Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trying to get back on track

Some sidetracks are just more exhausting than others. And more dangerous. And definitely more difficult to return to the original track and schedule. Losing the Astro Van was one of those derailments that has had very far reaching ramifications to my life. Especially since it happened after a tooth extraction by an oral surgeon and spending $1300 for the head gasket that was going to solve my problems but didn't.

I was in such a financial hole I could not just zip out and plunk money down on another vehicle. And I was at a bit of a crossroads - or switching yard - on my career as an artist. If I was going to continue with fairs I needed one type of vehicle and if I wasn't I didn't. Fortunately friends were generous with loans of vehicles while I pondered just how to get back on track - and which track.

I like the above historic photograph of a derailment of the Chile Line narrow gauge at the infamous trestle. You can almost hear the workings of all the minds trying to figure out what next. I kept hoping for someone to tell me what to do. My ex-husband, Marc, who I lost last year was always good for that. I hated it when we were married but in the 10 years since my head injury I had become quite dependent on his advice especially with mechanical issues. If nothing else his advice set the direction I did not want to go.

This time my limits were set by the economy. I thought a 10 year old car was a good idea. It was almost three years younger than the one just lost. But nobody wants to loan money on that age of car. Especially to someone that had deliberately stayed out of the credit bog for six years. I quickly found out I could buy a new car easier than an old car. But I don't want a new car. I also don't want credit cards. But it seems that paying your mortgage and all your bills don't establish credit. Owing money on plastic does that. And obviously only that. Even having a car loan and a mortgage you pay does not give you a great credit score.

If I want choices about how I spend my money on a car I have to have credit cards. Which it is to be noted are not easy to get without other credit cards. I remember being at this point right after my first divorce. But back then you could count on having paid your electric and telephone bills to be significant in your credit rating except that regardless of whether I wrote the checks for payment all credit was in HIS name. I had to put down huge deposits before I could get a phone or apartment or buy a bed.

My father, who could have easily given me the money, chose instead to call up credit companies and threaten them with sexism suits or told me exactly what to say to them. How to hit and getting a lawyer, etc. Step by step I was reluctantly welcomed into the world of plastic which I discovered when you lose your job from a serious accident is a death trap.

And I had not paid attention to miles of new track being laid since the banks got bailed out. Interest rates are insane. Would you believe 19.5% for a ten year old car? And 14% for a $300 balance limit on a credit card plus $90 annual fee. I am going through sticker shock and I have yet to walk on to a car lot.

And there have been some major schisms. Take State Farm. I have my home, small business and auto policies with them and have been a customer for 40 years (except for two years with Allstate when State Farm would not let me switch to another agent when the one I had made sexual advances) and yet they would not consider an auto loan because of a zero credit rating. That was when I found making prompt payments to my mortgage company and all utilities did not count. My bank was rather shocked the mortgage didn't count.

I am now seeking rate quotes from AARP, Geico, Safeco, and several other insurance companies. If State Farm is not loyal to me why should I be loyal to them. And it looks like I may even save money by switching my loyalties.

I think I have made a stop gap deal on a vehicle that is not my dream but will allow me time to find out what is. And to obviously re-build my credit. One person told me an auto loan was the way to do that but obviously not. Any one with any advice out there?


  1. I would be happy to share my debt with you. I don't know that it will help with purchasing a car, but it will convince the banks that you have been alive for these past few years. By the way....I'm wondering just what is too much debt? What is just enough to make you viable? Tricky questions. As you know, we fell under the wheels of an on-coming train and it is just as difficult to get back on track. Good luck, my friend. I am not fond of all these rules especially when they have a habit of changing on a dime. rd

  2. "But it seems that paying your mortgage and all your bills don't establish credit. Owing money on plastic does that. And obviously only that. Even having a car loan and a mortgage you pay does not give you a great credit score."



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