On My Mind Lately

Why oh why did I spend so much time as a kid wanting to “grow up”? I’d be pretty happy to have my biggest worries whether my crush liked me or how to avoid unloading the dishwasher for another night. Instead I’m spending my time trying to figure out how to handle my decrepit car and how to best help those who have been absolutely devastated by the events in Haiti.

Abbie Cabbie

This is my car, or at least, one that looks just like it. Last month I poured $900 into her in an attempt to fix the brakes (I take responsibility for waiting too long to get the brakes fixed which cost me extra money, but it still would have cost me something to replace them), and now I’m told that the clutch is wasted and could cost something like $1200 to fix. Unfortunately this little car of mine is now only worth $3000-$4000, and so pouring another thousand dollars into it might not be the best choice.

Things to consider:

A. The cars worth and the amount of money that we would need to pour into repairs. The clutch needs to be replaced, the windows don’t roll up and down, the cruise control doesn’t work, and the air conditioning is rather weak. The scratches over the back left tire could probably use a paint job as well.

B. We don’t want the baby traveling in this car, so once That 1 comes Abbie will belong to That Husband (something he is not very excited about). We would prefer to have two cars that we feel comfortable transporting our child in.

C. We’re hoping to move away to business school this Fall. We might move somewhere where only one car is necessary. We might need two.

D. We do, indeed, need two cars here in Texas. Public transportation isn’t an option where we are, and That Husband doesn’t have the kind of job that allows him to carpool back and forth to work. I can’t run a photography business (even part time) without a vehicle to transport me to shoots, consults, etc.

Should we sell the car as is? Fix her up and sell her immediately? Fix her up and keep her until we move to business school this Fall?


Heartbreaking, devastating, tragic on incomprehensible levels. Where have you donated? We’ve been doing our research and talked about several different options but we want to make sure our money is used as effectively as possible. I think That Husband has already taken care of our donation but I was thinking that it might be possible that there are others who feel unsure how they can be the most effective. Please leave your suggestions (with links if possible!) with ways you have donated and where in the hope it will help others make up their mind if they are wavering.

On a bit of a lighter note, I cried as we walked into Avatar tonight. That Husband had said it was really important to get there early and get good seats, but it took me much too long to get out the door and we walked in just in time to grab two seats together in the second row. He started saying he would rather sit separately in sections farther back and I burst into tears feeling like I had ruined the date we had been looking forward to for weeks. Guess those crazy pregnancy hormones are finally kicking in for me!

P.S.-I loved the movie but cried and cried as I watched them destroy the indigenous people. What are some other movies that deal with the topic of destructive colonization in this way?

37 thoughts on “On My Mind Lately

  1. *What a cute car – it would be hard to let her go! I’m not the greatest at figuring out when to let stuff like cars go. We had an old car (that I got when I was 16) and after pouring money into for a time, we decided that the next time it needed any more-than-minor work or repair, we’d let her go. At some point you just have to cut your losses.

    We did get a brand new Honda Civic out of it though and it’s been very reliable! Of course, my husband is good about keeping up on scheduled maintence and is mindful of the car – - we are still a one car family thanks to it’s reliablity and the fact that Landon’s able to use public transportation/carpooling to the base.

    *I did donate to a charity for Haiti through an item I purchased. I also love that I know the church is doing all it can and will continue to help those in Haiti – I love that I know that our tithing and humanitarian money is put to very good use around the world.

    *Avatar was good. Didn’t think my husband would like it, but he came out saying ‘Wow.” Don’t worry about the weepies – - I cried all the time about things that normally don’t make me cry. I cried during the Pampers commercials at Christmas that played “Silent Night” and I cried over a song that played during a montage of Jim and Pam’s relationship in The Office. Yes, I cried over the relationship of fictional characters.

    sorry for world’s longest comment!:}

  2. I assume that you just give to the LDS efforts, but for those interested, a nurse friend who has been in Haiti for a couple of years reports that the 3 large organizations she’s seen as especially effective are:

    Catholic Relief Services
    American Red Cross
    Doctors Without Borders


    Cécy Reply:

    My husband and I talked about giving last night, two of the ones you mentionned are the ones we want to give to.
    Doctors without borders because I heard they are the most present medical force at work there.
    And the Red Cross. For two reasons, one is I know they do more than just medical and two because well, I owe them. Five years ago, I was on my way to my final exam by train, I left a day ahead to be there on time. But there was a flood in the south of France and I ended up being stuck in the train for the night in a train station with no way out. The Red Cross came and gave us each a sandwich, a bottle of water and an emergency blanket so we could be somewhat warm. I feel it’s my time to pay them back so they can help others who need far more assistance than I ever did.

  3. I donated through Catholic Relief Services – I think it is important to research before you donate :)

    We are also dealing with car “stuff”. Our lease is up on our car next month, which is my favorite car ever (Volvo XC90). However, it isn’t cheap and we are really trying to cut down on our monthly expenses while my husband gets his new business up and running. We’ll probably end up getting a cheap car and use that for the next year or so. Car decisions stress me out!

  4. I donated through Doctors Without Borders and the Salvation Army.

    As far as the car, one more to think about– if one of the places that you’re considering moving is a large city (which I assume it is since you said that you might only need one car), an older car that you’re not too worried about is way better in the city. we live in chicago with one old car. Even if you have a parking space of your own, you end up doing a lot of street parking where your car is lible to get hit as people ease in and out of spots, scratched, splattered with salt, beat up by potholes, etc, etc., etc. I rarely drive more than a total of 2 miles in a week and reliability isn’t a huge concern– I’m also rarely able to move at more than 30 mph. So– although we love having our 1 car. It is a huge convenience for grocery shopping etc; we don’t rely on it to get to work, and we are much happier to have an older car so that every time there’s a new scratch or its beat up by another pot hole it doesn’t make us wince. Just more fodder for thought. good luck with your decision making!

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    My husband and I have been long supporters of Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctor’s Without Borders). They have great services they provide, and we know of many physicians and nurses who donate their time in extreme situations around the world.

    We also donated to the Red Cross as well.

    If you are ever concerned regarding how money is spent at various charities, you can go to http://www.charitynavigator.org/ To see how donated money is dispersed amongst administrative costs, fund raising efficiency’s/expenses, program expenses/efficiency… there are more breakdowns too.

    As far as the car goes. Good luck. You’ll figure out what to do. It’s hard when you know you are going to be relocating. But it is definitely important to have a safe vehicle when you are toting around precious cargo (i.e. the new baby!)

  5. I wonder if you could sell your car, and get another used car that is in slightly better shape? Another thing to consider is the age and condition of T.H.’s car. I don’t know your financial situation, but if you both have older cars perhaps it is time for you to buy a new (or newer) car that isn’t too flashy and has good reliability and longevity ratings (maybe a Toyota or something?). Then, if you were to move somewhere where you only needed one car, you could sell T.H.’s car and both share this new(er) car. Just some thoughts. Regarding Haiti, I donated at work, and my employer will make a bulk donation from the employee donations. I feel like I should still do more though…

  6. I would sell it as is, because when you sell something as is, at least in CA, you really have no responsibilities or liabilities. I don’t know how much you want to spend but if you drive a lot (I drive a TON) but we have a Honda Hybrid….best car ever. We have an SUV too and I can’t wait to sell it for a Hybrid. We just took it for it’s 90K mile check up and nothing needed to be fixed.

    As far as Haiti I donated my Westlaw Points, which is really hard to explain.

  7. We saw Avatar – I thought it was one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen. However, it was way too much like Fern Gully and I spent the whole movie going “It’s Fern Gully on crack!” LOL

    Cristin Reply:

    ohmygosh – you are right about Fern Gully! I had forgotten about that movie!!! Such a good call!

  8. Sell her as is! From experience :) I’ve been pouring money into my cute little can’t let her go because it was my first car. You think it’s going to just be $$$ for part X, but next thing you know, it will be parts Y, Z, and A, B, C within a year or two!

  9. For people who are considering donating something other than money, you should read this article first -http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34958965/ns/world_news-haiti_earthquake/. Random people showing up to help without being asked are often actually harming and killing the people they genuinely want to help. And donating items that need to be shipped is not as useful as just sending money (they explain their reasons why and they do list some places to donate to).

  10. As to the car, I have two thoughts:

    1) Get Rich Slowly (getrichslowly.org) has a LOT of posts about cars – buying, selling, living with them. Might be worth checking out.

    2) Is there anything like Zip cars or iGo in the Dallas area? Those are both in Chicago and that’s what I would use if we needed a second non-full-time car on a possibly temporary basis.

    As to donations, I’m going with the Red Cross. My mom’s been a long time Red Cross volunteer and I know they do everything they can to stretch their donor dollars.

    And finally, I think women might care more about sitting next to their dates at movies than men do… my husband suggested once that we sit in different rows at a crowded theater, and seemed surprised when I reacted like he was breaking up with me. Me: UNTHINKABLE! Him: Convenient.
    Venus and Mars, I guess. :-)

  11. i wouldn’t repair it first. you won’t get the money back.

    i had the same problem with my car…only worth 3000-4000 bucks and needed what we were told was 1000+ worth of work. we decided we’d rather put the money towards a reliable vehicle that would last and be safe for future kids, rather than dump money into a car that we would grow out of.

    we traded in “as is”…and we later found out the dealership had to put 3000+ dollars into it to fix the problem and make it sale ready. (they sold it for 4000.) we were soooooooo glad we didn’t do the work ourselves!!!

    kacey Reply:

    p.s. we have 2 toyotas…and they are AMAZING.

    Amanda W. Reply:

    We love our Toyota Corolla! But for a family I would recommend a Camry if you can afford it. The Corolla was hard to fit a car seat in and we ended up having to go and buy a car seat like 5 days before Ella was born because the one we were given didn’t fit.

    Jenna Reply:

    TH has Camry right now. Good tip about the car seat!

    kacey Reply:

    we have a corolla for the hubs to drive to work and a rav4 for me. i. love. it. it’s not too big, but has plenty of passenger/cargo space…so someday when i’m trying to cart around strollers, car seats, groceries, etc. we’ll be able to fit it all. and it’s not a gas guzzler.

    (and it’s WAY fun to drive. :) )

  12. A little known fact that I just thought I’d share: Much of the Church’s humanitarian effort is done in coalition with other organizations. I know they have often worked with Catholic Relief Services, providing the funds or goods that are then distributed. I kinda really love that we don’t just do it ourselves… we work with other organizations, I think we can be more effective that way.

    Do you receive news bulletins from the Church? Chris set it up so we only get bigger headlines, but one of them recently was a bulletin from the church encouraging/asking members to contribute monetarily if possible and to pray for the people to have peace and calm in the midst of all the calamity.


  13. I had an old car too, it used to be my husband. We put quite a lot of money into it. $1000 for a new clutch in 2008, $600 in 2009 when the alternator died. I hate to have to pay for those things, you always question if it’s a good move. And then a cop hit my car and totaled it. I felt like we had thrown money away doing the repairs when it came out they would only pay about $3900 for the car (damages were worth $6000!).
    So I’m a bit biased about this. I would check on Kelly’s blue book what your car is worth now.
    Calculate how much money you’ve put into it lately and compare it to a monthly car payment for the value you’d be willing to put in a new used car.
    We had to buy a new car, and it definitely was not in our plans. We had to cut off a lot of things, thankfully we had been very good on our budget in the past months, but it definitely slowed down our debt reimbursing goals.
    Check if anyone would be willing to purchase it and for how much. (craigslist add maybe).
    Talk with your husband, and check out DaveRamsey’s advises:

    Haiti: answer about as a reply. Just donated between the two answers. Thank you for reminding me to do it.

    On the happier note, I saw avatar and loved it too. No way I would let my husband sit anywhere else than next to me. How else are you supposed to cuddle during a movie?
    I can’t really think of a movie with a similar story,
    but regarding the damages we can do to others I can help but think of: The Mission, Amazing Grace and La Controverse de Valladolid (not sure if the latest was ever translated in English). I don’t know if their rating is appropriate to your beliefs though.

    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks for the movie suggestions! I added The Mission and Amazing Grace to my Netflix list.

    Kristin Reply:

    I was going to suggest The Mission as well. Loved it. Soundtrack is amazing!

  14. Of all the things I could comment on in this post, I’m embarrassed to say I’m going to answer your question about Avatar:

    Avatar is basically Ferngully, Pocahontas, Last of the Mohicans, and Dances with Wolves. In 3d. In space. With bio luminescence. But… rather than feeling it was derivative, I felt that it was timeless. I thought I would hate it, but I loved it. Even though James Cameron took absolutely no risks with the plot to drown it in pretty.

    Jenna Reply:

    The whole time I was watching I kept whispering to TH “You really should have seen Pocahontas before you watched this!”. For some reason Ferngully never crossed my mind. So true though!

  15. I feel like you do, and I imagine most of the world, about Haiti. We’ve been texting small donations to the Red Cross and Yele, and we’re going to make a donation to either Compassion International and World Vision. We’ve been actively trying to find things to give up (and there are SO many, when you start looking)–my birthday’s Monday and we were going to go on a trip this weekend, but we canceled it so we could donate the money instead.

    I am also currently hosting a giveaway to hopefully help raise awareness about human trafficking (which, sadly, often sees a spike after natural disasters like the earthquake) on my blog (here: http://startupmarriage.blogspot.com/2010/01/giveaway-for-cause.html). I know you have a great readership! You could do something similar in a way that would benefit Haiti somehow.

    Jenna Reply:

    I like this idea. I actually have something I’ve been meaning to give away but didn’t really have a special reason to do so. I could pick from three charities that I’ve researched and seem to be using money wisely, and then I can use the honor system (hopefully someone wouldn’t lie about donating to Haiti!) to let people know that if they will visit one of the charity donation sites, and send money (even if they’ve already sent, they have to send again) then they can be entered to win the prize. A random drawing will choose the winner. What do you think?

  16. Pocahontas. :)
    I dontated my brother. ;-) He’s a Coast Guard Pilot who’s been sent to help.

    Bean Reply:

    Yes! Did you see the Avatar plot fail on failblog? (http://failblog.org/2010/01/10/avatar-plot-fail/)

    Jenna, I hope that your car angst gets sorted out quickly and painlessly!

    Jenna Reply:

    You made That Husband laugh SO HARD with that link. His response was “You told me it was like Pocahontas, not that is WAS Pocahontas.” :)

  17. We donated one day last week when both my husband’s company and the Canadian Government matched our donation.

    Funny, we also planned to see Avatar last night but the show we wanted was sold out and when I realized there was no way I’d stay awake long enough for the 10:30pm, I almost cried too.

    Jenna Reply:

    Glad I am not the only crazy prego getting incredibly worked up about the Avatar viewing experience. Baby LOVED the really loud parts. :)

  18. I managed to score a 2000 Ford Taurus for $4500 off Craigslist 2 years ago. It only had 50k miles, a sunroof, 6 cd changer, etc and it was in amazing shape. You can find great deals if you really look.

  19. Ugh the car stuff – I feel you! My car is worth $1200 and is going to cost $1400 to fix the oil leak in it….we’re trying to get by until March, when my FI’s office moves into the city and he doesn’t have to drive every day, but I have to learn to drive stick in the meantime (I am lacking in patience, which makes it really hard to learn.)
    I think if you go with a late model used Honda, they hold their value really well and are very safe cars. It would be easy to re-sell it if you do move to a city where you only need one car.

    Or, befriend old people in your area who don’t drive and see if you can work out a deal where you can borrow their car in exchange for running errands for them. You do a good deed and you get yourself some wheels.

  20. I can’t comment on the car issues – I don’t have one. I need to look into getting one for photography now, despite Sydney’s ample public transport, it is time consuming and not entirely secure to carry my gear on it so I need to consider other options.

    As for Haiti’s disaster relief – I went with Medicines Sans Frontieres. I personally don’t believe that one’s donation choices should be influenced by religion, but that’s just me.

  21. I can’t speak to donation, but as an older car owner I’ve followed the advice of several well known car experts and financial advisers: repair your old car until the cost of a single repair costs more than 1/2 the value of the car. Just make sure the value you assign is the true private sale value with all the scratches, mechanical issues, etc.

  22. As far as donations, I always donate through Red Cross when I donate to tragedies, I know that it is a legitimate company and the maximum of my dollars will go to the cause. So many out there now days only donate a portion of the “donation” to the actual cause and use the rest to support the company or organization… so Red Cross is my Organization of choice.

    As far as the car… sell as is… general rule of thumb “don’t put more than 1/2 the value into fixing the car than the car is worth” So if you are looking at only getting 3,000 for it, 1200-1500 worth of repairs won’t be worth it for you. Just try for the 3,000 and you’ll be better off. Good luck hun!

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