Driving While _____ in the South

A few months ago, I was on a radio show expressing how I felt that my hometown, Dothan, had always had less racial tension that other cities in the South.  But with all the stories that keep coming out about racial tension (especially with police), it made me think of inappropriate behavior that has happened to me just in the city of Dothan.  Here are my stories.  What about yours?

police-in-rearview-mirror

My first story occurs near dusk as I was driving home from work at a local electric generating plant. As I was nearing my apartment, I was unexpectedly pulled over by a police officer that had been lingering behind me since I started my commute.

As the police officer approached, I became very nervous. At this time, I had no idea what I was being pulled over for, but I knew something fishy was in the air.

When the officer arrived to my front door, I rolled down my windows as the officer began to say, “I’m going to need you…”

Before he could finish his statement, he sees my company badge and interjects himself with, “Oh, I didn’t know you worked for the power plant. I had been following you for several miles, and I just wanted to make sure you were OK.”

I sheepishly responded, “Yes, I’m OK.”

The officer then left my car and returned to his police vehicle. Meanwhile, I’m panicking and wondering why this police officer actually pulled me over. Did he pull me over to plant drugs in my car? I’ll never truly know, but I know he wasn’t really checking to see if I was okay.

My second story also occurs near dusk as I was driving from my apartment to shop at the nearby supermarket. Before I could get a block away from my apartment complex though, I was pulled over by another police officer.

Again, once the officer arrived at my driver side door, I rolled down my windows. This time, the officer’s words were not interrupted.

He says with a thunderous voice, “I’m going to need you to get out of your car.”

Because I didn’t want to get physically abused by this police officer, I did what he asked and got out of the car. The officer then proceeds with further statements and questioning.

He states, “I’m going to need to frisk you, and I’m going to need to search your car for drugs.”

If you can imagine, I was very puzzled, but I still cooperated.

As his frisk and search finished, the officer responded, “I just wanted you to know your left tail light was out. Go get that fixed.”

That was the only explanation that he gave. As one might guess, the whole bogus ordeal made me very angry.

The above anecdotes shouldn’t paint the whole picture, but they are signs that we have a systemic problem with inappropriate police behavior—even in supposed progressive cities like Dothan.

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Top 5 Cars Under $3000 | Baxter

Recently, I wrote a blog entry (Click Here) that said the biggest money mistake in my early adult years was wasting a perfectly good $3000 savings on a down payment and loan for a $13,000 nearly new NISSAN Versa Hatchback.  If you re-read a bit further, you will see that I ended up paying $20,000 for that car, which I plan to drive until it dies a slow death.  But writing that blog made me wonder: what if I was smart enough to just buy a car with straight cash for $3000?  What could I have gotten?

For this exercise, I assume that all cars are being bought from a private party via Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, or some other method that is not a dealership.  As of February 2015, in no particular order, my top 5 list of used cars under $3000 is as follows:

1) Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2001 Model)

According to Kelley Blue Book, I can get this entry level luxury sedan in good condition for $2748.  That’s quite a steal if you ask me.  Plus, it still looks pretty slick for a car that’s almost 15 years old.

01 MB C-Class

2) BMW X5 (2000 Model)

This shnazy sports activity vehicle was the very first vehicle every produced in the United States by BMW.  If it were not for the success of this vehicle and others like it, the economy of the South would not be as strong and diversified as it is today.  This SUV is available currently for between $2700 and $3200.  But if you play your cards right, I’m sure you can get someone to sell you one for $2500 or lower.

02 BMW X5

3) Ford Mustang (2003 Model)

If you can find this car in excellent condition (which likely), you can buy it for under $3000.  In fact, KBB says that we should be able to buy one for $2964. That’s a real deal.  Pump up the engine package and the price will rise, but it is still very affordable.  The price is main reason why this is usually everyone’s first sports car.

03 Ford Mustang

4) Honda Civic (2002 Model)

This right here is ol’ reliable.  If you need a car and do not have a lot of money, then the Honda Civic is your car.  Not to mention, several independent body shops specialize in Honda vehicles so this makes maintenance very affordable as well.  Did I mentioned that it has whopping 28 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway?

04 Honda Civic

5) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab (2002 Model)

I honestly do not have a preference for the F-150, Silverado, or Ram—all of them are good sturdy trucks for every day normal use.  Not only that, they tend to be cheaper than other vehicles but are still very easy to sell once you decide to upgrade in car.

05 Chevy Silverado

What’s your Top 5? 

Why I Traded My $300 Hoopty for a $13,000 Car and a $20,000 Loan

MirageA few weeks before I got married in late summer 2011, I suddenly wanted to buy a new car.  In fact, I felt I deseeeerved a new car.  Up until that point, I was perfectly fine with my loyal yet atrocious 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage that was gifted to me during my junior year of college.  However, at this point in time, the pressure of an approaching wedding and the excitement of an out-of-town bachelor party made me yearn to become what I thought to be a real adult—a person with a car loan and a credit score.

In my naivety, I searched online for a car and found a “good deal” on a 2010 NISSAN Versa during the 2012 car season.  To be fair, it actually was a good deal if I didn’t also have $25,000+ in student loans around my neck.  Despite this previous debt, I pressed forward towards purchasing my car.

With $3000 as a down payment, I marched down to the dealership to test drive my future auto.  It felt so good to hold the grip of a new steering wheel beneath my fingers, to have air conditioning and automatic locks for the first time ever, to utilize a functioning horn once more, and to hear the music from a working car radio again.  It was a thrill. It was an intoxication.  It was a gateway drug.

As it happens, all gateway drugs eventually lead to death or debt—my experience was no exception.

While my journey to a new car was smiles and rainbows on the dealership lot, it quickly became frowns and thunderstorms once I entered the financing office.  What was once a $13,000 car inflated into total payments of $20,000—and that’s only because I paid the loan off three years early.  These payments included a meager down-payment, bloated interest charges, high tax fees, an unnecessary maintenance pre-payment plan, and a ludicrous invention called gap insurance.

Never has Proverbs 22:3 been so true: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Simple I was. So simple that I thought I pulled one over on the dealership.  Trust me folks, you will never pull one over on a dealership.  Salespeople are professionals, they study you, and they know how to push your buttons.  Please use my experience as words of caution: if you don’t have the money to pay something in full, then you can’t afford it!

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As a bit of fun, I know it will take some digging, but what are some good cars that I can purchase now for $3000 that would be better than buying a new car for thousands more?

How My New Car Cost Me $1,000,000

“I Will Always Have a Car Loan”

The next time that you hear someone say this phrase, please sprinkle holy Evian on them immediately and then refer them to this blog. That phrase is not only false, but it will cost us MILLIONS of dollars over our lifetimes.  Millions? Yes, millions! Let’s break things down so we can get a clearer picture of what I mean.

The average brand new car in March 2014 was $32,086 with an average monthly car loan payment of $710 with the assumption of a 48 month loan term at 3% interest.   For the record, this example has already made our total loan repayment $34,068 before we really get too deep. Yes, we just lost $2000 before we even left the car dealership lot. But let’s move on to bigger fish.

Typically, cars lose 20% in depreciation in the first year, 15% in the second and third year, and then 10% in the fourth year. So in this example, this would mean that the car is worth $16,691.

The average age of cars on the road in the United States today is a little over 11 years old. Most automobiles are pretty dependable nowadays because of the advances in quality and technology—so 11 years is not a stretch at all. So given that information, we could have owned the same car for over 50% less money if we had just waited a few years and bought with cash. But, I’m still not done.

Let’s assume we repeat this “gotta have a new car” buying habit for 40 years. For simple math purposes, let’s assume each new car costs exactly as much as the first car did.

So after 40 years, we have bought 10 cars and lost:

(a) a whopping $20,000 to car loan interest

(b) a monstrous $173,950 to depreciation

But it gets worse, you also lost:

(c) a life-changing $2.36 million dollars!

2MILLION DOLLARS

(Assumes we invested $404 per month in lost depreciation and car loan interest every month into a good mutual fund at 10% rate of return for 40 years)

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?

For giggles, let’s assume we learned our lesson on the first car, but we still bought the first car anyway. In that scenario, let’s deposit $404 per month for just four years and then wait 40 years. After 40 years, you still lost the opportunity to:

(d) a still life-changing $760,000 dollars!

700K

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?