The Check’s in the Mail!

I am beyond excited to report that on Thursday afternoon at approximately 4:45 PM, we mailed the final check to pay off our car!

Our original plan was to pay it off within 6 months but after filing taxes, we realized we were in a good position to pay it off now. We made only 2 official payments on our installment loan before writing the pay-off check. This was the first year (in about a decade) that I didn’t have extra freelance income to pay taxes on so our refund of $772 was just enough to put our goal within reach.

Almost as exciting as the check itself was the location from which we mailed it. We dropped the check into the mailbox of the post office on Venice Ave. in Venice, FL, just a few blocks from the beach. We didn’t set out to mail the payment 780 miles away from our own mailbox. We were simply out to enjoy a few days on the beach with friends and the check (which I wrote out before we left) just kept riding around in my purse in hopes that we’d come across a post office on the way. The closer we got to our old “home” though, the more it made sense in some cosmic kind of way to payoff our car from the island where we used to spend our free time walking and talking about our hopes and dreams. This was, after all, a dream come true for us. To have the financial flexibility to purchase and pay off a new-to-us car in just under 3 month was something we would never have thought possible 5 years ago when we first began our journey toward minimalism.

Stopping for a picnic during our first road trip in the paid-off “Peanut”.

This morning I sat down with our budget – mostly so I could cross off the car payment from our spreadsheet. It felt really good!

It also felt good to look at our vacation expenses and realize that we’d spent less than $140 in gas for a 2,200 mile road trip. The last time we traveled that far, we spent nearly double the amount in gas. Without a car payment (or last year’s ridiculous car repair expenses), I’m hoping that this will be the first of at least a few more road trip adventures for us this year.

BTW – The Peanut once lived in Florida too. It was a rental car in Orlando for the first year of it’s life. I wonder if it was as happy to be back home as we were? 

Carvana & How We Plan to Pay Off the New Car in 6 Months

Last Sunday we ordered a car online though Carvana. After spending about an hour looking at cars in our price range (under $10K), we decided on a silver 2015 Chevrolet Spark. Deciding was by far the most time consuming part of the ordering process. From there, everything else was easy. So now, as promised, here’s my review of the car buying process with Carvana…along with our crazy ambitious plan to pay off our new purchase in just 6 months (while still working only 4 days per week).

new-car1First, Carvana. The website is easy to navigate, except on a mobile device where it has a tendency not to load the menus properly. On my laptop though, we were able to filter by price range and take a 360 degree tour of only the cars that fit our budget. The car’s flaws (dings and scrapes) are highlighted so that you have a fairly good idea of what condition the car is in. Our car, like a lot of Carvana’s cars, was a former rental car. The one thing that I’d improve about the website is adding the ability to compare cars. There were several silver Sparks priced at $9,000. To compare, we had to look at each separately and take notes.

Carvana offers several payment options. You can bring your own financing, finance though them, or pay cash. The financing terms are reasonable and competitive, based upon your credit and down payment. These, of course, are words I never thought I’d find myself saying again. Financing a car was definitely not on our bucket list for 2017.

Completing the financing application with Carvana took about 15 minutes. We were able to enter our down payment and select the financing terms that fit our needs (well almost, the minimum term is 1 year). They ask about income but unlike our previous car buying experiences, we did not have to send any verification of our income. Of course, the last time we financed a car was nearly a decade ago so this could be standard practice by now. Regardless, the credit check and subsequent approval was almost instantaneous.

There was an option to trade in our current vehicle but I felt we could do better selling it on our own. Turns out we were right. We sold the Xterra on Friday for $2,200.

After approval, we were presented the option to review and sign our contracts online. This also took about 15 minutes. For our down payment we had to enter our bank account information; however, as of this moment, the money has not yet been withdrawn. I’m not certain but it may be that they don’t withdraw the down payment until after the 7-day test drive. After completing our order, we received a receipt, a copy of our contract, and confirmation of our selected delivery date via email. Aside from a short email on Tuesday saying that we were all set, this was the only communication I had with Carvana until the day of delivery.

Waiting for Carvana
Waiting for Santa (aka Carvana)

On Thursday morning, I received a call confirming our delivery for later that afternoon. The driver arrived as scheduled – at 3 PM – and yes, we were pretty excited to see the truck pull up. In 22 degree weather, we watched Jennifer unload our new Spark. After driving it around the block, we returned to review our paperwork again and sign for delivery.

In total, it took about 2 hours from start to finish to order our new car online and about 30 minutes to complete the test drive/delivery. Jennifer was awesome! She was super-friendly and answered all of my questions, all the while standing in the freezing cold. Before she left, she gave us a gift bag containing a travel cup, mints, a key chain, a bumper sticker, and a $25 Visa gift card. (She called it a swag bag. I called it an unexpected Christmas gift.)

car-pyt-budgetAs folks who swore never to have a car payment again, the decision to finance even part of this purchase was extremely hard. It was the single strongest factor that kept us going back to the repair shop with our Xterra for the past two years. In the end, we decided to pay about half down and finance the rest, with the goal of having it paid off within 6 months. It’s an aggressive goal but one that we believe we can accomplish without compromising our other financial and work/life balance goals.

As a minimalist, I like to look at things in their simplest terms. Broken down into its smallest part, we need only to put $10 per day toward this debt to completely pay it off in 6 months. That’s just 2 Easy Shifts or 3 Bestmark audits or 1 GigSpot shop or 1 Shipt delivery. That’s seems pretty doable to us.

Ordering from Carvana was one of the easiest things I’ve done in a while. (Far easier than ordering my “free” photo book from Shutterfly today.) Now, let’s hope our plan to pay off this purchase is just as easy!