Friday, December 30, 2011

Bye-Bye Car. Hello Bus

11 am today.
That's when I give back my leased Chevy Equinox.

That vehicle has been a financial albatross around my neck for the past four years.

To make a long story short... back in '07 I have a seven-year old Ford Focus station wagon with close to 150,000 kms on it. Pretty good mileage, I know, but the car needed a whole mess of work. I was working as an IT consultant, on the marketing side, which required travel for client on-site meetings and the wagon just wasn't proving reliable enough for highway use. That car also went through brake pads like a Lab eats food. Every 10,000 kms or so, hubby had to put on new pads. The heater and the air conditioning had stopped working at the beginning of '07 so I wasn't crazy about the thought a driving a car to Mississauga and back, as well as other places around the GTA, in a car with no heat. Because I was a consultant, I could write off lease payments so after months of much thought and discussion, I decided in December of that year to go car shopping. I also didn't plan on driving for more than 20,000 kms a year, so it was the best option.

Here's where I get bitter. I had no car payments, remember that now. Two days after I signed the lease and picked up my vehicle, and after dropping $1500 into the down payment, the company that I worked for, for the past nine years, decided to terminate my contract... eliminated my position. Bam! I was out of a job - a casualty of the economic down turn that was to come. I was given no warning. None.

It took me six weeks to land a 1 year contract with Aon Insurance, right at the foot of Bay Street at Queens Quay. The pay was far less than what I was used to but it was a job.

The commute strapped me financially. $375/month for the lease and $275/month for the GO pass, plus the cost of gas - $145/month and insurance - $86/month. In other words, it costs me almost $900 to get to work each month. Ridiculous, right? I considered Lease Busters but could provide no financial incentive for taking over the vehicle as I would then need cash to buy a beater to get to the GO lot. Daycare logistics as the time required me to have access to a vehicle.

Fast forward to 2011. I can't begin to tell you how getting rid of this vehicle will ease the financial stranglehold this has been. It's been a mortgage for me. Think about. That's a lot of dough.

My husband can do daycare drop off and pick up - for now. In the Spring, we will need to figure something out as his work hours change with the seasons and our daycare centre doesn't open before 6:30. This means I either take a cab every morning with the kid or we walk for 20 minutes. Or we bike. Or I buy a Vespa. I suspect it will be a shit show but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I warned you all back in the summer I was riding the GO bus come this winter and next Tuesday, it begins. I will not miss the cold, brutal walk across the tundra that is the Oshawa GO lot when it's -25 wind chill and I'm parked at the far north end of the lot, only to get into a cold vehicle with a cold steering wheel.

I'm not thrilled about taking the bus for a variety of reasons but I am thrilled about the $500 plus dollars being put back into my bank account each month. Ecstatic. EC-STA-TIC.


Anonymous said...

But think about the planet! You've reduced your carbon footprint! Good for you. :)

C.J. Smith said...

Yay! Hug a tree for me!

Wait ... Why the hell is anyone up at this hour? I thought it was just me.

Bicky said...

If you can put that money you're saving into a high interest savings account, then when you're ready to get a new (or new to you) car, you'll have a heck of a down payment.

Good luck and happy short walks to the train from here on out.

April said...

Two days after you signed the lease you still had 8 days left in the 10 day cooling off period provided by Ontario law. You could have handed back in the albatross and walked away.

But, hurrah for making it it through the past 4 years!

April said...

Well, ignore me because I just found out that the 10 day cooling off period under the Consumer Protection Act does not apply to car leases.

The second largest purchase that most people ever make in our lives and it doesn't apply . . . boggles my mind.

NewFlyerDriver said...

I'll make sure my husband start submitting the parking blunders he sees, since I have a strong feeling your lack of need to park will lessen your chances of seeing these fools.

BTW, hope you and your family had a great Christmas. and best wishes from my household to yours for the New Year.

C.J. Smith said...

Thanks NFD! I had a lovely Christmas.

Yes, I will need help from the regulars for parking donkey photos!

mumzthewurd said...

Good news - there are seldom any foot riders on the bus. Lots of bag riders and aisle seat hogs. You'll have to invent some new vocabulary.
Happy New Year

Kelly said...

My final truck payment is Jan. 28 (I called over the holidays to confirm) - in my case, I get to keep it after that as a purchase not a lease - I cannot even begin to describe the excitement and freedom I feel at the thoughts of having the $471.99 every month that I've been paying for 5 years. Can't wait!!!