Monday, April 17, 2017

My First Car

When I was in High School, I didn’t need a car. I took a city bus from across the street from my house, to school.

Some days, I was able to drive my father into work, and keep his car, a PONTIAC TEMPEST, for the day, then pick him up after work.

Pontiac Tempest
Image: Dad's Car. Pontiac Tempest.

After graduating High School, I went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The school is about an hour and a half from Boston. Undergraduates who lived on campus were not allowed to have cars at school.

When I moved off campus in my Junior year, I was able to buy a car.

I had saved my own money and made the decision on what car I wanted on my own.

This was a poor decision.

I should have gotten some help in making my choice, but I didn’t.

I thought that a used car lot that advertised, “No Haggling,” was a great place to get a car.

So I like the looks of a FORD TORINO with low miles, 33,000.

Ford Torino
Image: My First Car. A Ford Torino.

I bought it and took it out to UMass.

Shortly after I bought it, it started to have engine trouble. It turned out that the car didn’t have 33,000 miles on it, it had 133,000 miles!

The dealer offered to take out the engine and install a new one for under $700.

For some reason that I don’t remember now, I agreed.

That actually did solve my engine problems, but that was just the beginning.

The car then needed new tires.

I shopped around, and the best deal was from a table in the Student Union, where they were selling some type of reconstituted tires that combined the shells from nuts.

I bought those tires.

I was probably nuts to do it!

The next thing that happened was that the car started having starter problems.


I was working at K-Mart at the time, and had the K-Mart garage take a look. They did some work on the car in time for a Spring Break trip to Florida.

I’ll never forget planning the trip. I called my mom to tell her that we were going to Miami, Florida for Spring Break.

She asked, “What airline?”
I replied: “We’re driving.”

To this day we get a big laugh out of it.

The car still had starting problems, so on our trip from Amherst, MA to Miami, FL, we didn’t turn the car off that much!

We also had planned to leave first thing in the morning and drive straight through. We got excited, and decided to leave the night before.

Another bad decision, that meant that we lost TWO NIGHTS of sleep.

The car made it down and back.

After graduating UMass and getting my first full-time job, I was able to afford a better car.

This time I asked friends what cars they liked, and many of them owned a TOYOTA CELICA. They all said it was a good car. So I went to a local Toyota dealer and test drove a Toyota Celica with low miles. This time the odometer was accurate and I ended up with a more reliable car.

Toyota Celica
Image: My second Car. Toyota Celica.

What made me think about sharing this story, was MassMutual's #FutureSmart app. It’s a new tool for teaching #kids about making life choices and being smart about #money.

One of the situations asks kids to decide if they want to buy a car.

This is one of those great life learning moments. In addition to deciding if you want, and can afford, to buy a new or used car, you also have to consider the added costs of owning a car:


In my case, I could have done a better job of listening to friends and family, and valuing their advice.

Disclosure: This has been a sponsored post for MassMutual.

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