Thursday, March 29, 2012

Car Buying Tips From The Car Buyer Of The Family

Are you in the market for a new car? 

I am the car buyer in the family.
My old car was costing me more in gas and repairs than the cost of a new car. 
It just didn't make financial sense to keep it anymore. 
I tend to be the shopper for all our family's needs and car buying is no different.  If you do your research, car buying isn't much different than shopping for pair of shoes, or a new dishwasher, the price tag is just bigger and an impulsive decision can result in more long term regret.   I shopped around for a month before pulling the trigger and buying a new car.  I did most of my price negotiating on the phone.  I had the price set before I ever set foot in the dealer.  I am by no means an expert, but here are some things I've learned along the way.

Before I go into that, I chose to sell my old car as opposed to trading it in.  My car had become a money pit and I was never sure if it was going to start.  The lack of dependability and the terrible gas mileage were the tipping points for me being motivated to get a new car.  I will not buy a Chrysler ever again, but that is a whole other blog post.  I only mention my old car because I had a great experience selling it through the Auto Trader.   (I don't get paid by Auto Trader or any of the other companies I mention in this post, I'm just sharing my experience with you.)  It was so easy!  I got an online quote that was almost the same as Kelly Blue Book.  I took my quote to one of the Auto Trader Buying Centers and they cut me a check for my car on the spot. My car had some wear and tear, high mileage, and some major mechanical issue that I disclosed.  I was really shocked with how much they gave me for it.  I felt much better about selling it to a dealership as opposed to selling it to another family.  The dealership gave it a thorough mechanical inspection and they will be able to make the repairs before it is re-sold. 

 I decided to sell my car instead of trade it in because when buying a new car the dealership will try to make money off you at the front end of the deal(price of the car) or the back end of the deal (the trade in).  You will almost almost always get more money for your old car selling it on your own and not trading in.

The Internet is your best car buying tool.  I did many hours of reading about car buying on the Internet before I ever walked into a dealership.  The hardest part of the whole process was figuring out what I wanted?  I test drove seven different cars at four different car dealerships.  Not all in one day.  When I went to a dealership, I searched out a salesperson, introduced myself and told them what I wanted to test drive.  I was always friendly, but honest about "I'm still figuring out what I want." Have your driver license handy.

My advice would be, no matter how much you like the car, do not buy it at that point.  Unless you enjoy paying more money then you need to.  Once you narrow down your decision of what you want the real research begins.    I read countless reviews and searched several different car buying websites.  My two favorite are Edmunds and USAA but there a many more out there.  You need to be a USAA member to use their car buying service, but Edmunds is free. 
My criteria, dependability, safety, value, fuel efficiency, able to fit a family of four, and hold all my volleyball coaching equipment.  Casey will be driving soon, so I needed to factor in a new teenage driver into the equation. 
My heart wanted a MINI Cooper Countryman, but then I remembered I have a husband, two big kids, a dog, shop at Costco, and haul 20 volleyballs around in my trunk.
It's so cute, but I had a reality check.
I buy shoes because they are cute, not cars, repeat the mantra.

 white, Mini, Cooper ,Countryman, crossover,car

Instead my head said buy this.

2012 Honda CR V

It holds my family of four, 20 volleyballs plus more, very fuel efficient, great resale value, and it's small enough for Casey to drive, but big enough for hauling furniture finds.  I can still be included in the school carpool, but fit into the ever shrinking mall parking spaces.

I bought a new car because the interest rates are so low right now.  Like I said, I shopped around, I searched out the best deal and then used that deal to secure a better deal.  I got online quotes first and then used those quotes to start the negotiations.   I was not emotionally attached to this car.  I was very willing to buy something else if the deal was better.  I didn't sit in a dealership while the salesperson made me wait while he went back and forth between their sales manager.  I don't have the time or patience for that.  I dealt with the fleet manager when I bought my last car and this time I dealt with the Internet Sales Manager.  Yes, I test drove with the on the lot sales people, but I let them know right up front I'm still looking.  I only had one negative experience with a sales person.  One guy was dismissive when I asked him about different features and mechanical questions.  I figured he wasn't familiar with the car?  After the test drive he asked, "so when can your husband come back so we can run some numbers?"  I figured out the problem real fast, It was because I was a woman!  He seemed shocked when I told him I would be purchasing the car without my husband because he doesn't like to shop, even for cars. 
He then proceeded to tell me "women don't like to buy cars."
(No, women don't like to buy cars from YOU!)
Needless to say, I didn't go back.
For more car buying tips from the experts go here.
If you are getting a loan use a payment calculator to figure out your monthly payment.
I secured a loan before I went to the dealer, but ended up getting a better interest rate through the dealer.  Some dealerships have .09% interest rates right now.
The only part of the negotiations I did face to face with the sales person was for the extended warranty, sealant, and chip repair.  All these things are negotiable add ons.  Figure out what you want before you go in so you aren't over whelmed once you get to the dealership.  The only extra I bought was the extended warranty.  My mechanic for my old car told me, whatever new car I purchased, buy the extended warranty.  Why do you need this with a new car, especially a dependable one like Honda?  Because almost everything is electrical and computerized.  Computers and electrical tend to have more issues than engines and we tend to keep our cars for a very long time.

I've had my new CRV for two weeks and I'm getting an average of 28 miles to the gallon.
It's so nice to have a dependable car that starts every time I turn the key!  I've ready taken it on a long road trip to a volleyball tournament and I love it.  

Are you in the market for a new car?
I would love to hear what you're going to get.
Thanks for checking it out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hotel Del, A Staycation In Coronado

On February 10th my husband Henry retired from 21 years as a Special Agent for the FBI.  We celebrated by treating ourselves to a little staycation at the Hotel Del Coronado.
No dealing with a flight or long road trip, it's just a short 25 minutes from our house.

We were married here almost 17 years ago and haven't had the opportunity to enjoy another overnight visit since we were married.

We visit often, but haven't bit the bullet and enjoyed the overnight luxury till now.

When we checked in we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a two room suite that had just been completely redone! 
Not sure why we got an upgrade, but it was very appreciated. 
The room was gorgeous!  The new room decor hasn't been upgraded on their website yet and I didn't take any pictures!  Think modern beach decor done in gray, silver, lavender, and dark wood. 
Very tasteful, understated, and elegant.
This was the view from the entry of our room.
We were married in this gazebo and seeing it always brings a smile to my face.

At Christmas we always take a family picture in the gazebo.

The Del is a Victorian Hotel and it first opened in 1888.
This is a picture of the cottages and villas that were added to the property in 2005(time share). 
I think they start at 500k for approximately 30 days a year use. 
We didn't stay in these, but they look really nice.
They should be nice at that price.

Maybe we're weird, but we always workout when we go on vacations.
We had to work off all the fabulous meals we ate while we were there.
It was too cold and windy the first morning to run on the beach for me, so while Henry ran, I worked out at the gym, much warmer.
I'm a wimp in the cold!

It was sunny, crisp, breezy, and gorgeous, but too chilly for bathing suits at the beach or pool.

You can see Point Loma from the hotel. 
The university I attended is just on the other side of Point Loma.

At Christmas time this grassy lawn becomes an ice skating rink. 
Where else can you ice skate at the beach?

When it warmed up in the afternoon we went for walks on the beach. 

 We missed the girls, but it was really nice for the two of us to get away.
(C and C = Casey and Cami)

Henry indulged me by walking around the town of Coronado for some window shopping. 
This is true love because Henry would rather stick bamboo shoots under his finger nails than shop.  That man hasn't bought a stitch of clothing for himself, other than running shoes, since we've been married.  I love to shop so I don't mind at all.

I bought him a beer at Mc P's for his sacrifice.
It was just so nice to hang out together. 

Mc Ps Irish Pub

It was pretty stressful leading up to Henry's retirement and the new career.  Spending time in Coronado was the perfect remedy to slow down enjoy the moment.  One minute he was thinking about getting his resume together and the next thing he had a new dream job!  He became eligible for retirement this last September when he turned 50.  The FBI has a mandatory retirement at 57 and there isn't a lot of benefit to staying past 50. 
The timing was perfect.
  There are still many Americans out of work.
I can't imagine the stress and hardship that family's face in this situation?
We are so grateful for this opportunity.  
He looks more relaxed already.

Hopefully we won't wait another 17 years to come back to stay.

Do you have any staycations or little get aways planned?
If you get a chance come visit the Hotel Del.

Thank you to everyone that left such nice heart felt congratulations to Henry and our family.

Thanks for checking it out.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY Industrial Shelves

I built these industrial shelves to replace the buffet that I moved into my livingroom/office

Here is my Great Grandmother's buffet from my dining room/great room. 
This is it's new resting spot. 
I blogged about it here

I needed a new piece of furniture to go in my dining room/great room.  I searched Craig's List for old china cabinets that I wanted to paint.  I physically went to look at two different ones.  They just weren't quite right and I followed my gut by not buying them even though they both were pretty and a great price. 

Originally I was searching for a piece that I could transform into something like this stunning piece from The Shabbiest Chick.


I decided the problem was I wanted a piece with open shelving.  I've had this idea in my head that just wouldn't go away. I drew a sketch of what I wanted and priced out the materials. This isn't one of my cheaper projects, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out and it's still way more cost effective by building it myself. It would have cost me 3 to 4 times more to buy this already made in a retail store. I searched the Internet and Pinterest to see if there was anyone else on the same wave length and here are some great pics. I found that contributed to my inspiration.

I searched for reclaimed wood and struck out.
I ended up distressing new wood using white vinegar and steel wool.  
The Sweet Pickins blog had a great tutorial on how to age new wood. 
There are many tutorials out there on this technique so I can't credit the originator. 
I found this blog through Pinterest.
  I use vinegar to clean all the time in my house so I'm used to the smell.  The oxidation of the steel wool might bother some, so do this step outside.

table weathering 033
Here is what I made
with new wood

 and plumbers pipe.

Here it is in it's new home where the buffet used to be.
It has wheels, which is good because it's really heavy.

If I get tired of it in this spot it will make a fabulous potting bench outside.

I shopped the house and the garage for some accessories.

My garage had a special on wall sconces, dust off one and get two more free.

I used my Grandmother's watercolors on the left side of the mirror.
I like the mix of the more ornate gold mirror with the rustic shelves.

I picked up the 3 rusty baskets at Homegoods.

I bought the little hanging industrial light on clearance at Anthropologie for $49. 
I probably could make one, but for that price why?
I've had the antique pully forever.

The light bulb is from Home Depot. 
It's half as expensive as what Anthro. wanted for their antique looking bulb.

I took these galvanized steel hoops off my free winebarrel and hung them on the wall. 

I hung them with old drapery rod brackets.
Being a hoarder has it's advantages.

I'm happy with the new look...for now.

The great thing is I can change up the display for every season and I can wheel the shelves outside for parties to set up a portable buffet or bar.

What do think?
Are you liking the industrial trend that's made it's way into
home decor?

Thanks for checking it out.

DIY Show Off

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