Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another Wasted Day

The next time Tim wants to go car shopping for a car for me, would somebody please hit him really hard on the head?

We tried again, today, against my better judgment. Turns out I was right. We went to a Toyota dealership first. The salesman was great - very patient and willing to help. There just wasn't a car in the lot that fit our needs - either with what we wanted to pay, or what we wanted in a car. Then we tried the Honda dealership right next door. We drove a 2006 Accord and really liked it. The salesman was a hoot. He was in his late 60's and he reminded me of Grandpa V. Great stories to tell, and just a riot. I really liked him, and I really thought we would be able to work out the financing on that Accord. It was definitely the best experience we'd had all weekend. So we go and sit down and they take a look at my trade, and work up some numbers. I consented to having my credit pulled and then we waited. The guy comes out of the office and says "the car we drove isn't available - they just sold it to someone else." After some checking, there wasn't another car on the lot I wanted to try. I know it happens and people make mistakes, but the thing that really upset me was that they pulled my credit BEFORE checking to see if the car had been sold yet. Why??? There wasn't another car in the lot I wanted to buy, so if that car wasn't available, there was no reason to pull my credit.

I really hate car dealerships.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Car Shopping

I don't have the greatest luck when it comes to shopping for cars. The very first car I bought was a rental return Chevy Corsica. The shopping experience was relatively painless and my dad helped me. A couple years after I had it paid off, I totaled it and had to shop for a new car. This was a time when I had just changed career directions and was making a lot less money than I used to. I bought a used Toyota Corolla and it was kind of an emotional experience, mostly because I didn't want to buy a car.

The Corolla is what brought me to Arizona five years ago. (Five years and one three days, actually. Wow - time flies). In August of 2004, a month after Tim and I started dating, I had to take my Corolla in for service and it turns out it needed a lot of work. I didn't have the couple thousand dollars to repair it, so we decided to trade it in. My credit wasn't great at the time and I wasn't making a ton of money, so it was tough. Tim thought I should get a Nissan Sentra.

We went to Midway Nissan and had quite an experience. We explained to the salesman that we had nothing to put down and I was upside down on my Corolla. I had already gotten a loan through the credit union where I used to work. We test drove a Sentra and thought it was okay. So back into the office for some haggling. That's when things got ugly. The salesman went over some numbers with us, but they just weren't working out. At one point during this, he asked me for a credit card. I asked why they needed my credit card and he said it was so we wouldn't leave. At this point, we should have left. So we didn't give him a credit card, and the manager came in and started running numbers with us too. He asked if I was making a down payment and I said no. He shouted at us, "SO, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS PROCESS? NOTHING AT ALL?" and I very calmly said "no". At this point, we should have left. So after about 3 hours of talking and talking, we got the deal I wanted and basically got the car for about half of what they wanted for it. So into the finance guy's office for more abuse. I said I wanted gap insurance and he kind of gave me a hard time about it. After spending about 6 hours there, we finally left with the car. About three days later, I get a call from the dealership saying that they screwed up some of the paperwork and I had to go back and re-sign some stuff. So, against my better judgment, I went back. I told the receptionist we were there because they called us about some paperwork and she sent us to someone's office to wait. And wait and wait and wait. We were there for at least an hour and a half before anyone even talked to us. At this point, we should have left. Finally, someone comes in and explains that they calculated the numbers wrong and the cost of the car was more than I was qualified for. They explained it was because of the gap insurance. Then the guy says "wait, you're buying the car for less than MSRP, anyway, so you don't need gap insurance. You're just being cheap, that's all." At this point, I was ready to leave. I put the keys to the car on the desk and demanded that they go and get my old car. I'd had enough. After waiting and waiting and waiting some more, they said they couldn't find my old car and they "worked on the numbers" until they came out the way they were supposed to.

I had the Nissan for one year and two months. About three months after I got it, I was at Tim's apartment overnight and someone shot out the back window with a bb or something. About 11 months after I got it, we were rear-ended on our way to Tucson for my family reunion. The bumper was slightly damaged, but nothing serious. Two months later, I was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. That was a bad one. I still have some back and neck problems from that accident and the car was crumpled. It was at the body shop for about a month and a half. About a week before they called to say it was ready to pick up, I got a letter from the other guy's insurance company saying that they were using "recycled parts" on what was essentially a brand new car. When I got the car back from the body shop, they had basically straightened out the crumples and painted over the rest. It was pretty pathetic and the day I got it back, I couldn't even open the trunk. I drove the car to our house, picked up Tim, and we went to the Toyota dealer to trade it in.

We had done our research on Auto Trader and picked out a Toyota Camry. We went to the dealer, showed the salesperson the printout from the internet and said we wanted to buy that one. We drove it and it was great, so we worked out the numbers. Despite being horribly upside-down on my Nissan, it was pretty stress-free.

I've had the Camry ever since and it's been a great car. Last night, we were driving home from dinner and I said "let's go buy a car tomorrow." It's something I've been rolling around in my head for a while and it was kind of a whim.

We did a little looking this morning and figured we could get about $9000 for my car and I owe about $13,000. Our first stop was a Honda dealer near my work. We wanted to look at the Accords there. Tim said the new model is coming out in a couple of weeks so they're probably going to have some good deals on the older models. Not to mention we're reaching the end of the month and the end of the "car year". We got to the dealer and were greeted by a very young salesman who I immediately disliked. He took us inside and asked me questions about the Camry, and said he was going to have someone look at it and go get the keys for the Accord we had discussed. An incredible 40 minutes later, he came back. He couldn't find the keys for the car he wanted to show us. Apparently the one car like it that they had in stock. He said he was going to try and check for the key again and said he'd be right back. About 20 minutes later, we were getting ready to leave, but the guy had the keys to my car so they could look at it. We were just about to tell the receptionist to page him and give us our keys back so we could leave and he drove up in a car. The car he had wasn't the model I wanted and had all kinds of features I didn't want. He said we could look at it and get "an idea" of what the other car would be like. The other car was near, but he didn't have the keys. So we decided to leave. The salesman said he was going to go get his business card and we started walking toward the car. We got in the car and got ready to leave and he came back, but with his manager. By this point, we just wanted to get the hell out of there, so we were a bit rude and just left.

On to the Toyota dealer next door. We looked around a little, but no one even approached us, and I still kind of had my heart set on a Honda, so we left. We progressed to the next Honda dealer. This dealership was freakishly small. They had what appeared to be a tiny fleet and a tiny lot. We walked the whole front lot, through the showroom, and the whole back lot, and no one, again, even approached us.

We drove across town to another Honda dealer. We had a very friendly salesman this time, even though he talked a lot. We drove an Accord and really liked it. We tried to work out the numbers, but they just weren't going to work. They said they would give me $7000 for my car, which I thought was crap. I have a payment of $400 a month right now and that's really all I can afford. Maybe in a few months when one of my other loans is paid off, I could handle a little more, but not right now. So the sales manager proceeds to explain to me that with my credit score and having $0 down, it's hard to get the payment I want, etc. Yes, I know. I'm in the mortgage business. I am well aware that if you don't have wonderful credit and $0 down, you're going to have a higher payment, but thank you for explaining that to me as if I were stupid. The other thing that bugged me is that when I explained to the salesman what I wanted my payment to be, he took a piece of paper and wrote "I will take this car home if I can have a $450 a month payment." and asked me to sign it. When I refused to sign it, they basically decided they didn't want to work with me. And that was the end of that.

Here's the thing, though. If they really wanted to make the deal, they would have made it. I would have been more than willing to look at some certified pre-owned cars. They could have lowered the price of the car. Hell, when I bought the Nissan, they practically gave it to me. So there were a thousand ways they could have worked it out, but they didn't want to. That's fine. I'm not unhappy with my current car in any way at all, and I'm not being forced into buying a new car. They needed to sell me that car more than I needed to buy it.

What is up with car salesmen? Give me your credit card so you can't leave? Sign a piece of paper saying I'll buy the car before you've even run my credit? Give me a break! What is wrong with people? Hell, I work for a MORTGAGE BROKER and we don't use sneaky tactics like that! I'll shop for a car again when the Toyota dies. I have 78,000 miles on it right now, so I figure I have about another 100,000 miles left on it. At least it's a Toyota.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's Hot

Welcome to Phoenix, Arizona, where the local time is 7:32 pm and the current temperature is 108 degrees.
Okay, it probably wasn't actually 108, but that's what my car was reading. Once you get that number in your head, it's hard to get it out. It was reading 112 this morning around 9:00 am, but the sun was too bright for me to get a good picture. It is now 11:42 pm as I write this and the current temperature is 100.
Yes, I'm complaining. I try not to, but I can't help it. It's hot and my electric bill is through the roof. I can't wait for October.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Random Things On My Mind

  • The mortgage and real estate business is tough right now. Every day, I get some kind of notification about a big lender going under. Makes me very, very glad to have a job.
  • Why do we crave McDonald's? Do they sprinkle crack on the fries along with the salt?
  • Why do I dread going to the gym when I know I feel so great afterwards?
  • It's hard to find a bra that fits right. I think this is the type of thing they need to teach us in elementary school or something.
  • I wouldn't mind having a little bit more money. I know it doesn't buy happiness, but I sure wouldn't mind giving it a try and proving it to myself.
  • 106 and dry is better than 106 and humid
  • Thank God It's Friday
  • You can't buy a house that costs $600,000 with $0 down payment and get a payment of $1000 a month. It can't be done. Stop asking.
  • People are very suspicious of others' goodwill. Even saying hi to someone in the grocery store can get you a strange look. Just say hi back - that's all I'm asking.
  • I miss my "dates" with my dad when he would take me out to dinner, just the two of us. Although, an older white man with a young Asian usually got us some looks. I'm sure people were thinking "mail order". Sickos.
  • What's on your mind?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Food Isn't Meant for Guilt

I made some comfort food tonight. One of Tim's friends had one of her friends over for dinner and he said he was bringing "Mormon Funeral Potatoes". She didn't know what they were so she posted a message here on Chowhound. After some people responded, I realized what she was talking about - hashbrown hotdish! This is a yummy concoction of potatoes and other delicious things that are horrible for you. I developed a really strong craving for them so tonight, I made meatloaf and the potatoes. Tim just posted something about it on his blog, so I'll let you read the recipe and look at the picture there. Tim had a small amount of the potatoes and then said he wanted more, but wasn't going to have more. I had a second helping of the potatoes, but I felt guilty about it.

I've been thinking a lot about food and emotion lately, and how they are so intricately intertwined. Tim and I have been trying to watch what we eat lately, and we've both renewed our dedication to the gym. It hasn't been easy, because we are two people who have made "lounging" and "dining" an art form. Unfortunately, we both look like it, too, and we're both tired of having problems finding clothes that fit and being tired all the time. One thing that I've noticed is that I comfort myself with food and I reward myself with food. If I had a hard day at work, chances are I'll want to cook something really bad for me, or have a big piece of chocolate cake. If I want to reward myself, I usually reach for chocolate or red meat again. I think a lot of Americans are wired like this. Think of a first date, your grandmother's funeral, your graduation, your wedding shower. Food, food, food. We associate emotions with food because that's how we've been trained.

I don't think guilt should be anywhere near food, though. I truly enjoyed my dinner tonight, despite the fact that it was red meat and potatoes that were loaded with carbs, fat, and cholesterol. But because of the guilt I felt, I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I've been really trying to keep guilt away from my food, because food is for enjoyment. I love going to the store and picking it out, I love cooking it, and I love eating it. Guilt doesn't belong there.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Fenix Eatery

A little over a year ago, my very good friend Scott sent me a link to a food blog and we've been huge fans ever since. We didn't know this guy, but his taste in food seemed to pretty mirror ours. Most of our favorite places were found because of his reviews. Because we had been reading him for so long, we felt like we knew him and all of his friends.

He is also a regular contributor to the Southwest Chowhound board, which we frequent and contribute to, as well. Last week, we were invited to review a restaurant with him. We had a terrific time and great conversation. His review can be found here. Thanks for inviting us, Seth!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Whole World's Gone Crazy

It's been a sad few days.

Last week, there was a police chase in Phoenix. Two news helicopters were following the chase and they collided mid-air. Two on-air personalities from each station died instantly. That same day, a police officer was shot and killed in south Phoenix.

Last night, I got onto the internet to check on the status of a loan I have in process and saw that the Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis had collapsed into the river. I was riveted to the television all night. I did call my parents and they confirmed that my little brother and the rest of the family was safe, though. It's terrifying to think about though - that is a MAJOR bridge for the Twin Cities. If you've ever spent any time at ALL in Minnesota, you've gone over that bridge.