Author Topic: One tree, three cars - what next?  (Read 3699 times)

stealthystache

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One tree, three cars - what next?
« on: August 14, 2016, 01:36:12 PM »
Ok, so in my reality bad luck seems to cycle in large waves. I'm not really much of a "magical thinker", so I don't really believe in luck, but times like this make me wonder. After reading this short tale, let me know what you would do - I'm still in shock or at least stumped for now - didn't get much sleep either, so that doesn't help.

Last night a huge limb from a very large oak tree in our yard fell onto my family minivan, my 19y.o. daughter's old BMW, and my daughter's older Honda. The van took the brunt of the blow, is completely crushed through the middle (read: roof is now nearly touching the van floor) and I assume is totaled. The BMW is still buried under the tree with at least a broken windshield and crushed convertible top. The Honda may have gotten by with just a smashed windshield. Some facts:

1 year into the MMM cult :), worked very hard to pay off consumer/medical debt over the last 12 months. Down to mortgage and 14k student loans. Plan to sell the house to dump the mortgage and use the profit to pay off student loans. Am currently fixing up a paid in cash house to move to. Still have lots to do to build capital/savings/net worth, but have a good plan, I think.

Cars are paid for. Comprehensive insurance only on the van (9 yrs old, 200k miles, value ~ 4k).
The Honda was recently purchased to replace the BMW, which was a poor choice made by SO and daughter despite my warnings and turned out to be a money pit (the BMW, not the Honda). Daughter borrowed ~4k from me to buy the Honda and was going to sell the BMW this weekend to pay me back (along with part time job income). Not happening now.

4k to take down the rest of the tree and clean up the debris.
4.5k due on 8/19 to mileage CC that we pay off every month (includes ~ 3k of the 4k to buy daughter's car)
2k cash currently in hand, 6k in savings.

Only transportation left is SO's stick shift Mustang - very impractical I know :(

So, now that I have just my legs and my bike (which I do use often) - what to do about getting a car? I'd rather not have one, but we're not in a position to be without a family vehicle as we're still in process of moving to a more walkable neighborhood. The house there I'm currently renovating, but won't be livable until spring or so, when we will sell the house we're in now and then be completely mortgage free.

What would you do?

Syonyk

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2016, 05:34:09 PM »
Yowch.

I'd replace the van (if it's crushed down to the floorline on a 9 year old van, it's totaled, no question), figure out the damage on the BMW/Honda, and either repair them or part them out.  You're not going to get any benefit from a salvage title (insurance buyout) as you don't have comprehensive on them, so I'd try to repair them with cash.

$4k to take down the rest of the tree?  That seems very high.  Have you shopped around for quotes?  And what's around it (other than, obviously, some crushed cars)?  Is this the type of thing some redneck friends with a chainsaw could help with?  Free firewood for people who heat with wood is a significant perk for a day's work pulling down a tree.

Were it me and the area around the tree were mostly clear, I'd post on Craiglist saying, "Free firewood if you come take this tree down" and see what happens. :)  Unless you want an excuse to buy a nice chainsaw.  I expect you'll need a serious unit with a 24"+ bar, though.

human

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2016, 05:46:05 PM »
Do you live in a city or somewhere rural? I would say one van and sell the mustang. Go down to one vehicle, if the kid really needs something they can work and buy their own until all family debts are paid off. Or at least pay half and all related expenses like gas, maintenance, insurance should be paid by her. Or they can use the van when you don't need it.

Maybe's it an American thing, but I don't remember a lot of adult children getting cars from their parents where I grew up. She's 19, if she wants a car she can buy one.

This sounds like an emergency, you financed a car with a credit card? Pay that off and don't do something so stupid again. Buy cars with cash or 0% financing. Only finance when you actually have the cash to pay it off, and that cash should be making money somehow. If you hadn't bought that car with savings and EF so tight you would have easily covered the tree disaster, lesson learned for next time.

MsPeacock

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2016, 06:44:42 AM »
No advice on the cars - but had an extremely large tulip poplar taken down. Quotes ranged from 4K to 8k. If you can, call around and get quotes. The tulip poplar required a huge crane and a team of about 8 guys, several large trucks to haul off the limbs, and two or three loads of shredded tree bits as well. It most definitely wasn't a job for some rando with a chainsaw. Make sure whoever you hire shows you proof of insurance.

stealthystache

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2016, 09:05:45 PM »
A little time to think and things are starting to make more sense (and work out, too). Here's the easy stuff:

Daughter's Honda smashed windshield cost $250 to replace, we shouldered it since she's saving to pay for 1st year college books. Works fine otherwise. Taking care of this was a priority since she really needs this car to commute to college. That way we don't have to pay an extra 10k for her room/board for 9 months. UGH.
BMW still runs, although fair amount of body damage...will part out/sell for cheap on CL to help pay back debt.
Van officially totaled. 5k from insurance.
Tree limb 1k to cut/remove from cars, paid cash and saved $68.
Rest of tree removal quoted at 4-6k, requires crane since it's  about three feet from the house and surrounded by power lines and the neighbor's garage. Wish we could CL this one out, Syonyk!
August CC bill paid with a mix of income and savings since we received the news below...
Best news yet: half of the experts say we don't need to cut the tree down, so we're going to tentatively move forward with leaving it in place and after paying off the CC save the rest of the money.

The messier side of things:
SO won't sell Mustang, but is willing to share during work from home days (this is a very personal and touchy topic around the house and I won't push it).
I have opted to not get another car, but will share only when I have to and ride/walk otherwise. Getting to the other house to do reno will be a bit trickier, but will gently negotiate between using the Mustang and daughter's Honda. Will also do same for family trips.
+Human: I allowed my daughter to borrow money I already had in cash/savings although I still put it on the card for the travel miles. B/c there was originally a fair amount of value in the BMW, I felt like it was a pretty low risk and not stupid at all. Funny how situations can suddenly change your viewpoint on the risk level of a decision!

Thanks all for your feedback; I really appreciate it. I don't usually feel so stumped by situations and this one certainly took the cake in my book!

...looking forward to simplifying my life a little more :)

former player

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2016, 01:21:57 AM »
Congratulations on finding a way through your emergency.

Have you checked your house insurance to see whether you have a claim against it?

MsPeacock

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2016, 10:59:43 AM »
You may be able to get lower quotes on removing the tree during slow winter months. The crane makes it so expensive, like it is 2k or something just for the equipment in those cases.


Glad you were able to work something out with the cars.

Lmoot

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 04:08:22 AM »
Why sell a running car that has exterior damage? I understand if it was your car, but for a college student they have more things to worry about than an ugly car; unless you think the cash from the sale will purchase a decent replacement.

stealthystache

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2016, 09:17:04 PM »
sorry for the long silence - I don't get on the forum much right now.

Update: BMW sold, still getting used to no vehicle (very challenging when I need to work on the other house we want to move to in the spring), money still in the bank :)

+Lmoot the BMW technically "runs", but starts with a screwdriver (basically hot-wired) due to bad ignition switch and has other mysterious electrical issues that make it unreliable. I don't have enough experience or time to learn how to work on a foreign car, so the reasons to let it go are far beyond just cosmetics.
+MsPeacock thanks so much for the tip - we'll check that out for sure!
+former player thank you. As to the home insurance, we were very surprised to find out that our cars were not covered, but if it had been some one else's they would have paid. Not impressed with that. Not at all.

steviesterno

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 05:17:19 AM »
we had a bad wind storm coming through a few months back. Lost both of the trees in the back yard, one fell and smashed up part of the fence, BBQ, fire pit, lights, bird feeders, etc. The other just missed my truck, which I would have happily had insurance pay for and then drive all dented up.

it was $1000 to cut down both trees, clean up yard. No discount for cash so I got CC points at least. ended up getting ~$2400 for grill, fence, etc. I cleaned and fixed the grill myself, and will be doing the same to the fence (for like $100). So we actually came out a little bit ahead. Unfortunately, those trees shaded our house from the Texas sun, and replacing them will be more than a grand each. still not sure how we're going to go about that, but we'll see.

hoping2retire35

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2016, 11:02:00 AM »
Got the tree down yet? If not see if anyone can simply cut it down for a cheaper price, like less than $1k. Most of the expense comes from them having to haul it off. Buy yourself a chainsaw (my 18" will cut through anything because from both sides it is really like having a 36") and get to work. It will take a couple of weekends if it is really large and you can maybe put it at the back of your house. People on CL will show up to haul away free firewood if it is already cut down.

TrMama

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2016, 11:20:52 AM »
If the tree can safely be left as is for the next 6 months and won't make it difficult to sell your house, I'd leave it. You're not planning on staying there anyway, and I can't imagine taking it out will improve how much you'll get for the house.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2016, 12:08:54 PM »
A couple thoughts:
1) If the tree is growing around some power lines, the utility company might be willing to cut it down for you, if you can convince them the tree is in danger of falling on the lines.
2) Does homeowner's liability insurance apply in this situation?  If it was someone else's car in your driveway, would your policy cover their loss?

hoping2retire35

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2016, 01:04:30 PM »
A couple thoughts:
1) If the tree is growing around some power lines, the utility company might be willing to cut it down for you, if you can convince them the tree is in danger of falling on the lines.
2) Does homeowner's liability insurance apply in this situation?  If it was someone else's car in your driveway, would your policy cover their loss?
lol, if they refuse just get someone (or buy a chainsaw yourself, as this may not be too difficult) to just limb it up on your house side so all the weight is on the powerline side, then call power company.

MsPeacock

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2016, 03:40:31 PM »
Oh yeah. I forgot that I'm this are sometimes if a few houses go in together to have trees taken down (requiring crane) they can swing a discount that way. In this area there are 2-6 huge tulip poplars or oaks per tiny lot, so it is usually possible to find a couple other nearby houses that need to have trees taken out at the same time.

Idk about your tree - but. 120 foot tall 22 ton tulip poplar was most definitely not a DIY or "some guy with a chainsaw" sort of job. The chainsaw that ultimately cut through the base of the tree (bottom 10 feet or so of trunk - held by crane) was the biggest chainsaw I ever saw. It was nearly as long as the guy holding it. And the trunk was nearly 5 feet across. No way that can just be sawed down and let fall and roll wherever.

Make sure whoever you hire has insurance.

human

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Re: One tree, three cars - what next?
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2016, 09:38:14 PM »
Not sure if you are still checking in, but it was easy for me to be flippant since I don't have kids. For the most part uni was on my own but in Canada at a fraction of the cost. looks like you compromised and kept the mustang. Can't say I think it makes sense but if that's what it takes . . .