Friday, December 31, 2010

Mazda American Credit Leases suck.

My Mazda5 is no longer mine. I now own a 2010 Prius. Kelli will drive it....but I will pay for it. Yeah even after almost 9 years ( nine yeeeeeeeeearrrrrrrrrrrrss) together we still keep separate finances. Makes things easier.

My lease payment was due today. I stopped payment of course since...I don't the Mazda anymore.

CarMax offered up a trade in value $600 less than I currently "owe". The dealers final offer was $1500 less than I currently "owe". But it took a while to get there. Upside down. Hmmm.

I had three remaining lease payments of $400 a piece. On top of that the Mazda5 needed tires as the rears were down to the wear bars. The lease agreement requires me to turn the car in with certain tread depths. I would have needed 4 tires by March 31st. Four of the cheapest tires I could get in 205X50X17 (low profile sporty tire) were $120 a piece. Add in mounting and call it $550 for the set. In addition if I turn the car in I have to pay a $375 disposal fee. So out of my pocket in the next 3 months was $1200 in lease payments, $550 for tires and $375 for the lease disposal.....$2125. That's if I turned the car in.

I didn't want the car.

Last night we stopped by Toyota of Dallas. I was VERY skeptical of getting out of there in a good mood. The glitzy ads they run screamed "we will screw you".

To my surprise Sam Albalouli, our salesman, as promised pulled the two Prius models we were interested in right up the the building. They were waiting for us. Kelli and I took a look in each one.

The silver Prius had a dark grey interior while the Blizzard Pearl had a light grey interior. We chose the latter....I liked the exterior more and Kelli liked the interior more.

I took it for a quick test drive. All was great. Inside we went.

First problem. They valued my trade at $3100 less than my balance. No bueno. We decided to sell it to Carmax and pay the $600. It was less than the $2125 I would have to spend if I finished my lease.

My salesman was very nice, but thought we were going to leave and not come back. He asked if we could sign the paperwork before going to Carmax. No way. I stated there was no way I was buying a car before my current one was gone. Murphys law would happen and I would get into a car accident on the way to Carmax.

I stated it would be about 2 hours as we had to go home, get Kelli's car, she follow me to Carmax, sell them my car then come back to the dealership. He was worried.

I asked for a service loaner to drive back. Nope.

Instead he FOLLOWED us to Carmax. This turned out to be a VERY good thing.

Carmax is great. I walked to the counter and handed them the paperwork. I sold them my Cadillac years ago. I was in and out fast. Not this time. With a lease they need a verbal lease payoff. Mazda American Credit won't give it to anyone but me. Additionally they won't let Carmax payoff or buy my car. Carmax will no longer do business with Mazda American Credit.

Mazda American Credit was great until now. The lease is set up that I have to return to a Mazda dealer to terminate my lease. My Acura lease was not this way. I traded out of my Acura lease 3 months early and $900 positive. My salesman from Toyota was shocked at what was going on. We left and he said he would see what he could do.

Back at the dealership. Kelli and I were doubtful this was going to work.

After more negotiation the dealer raised the trade in value to within $1500 of my payoff. The $1500 was still less than the $2125 I would end up paying. Financing negative equity sucks. If I had a traditional loan on the Mazda or had to pay interest on the Toyota I would not have done the deal.

Headed to finance. I got 0% interest for 5 years. Free money. The finance guy tried to sell me an extended warranty, prepaid maintenance, paint protection and tire protection. I was interested in the tire protection until I heard the cost...$400. No way. I actually used the tire protection on my Matrix. It was "included" in the price of that car. Bleh.

We arrived at the dealership at 5PM. We walked out the door at 8:30PM. Not bad all things considered. If it weren't for the Mazda snafu we would have been done earlier.

Today I have the new Prius. I will be taking it to get a new toll tag and then it will belong to Kelli.

As for my "new" 2004 Prius...I will be pimping it out. I am going to order all weather mats right away. I am also going to look into installing an aux input port. Right now Kelli is using the old fashioned tape adapter. That's about it. Might get a rear cargo mat and bumper protector. I will be loading bags in and out of it a lot. The new Prius already has the rear bumper protector.

Being a zero interest loan we have no super incentive to pay it off fast other than to get MY next mega SUV.

Below is an image from Toyota of what color we bought.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's been decided

After a lot of thought....I am buying a 2010 Prius IV....for Kelli. I will take her car. It will mean less wear and tear on her car since my commute is much shorter and I drive much less overall. We will pay the car off in four years.

That's the plan anyway. We are going to Toyota of Dallas tomorrow. They are currently selling all Prius models for $3000 off MSRP or $2000 off MSRP + 0% ARP. We are doing the latter as it saves more money in the long run.

I called the dealership today and talked to a salesman who said it's $2000 off the price on the website which is the same price that's on the car. We found a Blizzard Pearl (white pearl), with a light grey interior for $26,000 after the $2000 off.

Tonight we went to Carmax to get my car appraised. It's currently worth $600 less than I owe on it. Hopefully Toyota of Dallas will appraise it for even money. If not we will decide what to do.

If I continue the lease I till March 31st then I have to buy the car, continue to lease or return the car and pay $375 in disposal fees. So since I'm not going to keep it, $375 is "ok" in our heads to be "upside" down on since I would pay it anyway.

The plan is that 4 years from now I get whatever the hell I want.

That's the plan anyway. There's a 1% chance that we will have a kid in the next 4 years and 50 weeks. So there's that. We will still be paying for daycare in 4 years...hmmm. Bleh.

I just couldn't justify buying ME a new car while Kelli rolls around in a 6 year...almost 7 year old car. At my current rate of driving I will put 24K miles on her car in the next 4 years.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sit back down!

I've bought a few cars in my lifetime. For no reason whatsoever I will list them:

1988 Lincoln Continental (my mom and I bought it at night, in my night clothes when I was 16....huge mistake, horrible car)

1994 Saturn SL2

1996 Saturn SC2

1996 Ford Explorer

1997 Saturn SC2

1998 Cadillac Catera

2003 Toyota Matrix XRS

2005 Acura TSX

2008 Mazda5 Grand Touring

Not at lot....but 9 cars in just 18 years of driving....I know a thing or two.

My last two cars I bought using online negotiation. Easy and fast. For my next car I have been using email as well.

Natali was bored yesterday and wanted to go look at cars. I saw an advertisement for Westway Ford that stated $6000 of MSRP of all Ford Edges. I knew there was a catch, but we were bored.

I told Kelli there was zero chance of me buying a car that day.

We pulled into the lot and walked over to the Edges. I saw the add ons. The add on sticker listed paint sealant, window tinting  and my favorite....a bed liner! None of which was installed (and a bed liner that CAN'T be installed!).

I wanted to see what a realistic price was. We approached the front door, cheesy salesman came out. Told him I wanted a simple price. Already have my financing.

We walked out and I questioned him on the car and add-on sticker. He stated, "The windows are tinted!" I replied..."that's the factory tint". He then peered in the back window, "there might be a bedliner in there." I gave him the WTF look.

He then gave some BS lines about how all dealers add-on stuff. I told him that another dealer I visited had zero add-ons. I then asked for a price.

While walking back inside Kelli and I both had a bad vibe. I already decided once this started to suck we were gone. I know the tricks. No way they are getting my car keys to "appraise" it as that will trap us there.

The salesman told us he had a horrible Christmas because he was going through a divorce and just moved from East Texas where he sold Kias. Why he told us this we do not know.

He tried to do silly salesman tricks about stating he could beat our loan rate ( he can't) or the Carmax trade in value (I truly made up a number!). I just wanted a price.

He walked away for 5 minutes. He came back, "Ok $6,000 off MSRP, let me have your keys so we can appraise your car."

I simply asked, "Ok, so what is the price."

"$6,000 off MSRP," he responded.

"What is the price then." I asked again.

"Whatever the MSRP is it's $6,0000 off of that." he stated.

This went round and around and I stated, "My keys aren't leaving my pocket until I know the price of the car you are trying to sell me."

He began to get huffy and said, "I'm working for you. I only get $200 no matter the cost of the car."

I was done. I stood up and told Kelli we are leaving. This is when the craziness started.

"Sit back down!" the salesman yelled. And I mean yelled.

Kelli got up with Natali in her arms.

"Sit back down!" he shouted at least two more times. Everyone in the small showroom was now watching this happen.

We left. I noticed a well dressed man following us. It was the new car manager.

He apologized for what happened. Short discussion. I stated I had never had that happen before. Done.

Don't think I will be back there.

Still pondering on what to do. Kelli wants me to hurry up as every day delays her next car purchase. I asked her is she could buy ANY car other than a Prius what would it be.....she had no answer. I am 100% willing to get a car we can both enjoy, but all she wants is a Prius. Bleh.

Later we discussed how funny it would have been if Kelli had interjected and said, "Yeah Darren sit back down and buy this damn car!" Maybe next time.

Too bad Don Davis Ford doesn't have what I want, we always had a great experience there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Ford's got tech

Drove the 2011 Ford Edge last night. It was nice. The Ford My Touch was better than I expected. Lots of techy much I can see it turning off a segment of buyers.

I liked it for the most part. Lots of room. Comfy seats. Kelli was indifferent. I kept prodding her for an opinion...she just said if that's what I want. Meh....Will continue discussions. I am still considering the Optima. It's thousands less with almost as much tech....but in a sedan versus SUV.

The Edge I am looking it is at the extreme end of my limit. One thing that's comforting is it's much less than my brother and sister in law just spent on their I have that going for me.

With the end of the year here there is nothing on TV! All of my tech podcast have taken the rest of the year off. Time to load up the Netflix instant cue!

Our living room has turned into a baby toy minefield. Natali has her toys strewn all about the living room. She's taking after me apparently.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stop reading if you've read this before

Blah, blah, blah. Car, car ,car.

Read some disturbing news. The Kia UVO system might ONLY be offered in the Optima Hybrid or Sportage turbo. Both could be out of my price range.

No bones about it, my next vehicle will have a Microsoft base entertainment system in it be it Ford Sync or Kia Uvo.

Both can easily interface with my Zune or an Ipod. Both can read text messages to me from my phone and I can respond (via preset messages) via a ton more.

The only Fords I consider worthy are a new Ford Fusion Hybrid (there is a $2000 incentive on them now...and for a while), a used 2011 Ford Flex or Edge. That's it. The latter are SUVs. The Flex's don't hold value well apparently as there are several 2010 Limited models with under 20,000 miles for $11,000 off MSRP.

Kelli is growing weary of my decision making. Blah.

Redesigned New URL will be Both will work for a while. No desire to update this site anytime soon.

Our original Xbox 360 (living in my man cave) might be dying. DVD drive is stating all DVDs are unreadable. I know Eric popped in a new DVD drive in his. I might move it to the bedroom and make it a Media Center Extender/DLNA player. I don't play many Xbox 360 games in my man cave anyway.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nice weekend away in Sacramento

Nice weekend in Sacramento....aside from the initial TSA issue.

Natali did great on both flights. She was a little fussy on the second flight, but settled in fine. Traveling with her new car seat is more difficult. I bought a collapsible hand truck and bungee cord. Worked fine until I got to the plane. The seat is so big I have to carry it above the seats. Eh. We sat in the back on one flight (annoyingly long walk!) and the front on the other flight. Better.

Natali has flown on 12 flights and just under 15,000 miles. On our flight back the lady behind us had a 2 year old that was screaming and laughing loudly the entire flight. The worst part was when the lady did nothing to stop the kid from forcefully opening and closing the try on the back of Kelli's chair over and over again. Kelli and I think Natali will be much more behaved as she will likely have flown on 40+ flights and 50,000 miles by the time she is 2 years old.

My brother in law and his wife bought a 2011 Honda Pilot Touring...4WD. Nice SUV. They did get a little screwed though. They Touring has Nav. The Nav in their's wasn't working because the DVD inserted is older than a previous disc. Once I saw the error message I knew what happened. Their Pilot was newer than an older Pilot that was sold at some point. The buyers of the older pilot wanted a newer DVD so the dealer took the NEWER DVD out of my brother in laws Pilot and put it in the other pilot and took the older DVD and put it in his. I wouldn't have bought the car with a non functioning nav unit, but they are young. It's a nice SUV, Eric and Angela bought one a few months ago. Had very few miles on it but they saved a ton of cash.

While in Sacramento our friends Jodi and Chelsea stopped over. Their daughter is two weeks younger than Natali. I will discuss more about the two on ByrdintheOven at some point today. Right now I am discussing their new ride, a 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited.

The Highlander competes against the pilot. The Pilot is more "in yo face tough can go into the woods" while the Highlander is more "upscale SUV that can do very light duty". While headed to breakfast Kelli said something that tipped me off that she liked the Highlander.

I quickly pulled up the page and let Kelli know the Highlander Limited (which Jodi and Chelsea bought) has more equipment than the Pilot but cost about $6K less. She didn't comment. We talked about it on the flight back. The vibe I get from Kelli is, if I get a new car it should have  a hatchback and not a trunk. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not eating out....

I never really thought about how much Kelli and I ate out....until we stopped.

Over the last 10 days we have eaten every meal at home or made from food at home (Kelli brings her lunch to work)...except once. Friday night we went to Hooters. Beyond that...every meal. It's amazing how much less we eat...and better we feel. My pants even fit better.

This has helped MY budget as I am spending less on gas. Being off work means I drive more. I am buying gas once every 10 days versus once every 20 days. Big difference.

I've been eating a lot of pasta. Pasta with simple marinara. Pasta with olive oil. Plain pasta with crushed red pepper. Cheap and filling. I also have been eating a few Smart One's and Lean Cuisine meals. Still not sure what we are going to do when Natali starts eating regular food. I am sure I can cook for her, but I wonder how we will explain why Kelli is eating something different. Ha!

Ordered a bunch of Christmas photos for my dad today of Natali. We went to Kiddie Kandids. Never again. Huge ripoff. I ordered the prints from Snapfish. Painless. Tomorrow I am going to order Christmas cards to mail out. I can design them online and pick up at Walgreens down the street. They have pick up options for Walmart, Walgreens and Meijer (a yankee store). Very nice.

Time to renew our auto insurance. Progressive MyRate (now known as SnapShot) is going to save us $198 a year. I am saving 15% while Kelli is saving 18%. Total premium for 6 months is just $412. Helps that Kelli's car is older...and the thing I have has sliding doors.

Kelli wants me to like my car. She doesn't like my car. I offered to pay my car off in 2 1/2 years, give it too her and trade her car in. She didn't like that idea. Bleh.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holding pattern

So my heart was broken yesterday...kinda.

So thru some negotiating via email I talked the local Toyota dealer down from $30,980 to $26,250 for a 2010 Prius IV (there are 5 levels...IV is ...well only topped by V). It has leather, nav, heated seats...everything but a sunroof. Nice car. I put that on the burner.

I still love the Kia Optima. I found out some bad news...the awesome radio that is based on the same technology as Ford Sync....won't be available until early 2011. Bummer. It's a deal killer for me. If I am going to BUY a car to keep...I gotta be totally happy. So a new car is on hold for a bit. Really bummed. Cue to violins....I'll get the cheese for my wine.

It's not easy being Kelli

I sometimes wonder what people think we then see Kelli and I interact. Not that knowing would change anything. I am curious.

Even after almost NINE YEARS.....Kelli and I are still getting to know each other. We each keep wondering when the other will "break" of certain habits. For example, when presented with a tense situation or the need to make sure information is conveyed quickly I will talk in a calm but stern voice. This stems from being a pilot. When crap hits the fan information needs to be exchanged in a clear and concise manner as efficently as possible. Kelli hates this. She thinks I am talking down to her. It upsets's who I am. I remind her I am not talking down to her, but when Natali is screaming in Kelli's lap, I want to make things as clear as possible.

On the flip side. Kelli has a habit on answering "yes" to an either/or question. When Kelli is watching Natali and Natali is upset, I will ask, "Do you want me to make Natali a bottle OR do you want to try something else?" Kelli will answer, "yes". Another situation is, "Do you want McDonalds or a Plasma TV?" The answer again is "yes". She will follow up with, "wait what?". Ugh. Always done it....always will.

There are lots of differences between us. But it works. Speaking of work....relationships take work. Kelli and I have had out pitfalls over the years. Each time we get to ground zero we realize we needed more communication. Of course sometimes there is too much communication. Turns out Kelli could have lived her entire life not knowing that I don't mind sucking the boogers out of Natali's nose. I find it less irritating than using my fingers or paper towel. The look on Natali's face is worth it as well.

I am Mr. Wishwashy when it comes to what to do with my car. A few months ago I said I would keep it. Now I look at the numbers and think "After all said and done I will have paid $30K for this thing. Eh. Kia Optima or Prius are what I am looking at. Both around $25K. I can't fathom spending much more on a car.....until I am 40.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mac attack

Every 2 years or so I upgrade my dad's computer. Normally it's my previous computer. Thing is...I haven't built a computer in....2 years.

So I got to thinking. Each time I go visit my dad, his computer is slower and slower....all kinds of crap is installed. Mac time.

At first I was going to buy him a used Imac/Mac mini....around $400. Then I realized those Macs are G4/G5 units....which can't run most modern Mac software. So I started looking at a new Mac Mini/Imac.

An Imac starts at $612 via Amazon. Add in an Apple Keyboard and Mouse....$720. Buying a monitor....almost $900. Hmmmm. An IMac is $1100 ish...and includes the keyboard, mouse and monitor. A lot of money. Would be nice to buy my dad something nice....that will last a long time.

Throwing it on the barbie. Might just get the Mac Mini.....hmmmm.....