Author Topic: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma  (Read 3069 times)

L.A.Stache

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First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« on: March 28, 2015, 01:08:48 PM »
Hi All,

I've been reading for quite a while but have never posted. I really enjoy all the helpful insight and motivation from this community! So, here's my dilemma, which I have been brooding over for several months now:

I have developed a fairly serious back problem (slipped or herniated disk). The problem is exacerbated by (and may have been caused by) driving my car (2003 Mustang). As a result, I have been commuting to work by bus. I had my physical therapist look at my car and we tried to figure out padding, etc. to make it workable for me. I have also considered replacing the seats, but my PT advises against this since it is costly and after spending the money, the new seat may not work out for me. The fact that it's a low sports car is just not good for my back situation.

Even though I've been managing for a few months essentially without a car, I don't feel that this is a good long term solution. I'm a lawyer and need to make court appearances, go to depositions, etc. for work. So far, I have been able to rent cars or borrow when necessary, but this is somewhat stressful and extremely distracting as I have to rent from a particular independent place that lets me reserve a specific vehicle, and I have to be able to get there during the hours that they're open. Since I am a litigator, all I need is for one case to get close to trial and I could suddenly find myself in need of a car on a daily basis. In addition, I also like the freedom of being able to visit my parents on the weekend (they live in a rural area in the canyons).

No credit card debt and no mortgage. I have $40K in student loans at a fixed rate of 3.25%. Aside from my retirement and emergency savings, I have been putting money into an account for my future house down payment/car. That account has $30K. Carmax recently appraised my current vehicle at $2K.

I am having a dilemma because I find myself wanting to hoard my house down payment/car money. On the other hand, I live in L.A. and being completely car-less is kind of getting ridiculous. I would not look forward to explaining to the partners at my firm that I can't attend a court appearance because I was too cheap to buy a car and the rental place is closed.

What do the Mustachians think I should do in this situation? I think I am getting overwhelmed by a lot of psychological/emotional considerations and can't seem to think straight. I love my sporty car and the thought of an un-fun to drive econo-box is depressing. On the other hand, spending a large chunk of money on a nicer car that I only plan to drive a couple times a week doesn't sit well either.

kaizen soze

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2015, 01:58:19 PM »
Not knowing about your medical condition, this may sound like a dumb question.  But can't you continue to use the bus and just use your Mustang for this times when you need a car to get to court?

ClaycordJCA

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2015, 02:13:37 PM »
Does LA have car sharing services like in SF?  We had an associate who relied exclusively on ZipCar when trips to court or client sites were required. Worked fine for her and she expensed the cost back to the firm.

Cathy

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2015, 02:22:26 PM »
I would think courts are probably one of the most important places that a public transit system should service. There is no rule of law without the ability to access courts, so city planners should prioritise physical access to them when designing bus routes. Without courts, law is just empty words, so it would be extremely unjust if public transit did not provide access to the courts, especially since the most vulnerable people are less likely to have other means to reach them.

I've never looked at a map of LA, but court buildings are often near the centre of a city, which is usually serviced by public transit. Furthermore, court appearances are usually scheduled well in advance, so it's not that common that you'd need to get there faster than public transit allows.

I suppose depositions are a bit different since they could be anywhere, but my experience is that often people write off public transit without investigating its actual merits.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2015, 02:34:26 PM by Cathy »

deborah

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2015, 03:18:38 PM »
It sounds like you really need a different car - especially as the low seating position exacerbates your back problems. It is better to be retired well than retired and crook! And these sorts of problems can become very bad.

You should sell your mustang - that will ensure you don't use it and exacerbate your problems. Obviously you have identified a car that will work for you if you are hiring a specific car. Why don't you look about for the same one and buying it? Of course, you could use your car hiring to check out different cars, and to work out a selection of the best for your problems.

L.A.Stache

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2015, 03:31:05 PM »
Thanks for the comments so far.

It's not feasible for me to use my Mustang even on the occasional-use basis because if I drive it for more than, say, 20 minutes, I end up in pain that lasts a couple weeks. Apparently my spine is pinching or irritating my nerves when I sit in certain positions. It's pretty bad. =/

Regarding ZipCar, I looked into that, but it doesn't seem very prevalent in L.A. the way it is in S.F. Plus, I can't really just hop in any random car since it has to be one that has the right support for my back. (Wow, typing this makes me sound really disabled.)

Regarding public transit to the courts... sure, there is public transit for local persons to get to their local courthouse. The issue arises when I need to get to a courthouse in another county, etc. For example, since this back incident happened I had to go to court in San Diego which is a little over a 2 hour drive from L.A., but would have taken me more than 5 hours each way using public transit, due to all the connections, etc.

Regarding the car I've been renting, it's a VW Passat. I also went to CarMax last weekend and sat in a ton of cars. I found a few that seemed like they might work. Then I just went home and continued procrastinating and made no decision! However, that is a good point that it is better to be retired well. I'm only 35 now, so I am hoping to be around a while.

I really appreciate everyone's comments. I guess I'm just trying to see if there is anything I've overlooked, so this is very helpful.



MsPeacock

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2015, 04:34:09 PM »
Have you tried a lumbar pillow or other sorts of supports or arrangements to the existing seats to make them less irritating to your back. I have back and knee problems aggravated by sitting, in particular in my car, and a lumbar pillow (approximately $10 on Amazon) has made a huge difference. Maybe your PT can recommend one?

danny9m

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2015, 04:57:03 AM »
I'd go the used car route, you need your own car. A few years ago I'd have occasional debilitating back pain, to the point where I had trouble putting on my pants and getting in cars. I started going to the gym and have not had pain in years.  Btw, I'm not sure if is true now but in the past I noticed American cars had the worst seats for support.  I'm really selective about the seats in a car,  I happen to drive a 1999 BMW 528, that I purchased for 6k, the seats are exceptional.  However, I can't recommend going this route because of the time it took me to find a good used BMW and consumer reports does not recommend the majority of bmws for used cars.


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Retired To Win

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2015, 06:36:50 AM »
... I love my sporty car and the thought of an un-fun to drive econo-box is depressing. On the other hand, spending a large chunk of money on a nicer car that I only plan to drive a couple times a week doesn't sit well either.

Not meaning to be flippant, but you can't have your cake and eat it too in this particular case.

In your professional situation, you have got to have a car.  In your health situation, you have got to have a car that does not kill your back.  That's it.  Those are your car selection criteria.  End of story.  So blend that with your apparent strong drive to amass your money (for FIRE purposes, presumably) and buy a used and practical car accordingly.  If that sounds depressing, have yourself a nice slug of Chivas Regal.  And press on.

Good luck.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: First Time Poster - Vehicle Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2015, 07:16:22 AM »
If you can't drive your current car, and your employment depends on you regularly having access to a car, then by all means buy something else. Even if it's a boring econobox, who cares if it's a work tool?

Maybe have both for a while and consider selling the Mustang once you realise it's not being driven at all.