At the ripe old age of 21, I can say for sure that I have made my fair share of bad decisions. Nothing so far has been irreversible, but some have been bad enough to bruise my ego for a period of time. Many of my half-baked decisions have more or less been caused by my lack of knowledge when it comes to what makes the world go round: money.
I am not a big spender by any means, but I have made several stupid decisions that have resulted in big dents in my savings account. The main object of my misery for the past year has been my 1997 Jeep Cherokee that has spent more time at the mechanic shop than with me. From a blown head gasket to a simple flat tire to the green slime spewing from the engine, my car (and my wallet) have seen it all. You may be asking yourself, “Why get a car that is so old and is having all of these problems?” I ask myself that question everyday. Well, not really.
When I set out to get a car my senior year, I had a very simple set of criteria: Cheap, cheap and cheap. Sure, I kept safety in mind so my mother would not be living in a state of constant fear, but it was not at the top of the list for me, personally.
Now, I know about cars, but I certainly don’t know everything. So I relied on my father most of the time, who has only bought a brand new car once in his life. Now, it is not unique by any means to have an old used car as the first vehicle you own, but there are a couple things you have to take into consideration.
The first couple cars I took a look at had quite a few red flags. Rust seemed to be a recurring character that ruined my dreams of buying a vintage yellow Jeep Grand Wagoneer. And no matter how cool it looked, the fact that I could stick my hand through the floor and push out a chunk to see the road below was not a good sign. My dreams were also crushed when I opened the door of a Toyota 4Runner to see that there was no window on the passenger side, and the car had a tendency to stall at high speeds. After many failed trips to check out cars, I finally found my car.
You may be wondering, why not just buy a cheap, reliable Subaru or Chevy and not something that is four years older than I am and requires constant trips to the mechanic? I haven’t a clue. As cool as it is to have a funky looking old car, I question—all the time—whether it is worth my constant worry. The hysteria I experienced when it stalled outside the Deece and two incredibly kind Deece workers had to help me push it to the North Lot was not worth the occasional compliment from an old car enthusiast. They did high five after the car was out of the way, so I guess that was worth a little something.
I mean, at this point, it’s like having a baby. I have to give my car enough attention everyday so that it doesn’t feel neglected, make sure it has time to warm up in the morning and feed it or else it will start to cry. By feeding, I mean constantly filling it up with coolant and power steering fluid or else it will scream every time I start it and continue to squeal as I drive, which is very embarrassing while driving on campus.
Even though it has caused lots of misery and depleted my bank account, it has taught me many things about adulthood and responsibility—namely, that both will cost you all of your money and bring you nothing but pain with a small sliver of happiness.