Tuesday, October 02, 2012

It Was Time...

Last night, we had a mini-adventure.  Now, mind you, our mini-adventures are perhaps less exciting than other people's because we are pretty easy to satisfy :-)  We all participated in it, and had a lot of fun.  But first, let me back up a bit...

The past couple of months have seen us having a "liquidation sale", of sorts. Last fall when driving to California, we realized that when loaded with 7 LaJoy's, one little dog, and all their assorted baggage, our minivan was no longer as safe as it should be and we were in danger of bottoming out.  Interestingly, as we assessed the situation, we also came to the not-so-surprising conclusion that we might have two daughters who were close to "full size", we had three sons who were far from it, thus leaving us in a dilemma...our vehicle situation was only going to get progressively worse.  Due to the kids being in lower grades for their ages than others, we also will  be in need of a large family vehicle for a few more years than other families are with kids their current ages, as Kenny, Angela and Olesya will all be in high school until they are 20/21.

We talked it over, we test "sat" a few different vehicles to see just what might work best for us, and discovered that the best thing for us would be a full size van.  We almost went with a lower mileage minivan because we were offered a screamin' deal from a wonderful friend, but it would not have solved our long term problem.  A Suburban/Yukon was also considered, but that back seat is even smaller.  So, after having sat in a $70,000 full size custom van conversion just for grins (Laughing as we couldn't imagine how in the world anyone could afford one), we did decide that would be a better fit for us for the long haul.

So, we have spent the past several months praying, thinking, and trying to figure out how we could solve our problem.  We had already decided to sell the Big Blue, the 15 passenger beater van we got for $900 before the girls came home.  We had hoped that would be our solution long ago, but it just wasn't mechanically sound enough (Gee...like a $900 van would be a real winner!) and we also had bought it more with local trips in mind and to use with Scouts, back when we were still involved in it.  Life changes, and needs change, so we sold Big Blue without a backwards glance.  That didn't exactly net us much, though we did get what we paid for it.

Then we made the harder decision to let go of Big Bertha, our lovely orange psychedelic RV.  That was a hard one, we loved her, and had barely had the chance to really take her out and enjoy her.  But need trumps want every time, and we need a better regular vehicle more than we want something to camp in.  So, off she went, into the sunset, sadly providing a full time home for a young man who was desperately in need of a place to live.  While we were all feeling a little tug of regret, we were thankful we were in the position to sell anything that might bring us closer to filling our need.

We thought about selling one of our two minivans, but the truth is they each have too high of mileage to bring any real value versus what value they have to us as around town low gas sucking vehicles.  Mine, which we will pay off this month (Hurray!) and is the one we call our "New Van" just turned over 150,000 and Dominick's is well over 225,000 but the odometer is broken so we have no idea just how far over 225,000 it is.  So, as you can see, not much cash value there and they each are our daily drivers.

The hard part was now before us...how can we find anything in our price range?  Considering our price range was very, very low that left us with little to select from if we wanted something that wasn't a total beater.  Also, making it harder is living in Colorado, where larger vans are not widely used.  We knew we would have to be shopping outside the area, and probably taking a risk in buying something long distance. We also knew we would have to be very patient, scouring the internet and biding our time until just the right vehicle appeared.  We figured that God knows our needs, and our ability to pay, and would just have to help us out with this one.

We had a list of desired features of our perfect LaJoy-Mobile:  Captains chairs in the second row to make getting in and out easier, as low mileage as we could afford, of course as low a price as possible,   decent appearance on the interior and exterior, not in need of repairs or tires because we couldn't afford to put money into anything, rear air condition, did NOT need video system/TV's, wished for a tow package but that was negotiable, wanted a 3/4 or 1 ton for future hopeful towing of at least a rental trailer for camping if we can't ever get one of our own again, roof rack would be nice, and that was about it.  We compiled the list as a family, trying to come up with a profile that would make us all happy.  We also wanted to give the kids experience in learning how to decide exactly what you want in a car, and how to shop for it.

Having our Dream List in hand, off we went, not to the car lot but to Ebay, Craig's List, and every other online auto selling web site.  We spent months searching, keeping an eye out even before we had our Liquidation Sale, trying to get a feel for the market and what we were looking for.  It was depressing, frankly, as living on a super tight budget means car shopping can be stressful.  All you can find are vehicles with issues, high mileage that won't outlast your need, junkers that are not worth the inflated prices being asked.

But if you are patient, there is always a perfect little diamond out there waiting for you.  You must not be impulsive though, you must be willing to tamp down that "immediate gratification" fairy that lives inside all of us, the fairy that can get you in all kinds of financial woe if you don't learn how to give it a good smack down when necessary.

A week ago, I spied a pretty little van on Ebay.  I showed it to Dominick, who then took the listing to our mechanic to get his opinion.  He came home and said "Jeremy said this wouldn't be a half bad deal, if we can get it cheap enough at the end of the auction."  We hemmed and hawed about it, we sat down with the kids and had them look at the many photos of it online, and we verbally walked through the pros and cons.  We asked them their opinion, and if they thought it was a good deal.  All agreed wholeheartedly that it fit our criteria perfectly...better than perfectly...and then we all discussed what our maximum bid price should be.  Matt was quite good in that area, suggesting exactly what Dominick and I said, and Angela threw out "And if we can't get it for that price, we walk away and don't bid more. There will be another good deal out there if it isn't this one."  We talked strategy for auction bidding online, and yesterday evening we all gathered round to ask one final time, "Is this the one to go for?" and when we voted with 100% unanimous decision, we then allowed the kids to all stay up until the auction was over...at 1:30 AM...so they could be part of the excitement.  Dominick went to sleep and asked to be woke up when the time neared.

Fifteen minutes before the auction ended, we sat bleary eyed in front of the computer screen, with me in the "Drivers's Seat" because I type the fastest.  We waited until 8 minutes...7 minutes...6 minutes...5 minutes...BID!!!  And off I want, typing furiously to input a trial bid.  Shoot!!  Someone had outbid us!  I  turned to Dominick and said "OK, chips are down, what's our max?" and everyone thew out numbers and I typed it in as the timer clicked away.  1 minute and 56 seconds, I hit "send", then we waited breathlessly as the countdown continued, hoping and praying that we would get it.

We WON!!!!!

So here is our new true gift from God, because we never should have found something so nice for what we had to spend.  We'll be borrowing a little, which was in the plan, but it won't be much.

It is a 1996 Dodge van conversion with...get this...39,000 original miles on it!!! It was garaged for much of its life, as you can tell by the photos, and is in beautiful condition.  It is in Texas, so we have to get Dominick down there to pick it up somehow, but we feel so excited and blessed:

We are so thankful!!  I know most people might not be as excited over something as silly as a car purchase, but this has been a prayerful period of 10 months or so, and we feel blessed to find something so perfect in every way, and that we could actually afford.  All our criteria were met, and then some.  Isn't she pretty??  This will be our last big family car purchase, the one that will last until we are ready to downsize.

I think it was worth the wait :-)  And now we don't have to look like the Clown Car with everyone tumbling out and people staring as if to say "You can't be serious! There are more coming out of there?"


Stacie Brown said...

That Jeremy's a pretty good guy. I think I love him. <3 Congrats on the new van!

Anna said...

I am so thrilled for you! It looks beautiful!

Cindy LaJoy said...

You are so right, Stacie!! While most people dread going to their mechanic, we feel blessed to have such an honest one!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!! Happy for all of you. It looks great!
Teresa F.

Kelli Mellema said...

Cindy, I feel so blessed after reading and being lead to your blog. To you and your beautiful family my last name may look familar.... Yep, I'm Thom's wife and the "previous" owner of this van that we jokingly nicknamed George. My husband found George not so long ago and fell in love upon first sight. He collects and works on cars in his spare time and I trust his judgement in anything he would make his family travel in. George was so well taken care of, was clean on the inside and out and ran like a charm. God provided this van to us in a time of need as our Ford Excursion broke only days before our family vacation.

Unfortanately due to the lack of space (Thom currently owns about 9 cars, most of which don't run yet) and to the fact that our Excursion is working again, we could not keep George. I was ready to let him go, as I am with most of Thom's cars :) but Thom wasn't so thrilled. We had already discussed that if it didn't sale on Ebay we would keep George for a while longer, especially because we are approaching a new chapter in our lives where his interior space could be useful. The last couple of days of the ebay auction Thom was disappointed, and somewhat happy, that no one was seeing the same beauty in George that he saw. With mixed emotions we went to bed without waiting for the aution to end, which isn't like Thom at all. He woke me up early the next morning to tell me George had been sold. We were glad, but a little sad as well as we knew George would be leaving us soon.

Then, an email came with a link to your blog. Gods plan suddenly became so clear. When Thom called me this morning to encourage me to read you blog, I could tell that his departure with George would be so much easier after hearing your story. We recently started the adoption process through the state of Texas and feel so blessed to have found your family and your blog. I look forward to meeting you and/or your husband as I'll be with Thom this weekend to deliver Goerge. I also look forward to reading your blogs regarding adoption. I know God had such a greater purpose when your family won the bid.

Have a blessed day!

Anonymous said...

Hey, will you be driving George when you pick us up next Wed night? Can't wait to meet "him"!

Anonymous said...

Great news, Cindy! Congratulations!
Peace and blessing!