Well, the car worries are behind us. Yesterday, the Sal family became the proud new owners of a not-quite new vehicle--a 2002 Honda Odyssey. For those keeping score at home, that means that Coach Sal did NOT get a new car. The Missus got the "new" one, and Coach gets her old one--a 95 Odyssey. I'm cool with that, as hers is the car that gets all the miles and does the back-and-forth family trips. The only down side is that now we're a two-minivan family. Very convenient in terms of seating, but it's the final step down from age 17 when I drove a '78 Mustang II Ghia. If "Mustang Salley" could take a time machine and see "Minivan Salley," I wonder what he (I) would think? Of course, when he saw the incredibly beautiful Mrs. Sal behind the wheel, he'd probably be cool with the car.
A minute of true confessions (don't hate me, Pete!). We did take on a small payment. We spent a little more than we had originally intended, but the trade-off was that we expect to get a good 10 years or more out of the Honda. But the experience did verify something I was taught in personal finance class back in the '80s. Mr. Murrah (the teacher) told us back then to "know your banker." That advice seems very old-fashioned in the 21st century internet-age. But I followed it and have stayed with the same local bank since they my local branch was the size of a walk-in-closet. The branch manager is a guy named Dean, and over the last 15 years I've done 3 mortgages, a couple of cars, and every other financial transaction in our family in his office. Well, I called him last week and told him we "might" do the loan thing for a very used car. He said, "just call me when you're ready, no problem." Well, yesterday I called, and Dean was out of town for Easter vacation. I had to deal with a lady I didn't know. She was helpful, and said we could come pick up an application, fill it out, and the next day we'd be able to get a check. She also said because of my long relationship with the bank she could knock one-and-a-half percent off the standard rate. Good enough, I thought. I'll come by and get it later. An hour later she calls back. Turns out she found my application pre-filled out by Dean in a folder with my name on it, and that my rate will be an ADDITIONAL 2 points lower. She says, "Give me the amount and drive over. You can get your check now." I signed in 3 places, got a check, and went to pick up my car. Thanks, Dean! So if you're currently doing your banking online or through an ATM... get to know a real person!
Ann will probably post pictures of the new ride on her blog. And of course, the most important thing is that it's reliable transportation (geez, I sound like my dad!), but there are a couple of cool gadgets. It's got a CD player, power everything, leather, and.... drum roll.... a tushie warmer, just like the bug red SUV had. That'll be nice on those cold mornings. Nice for Ann, that is. I'll be in the one that doesn't actually have a heater. Oh, well!