Author Topic: MIL's sincere, heartfelt text message...telling us to buy a new car on credit  (Read 7068 times)

Midwestern Mustachio

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About a month ago, my wife and I bought a used 2014 Nissan Leaf for $4200. Paid cash, of course. When we told my MIL we were thinking about the purchase, she was very confused and more than a little concerned. She's the personality type that is baffled when other people make choices she wouldn't. Literally -- if you disagree with her, it's not because you have different values or goals, it's because you're "confused" or "don't understand" what she's trying to tell you.

A couple hours after telling her that we'd decided to buy the car -- she called my wife (her daughter) and tried to talk her out of it (she's realized there's no "reasoning" with me, and vice versa). My wife put her on speaker. It was the usual chorus of car-clown-filled complaints and excusitis disguised as questions.

Q: "Is it true it will only go 100 miles?"
A: Yes, but we drive less than 10 miles a day. And OP is working from home permanently now.

Q: "What if you both need to go somewhere?"
A: We're keeping our old, gas car for road trips. If both of us need to be somewhere unbikeable at the same time, one of us can just take that.

Q: "Well, what if you both need to go out of town?"
A: At the same time, more than 100 miles away, in different directions? This has literally never happened in the six years we've been together.

Eventually, the discussion turned to money. We'd sent her the online listing for the car, and she'd seen that it was only $4000. That's far less than she's ever spent on a vehicle. But not to worry, she had the solution -- financing (cue magic sounds). Her position paraphrased: If you finance a car, you'll be able to buy something newer and nicer, and you won't have to put $4000 down, so you won't have to worry about not having those funds available.

Direct quote (from a follow up text message she sent after our call): "Yes, you pay some interest, but you won't notice the financial impact as time goes by vs just not having those funds available any longer."

My MIL's concern for us no longer having that $4000 in the bank had my wife and I stumped. It was literally like a month's worth of savings. If we, for some reason, needed an extra 4k in cash within the next couple weeks, we could just float it on a credit card and pay for it with next month's surplus without interest. But, talking about MIL's logic later that night, we realized why she was so worried. She thought we were poor, that that $4000 was literally all we had to our names.

I can see why she would think that. We bought a fixer upper house earlier this year and have been doing all the work ourselves. We buy almost everything second hand, and (before the leaf) our only car was a 2003 Acura my wife bought in high school. My MIL was thinking we'd been doing all that out of necessity. She knew my wife had a medical emergency last year that set us back close to $7k. She probably assumed we'd had to put that on a credit card. And maybe she also assumed I have a lot of student debt or that we make way less than we actually do.

The next day, she called me in a last ditch effort, literally as I was driving to meet the Leaf's seller with the check. She insisted that we should call it off and buy a newer car on credit, because we'd have to put less money down. And we'd appreciate still having that $4000 in the bank in case there was an "emergency".

At this point, I was more than a bit amused, but also getting frustrated by the stupidity of her argument and her "holier-than-thou", "I'm-so-sorry-you-can't-provide-for-our-daughter-like-we-did" attitude.

So I told her:
  • We put over half of our income into savings and investments each month
  • We're able to do that because we keep our monthly expenses low
  • We keep our expenses low by avoiding monthly loan payments

I half-ranted, half-explained that many of our friends, who had leveraged their incomes to buy bigger, newer cars and homes (the exact same decisions she had lobbied we make ourselves), had had the worst, most stressful year of their lives. They'd spent the last 8 months worrying about how they would pay their bills after being furloughed or fired due to COVID. One of our friends literally bought one of those plastic, portable car shelters to park in at night because he was behind on payments and worried his car would be repo'd if it was visible from he street (his is a story for another post).

But through all of 2020, even as my company cut 80% of our staff to 3 days a week and 60% pay, my wife and I have been able to sleep like babies, because we have enough money in Betterment to live for years without earning another dime.

That peace of mind, I told my MIL, was well worth driving a cheaper car bought in cash.

"Looks like you guys are in good shape," she said, and then politely hung up.

Adventine

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Good for you. And good she shut up. :)

englishteacheralex

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I have a difficult mother who doesn't agree with a lot of my choices--sounds a bit like this MIL--and I've found it's best to not explain my own opinion/actions to her very much. I just nod and smile and say things like, "huh, interesting idea" or "that's one way of looking at it!" in a cheerful voice. And then I do what I want.

Telling her what I'm doing and why is more info than she can really handle. She gets offended and argues or gets her feelings hurt. She honestly doesn't really care what I do, she just likes to talk and feel right. Don't get me wrong, I don't take her advice or feel obliged to do what she wants...but engaging with her just adds more fuel to the fire and I'd rather keep our interactions as positive as possible.

Just an opinion...but I wouldn't want to tell this lady anything about my financial situation. Gives her stuff to use against you later.

KathrinS

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My family are all very fortunate, so they don't always understand my attitude either. I often go to pick up free food from the Olio app because a) it's free, b) it cuts down on food waste, c) it's a nice walk, often somewhere I've never been in the neighbourhood, d) I get to try foods I otherwise wouldn't. The walk also offers a great opportunity to call family members (who are all in a different country). Unfortunately, I believe my grandmother now thinks I don't have enough money to purchase my own food, as I'm out doing a pick-up almost every time I call her. I've tried to reassure her and listed the reasons above, but, being 88 and very traditional/ proud, I'm not quite sure she understands. Probably would just easier to say I'm out on a walk.

gooki

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Great price for your Nissan Leaf. I love ours, saving $2000 in petrol costs every year.

Freedom2016

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I'm with englishteacheralex... I wouldn't share so much info with nosey nellies; it just invites opinions you don't need.

charis

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Yep, my family is very similar to your mil. And I tell them very little about our financial situation. An honest rant about how much we save would cause resentment because we don't spend more on/with the family.  So while they think we are poor and try to give us financial advice, it would backfire to try to set them straight.

Midwestern Mustachio

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Yep, my family is very similar to your mil. And I tell them very little about our financial situation. An honest rant about how much we save would cause resentment because we don't spend more on/with the family.  So while they think we are poor and try to give us financial advice, it would backfire to try to set them straight.

If I was at all worried about my wife's parents taking advantage of us financially, I wouldn't have shared so much. My MIL and FIL are textbook BIBS, but my FIL has also been prudent enough to maxed out their 401Ks for the last 30 years and pay off their house. So now, just a couple years from retirement age, we know they're set.

They're also very proud. If it ever got to the point where they were asking for financial help, it'd probably be dire enough for us to give it to them anyway.

AMandM

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My MIL and FIL are textbook BIBS, but my FIL has also been prudent enough to maxed out their 401Ks for the last 30 years and pay off their house.

But, talking about MIL's logic later that night, we realized why she was so worried. She thought we were poor, that that $4000 was literally all we had to our names.
[...]
"Looks like you guys are in good shape," she said, and then politely hung up.

I love a happy ending!

I have often found that if I listen carefully to criticism from people who I know love me, I discover as you did here that the criticism is founded on true concern for me, though often coupled with some misunderstanding.


charis

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Yep, my family is very similar to your mil. And I tell them very little about our financial situation. An honest rant about how much we save would cause resentment because we don't spend more on/with the family.  So while they think we are poor and try to give us financial advice, it would backfire to try to set them straight.

If I was at all worried about my wife's parents taking advantage of us financially, I wouldn't have shared so much. My MIL and FIL are textbook BIBS, but my FIL has also been prudent enough to maxed out their 401Ks for the last 30 years and pay off their house. So now, just a couple years from retirement age, we know they're set.

They're also very proud. If it ever got to the point where they were asking for financial help, it'd probably be dire enough for us to give it to them anyway.

That's interesting. I didn't realize that I had implied anyone taking advantage of anyone financially or asking for financial aid. My family is well off, which is why they misunderstand our frugality. I was (specifically) thinking of my family's advice about buying a new car, suggesting taking more expensive vacations together, and going in on a family vacation property.

obstinate

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You can probably improve your relationship with her by sparing her the rant and answering her phone call and concerns with: "It's ok, mom, we have plenty of money to buy a nicer car even without financing. We just prefer to save it." If that's something you're interested in doing.

Just Joe

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Enjoy your Leaf! I am caretaker for a small fleet of them at work. I like them so much, we'll probably buy one for our next car. If you have any questions, I can probably point you to some good resources I have bookmarked. Happy to share.

The only shortcoming I see with the Leafs is that fast charging (if your's is equipped) is a design weakness. Rapidgate is a term to read up on if fast charging is important to you. Battery gets hot and can't shed the heat very quickly. Causes battery to age quicker than 120V or 220V charging. I find 120V replensihes the battery enough overnight to meet our typical personal needs easily. 

Good aftermarket support and documentation for the Leaf should you want to replace your battery or upgrade to a larger battery.

Liked your story about your MIL. Our family is a little like that too. Assumed we were poor for years b/c we made lower cost choices too. Also our choices tend to satisfy our needs efficiently rather than our edge cases as you described.

solon

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BIBS?

Plina

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My family has realized that I mostly do as I please but I have found that if I explain my reasoning they donít worry or worry less. I left my job in the summer and when I explained that I could survive several years without working it was not a problem. The same way, when I went on a sabbatical and I could answer all their questions about the job when I got back and that I had savings etc it eased their worries even if they didnít necessary like my decision. My mother always tells me that my father canít sleep when he worries, while my father tells me my mother worries.

A couple of weeks ago I told them that when covid was over or a less of a concern I would make a trip to Antartica. After concluding that the price of the trip was to high for them, they only told me that they would not join me. I guess that 6 months of solotraveling made a couple of week long trip to Antartica not such a big deal.

DeniseNJ

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Funny that when she thought you were poor, she wanted you to finance an expensive car, but now that she knows you have money, it's ok to buy a cheap car.  Should be the other way around.


Plina

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Funny that when she thought you were poor, she wanted you to finance an expensive car, but now that she knows you have money, it's ok to buy a cheap car.  Should be the other way around.

But if you have money and chose to drive a cheap car you are eccentric. Otherwise, it is just pitiful. ;-)

partgypsy

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20 years ago, ex and I were in the process of buying house, we were basically buying the cheapest house on the nicest neighborhood we could afford (something my mother told me to do!). It did need a lot of work (it was old with no improvements other than making the house a duplex. But it was affordable, and a lot of the work we could do ourselves over time.
MIL freaked out. While both of our parents had grown up middle class but modest situations, (although my family had lost their fortunes) both our our parents had been upper middle class for long enough to not remember what it was like to be a young couple with modest incomes and no inheritances etc (both sets of parents got various inheritances when their parents died).
MIL wanted us to buy a newer house (that we hated and also couldn't afford). And then both MIL and my mother (after MIL bended her ear about absestos, lead, etc) tried to talk us out of buying the house. Not that they were going to help us buy a house or anything, but just that they didn't approve of the house we could afford. 

So, we ignored them and bought the house anyways. The house DID require a lot of work and is still annoying in that way. Still we (well really I) bought it for for $47/square feet. 20 years later because of the neighborhood it is worth 274/square feet.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2020, 02:19:55 PM by partgypsy »

The_Big_H

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I would not let someone like that know I had money..  Better she think yall are poor.  Sounds like the type that might "need help from family" in the future.

 

clarkfan1979

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I think this is a fairly common misconception. When you do not own any fancy items most people assume that you do not have enough money to buy something "nicer" The idea that you actually have the money, but still choose to not buy fancy crap that has no value is crazy to most people.

My dad bought a really nice house in 2006 in a nice neighborhood in Florida and lost his ass. He paid 565K in 2006 and sold for 430K in 2015. That specific house just sold again for 435K in 2020. I got a really hard sell from the entire family to buy in the fancy neighborhood. I could get a similar house for about 350K in late 2011/early 2012.

I simply replied, "No thanks." I bought a house for 95K in early 2012, in a very good location in a blue collar neighborhood. My hous was 1750 sq. ft. and no pool. The fancy houses were 2100 sq. ft. and with a pool. Everyone thought I was f*&king nuts. I filled the house with used furniture and used appliances. My dad completely lost his mind with the used appliances. He yelled at me at the top of his lungs, "You need to start spending some f*$king money!" I got a $1500 refrigerator for $350 because it was 3 years old. The used appliance stores were packed with luxury appliances selling for 30 cents on the dollar. People were getting foreclosed on and selling their high end appliances to used appliance stores.

I spent 16K on repairs and my dad did help with some of those repairs, so I do thank him for that. Now in 2021, that house is a rental. It gets $1850/month in rent and I could sell it for 260K. This is an increase of 134%. If I bought in the fancy neighborhood for 350K and sold for 435K in 2021, that would be an increase of 24%.

What do you like better 134% return or 24% return? Now 8 years later no one mentions it and pretends like it didn't happen.

Then in 2015, my wife and I moved to Kauai for a job opportunity. I was told by my family. Hawaii is expensive. You cannot afford to do that. None of them have ever been to Hawaii, but that's not super important. Well, actually I can because I now own a rental that rents for $1650/month (2015) and the mortgage is $650/month. If I bought the 350K house, you are right, I wouldn't have enough money to move to Hawaii. I couldn't rent the house for enough money to cover the mortgage + HOA and if I sold, I would break even with real estate commissions.



 

talltexan

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@clarkfan1979 , congratulations on sticking to your guns!

Chris Pascale

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we realized why she was so worried. She thought we were poor, that that $4000 was literally all we had to our names.

Yeah, people don't get it. We just lucked into replacing the engine in our 2010 Odyssey for $3,500. For a couple years my mom (who keeps her cars for 10+ years) has been asking me when I'll get another, "because it's unsafe." Granted, we broke down in Florida in 2016, and then another time up around Albany in 2017. But oh well. Sometimes shit happens.

EDITING TO ADD: Took the van 3 hours upstate for some discount skiing. At first I felt like it was driving different, and then realized it was driving better.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 12:13:56 PM by Chris Pascale »

Chris Pascale

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@clarkfan1979 , congratulations on sticking to your guns!

If you had any doubts along the way, it doesn't show.

In 2007 I bought my first house, and was lucky that I only borrowed half of what they said I could. Initially, I thought I was so smart, but when the payment of $778 came in and it was 25% of my take home, I realized that I wasn't so smart, but just smart enough to save myself.

The market crashed and it became a rental, which was my original intention, but I didn't have a choice. Rent went from $900 in 2009 down to $725 in 2018. And then I was saved when Hurricane Florence destroyed the place (I had flood insurance).

Just Joe

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we realized why she was so worried. She thought we were poor, that that $4000 was literally all we had to our names.

Yeah, people don't get it. We just lucked into replacing the engine in our 2010 Odyssey for $3,500. For a couple years my mom (who keeps her cars for 10+ years) has been asking me when I'll get another, "because it's unsafe." Granted, we broke down in Florida in 2016, and then another time up around Albany in 2017. But oh well. Sometimes shit happens.

EDITING TO ADD: Took the van 3 hours upstate for some discount skiing. At first I felt like it was driving different, and then realized it was driving better.

Be glad it was only $3500. I heard from someone recently that they are looking at $6K+ to replace the engine in their recently purchased Euro-lux brand. They definitely needed to keep their boring but reliable previous vehicle instead of buying a brand with known issues - including expensive repairs. When a person is paycheck to paycheck reliability is important. So is paid for.

Syonyk

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But if you have money and chose to drive a cheap car you are eccentric. Otherwise, it is just pitiful. ;-)

The usual loophole for "luxury car" positions, at least if you don't mind either doing some work yourself, or paying someone (decently, but far less than the payments on a new luxury car), has been and likely remains an older, well maintained luxury car.

If you drive a 2005 BMW in 2020, obviously you can't afford a new one.

If you drive a 1980 BMW in 2020, and it's well maintained, clean, runs without issues... well, ok, you're eccentric.  Bonus points in some circles for autocross markings on the side. ;)

He yelled at me at the top of his lungs, "You need to start spending some f*$king money!"

Straight faced answer: "Oh, I am.  Why do you think I bought this used stuff?  You just haven't met her, it's kind of a discreet thing." ;)

Yeah, people don't get it. We just lucked into replacing the engine in our 2010 Odyssey for $3,500. For a couple years my mom (who keeps her cars for 10+ years) has been asking me when I'll get another, "because it's unsafe." Granted, we broke down in Florida in 2016, and then another time up around Albany in 2017. But oh well. Sometimes shit happens.

Ehm... ok, I'm as for used cars and maintaining older stuff as you'll find on this forum, but breaking down at 6 years old, another time at 7 years old, and needing a new engine at 10 years in a Honda?  Either you've got the lemon to beat all lemons, or you need to, like, change the oil every 5 years.

Chris Pascale

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Yeah, people don't get it. We just lucked into replacing the engine in our 2010 Odyssey for $3,500. For a couple years my mom (who keeps her cars for 10+ years) has been asking me when I'll get another, "because it's unsafe." Granted, we broke down in Florida in 2016, and then another time up around Albany in 2017. But oh well. Sometimes shit happens.

Ehm... ok, I'm as for used cars and maintaining older stuff as you'll find on this forum, but breaking down at 6 years old, another time at 7 years old, and needing a new engine at 10 years in a Honda?  Either you've got the lemon to beat all lemons, or you need to, like, change the oil every 5 years.

I've got 178,000 miles on it, and we're not talking $5,000 repairs on the breakdowns. It was an alternator and a belt. The reason for the engine replacement was that oil was leaking into it, which isn't uncommon in a 2010 Odyssey with more than 150k miles.

Sugaree

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My in-laws are pulling some similar crap right now.  My husband drives my old Jeep.  Yes, it has just under 250k miles on it.  Yes, it has some problems.  No, I don't want to you to go out and buy us a Prius because I know what kind of strings would be attached to that.  And he really only drives it around town.

ducky19

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My in-laws are pulling some similar crap right now.  My husband drives my old Jeep.  Yes, it has just under 250k miles on it.  Yes, it has some problems.  No, I don't want to you to go out and buy us a Prius because I know what kind of strings would be attached to that.  And he really only drives it around town.

Ha! I'm lucky there... my FIL drove an old rusty Suburban around town when I met him and for 10 years after that, despite being a 2 Comma Club member. He always said he didn't want his tenants to know he had money. When his dad passed away, he upgraded to his Suburban, which was still 10 years old but not rusty. He finally bought his wife a new car a few years ago and broke down and bought a new Suburban the following year. Regardless, I will never get any pressure there to upgrade my wheels!

Sugaree

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My in-laws are pulling some similar crap right now.  My husband drives my old Jeep.  Yes, it has just under 250k miles on it.  Yes, it has some problems.  No, I don't want to you to go out and buy us a Prius because I know what kind of strings would be attached to that.  And he really only drives it around town.

Ha! I'm lucky there... my FIL drove an old rusty Suburban around town when I met him and for 10 years after that, despite being a 2 Comma Club member. He always said he didn't want his tenants to know he had money. When his dad passed away, he upgraded to his Suburban, which was still 10 years old but not rusty. He finally bought his wife a new car a few years ago and broke down and bought a new Suburban the following year. Regardless, I will never get any pressure there to upgrade my wheels!

My FIL still has, and very occasionally drives, the VW Beetle he bought new off the lot in San Francisco the day he got back from Vietnam.  He's driven it cross-country more than twice and rolled the odometer 4 times.  These days, he mostly drives one of his newer vehicles, but won't get rid of the Beetle even though it dies seemingly every single time he goes to the post office (which says more about his attachment to things than it does his frugality). 

The issue right now is that my husband's Jeep is starting to show signs of it's age and there are some legit safety concerns (it popped out of gear last week and rolled into a tree).  But for a vehicle that got a new engine two years ago, there's still an argument to be made that fixing the transmission is a better option than buying (and insuring) something new. 

Just Joe

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That Beetle's problems can be solved. There isn't much to them. Good, basic city cars. I've owned several. I'd be glad to field questions for you.

Syonyk

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The issue right now is that my husband's Jeep is starting to show signs of it's age and there are some legit safety concerns (it popped out of gear last week and rolled into a tree).  But for a vehicle that got a new engine two years ago, there's still an argument to be made that fixing the transmission is a better option than buying (and insuring) something new.

Absolutely.  If it's a common issue with the transmission, there should be plenty of knowledge about how to fix it.  If it's a weird, one off issue, just go find a junkyard transmission from one that's been rear ended and install it.

Gronnie

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My in-laws thought for a long time that we are poor as well. Anytime we would do something frugal like cancel cable they would ask us "Are you ok on money?"

DWs mother still buys us stuff all the time that we won't buy just because we don't need it or don't feel it's a good value, even though she now realizes our HHI is over double theirs.

Sugaree

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That Beetle's problems can be solved. There isn't much to them. Good, basic city cars. I've owned several. I'd be glad to field questions for you.

The problem seems to be that the post office is cursed because it only dies on him there.  The last time it was that the generator was going out, I think.  I'm not sure if that has been the previous problems or not. 

We're lucky that we've got a really good VW guy nearby who's really more interested in rebuilding the engines to make buggies.  We can usually get a good deal on the parts from him that he doesn't want (my husband has a Westy). 

Sugaree

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The issue right now is that my husband's Jeep is starting to show signs of it's age and there are some legit safety concerns (it popped out of gear last week and rolled into a tree).  But for a vehicle that got a new engine two years ago, there's still an argument to be made that fixing the transmission is a better option than buying (and insuring) something new.

Absolutely.  If it's a common issue with the transmission, there should be plenty of knowledge about how to fix it.  If it's a weird, one off issue, just go find a junkyard transmission from one that's been rear ended and install it.

He thinks he knows what it is, so that's what he's working on today.  I tried to talk him into replacing the transmission while the engine was pulled, but he decided not to do it at that time.

Just Joe

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That Beetle's problems can be solved. There isn't much to them. Good, basic city cars. I've owned several. I'd be glad to field questions for you.

The problem seems to be that the post office is cursed because it only dies on him there.  The last time it was that the generator was going out, I think.  I'm not sure if that has been the previous problems or not. 

We're lucky that we've got a really good VW guy nearby who's really more interested in rebuilding the engines to make buggies.  We can usually get a good deal on the parts from him that he doesn't want (my husband has a Westy).

My mother may have been cursed many years ago when I was a teen. When I was driving my first car, it would fail to start any time I tried to drive her anywhere. We've owned e a Westy and a Beetle for a long time now. This year is the year for a paint job.