Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Thursday and I'm Broke

  Remember how I mentioned my car insurance debt, and my broken electronics (camera, laptop battery, cell phone that is now replaced with a shiny new one)? I still owe car insurance money, I still haven't gotten my camera fixed, and I still need a new laptop battery. I was just lucky the phone only set me back $50. (Thanks, Black Friday!) But, now it's worse. Now it's my actual car. It's worse because it's the most expensive and probably most necessary expenditure on the list.
    I had noticed that over the last few weeks, it had begun a nasty habit of devouring gas and the "service engine soon" light came on last Wednesday. I took it and got it checked out to see what the error code was and how much it was going to run to get the part cleaned/fixed/replaced.
    Originally, I was told about $270. Fine. It's an important piece of the machinery, and compared to the godawful estimate we got from this other car repair shop, I was comfortable with shelling out $270 to get my car fixed. I live out of my car about 3 to 5 days a week, so it seemed a reasonable price to pay to help out the machine that's been with me for such a long time.
    Then, dad says I should have a diagnostic done (another chunk of $ that was more than I was told it would be) so we can take care of all the maintenance now, and also so we don't end up replacing one part when it was actually another part that was creating the issue in the first place. Again, I accept it. Not happy about it, but it seems like a sensible plan.
    Bad news: not only is it the ECG valve that needs replacing, but this has build up on it that needs cleaning and this thing is leaking and this other thing needs to be replaced and yada yada yada, $600.
    Fuck. Seriously. I know I don't usually full-on curse here without symbols, but this one hurt. For the most part, this car hasn't given me any trouble for the past 8 years I've owned it. Oil changes, O2 sensor, new tires, a few other minor things over the years, alignments, regular maintenance, etc. This is the most it's ever set me back.
    And the damnedest thing is, the thing I'm kicking myself for, is I was seriously thinking about selling it this year. I was going to sell it before it got too many more miles on it so I could still get a decent amount of money to put towards a newer (still used) car. If I had sold it two months ago when I was really thinking about it, I would never have had to deal with this.
    To come up with the scratch for the repair, I cashed in my piggy banks (yes, I still have piggy banks filled with pocket change) and all that was left of an emergency fund I've been saving for 9 years. It was really painful to see money I'd been saving up for such a long time get wiped out in just one day.
    Long story short (too late)--I was upset. I know I'm really lucky that I still have a steady (even if it's part-time) job, even if my emergency stash is all gone. I know I'm lucky that my car went this long before needing any serious repairs. And I know I'm lucky that I don't have to choose between putting food on the table and getting my car fixed, but that doesn't make me feel any better about all this.
    It really hurts that I saved all that money for such a long time for something that's probably never going to happen. I call it an emergency fund, because that's what I used it for in the short-term, but its ultimate purpose was to be for a big trip, like Paris or Hawaii or something. And now unless I win the lottery or something, that trip is probably not going to happen for another ten or twenty years.
    I wish I didn't live in a place that made it so difficult to get around without a car. I kind of wish that I had sold this car before something like this happened to it. But mostly, I wish that I could be more detached about it--it is only money--but to me, it represented something bigger that I feel like I've lost now.
    I hate being grown-up. I don't want to revert to being fifteen again or anything, but I wish there was some way of being self-sufficient without having to rely on "stuff" rather than people. Grown-ups more rely on their cars, on their phones, on their jobs, on their computers, on their morning coffee, to get them through all the emotional and financial burdens that come with adulthood--bills, mortgage payments, clothes, gas for the cars, insurance, etc. Kids rely on people--teachers, babysitters, carpool or bus drivers, friends, and most of all, parents.
    Does this seem a little backwards to anyone? I don't mean adults should always rely on other people to take care of their problems, but shouldn't adults have more "people" they can count on and go to when they need help, financial, emotional, or otherwise? Why is so much of adulthood wrapped up in relying on "things"? No wonder we're so cut off from the rest of the world!
    I'm anticipating a debate here, so jump in with a comment if you feel inclined to prove me wrong.
One day at a time.

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