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.
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:
- 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.
- Maintain existing revenue: I have to continue to be gainfully employed in my current position.
- Increase revenue: I have to keep my roommates.
- 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.