April 25, 2021 Jason Tyree

A “Good Friday” Indeed!

It was a “Good Friday” indeed for our household. We purchased not one, but TWO vehicles in the same day!! I’ll tell you about how that day went, but first, let me give you the backstories of each vehicle situation. First, the van.

The Van Backstory

Before we got our forever home, last year, we often talked about upgrading our family van. In fact, I thought we were going to upgrade our van well before moving into a new home, but God had better, more structured plans for us. In February of 2010, we went to CarMax (in Tulsa, OK) to purchase our first family van. At the time, we just had 2 kids (Jeremiah and A’Niyah) with one on the way (Réinah). With the latest addition on the way, we really had to graduate from a car to a van quickly. I remember going to local car lots, looking at vans, and the car salesman pretty much denying and discouraging us before we could even look inside of certain vehicles we liked. We were met with “Your credit score has to be good in order for you to test drive” and “you may have to look elsewhere” before even analyzing our situation. I remember going to a dealership and none of the workers would even come meet us. I also remember one dealership pulling our credit score, and basically laughed us out of the building. Granted, our credit score wasn’t great at the time, their treatment of us was horrible. Anywho, we ended up at CarMax. The people there were friendly and welcoming. We explained what we were looking for and ended up spotting this 2006 Chrysler Town & Country. Only had 47K miles, and we got it for like $11K. When they pulled our credit, I got discouraged, but somehow they found a lender willing to give us a chance. The interest rate was like 14%, but the monthly payments were tolerable, so it was a win for us.

The van served its purpose and treated us great. We actually paid it off in 2.5 years instead of 5! From 2010 to 2021, we put about 100K miles on it. With approximately 145K miles, wear and tear, and little-to-no power lock or power anything, it was time for an upgrade. In 2017, we started the discussions of upgrading the van, but 2017 was rough because the job I was working at was on the verge of going out of business, so income was a bit unpredictable at the time. 2018 was a no-go because I had just lost my father and it wasn’t until July of that year that I had finally landed a new job, however the pay was less than my previous job. In 2019, I had received 2 raises and was in a better position to upgrade, but wanted to wait until 2020 to do so. In 2020, we immediately changed directions and focused on obtaining our new house (in which you can read here: Our house journey timeline). Now, 2021 … here comes the testimony.

The New Van Testimony

With a couple of mortgage payments under our belt and us getting back into the swing of things, we calculated that we were ok to start looking for a van. When I received another raise from my job this year, we aggressively started looking for our new van. We decided to check out CarMax, because that’s where it all started for us. The gentleman who helped us was very nice and patient with us. We didn’t find what we were looking for on the lot, but CarMax has a nationwide database where we can look and have the vehicle of our choice shipped to us. We ended up finding a real nice 2013 Chrysler Town & Country Touring with about 81K miles for about $14k. We were set on purchasing it and it was in transit to our local CarMax lot. The next night, I was trying to look at it again online, but for some reason, I couldn’t find it (probably because it was in transit). So I did a random search for the same vehicle in my area, and to my surprise, we found the EXACT year, make and model … and even the same color, at another local dealership. In fact, this dealership had only 2 vehicles left on the lot and that was one of them. The ONLY difference between the CarMax one and this one was that this van had 97K miles, but was $4K less than the CarMax one. After checking out the CarFax report, this was a no-brainer! I went to our credit union and was able to get a car loan with a 4.5% interest rate!

But wait …

there’s more!

The Car Backstory

In 2013, my family and I had relocated from Tulsa to Richmond. We only had our van, but I knew that I needed a car so I could drive to work, so my mother let me borrow her 1989 Volvo at the time. (I loved that car). In 2015, I decided to purchase her 2002 Chrysler Sebring from her. That Sebring served me well up until 2019. One summer workday in 2019, on my way home, the engine started to make loud sounds. Once I got off the highway, I noticed smoke from the hood. Lo and behold, the engine died. Within a month’s time, we found another engine to that car for dirt cheap, however, it didn’t seem to take well. A lot of jerking motions and false starts later, we decided to stop working on this car and hold off until we were in a position to get another car. In the meantime, my mother (God bless her) allowed me to use her Hyundai Sonata for about a year.

The New Car Testimony

When I got the 2021 raise from my job, our top priority was still upgrading the family van. My mother was fine with me using her Hyundai for as long as I needed to, because she had her Honda CRV and was just fine. On the morning of us preparing to purchase and pick up our new van, I received a phone call from my boss. I was thinking that he was calling to let me know about another project we were working on, but to my surprise, he called me to inform me that on top of the raise, I was also going to receive a BONUS! Ironically, the day before, I decided to dream big and test drive a Mercedes-Benz. It was a 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300, and I loved it, but it was slightly out of budget for us. So, when I got that surprise call/BONUS, I took that as a sign! So after we purchased our van, I made a beeline to the other dealership to see if the Benz was still available. It was! So I called our credit union again and they were able to approve us for that loan too (same interest rate as well), especially considering the down payment.

Let me backtrack for a second, because there’s more to this testimony. So for the longest, I had my eyes set on either a Chrysler 300 or a Mercedes-Benz C300. Prior to 2020, every time I went to prayer about it, I came out with “you need a garage first”. Prior to 2020, I didn’t see that happening at all. It’s amazing how God works. When we shifted goals and focused on getting the new house, in the back of my mind, I was like “I prayed for a new van, but we’re getting a new house instead. Maybe God is setting us up for more blessings that I don’t know about.” Now we have the house WITH the garage!

Ok, now back to the testimony. I get to the dealership. The car is still there. My loan officer suggested that I try to negotiate a lower price. I agreed and tried to negotiate with the car salesman. He didn’t budge. He was like “Sorry, no can do. Our first price is our best price.” No problem. I was already approved for the listed amount, so we proceeded to sign the papers and pick up the car. Midway through the paper signing, I noticed that I may have misread the mileage on it (I thought it was much higher – I was wrong). So the financing guy said, feel free to double-check on your end and I’ll double-check on my end. Well, when I went on their website, I noticed that they had dropped the price on my car! $1K less! I immediately was like “Hey! This is now less! Is this a mistake?” The managers came over and double-checked and said “Hmm…corporate must’ve changed the price a few minutes ago. We have to honor the new price!” BOOM! The negotiation they weren’t willing to do ended up happening some other way!

So there you have it! Two vehicles in one day, ironically on “Good Friday”! My father passed away on Easter in 2018, so to have a pre-Easter moment like this in 2021 was much needed. The blessings are still pouring in. We received other blessings since being in our home too, but we HAD to blog about this one.