Growing up in Northern California, in a very small town with population around 3,500, surrounded by farmland, I knew from an early age that I had to buy a lifted truck. I also knew that this dream would not come true for a while.
My aunt gave me my first vehicle. It was an old sedan with transmission issues. My father and I fixed the issues for cheap, and I drove the car while attending high school. A few years, and a few vehicles later, I had graduated from CSU Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Probability and Statistics.
I landed a job in Aliso Viejo California and began searching for my dream truck. Once I found the truck, on a Craigslist ad, I started to make very poor financial decisions. First, I needed an additional $5,000 USD cash to buy the truck from the owner. I researched online and applied for a personal loan. I don’t remember the interest of the loan - probably very excessive due to my age and lack of credit history.
So, I took the loan and the $3,000 USD cash I had saved and went to go buy my truck. As soon as I bought it, it became the biggest money-pit I had ever seen. I went to fill up the gas tank, and what do you know, the fuel gauge didn’t work. At the gas station, I noticed that the brake-lines on the front of the truck were too short for the lift. The list goes on and on. I must have dumped another $3,000 USD into the truck to make it safe to drive.
I was at the gas station every week filling up both tanks. I ended up cutting my losses and selling the truck for $7,000 USD - taking a hit of $4,000 USD. I’m not proud of this story, but these poor financial decisions led me to where I am today. Financial mistakes happen to all of us. If we learn from them, we are headed in the right direction.
Here’s what I learned:
1) If you are not mechanical, bring someone who is.
2) Make sure to take your time and inspect everything.
3) Run the vin number to make sure that the mileage is as advertised, and that the vehicle is paid-off.
4) Research to make sure that you can pay for the fuel bill, insurance, and maintenance.
5) Sleep on it and really make sure that you want the vehicle.
6) When you perform any cash transaction, do it at the bank so that they can check the bills for legitimacy.