. So thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Congrats on selling the car. Yay for more debt paydown. Love the blog header.

  4. You move fast! Great job selling the Murano.

    I graduated college in 2009 with about $26k of debt. I bought a 2008 Mazda3 a year after graduating (justifying the purchase because it was safer than the 1990 CRX I was driving at the time.)

    I paid the car off quickly (8 months,) then woke up one day and said “what am I doing?” So I sold the car and bought one half the cost (a 1999 Miata, with much higher smiles per gallon.)

    I now have about $5600 left to pay off and will be 100% debt free. I’ve refrained from taking advantage of some great house deals in favor of having at least one day where I can declare total debt freedom.

    Long term plans include continuing to live on a fraction of my salary to (hopefully) enjoy early financial independence.

    Keep up the good work! This “downhill slope” may be the hardest in terms of motivation, but you can do it! Keep pushing.

  5. Nancy

    I’m so happy for you! You’ve really turned the bend on this one, and I’m glad your mission has turned from an if to a when situation. Well done!

  6. Sarah L

    You’ve been doing such a great job! Well done, and major respect for what you’re doing. 🙂 It sounds like you’re at peace with your decisions, and that’s always the best place to be.

  7. Diana

    I love the idea of downsizing. Of course, downsizing from my one bedroom apt and lack of car would mean living in a studio and selling my bicycle, which is depressing. I dated a guy who’s dad had a a boat and a small plane and like 7 cars, along with a huge house, and taking care of all that crap seemed like way too much work, even with all the money in the world. (which they apparently had? Can you imagine the insurance alone!?) Even though I have nothing to really sell besides clothes and a few textbooks, I still plan on spending my days off this thanksgiving filling up bags to give to goodwill, clearing some space in both my apartment and my head. great post.

    • I struggle with this. If you’re super loaded, then what does living below your means look like? If you were to hire a team to to deal with the hassle of the house, cars, boat, and plane, then you still have the hassle of managing that team. Then if you hire somenbdy to deal with the hassle of managing somebody to deal with the hassle of the team who deals with the hassle of the stuff. I’m sure wealthy people make it all work, but I’m still left wondering if they’re lives are still too complex. Maybe they frame it internally differently than a typical person does. Maybe they’re more tolerable of or comfortable with unnecessary complexity/clutter than most people are. Maybe they’ve become used to it. Maybe they depend on it.

      • diana

        i don’t know what living below your means looks like for rich people either. If that family got rid of their G Wagon and kept their S class are they now living below their means? Maybe- but they don’t exactly deserve a medal for austerity. If you can afford ten cars, and you only buy five, that doesn’t mean that five cars still isn’t pretty wasteful. I mean, do whatever makes you happy, but when I’m rich and famous I think i’ll just opt to rent the damn yacht and let someone else be in charge rather than own it myself.

  8. We’re in the process of buying a new car and getting rid of our old one. Thanks to this post I was motivated to try to get more than what the dealer was willing to offer us. We knew we could get more elsewhere but didn’t want to deal with the hassle of craigslist. So thanks for the inspiration- we got an extra $800 on our car by going through craigslist.

    Congrats on getting so much of your debt paid off.

  9. Yabusame

    As reported earlier in a reply to a different post, I sold my car back in July 2011. Your story of selling the Murano reminded me of my selling experience.

    In January 2011, I crashed my car, a 1998 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Manual, and wrote it off. I was in a spin looking fro transport to get to work 15 miles away. I tried cycling but the bike couldn’t make it. My motorbike was in winter storage so I didn’t even think about using that properly. I got a couple of lifts from people I work with but in the end I took public transport, 1 hour and two buses… Each way. I was desperate to buy a new car so I could travel to work in comfort again. The GF wanted me to buy a Jaguar. I didn’t though I did test drive an older model, i eventually bought a 2003 Hyundai Coupe 2.7 V6 Automatic. One of the MANY mistakes I’ve made when buying cars. I hated the fact that it cost me a fortune in petrol and maintenance costs. In June 2011 when I was contemplating voluntary redundancy and pursuing a second career (which I did do) I decided I’d sell that car.

    At the beginning of July 2011 I advertised the car online via the Autotrader website for £3,000. Not one nibble for several days. I checked elsewhere to see how much I could get and ‘We Buy Any Car’ offered me £1,350 unseen. I changed to advert to a sale price of £1,500. I got a phone call 30 minutes later. He asked me my lowest price, and being caught off guard I said £1,300. He said he’d call that night to view it. I had several calls for the car over then next few days so I obviously had it advertised at a low price, but, like you, I just wanted to get rid.

    The guy turned up and was shady in the extreme. He loved the car, black and shiny and freshly detailed. He took it for a test drive and raved about it. He asked how much and i said that Iwas offered £1,350 from WBAC, but he reminded me that I’d said I’d take £1,300. Being a man of my word I agreed to stick to that. He offered me £1,000 in cash (he had me count it) and that he’d get me the remainder the following day. I refused. He left but came back with the full amount the next day. One comment the guy made has stuck in my mind. He said that his wife told him off for the way he treated me and that he felt like a criminal when I was obviously trying to be so honest with him. That stuck in my memory.

    I lost a lot of money on that car, but I felt a weight lift from my shoulders when I saw someone else driving it away. It was someone elses problem now. I was happy to take the hit just to feel that release. I’ve not owned a car since.

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