The Thrill of Driving a Broke Down Car; and of Being Broke, in General

Roller Coaster on Fire
Now, that’s a ride.

As mentioned, we are watching our budget in preparation for a project. A home renovation project.

Earlier this year, we bought a place that needs work. A lot of work. A huge, expensive amount of work. We have put a lot of work (read: cash, read: every cent we have plus some) into it already, and we will spend the next several years putting in more.

A lot of you are probably nodding, like: “Yep, don’t I know it. I’ve seen Fixer Upper.” Some of you are probably shaking your heads, like: “God, I wish I were planning a renovation. What is she complaining about? Fun!” And a few of you might even be thinking: “Ugh, challenges. I hate them. Stop testing your limits, girl.”

Obviously, all of this has been our choice. We chose to get a fixer upper, we like the challenge, we could have done something else. Both of us think this is a good idea, and, on a good day, it is really fun. Talking about the kitchen, thinking about what kind of living room layout we want – it’s fun.

Not so fun? Saying “no” all the time. Nights where I’m tired and I want to order Chinese? No, ramen it is. We have taken on second jobs, we rarely go out. Someone wants to go on vacation? Nope, what about a staycation? Someone wants to go out and have a few drinks with friends once-a-month? Don’t spend more than $30. Movies? Only on cheap Tuesday, once a quarter. Every time I think about buying a new sweater, I think: “Oh wait, how am I going to pay for the kitchen?” and do not buy the sweater, even though I still haven’t figured out how, exactly, we are going to pay for the kitchen. Um.

Saying “no”, being skint, has its thrills, when it’s in the service of a big project – a project bigger than you ever imagined for yourself. Sometimes when I think: “Oh man, I can’t believe we’ve taken this on, and I don’t have any idea how we’re going to pay!” instead of being scared, I feel a little adrenaline rush. 😉

Living dangerously? I’m at a point where now, even when I buy a coffee, I think: “Man, I am being so wild!” Deviating from my budget gives me the same rush I think others get from shoplifting; but when I do it for more than $10 I feel sick.

Earlier this week, we had a REAL thrill, even. Our car had been on its last legs for a while; the last time we had problems, when we took it to the mechanic, he wouldn’t even fix it. Told us to save our money, check the oil every week, and that it was time to get a new car. Hm.

cuban care broken down havana
We can still salvage it! Come on! (Photo by Iain Montgomery, click for link).

We did what any broke couple would do: convinced ourselves we could stretch it further. That’s right. Z even said: “I think we can get another 30,000 km out of it.”

So what if we had to pour engine treatment into it every week? So what if we needed to constantly check the engine error codes to see if it was a real error, or just a minor one? No big deal.

Then the brakes went. Z took a carshare to Canadian Tire to buy brake fluid, came back, topped it up, and realized half of what he’d topped up was gone by the time he drove around the block. We had the ABS, the e-brake, and the fluid he’d bought. The car: it bit the dust, FAST. Like I said to Z: “well, we should all be so lucky, to go quickly at the end.”

Z: “Can we even drive it?”
Me: “I think this is our best chance, today, if we can try to get it to a used car lot. We need a car, we have to replace it. If we can get it to the lot, or as close to the lot as we can, we don’t have to pay to have it towed and disposed of.”

That’s right, that was my incentive: we’re too broke to pay for towing and car disposal.

We topped it up with brake fluid, got in the car, and drove to the dealership. Basically like this the entire time:

walter white driving scared giphy

Z thought the car might light on fire. When we parked at the dealership, we let out an exhale like never let out before; the drive there was actually the most stressful drive of my life.

But you guys – what a thrill! If you are a thrill-seeker, I HIGHLY recommend driving your car into the ground, to the point where you are not certain whether or not it will fail. Just thinking about that drive now? It’s still giving me shivers.

Turns out my favourite personal finance quote comes from, of all people, J.P. Morgan:

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”