Cars, Houses, And other Millennial Milestones

men are ideal car rental customersMillennial milestones! We hit them, sometimes, just differently than our parents did. For example, Nicole of the Toast bought a car — over email:

Figure out exactly what car you want to buy. Do this online. Do not walk into a dealership. The internet is literally stuffed with rankings and reviews and Best Mid-Price Blue Sedans lists. “Shouldn’t I test drive some cars?” No. Can you drive a car? You’re set. … Say “Hi! I’ll be doing this over email. I would like to purchase a 2014 Model X with the extra-fire package. What is your best price on that?” At this point, I received a very rapid response from each of my two dealers. Dealer One said: “That model is retailing for Money, I can offer you a discount which will bring it down to Money – $1000.” Dealer Two said: “I would have to order that in for you special, so it would probably cost Money.” NOW THE DANCE BEGINS.

Her full account, festooned with pictures of American hero Kathy Bates in various cinematic guises, is charming, full of advice about how to both spend as little money as possible AND how to avoid having condescending car-selling dudes mansplain financing to you, in part by eschewing phone conversations altogether. Bonus: she bought this vehicle with money earned from being a misandrist ladyblogger. What’s more millennial than that?

Oh, I don’t know, how about buying your first house with your friends? Perhaps you remember Rebecca, the bride from a couple of months ago who discussed her unorthodox housing arrangement with us. Well, her partner Ari has now made the practical and emotional case for cooperative living in a piece titled “Two Couples, One Mortgage.”

Yes, all four of us are on the deed and, yes, we share the 30-year mortgage and food and maintenance expenses. No, there’s no division of the house into separate sections. And no, all four of us are not all having sex with each other. (Why do many people assume that if adults are willing to share a kitchen, they probably also want to share a bed?) We are just two couples who plan to live together and raise children in one household, hopefully for decades.

It sounds so cozy! In fact, I am jealous, since my toddler, like all toddlers, is a tyrant, possibly a witch*, and it would be amazing to be able to fling her in desperation at someone other than my husband for a change. TK: How Cooperative, Egalitarian, Two-Couple Households Do Money.

*Warning signs that your toddler may be a witch:

+While sometimes she arranges her dolls facedown in a line, as though they are worshipping Satan, sometimes she arranges them equidistant from each other in a square as though they are about to call the corners.

+ She refuses nourishing food and yet grows larger and stronger by the day. Is she feeding on the souls of less fortunate children?

+ She shrieks at the sight of water. Is that because, if she floats, she will prove she is lighter than a duck / made of wood, and reveal her true fiendish nature?

Having one’s own witch/toddler is a millennial milestone too FYI.

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28 Comments / Post A Comment

I almost bought my last car using this technique, but then actually driving the car I had selected on the day I was going to buy it revealed that it drove like a particularly underpowered toaster oven, and I felt like I was going to die trying to make it through intersections. So I had to start over.

Edit to add: “invoice price” is the price everyone involved in the transaction pretends the dealer paid for the car, but it is the invoice price before all kinds of discounts and incentives offered to the dealer by the manufacturer, which are not listed on the invoice, and which are the reason why many car deals DO go below invoice price. It does not require wizardry to achieve this.

Basically this is an okay guide to buying a car if your primary goal is to avoid talking to them in person and secondary goal is an okay price (and I understand why that would be the order of goals for many people), but if you value the price or the quality of the actual car first, you should not follow it strictly.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@emmycantbemeeko Possible middle ground would be going to dealerships and driving anything that seemed appealing then emailing away. They don’t know that the person emailing has already been to the dealership.

Allison (#4,509)

@RiffRandell do they still photocopy your driver’s license before they let you take it out? do they keep those? they might be able to put it together but I also don’t see how it would effect your bargaining stand point.

@emmycantbemeeko My solution for that was to visit the local Carmax with my list of make/model options (I was in the market for the very best bottom-of-the-barrel compact car I could find), drive all the options, see which is the least chintzy, and then negotiate with the brand dealerships for that one. It was very efficient, and Carmax is such a low-pressure company that they didn’t seem to expect or care whether I was actually going to buy a car from them after all the test drives.

@Allison A lot of places will have dedicated internet sales people that handle all the sales leads that come in via email/website. So while they may check with the rest of the team, my guess is they usually don’t.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@bowtiesarecool Even better middle ground!

jquick (#3,730)

@Allison Doesn’t everyone have a second mail account that does NOT include their real name?

sherlock (#3,599)

It makes me happy that you are linking to The Toast, and just this morning they linked to The Billfold’s thrift store piece. Yay for my favorite blogs being friends!

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I love that I Will Teach You To Be Rich author Ramit Sethi suggests buying a car by fax, and Nicole Cliffe does him one better. The torch has been passed to the Millennials.

Allow me to share my mother’s car-buying technique :

Walk into the dealership, point at car.
Say “This is the car I want, and I will pay you (price) for it.”
Allow the salesman to attempt to bargain, because it amuses you. No more than 30 seconds, though; you’ve got things to do.
Say “I am going to pay in cash.”
Drive home in your new car.

@Gef the Talking Mongoose : I should point out that nobody except my mother should ever attempt her technique, because only she and a handful of wizened Turkish rug merchants possess the requisite mental stamina and frankly brutal enjoyment of bargaining-as-bloodsport.

Her motto, applied variously to real estate, home improvements, and fine jewelry, is “if it’s not a steal, why am I buying it?” and the number of accountants, general contractors, and marble-and-granite wholesalers who have told me “your mother is a hell of a lady” only attests to the degree to which she can not just drive a bargain through a brick wall but bend men’s very souls in the so doing.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose This is my DREAM! I cannot wait to do this some day. Not taking my husband with me, though, cause he would totally cave.

jquick (#3,730)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Cash may be a detriment. They like making money off loans.

Amanda M. (#7,040)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Oh wow, I aspire to be that.

garli (#4,150)

If you really want to get the best deal possible you need to take an entire day to do it. You also need to go in the last day of the month.

This advice brought to you from various friends and family who have worked as car salesmen.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@garli Did you hear the This American Life episode “129 Cars”? A very stressful month at a car dealership, in which they started selling cars on which they were actually losing money in order to get some kind of incentive from the mothership. Should I ever decide to take up driving/car owning, the last day of the month is definitely the time.

garli (#4,150)

@cryptolect No I missed that one, but my conformation bias is glad to have another source.

@garli Yep, I went in last day of the month, brought my homework, and set up camp in one of the fishbowl cubes for a long time. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I was pleased with the outcome.

jquick (#3,730)

@garli Yes. The sales people have monthly quotas and/or “who sold the most cars this month” bonuses.

readyornot (#816)

I really, really, really recommend looking at the truecar prices, as Nicole did. I was willing to negotiate in person for the Prius v I bought last spring, but I can tell you it made me feel really great to get into the UNUSUALLY LOW PRICE range. I negotiated in person primarily because I DID actually want to test drive a couple of different cars, and because every email I sent with dealerships was met with them trying to call me, which was far more terrifying.

I felt less victorious about handling my trade-in, which I sold at CarMax. In theory that would be my ideal: they take a look at the car, they offer you a price, you take it or leave it. But the price they offer is SO LOW and then I saw my 1999 VW beetle marked up several thousand dollars and was angry about it.

And nit to pick: I don’t think that Nicole paid for the car in misandrist ladyblogging salary dollars. She states that her husband agreed to the suggested retail price for the addition of a roof rack, which made her mad. “You will hold this against him for at least a day, probably less if your misandrist blog money is not paying for the majority of said car. But it’s the PRINCIPLE.”

@readyornot ah yes, fair

jquick (#3,730)

@readyornot Used car dealerships make much more money than new car. Next time think about Craigslist. Yeah, maybe more of a hassle, but we’ve sold 3 cars ..one in a day, one within 5 days, and one on day 30. Got a much much better price than a trade in.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I’m sure that the roommate couple works well for a lot of people, but I can barely stand to live with my husband, much less a whole other couple. There’s a very particular “community” mindset that has to happen before this works, and there are probably some major ground rules. Haven’t clicked over, but it brings up a lot of questions like “what happens if someone has to move for a job?” etc.

UGH I hate car buying. My dad was a car salesman in the 80s while he was still part time in the Army National Guard, and so he has always had to spend an inordinate amount of time convincing the salesperson know that he was onto their little games, and as an only child I was always around and had to wait out the looong negotiations. My husband and I bought our first car together last year and it was terrible. His parents never took him on any transactions like that and I mostly manage our finances so we agreed before hand that I was the negotiator. The salesmen wouldn’t talk to me. I would tell them the price we were willing to pay and they would leave and come back and hand my husband the counteroffer. It was infuriating, raises my blood pressure just thinking about it. Next time I will email or go alone, which will be easier because the car we just got was ‘his’ so the next one will be ‘mine’.

Oh ALSO I will avoid buying a car in Virginia again because A) the dealerships are allowed (not required) to charge a service fee of $499 which they refuse to waive, lower, or even offset. This is supposedly to cover their costs of registering it for you, which is BS.
And B) The dealerships here act like they don’t need your money. We walked out of more than one after they failed to come down even to the “good price” range. I don’t know if it was the specific car we were buying or if it was that its a military area and a lot of car buying happens here, but it was surprisingly difficult to even get a few hundred dollars off the sticker price.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@Punk-assBookJockey good old sexism at work! We should not have to deal with that Peggy Olsen crap.

erinep (#4,236)

As soon as I get a new (more stable) job, I’m getting a new car. And I don’t care that I am 31 years old, my dad is going to do the negotiating for me. He is the kindest, most patient, gentle person, but watching him buy a car is like watching performance art. He turns into the intimidating figure I used to hate to show my 8th grade math tests to and he is really good at it. He bought my last car for me, 12 years or so ago now, and it was all I could do to not lose it. To be fair, he does have to do things like this in his job but still.

I do check out all the cars I’m interested in online and keep an eye on prices.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

I know I’ve been away for a while but I do really have to object. Comparing children to witches is an integral part of my personal brand. Please don’t infringe on my turf.

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