For 7 years i have been driving a car that I pretended was a huge SUV. Not because I am materialistic or wanted to pay high gas prices or needed a house on wheels. No, because with the interest rate i was paying (23%) my payments were huge. But at the time, Sophie not yet 2, I was driving a tin can on wheels. It was our only car. I got it for a web design and identity trade out. $400. That was generous for this car. It was a deathtrap and I drove it sometimes 3 hours in Atlanta traffic to a contract job I had at the time. I had stayed at home with Noah until he was three. It was a choice I made and I knew it meant being very tight on funds. I did freelance work to help with bills until I was 8 months pregnant with Sophie. Then I didn’t do freelance again until she was about 8-9 months old. We lived on my then husbands income from a $10 an hour job. A lot of people wondered why, knowing what I could earn as a good graphic designer would I not go to work. We struggled a lot. We had the lights shut off more times than I can remember. But I got to be home with my babies. And that was way more important than anything else. I saw their first steps, heard their first words, put them down for every nap and saw their sleepy, wobbly toddler steps when they woke up. Those were precious days to me. They were also the days where i dreamed of my future and realized that i wanted to be an artist that lived her life the way she wanted to, and to show that you could do that with lots of hard work.
But when Sophie was 16 months old I got tired of the crappy basement apartment, the bathroom with only a tiny standing shower and lack of a dishwasher. So I asked my husband to stay home for one year until Noah was old enough for preschool. Then they could both go tot he same preschool and daycare together. If he would do that, I would go get a full-time job that would make us enough to get out of where we were. I got a great job as a print designer working with Aquent. it was a full time contract job and when they said I would be making $36K I about fell over. We were RICH! heh.
I did that for four months, then moved on to another place just down the road for another four months, making even more money there. Design became my life – it was a way to make my kids’ lives better. I taught myself Flash and web design because the internet dot com boom was going on. I ended up getting a job for $50K 8 months after my first time back in the workforce working for a dot com. But 3 weeks later me, along with 15 other people got laid off. Welcome to the dot com bubble beginning to burst. I was a few years too late. But a week later they called me to do contract work for them. At $50 an hour for 40 hours a week. Holy CRAP! I knew their days were numbered, but with that kind of money we could save a bunch and pay off some debt. Meanwhile, I was driving the same old death trap and it was getting scarier by the day. The second I got 2 of those contract paychecks making it look like I made over $100K a year, I made friends with the secretary and said, if I buy a car, and they call to verify my employment, will you say I am full time? She agreed. And not that I am for lying, but our credit sucked. We ruined it the first year Noah was born. On VERY little money. It is sad how easy that can happen and how hard it is to restore, but that is a story for another day. So when she agreed to say i was full time and not contract, I ran to a dealer. I knew my options were limited. I plunked down $2000K and said, “what car can I get???” In retrospect, not the best way to car shop, but I was desperate. They ran my credit. I think they had no idea it could actually go THAT low. But when I showed them paycheck stubs the salesman’s face opened up and sunshine came out of his ears. “I can get you into a car, I PROMISE!” Six hours later they FINALLY found a bank that would finance this terrible credit risk. Let me tell you, getting yourself into trouble and having bad credit happens to good, hardworking people. But the world treats you like a crack whore. And it gets to you. And it hurts. And it played with my self esteem for years and still does. So if you know someone with bad credit and ever judged them, like they don’t take it seriously, or are lazy people, give them a break. Because sometimes you get into circumstances you simply cannot get out of and you get scared and overwhelmed and you make mistakes. So be kind. Anyhoo…
So they took me out to a car they said i could have. I did have a choice, a black Ford Contour or a fuschia Mercury Mystique. I chose the black. They payments were high and the car was ok, but to me, I was in heaven. I drove it home that night and felt on top of the universe. Shortly after that the red car finally died and this was our only car. I paid it off the first year after I separated from my then husband. The car began to slowly fall apart the last three years. The radio stopped working about a year after we got it and we never had the money to fix it. Door handles broke, windows stopped rolling down, the fender got a big hole in it after lending it to a friend for a weekend and someone backed into them in a parking lot while they were working and left no note, the check engine light goes on and off and I could go on and on… But the engine works and if I don’t drive it on the highway, it’s ok. Cause it sometimes turns off for no reason.
I have worked my tookus off this past year people. I have worked harder and more hours than ever before. And I wanted a new car. But I could not afford it. I put a certain dream car of mine as a screensaver at work. I got the brochure and have it next to my computer at home. I could not afford it, and even though I have been working so hard on fixing my credit, I was sure I could not qualify for an interest rate that would make it affordable. But then late last year I started upping my hours at work. And still painting at night. And slowly I began to see that with careful budgeting I MIGHT be able to afford a car. So last week i went for a test drive. I fell in love. I haggled. I got them to offer me a crazy amount for my Contour. And SHOCKINGLY I found out I qualified for a GOOD rate! When they went to run my credit I told them to not hold out hope. When they came back they said, “Um, how bad do you think your credit is???” I said TERRIBLE! “Um, no, not really at all, it is just about average with the rest of the country.” COLOR ME SURPRISED! My hard work had paid off. They told me my payments and I was floored, stunned, delirious!!
People, this week a dream came true. I waited, I prayed, I was patient and worked hard. I now own a 2008 Honda Element. And the last pic shows you what I will decorate it with. I am friends with a print vendor and he is making magnets for trade out on some web design work. Here is to dreams becoming fulfilled.
Oh, and on the back will be more dogs, my web address and my license plate will read “IPNTDGZ” hee. (and these pictures were all taken with a Hannah Montana Disney Digital camera by me and Sophia. Cause some stupid robber done stole mine…. But I don’t even care anymore cause LOOKEE AT MY NEW CAR PEOPLE!!!!!)