Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rent-a-Man or why we're awesome!

We are in the market for a new (used) car.

And we are awesome.

(Disclaimer, I am well informed, thank you, and realize that what is about to follow is predicated by enormous amounts of privilege: two-income family, both partners graduating from college, english-speaking, us citizens, thankfully free of major illness in the last 7 years, health insurance and, of course, i am not being battered.)

With all that said I like the think that we put ourselves in a great position. We did. We also had the opportunity to do so (see privilege list above.)

Okay, okay. . . All that is to say that we are lucky and awesome.

Immediately upon deciding to buy me a new car I placed a call to Oune, my brother-in-law. Scully has still not forgiven me. This seemed suspiciously like "rent-a-man" (borrow, really. i love Oune but I'm not about to pay for him) In my defense Oune knows a lot about cars and practically has a side job of buying and selling cars for people. Still. . .

Anyway, a coworker & I went to go look at cars on Monday in the town I work in (let's use the clever, secretive and subtle codename "ToePicker".) So I'm in ToePicker with my coworker and we go look at the dealership and see some great nissan sentras. One is an '05 with no power anything including cruise control. Then we look at a couple '06s with power everything. And a plug in for my ipod. (fruitfemme salivates.) The '06s are stickered at 12,499. This is waaay over our limit.

Let me back up and say that part of what makes us so awesome is that we've done a kick-ass job of saving money in the years leading up to Khubz's birth. We decide to take 5,000 out of our emergency fund (this makes us both sick because it took so long to save but we will at least have some funds left in there in case of disaster.) And we feel like we can carry a loan for 5,000 (this also makes me sick as i am allergic to debt.)

Last weekend we stopped by our friendly credit union and because we are so awesome at paying down our debts and saving money we were approved for a loan at their best rate: 5.9%. I am proud of us for doing so well with our credit rating AND I'm proud of us for going to the credit union before going to the dealer as this improves our bargaining position.

So back to Monday. I say I'll talk with Scully and we set an apt. for Tuesday evening. It seems this car is waaay out of our price so I call to cancel. The very sweet, very young, salseswoman is also very new. Her name is Dulce but handwritten underneath her name is "Candy" because "they worried about people being able to say Dulce." I really want to buy a car from this sistergirl. She says she understands my position and has made that clear to her manager and he wants to see what kind of deal we can work out.

This makes me sick because I am a bad Arab and I suck at bargaining. I don't even bargain at garage sales. So now I'm going to a dealership by myself to meet with a man to talk about money. It makes no sense for Scully to pick up Khubz and drive all the way in to ToePicker for a car we will likely not get.

I am terrified. And I go anyway. (Insert dramatic musical crescendo here)

(Additional disclaimer, if you would like to be in touch with real bravery and courage feel free to learn more about any of these women: fanny lou hamer, amy goodman, malalai joya or Chrystos.)

But on with car-purchasing as act of bravery!

So I go. Because, as Scully reminds me, what are they gonna do? Force me to buy a car?

I go and meet Tom. Nice guy, not smarmy. I'll save the back and forth and just tell you why I'm awesome.

He offers me the '06 at 10,9. I say I'm interested but it's still outside of our price range. He says they can usually shave off some interest and save us some money that way. Great, I say. Our credit union has offered us 5.9%, can you beat that?

He actually laughs out loud and says that 5.9% is a really good rate. I know, I say. This is when we move from the "showroom" to his office.

We talk about warranties, the cost of adding cruise control (to the '05) etc. At one point he pulls up the kelley blue book value online to show me (of the '06). "I am *sold* on that this is a good price and a great car. You don't need to convince me of that. It's just about what is within our financial reality." He stopped with his spiel. There's no place for him to go except down in price. Awesome!

I then thanked them for the info, said I would be talking with my partner but they knew what we were looking for and to give us a call if some other (older) sentras come on the lot. Tom says he'll look at what's coming in the next couple of days. "Or even in the next couple weeks. My car is running fine, we're not in a huge rush. So even if it's in a few weeks, give me a call." :)

The question was asked, does blogging empower women? Sure! So, too, does negotiating for a car. Or, perhaps, the essence of empowerment is women having the tools and the freedom to use their power and their bodies in the way they choose. (Now, this definition would have to apply to all women, lest white women owning women of color be deemed empowering.)

All this is a bit more lofty than where I was going. The point is: I never thought I would feel competent to go and negotiate on a car. I just thought it was something I was not and would never be capable of. Just like I am a really good person but I am not capable of being a physicist and I would not be competent if I were to try. Turns out, I am competent and capable. At least to negotiate on a car. I'll leave physics for another day.

Dulce is going to call me on Thursday. If they can lower it another $1000.oo that's my car. If they can't--it's not my car. And it will be fine. That's what feels empowering.

btw, I did call oune immediately after leaving the dealership.
Not for approval or even reassurance.
Just to brag.

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