Here Is Your Open Thread for the Rest of the Week

We have a Thanksgiving plans roundup after this post, and then we’re off for the rest of the week! Feel free to use this thread if you’re lonely, or want to talk about something amazing you bought on Black Friday, or how you’re avoiding Black Friday. Have a good time, everyone!

Photo: Benny Mazur

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28 Comments / Post A Comment

echolikebells (#3,272)

I got my car back (finally) (just in time for using it for Thanksgiving driving) and CARS ARE THE WORST.

My car repair– the one I figured would be $250– ended up being $550. OUCH. And the mechanic told me about two more repairs that he noticed will probably become an issue soon, one of which I was warned about LAST time at a different mechanic. Those two are to the tune of $1000-$1100. And my poor car is 15 years old and has about 250k miles on it, so it could die forever any day, basically. I’m not sure even putting this repair on it was worth it, let alone another $500-$700 repair.

I’m not sure it is smart or if it is even possible, but I am thinking about hitting a car dealership up this weekend? Just to see what I would be looking at if I did buy a new/certified used car. I can make the payments work with my budget, as long as we stay at the very bottom end of the pricing. But my credit isn’t great (mostly because it is new) and my down payment would be laughably small.

Am I totally an idiot for even considering getting a car? Am I an idiot for not having tried to get something newer earlier? Alternatively: everyone vent about how much they hate their cars here.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@echolikebells That is ROUGH. Have you considered the shopping for cars on Craigslist/local classifieds? You’d be looking at less money overall, but not in payments of course. By the time you’re spending that much to fix it, probably time to get something newer.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@echolikebells I think it’d be wise to plan to get a new car, but keep driving your current buggy until it dies and then sell it for parts/scrap metal. I think it would be foolish to do a $1000 repair at this point.

You may be able to find an all-cash deal on Craiglist or your local Autotrader magazine. No need for financing, but you would be extremely limited in what you could get (if you down payment is truly “laughably small”) and that car may need to be replaced again in a year or two, but may also be able to tide you over until you have bigger down payment and more credit history.

Also, buy a one-month subscription (or check with your local library or employer) to Consumer Reports, and read up on what cars age well and are still a good deal used, even if you’re buying them when they’re 3-6 years old.

Finally – come end of December, dealerships will be looking to move the last of their 2013 stock. When I was buying a few years ago, I got a better deal on a new car than I would have got on the other car I was considering, a three year old used vehicle.

Good luck! Cars are the worst!

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@echolikebells I feel you, this was me in August. My car kept dying and dying and finally a problem was diagnosed and the repairs would have cost almost $3,000 I think. It so wasn’t worth it to fix either. However, I could not afford a new car at all. Fortunately, my sister has been living in NYC for the past 3 years (and shows no sign of leaving) and her perfectly good 2004 Honda Civic with about 70,000 miles on it has been sitting more or less unused at my parents’ house since then. I ended up paying to get the car transported up to me, switched the tags and title, and got a “new” car that way. I’m already starting to save for a new car–I’ll have to replace my sister’s car eventually, but in the mean time I am happy I dodged a bullet.

But yes, cars are the absolute worst, just the worst. Good luck.

@echolikebells If you do look this weekend, try to get preapproved online on Friday to see where you stand finance-wise. You can then compare the rate you got online with the rate the dealer is trying to sell you. Dealers will sometimes give the illusion of a good deal up front and then pad the lease rate or finance rate. And if you have one, check your credit union since they give some of the best rates and sometimes even partner with rental agencies for used car sales.

A good 2-3 year old off-lease used car is probably your best bet since most of the depreciation is already accounted for and will still be under warranty.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@echolikebells Certified preowned! Yessss. But yeah I agree it’s not worth the repair cost.

sockhop (#546)

@echolikebells I was in almost your exact same position last February. My advice would be to start seeking out your options at dealerships immediately, starting with the potential trade-in value of your car. I had a 94 Camry with 280k miles and off the bat I was offered $1k in trade-in … I should also note that this car had no power steering (lol) and an ailing axle. I have terrible/new credit and ended up co-signing with my mom, don’t know if that’s an option for you, but I’m now leasing a little hatchback for not much money at all per month. Good luck to you! Car issues can be a horrible type of stress.

echolikebells (#3,272)

@sockhop Thanks everyone for the advice and helpful tips!!! My transmission started slipping on the drive home for Thanksgiving, and that wasn’t even a repair I knew would need done. So the new car moved up in priority pretty quickly, despite not having enough money for anything other than payments.

I did get my updated credit scores and an estimated rate from a couple of banks, went to a dealership with a couple of cars in mind. I was able to get a Black Friday promotional value of $1500 for my car that they would have valued as $300 trade-in on a normal day. Despite not having much of a down payment, with the other promotions they were running and thanks in part of an agreement my employer has with the Ford dealers in my state, the financing package on a brand new car ended up being cheaper than the 2013 new and 2010 certified pre-owned cars I was looking at…

So, I have a new car! With a huge extended warranty on it, and (after my holiday driving), 120 miles on the odometer. It’s a huge commitment, but I feel pretty good about the whole experience and I LOVE the car. Hopefully the warranty and roadside assistance program on it will massively reduce the car stress I’ve been dealing with for the past 2 years.

Allison (#4,509)

@echolikebells congratulations! I’m glad it all worked out.

Weasley (#1,419)

As of today I have a $1000 emergency fund saved! I got my enrollment deposit back from my college which freed up some funds. So now I have 1 months of rent+utilities+student loans saved which just feels good.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@Weasley Congratulations, that is awesome!!!

@Weasley Yay you! (Also, I’m totally jealous that your rent, utilities and student loans only add up to a grand.)

Allison (#4,509)

@Weasley That’s awesome! I love hitting benchmarks like that.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@Weasley It always feels good to have a safety net. Congrats!

Weasley (#1,419)

@Everyone – Thanks! It’s especially exciting to me because for the first time I’m not saving up for school. So it’s just going sit there nice and pretty.

@cuminafterall – I have no responsibilities and no car. It’s a good life (for now).

readyornot (#816)

i would love to see a billfold post on how it’s elitist to look down on the black friday shoppers on the news.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@readyornot The most obnoxious Black Friday shoppers I know are wealthy, actually. Or the kind of people who also play “devil’s advocate” a lot.

notpollyanna (#2,841)

@readyornot Thanks for reminding me! This is something I agree with, but tend to forget because my dislike of Black Friday is more about people than greed. (So many people! Shopping is already the worst, this makes it worse!) My work has a “buy presents for needy people” thing and people go shopping on Friday to get as much for each of those dollars as they can, which is never a bad idea!

readyornot (#816)

@aetataureate hmm. the context in my head was those who do not know anyone who goes in for the deals and cannot imagine doing it themselves, then judging those who do, via the b-roll of the crazed scrum of people at some local best buy or toys ‘r’ us. it’s relatively easy for someone who can afford to pay full price to say, who would do this? it’s crazy. simply because they don’t identify with those consumer preferences/holiday wishes/social norms. i make no pronouncements about the actual demographic profile of the shoppers, though last year’s gallup poll of intended shoppers skewed young, midwestern, nonwhite, and a little bit away from incomes>$75K. i don’t really know the people who go shopping, either, so i couldn’t say whether the more obnoxious ones are wealthy or not.

@notpollyanna that sounds like a wonderful idea, what a great gesture from your workplace.

Eric18 (#4,486)

@aetataureate
The most obnoxious ones I see are the ones you see on the news, fighting/trampling each other over a pair of sneakers or some electronics. Well, they are the most idiotic/dangerous too.

The best Black Friday shoppers have done their research and know what to buy/not to buy during the holiday season.

Eric18 (#4,486)

@readyornot I definitely get a sense of “Ugh, flyover state America,” type responses from people who hate Black Friday. Ironically, these are also people that love paying ridiculous amounts of money from the latest fusion small plates restaurant in their city.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Eric18 And not everyone has a computer, feels comfortable using a public computer to buy things, etc. So yeah, some people have to walk into stores. And out of all the crazy stuff we here, there thousands of people going shopping on Black Friday without incident to get their deep discount TV’s and such and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Cup of T (#2,533)

Wise ‘folders! I have a rather specific question for you, but any help/advice- no matter how general- would be much appreciated, as I don’t really have a starting point and Google isn’t doing me any favours.

I’m a grad student in History and have been asked to serve as an archival consultant [i.e. go do archival research- one of the things I most love to do!- for a professor]. He’s putting together a grant and needs my budget, including transportation, lodging etc. and my ‘consultation fee.’ I have NO CLUE what such a fee should be. The project would involve about 6-7 weeks total of archival research [which I could spread out], my costs should be covered, and the research is somewhat related to my own [so it would be benefiting my larger academic projects to undertake it.] On the other hand, the funding comes from a grant and not out of this professor’s pocket, so I might not need to lowball… any thoughts/resources would be much appreciated. Thanks!

readyornot (#816)

@Cup of T i would take your department’s TA/RA rate. i don’t know about lowballing, i would like to urge you to negotiate for what you’re worth. the budget might go a couple of rounds of negotiations anyway, and you can always shave hours instead of rate. fwiw, students at my school in policy analysis charge $50/hour.

for the transportation and lodging, you can just multiply something like the government’s reimbursement rate for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. and multiply it by the number of trips you need.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@Cup of T The professor approached you so obviously thinks you’re the person for the job! So go ahead and propose an hourly or weekly rate that seems fair to you – maybe minimum wage where you are + a set amount per hour (like $8 (min wage) + 10 = $18/hour). This sounds like specialized work that they would have to pay someone for (and would probably be quite a bit more if they were to hire a temp with the graduate degree and experience to do this work); might as well be you! Just remember that your “consultation fee” needs to be enough not just to cover your time, but also the time it takes you away from home and your own studies (yes, I know this work is tangentially connected to your own studies, but…) plus someone to feed your cat while you’re gone or water your prize orchids or whatever.

Just make it clear to the prof that you’re open to negotiation and have some flexibility. $18/hr or whatever you propose may be way more than the grant can afford (or what the prof is willing to pay), so be ready with some counter-proposals. Maybe you get some writing credit on ensuing journal article?

Lyesmith (#4,385)

@Cup of T I agree with readyornot – contact your Department or your union for an hourly rate for this kind of work. You may also want to ask them regarding overtime – it’s over 43 hours in my department, after which 1.5 times of the hourly rate applies.

EM (#1,012)

@Cup of T Yes, absolutely to the advice above– go with the TA/RA grad student rates on your university site (these should be freely available and searchable). At my university those are typically $35/hr. As a consultant you’ll probably be responsible for your own taxes, so remember to factor those in. And congrats on the cool job opportunity!

Cup of T (#2,533)

@EM Thank you all for your advice! This is really helpful

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