would like opinions about saving priorities

blackcats13April 14, 2010

We have some things to save for and I'm hoping to get some opinions and/or suggestions.

1. We have an old house we are slowly fixing. The next planned room was going to be the kitchen (we already have the cabinets, counters, stove/oven). We will probably have to gut the whole room, in which case it makes sense to do the electric (old, could be dangerous but no way to know for sure) and the plumbing at the same time. The first step of the electric is to bring in new upgraded service and breaker box at a cost of about 2k. Important notes: electric needs upgrading, sink is very slowly falling/detaching from counter. I also believe the fridge is going to go sometime this summer.

2. We do not have A/C (stopped working before we bought the house). The furnace is probably around 12 years. Our neighbor has all spare parts for the furnace and we can fix it, but still, we don't have A/C. I wouldn't normally care THAT MUCH except for being due for our first child at the end of July. I think I will just suck it up, but this is something on our list.

3. We need a new car. The current car is a 2001 and about shot, not worth the cost of repairs. It's also a very cheap car with limited safety features. Since we'll soon have a baby to drive around we need a safer car. We also need a bigger car (baby things and house reno things). We'll probably get a Hyundai Touring (wagon) because of safety/warranty/features/price, despite wanting a Jetta TDI (diesel). Regardless, we need a downpayment.

Of course there are other expenses like maternity clothes (mostly used), and hospital expenses. We've been doing well for baby stuff on Craigslist, so I'm not worried about that. Once we have a car we have car payments added to the budget, making saving difficult. In September add child care bills as well :(

With all this in mind, how would you plan out these priorities? Thanks!

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I'd say electrical work on your house. Yeah, it's not a fun item, but it sure could be a major safety item. If you decide to skip it, I'd bring in an electrician before making that decision, to see if there are major safety items that need repairing.

An electrical fire is a real threat, and if you are worried about the electrical service you have, you must not be sleeping at night. Besides, how can you add A/C if you don't have upgraded electrical? Look for a window/room A/C unit that will help you make it thru the summer. I don't know where you live, but A/C was always a luxury when I was a kid in Tennessee.

Look for a good used car before you buy a new one.

This is all just my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 11:27PM
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I'm not sure what there is to plan other than to save as much as you possibly can and then wait to replace things until they simply fall apart beyond repair. I may be misinterpreting your situation but from the way you describe it, it sounds like air conditioning is a luxury you can't afford so I'd skip that and make the most of a fan. Kitchen remodeling sounds like another very expensive undertaking - can you really afford that with a baby on the way? I'm assuming you need reliable transportation in order to hold down a job so that's a priority. I'd definitely get a no frills, reliable car that isn't going have a lot of maintenance needs on top of a car payment. You've made a choice to have a child which as you point out will increase your expenses. Meeting the basic needs of your child probably is your top priority. It sounds like you might need to make some other sacrifices so you can fulfill the needs of a new baby - which will continue for the next 20 years or so.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 11:31PM
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I think I did make the situation sound worse then it is, I have a tendency to do that when it comes to money. I like a cushion, and we have that. I think we'll still have that once the baby comes, but it's hard to be sure about something like that, just too many unknowns. Which I hate. Yes, I too think the ac is a luxury at this point. We're in Chicago, so you never know how bad the heat/humidity can get. But there are fans and a basement. The neighbor (long time resident in construction) says the AC was on a separate fuse, but I don't want to risk it.

The electric is a concern and won't be skipped, just a matter of what to do first. Problem is, because of codes we can't really replace the electric w/o remodeling the kitchen because it isn't up to current code now, which includes running the wires through pipe, which will require tearing down walls. I suppose the sink could be supported somehow though.

The Hyundai is safe and reliable and the size we need. I *think* it's also the least expensive choice that will fill our needs. We also have a DSD we need to drive an hour to pickup every weekend, so it's not just the 2 of us + baby - size is an important factor.

Thanks for the opinions! We're not doing anything just yet, still thinking through the options. I like to hear other people's perspectives and get a fresh take on things.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 12:28AM
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You haven't put real numbers to most things in your posts, so it is hard to answer questions about what you can/should spend money on. If your "cushion" is a year of living expenses and your income exceeds current expenses by a couple thousand a month, then you have tons of flexibility.

As for spending priorities - you should never buy a new car again. Seriously. Never. Buy a used car and pay cash. Buying a new car is the single fastest way Americans flush money down the drain.

If you have money for A/C, it is a nice luxury. However, chicago is one of the coolest parts of the country. I know you think it is hot and humid, but by any objective measure, you live in a cool, northern area. You'll have no problem surviving through the summer with no A/C. Eventually, I'm sure you will want it, but it is better to be warm with cash in the bank than cool and broke.

For the kitchen, I here ya. We are renovating with an infant. If you think you are slowly fixing the house now, you are about to be introduced to whole new version of "slowly". If you can afford to get this done now, I would do it. I wouldn't go into debt to get it done, but I'd put it high on my priority list.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 9:20AM
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I agree with billl about the car thing.

Can you give a few more details about the car you have now? Make/model, what's wrong with it, how many miles on it, etc.?

Do you live in the city, or suburbs? Have a good mechanic? They may be able to help you get another year out of the car you have. Or help you to identify the best used car for you.

I'd put electrical system at the top of the list. Kitchen sink is important, too. You need a kitchen that works, otherwise it can become a good excuse to eat out, and that can be a huge money-waster.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Hm. Some good points. I wish our cushion was that large, but it isn't. Our only current debt is school loans (a couple hundred a month) and our mortgage. We have around 3k put aside for this stuff, are saving a few hundred a month, and if we got our act together as far as meal planning and such would be saving more (actively working on this). We both have decent jobs that are as stable as can be expected in the current environment (both our companies are doing well). So, not a ton of flexibility, but doing fine.

I told DP this morning that we should knock the AC further down on the list. He said I'll be cursing myself when we hit that 1 or 2 miserable weeks this summer. I said, yeah, but I'll live ;)

I do feel the same about not buying a new car. But here's our reasoning, tell me what you think. The Touring has everything we like - size/safety/warranty/reliability/options/mileage, and it's affordable. When we look at used, we don't really see anything that compares for enough $ less to be worth going with. I would really prefer having a different/safer car before the baby arrives, but maybe I'm overreacting? Our current car is a Hyundai Accent 2001 around 100k miles (maybe more). There's something goofy about the way the engine sometimes revs that has never been sorted out despite various different places looking at it. The shocks (struts?) need to be replaced, and it's almost time for the breaks again. My own fault about the shocks - that's one I didn't keep up with and now the car has lots of squeaks and noises. Also - lack of size and safety features.

We are in the city and work in the city, but DSD is an hour away in the burbs. The mechanic we use is highly rated on Angie's List and yelp, but we don't have a personal relationship with them.

It will also be bad if the sink breaks and I can't wash the baby bottles! A lot of that work will be done ourselves. Maybe the answer is to throw everything at the kitchen and get that wrapped up, then start putting aside as much $ for a car as quickly as we can and just pray this one doesn't die until we are ready. I hear ya about the reno going even slower with an infant, I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for that!

Thanks for the continued dialogue. I had to talk DP out of the diesel Jetta, so this whole conversation is difficult at home ;)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 4:53PM
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A modern car will last way over 100k miles. You can rationalize safety features all you want, but none of them keep babies safer. The only thing that will make any statistical difference is not driving like a maniac and trying to avoid those that do. I understand that both of you "want" a new car. However, you don't need a new car.

As for your savings, you really don't have enough to afford any of these things. If you only have a few hundred extra per month, how are you planning on paying a thousand per month for daycare? A new car payment alone would eat up your couple hundred per month cushion. Not to be alarmist, but what if you get put on bed rest of 3 months or anything else that might keep you out of work? You should really be cutting way back on your spending and building up more substantial emergency reserves, not looking to spend the little savings you do have. This is one of the biggest changes and least certain times you will ever go through, so you really should be as conservative with your finances as possible until your life stabilizes a bit.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 5:18PM
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I tend to agree with Bill on most points. A new car is a huge waste of money. Just look at a few used on autotrader.com or other sites and see what you think. A couple thousand in savings on a car could equal a fix of the electrical and sink for a few years until you see how things are with your 'new normal' after your baby is born. Your savings is not that much if something were to happen and he raises a good point about the cost of daycare, unless you have a family member or friend who is going to do it for cheap/free, in which case you are very fortunate.

The baby is #1 absolutely. Safety first. Or, as Suze Orman puts it, "People first then money then things." If the electrical is truly a dangerous safety issue, that should be first. I think the car is a high priority for safety reasons if you feel yours is truly unsafe (unreliable does necessarily mean unsafe and you have said it makes a funny noise but not that it is breaking down a lot - which is what I would consider unreliable), but I would not buy new. I bought a 2001 Toyota in 2003 and am still driving it with hardly any maintenance or repairs.

I would try to repair the sink and hold steady for awhile on that until you can do the whole job properly. As for AC, I am in the burbs and have an old window unit I have wanted to give to someone... Maybe we could work something out. :) For what it's worth, I used it in my 1000 sq ft house and it pretty much kept it cool all summer for about $70/month. It's probably 8 or so years old, but only used for maybe half of them.

Good luck to you in your decisions.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 6:20PM
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Hi, Blackcats

First, congratulations on your expected baby! I think Billl gives the bet advice. Upgrade the electrical, as that is the real safety issue. If your mechanic agrees that your car is unreliable, find out which make/model/year (used) he rarely sees in the shop and look for one or two. Check Consumer Reports (in the library) also. Buy used but have the mechanic check it out first.

I brought a used Honda Accord and we drove it for 11 years and then sold it to a friend who is still driving it.

I have only made four car payments in my life - we always pay cash for our cars or, for the one we couldn't pay for in a lump sum, we paid off in a hurry. Believe me, not having car payments gives you wonderful financial flexibility.

You said you already have the cupboards, counter, and stove, so you can do the kitchen remodel if your DH does most of the work. My DH took course in electrical wiring and upgraded the electrical (but not the fuse box) himself. Consider asking your DH to learn how to do most of the stuff around the house. I'm in my 60s and have some palsy, but can still do dry wall and wood framing repair, a little bit of woodwork, and painting. We installed the cupboards ourselves and had the counter-top installed via bartering a PC. We laid the vinyl (squares) floor. Compromise and do as much as you can yourselves.

Skip the AC unless you can get a window unit after the electricity is upgraded. When my niece was in her 7th month in August, she sat in the tub with cool water when it was really hot. Fans also work well. Most of us oldsters grew up without AC and survived ;)

Is the baby's room ready? You will want to get that done before you are too uncomfortable to move.

Hope you can convince your DH.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 10:13PM
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We live in S. W Michigan, so not too far from Chicago.

$90 to $100 for a one room window AC that will cool a 1200 sq. ft. house. Even on a 100 degree day.

A piece of 2x4 jammed between the floor and the sink and it will never fall down. Close the cabinet door and you won't see it.

5-7 thousand for a used van and if you have to finance go for one year only. Craigslist to get ideas.

If you upgrade the electric service and circuit box other remodeling can be done at your convenience.

Disregard the sexist idea about getting your DP to do the electrical, there is no reason that you can't do it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:38AM
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Thanks all for the additional advice! Bill - you are right, we don't *need* a new car. I'm happy to report (because I've doubted we could afford a car all along honestly) that after visiting the day care we will probably go with (it is affordable, if not easily), DP has finally looked at the whole budget instead of just 1 part at a time. Our next "car" decision is if we fix what we have and cram ourselves into it another couple of years or buy a good used car. To do either we first need to find a trustworthy mech, so now that's what's on the list ;)

The points made about saving more are right. We don't save as much as we can. It's an easy habit to fall into (not saving I mean) when no one you know is saving even what you are, KWIM? We've done better than average as far as paying off credit cards, etc, but we can do a lot better. This will be a new focus.

I'm not 100% sure how much of a hazard the electrical is, that's the problem. All the houses on our block are the same and built in the 1920s. The neighbors on either side have lived here and done work on the houses here since they were young. 1 house 2 doors done was just gut rehabbed for the first floor. The neighbor (who did a lot of the work) said 'I don't know how the place didn't burn down'. Based on that and some other reasons (long ones) I *think* it'd be wise to at least get started on it, as we'll have to do it room by room. In Chicago it's union work and has to be done by a licensed electrician, and I believe code is to put the wires in pipe, which can be near impossible with plaster walls. I feel a little trapped by all of this, but it is what it is. We can, however, learn and do the plumbing.

DP is willing (as I am) to do as much DIY around our house as possible. In fact, we had planned on it from the beginning. The difference being that we realized if we were going to start a family it was now or never (we aren't *that* young anymore). He has a routing table (?) and some other big tools lol and is planning to make the baseboards for our living room/dining room. Eventually ;) He actually thinks that I will do better at the dry wall because I have the patience for it. One day... And the baby's room, well, that's another item at the mercy of the remodel (meaning there technically isn't one yet, though there is space for one). Luckily we are proponents of co-sleeping so it will be in our room for at least the first year. And I love this idea "A piece of 2x4 jammed between the floor and the sink and it will never fall down." Of course, the counter will finish disintegrating at some point, but I think we have time =P

As for the AC, " Most of us oldsters grew up without AC and survived ;) " This is exactly what I keep telling myself! Maybe just 1 window unit would be sufficient. We'd probably only need it for 1 week anyway. Christine, thanks for the possibility! I'll have to convince DP on this one first :)

Again - thanks so much for weighing in! I appreciate every comment and view point. Normally I am a pretty logical person and have a good grasp of finances, etc. It seems like having a baby can sweep a family into the craziest places mentally - I HAVE to do this, do that, etc. Thanks for bringing me back to earth!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:47AM
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Your sink will last longer & you don't worry about washing bottles if you breastfeed - another moneysaver there too.
(sorry had to throw that one in)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:29PM
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Glad that you decided a used car would be sensible. We've bought both, and honestly, in your position I'd look for a late-model V-6 Ford Taurus - the real ones, not the rebadged 500 now called a Taurus. The later years were extremely reliable, the car has decent power, excellent ABS brakes, enormous space and carrying capacity (the Taurus can actually carry more payload than almost all small trucks and compact SUVs - look it up), and properly taken care of will last way past 150K. The other advantage of the Taurus? Relatively cheap parts and very easy to find a good mechanic to work on it.

I have a Hyundai Santa Fe purchased new in 2003 and although I love it for many reasons, I wouldn't buy it used. The larger V6 engines are much more durable than the small V4 engines in any car model, regardless of whether American or Asian. Especially for Hyundai, who like Honda tends to make nice but underpowered cars - Hyundai's smaller cars are not known for longevity.

We have the extended warranty on the Santa Fe which is tranferable, but pay for all service (which must be maintained with verifiable records to sustain the warranty, which we have used at times). The 60K maintenance check and belt replacement for the 2003 Hyundai was - gulp hard - $1400 at the local dealer! If you can't afford to maintain a car adequately, scraping together a downpayment for a new car isn't going to help you in the long run.

Honestly, you need to get yourself on a better financial footing before signing on the dotted line for any big expenditures. This is not the kind of economy where you want to be living on the edge for the next 5 years, hoping nothing bad (and I mean NOTHING) ever happens to you and your loved ones.

Good luck to you with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 4:33PM
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I grew up in one of those big old 1920's brick bungalows.

It didn't have central air. It had the original wiring.

I know we updated the electrical at some point (I was a kid, so don't have all the details) but I do know that nobody ripped out any of our nice plaster walls to do it.

The old fuse box was replaced with a new circuit breaker box, and at least one higher-amp circuit was added so that we could use window A/C units, etc. safely.

We had a part-finished basement so the new wiring came up from there. Does your house have a basement? If you do, it can make things like moving plumbing and rewiring MUCH easier and less destructive.

Upgrade your electrical system, maybe you just need a new panel where the main power connects to your house circuits. That'd be a great place to start if you still have the original fuse panel.

Then get a window AC unit for your bedroom to start.

I hear ya about really wanting a new car, and honestly, I think you may be sick and tired of all this "old stuff" in your life: old house, old car, old kitchen, etc. and just want something all perfect and new.

Don't give in to it! You'll regret it. A car is only new until you drive the thing off the lot. It depreciates immediately in value.

Fix up the baby's room instead and make it feel fresh and new. New paint, curtains, bedding, throw rug, etc. Make one room bright and happy in the midst of whatever else is going on. You don't have to spend a lot of $$ on this, just enough to make it all sparkly and fresh feeling.

One more bit of advice: if you're looking for a great, honest mechanic you can't beat "Nal's" 1815 W. Irving Park in Chicago. Under the "el" tracks. Check them out on Angie's List or Yelp.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:12PM
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annie - I too am a huge proponent of breast feeding, I hear ya! I will be, but alas, I also have to return to corporate life, so the baby will have to learn to like bottles as well. Plus I want DP to have some feeding bonding time with the little one, and me some sleep time ;) But there will definitely NOT be formula in my house!

Thanks for the Taurus recommendation. Ford is the only American car we're willing to go with so I'll look into that. Yes, I'm not fond of living on the edge - it's taken a lot of work to get away from that.

Actually, we do have a basement, I hadn't thought of that. I suppose I should get an electrician out here that is used to old houses (oh how I wish we had a brick bungalow!!) and find out what can be done rather then guessing/assuming. We do still have the original fuse panel (2 or 3 of them actually) but it's the wiring (possibly cloth) that worries me. And you are right - it could very well be that I'm sick of all the "old stuff". We had the floors refinished this winter because I couldn't stomach the thought of the baby on the really horrible gross old carpet. Now that I think of it, I did tell DP that 'new/shiny' would last me a couple months of smiles =D and it did. At this point maybe just planting some flowers would do it! Since the baby's room is our room ... I bet some fresh paint would go even further ;) And THANK YOU so much for the mechanic recommendation. I'll pass that along to DP (cuz he has to be responsible for something lol).

Again, I appreciate all of this advice. I'm still worried, because that's how I am, but I'm getting a plan together and that helps a ton!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Is your electical box in the basement? Many are or have the wires running either to floor or ceiling. In that case no need to rip out walls. If your wires run through the old gas pipes, our old house was that way, the conduits are in place and many only need for new ones put in.

Not completely reliable but if when your refrigerator or other applicences go on the lights either dim or flicker, you have a fire hazard.

As far as breast feeding it can be better for the child but not all children can use breast milk or you may not make enough or develop breast problems so don't stress if you can not breast feed but do not rule out other methods if need be. Although I can't stand the smell goats milk is an old standby.

If it is very humid in the part of Chicago you live in consider a dehumidifier to take some of the moisture out of the air. Be aware many have a tray that must be emptied.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 10:43PM
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I've been through rough financial patches and I agree, it can be tough to have nothing but 'old stuff' when others are whizzing by in shiny new cars, fancy clothes, and all the latest gadgets!

But honestly, although we just bought a new Ford Fusion 2010 and it's an excellent car - from a strictly financial standpoint a used Taurus would have been half the cost and just as good. Our 1985 Taurus was purchased with 56K on it, for a mere $10K when it was 2 yrs old, and until we gave it to a friend at 121K, was an excellent car, very safe and reliable. Because they were so heavily sold as fleet rentals, they had very poor resale value. We've had quite a few Fords over 30 yrs, including Escorts, Capri, and Contour, but the Taurus was probably the best purchase of them all. Only my beloved Acura Integra was better, mostly because I'm a big believer in 5 door hatchbacks and that car was not only crazy fun to drive, it held an incredible amount of stuff (and it had Recaro-like seats - fabulous)!

We actually have switched from Hondas to Ford and Hyundai/Kia because they're quieter, cheaper, and a better value. But for used cars, especially with a V6, Ford wins hands-down, I think. BTW, we've given up buying used cars from private parties, having been burned once or twice. We prefer to buy them from dealerships - they cherry-pick the better used cars, and many dealers offer at least a limited warranty.

It's been worth the extra cost to us to have dealer used cars. Also, if the dealer offers you a service contract, CONSIDER IT! We were very surprised when we bought the Fusion that Ford now offers a full service maintenance contract, plus they were taking 50% off the price of it when you bought a new car. For $1400 all our maintenance is covered for the first 75,000 miles, which considering that is what our 60K tune-up on our Hyundai cost us, is a real bargain. Buying a used car might not net you a service contract, but with the economy still tentative, it's worth checking around to see if there's any dealers desperate to do some dealing!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 1:42PM
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maifleur - you're right! We do have wires running through the old gas pipes! I completely forgot! We had opened up a ceiling cap to look into the idea of putting up a fan and saw the pipe then. I probably did sound a little harsh about the no formula thing, I didn't mean to :) My closest friend was unable to despite all her efforts.

Regarding the Taurus, what *is* considered a late model? If we were going to purchase a new to us car we'd still need to be 6k or under and that didn't look very late model to us ;) Regardless, for now we are going to look into a couple of mechanics and take the car in to be looked at and get quotes to compare. Better decisions come from being better informed! I do actually like my car a lot, I'm just at a point where we will need a bigger one sooner rather then later.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:16PM
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Just wanted to remind you that once you have the baby, s/he will be so "new and shiny" that having old things will not matter as much. :) (Aside from electrical wiring)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 8:02PM
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As to the AC, every summer in Chicago can be different. I grew up there, and I usually remember just 2-3 unbearable weeks. We never had AC or even window units, but we did have a basement that, while unfinished, was a great retreat for those hot days. Or we went to the movies or hung out at the mall. I'm in St. Paul now, in another old house with no AC, and while it is a "tad" cooler here than Chicago we typically still get the 2 weeks of hot humid weather. This is my first house with ceiling fans and I'm sold on them! They really, really help. I guess my point is that AC is a luxury and really unneeded; there are alternatives.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 7:01AM
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I believe 2006 was the last year for the 'true' Taurus to be sold. The 2007 model was sold exclusively for fleet sales, which would mean if you can find any, snap them up because they will have comprehensive maintenance records.

The replacement, the Ford 500, was universally panned and was only in production 2004-2008, when it was redesigned and rebadged to bring back the Taurus name. The first 'good' year for the new Taurus was the 2009 model, which received a further upgrade in the 2010 line, especially the TOL model SHO which is a stunning (and $50K) car. BTW, you can also find Mercury Sables used, which is the same as the Taurus but in the top level trim levels only.

You can buy a Ford Fusion used for much less, but I don't actually enjoy the size of the Fusion as much as the Taurus. Headroom is surprisingly limited and visibility is relatively poor for a moderate-size sedan, due to thick pillars and a low-hanging rearview mirror. It is comfortable and has a large trunk, however, plus has good reliability stats.

Both the Fusion and the Escape SUV have hybrid versions that are very highly rated in both safety, reliability, and mileage, if you decide in the end to consider new cars. Although we drove all the Hyundai models when we were considering new cars in Oct 2009, the only one we liked was the Sonata sedan. Not all the Hyundai/Kia models (same company, actually) have good reliability - our 2003 Santa Fe is apparently the best year ever from a reliability standpoint - and the sole Kia I was willing to consider was the Kia Rondo. I test drove one and really liked it but there simply were no Rondos within a 75 mile radius equipped the way I wanted. Because this is a second car, I was willing to be more flexible about what we bought, so we walked across the street to the Ford dealer and ended up with the Fusion gas V6.

When you consider that a new car will cost you approx $25-30K, spending half that on a good used car will be a much better buy.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 3:29PM
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I like all the previous suggestions. I got a window ac unit off Craigslist .....free! Just for the master bedroom.

I agree...pay cash for a used car.

Electrical repair/update in the kitchen ....first.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:16PM
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"new car - Regardless, we need a downpayment."
Red flag. You are asking opinion on prioritizing your SAVINGS goals. Buying a car you cannot pay in full and that requires financing and downpayment is NOT saving.

If the car is safe for anyone/you to be in it, should be safe for the baby. I drive 1996 minivan.

Re house repairs - if at all possible, learn to do things yourself.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 11:37AM
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You said " I suppose I should get an electrician out here that is used to old houses... and find out what can be done rather then guessing/assuming. "

Absolutely. In fact meet with at least 2 or 3 electricians to get their thoughts about the job and estimates, since you know updating the electric is a top priority. I'll bet getting a handle on that alone will give you a better focus on your other plans.

I find that when I have no idea what a construction job will cost or entail, the job (and anxiety) can get enormous in my head and make it hard to concentrate on everything else that needs to be done.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 5:56PM
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Well, a few months later and I thought I'd give an update. I may get some flack for our decisions, but they feel right to me.

First, we decided to keep the Hyundai and get it fixed. Taking it to a couple of mechanics was on DPs to-do list (this never got done).

Second, we had been working on some real estate tax problems and those were finally resolved. This resulted in enough cash for us to get started on the kitchen. Again, we already had most of the expensive stuff. A friend of DP is doing the work at a discount and DP is helping around work hours. I'm just complaining that the kitchen I've waited 2 years to get my hands on is finally being done without me ;) Soon after the kitchen decision, the fridge died, however we got a new one, great deal, at Sears Outlet. It has a couple of dents, but is bigger and much more efficient than the old one. And it works lol.

One day DP took down the ceiling light in the kitchen. He reached up to the much larger than it should have been bundle of wires hanging from it and all of the cloth insulation crumbled off! Well. That answered that question. And why were there so many wires running through that fixture? Well, we no longer had any working ceiling lights on the first floor, and the outlets in our bedroom on the 2nd floor also stopped working. So, DP and 2 very handy friends replaced all that wiring. Since nothing was being added/removed/taken out it was safe. At the same time they split up all those things that were on 1 fuse into 4 fuses. DP has also bought a circuit box (?) load center (?) something like that and will be replacing the fuse boxes - again with experienced help.

Because of the delay with the electric (3 electricians never showed up, must be plenty of work in Chicago) we (I mean they) had time to demo the plaster (not good enough to keep) instead of drywalling over it. Because we took it down we were able to insulate the exterior walls :)

On to the AC. I find it extremely amusing that after saying Chicago only has a couple of miserable weeks a year, this has been an AWFUL summer already! Luckily we had decided to buy energy efficient window units. 1 on each floor keeps it just bearable. I still end up with cold showers some nights though. The whole pregnancy = higher body temp thing is apparently true.

Last - back to the car. We got a great deal on a 2005 VW wagon. It's bigger, safer, etc. It's definitely a family car, not a "sport wagon" and I still haven't made my peace with that, but everything in due time ;)

Baby could come anytime in the next 2 - 3 weeks, I'm due the 20th. The kitchen isn't done and the house is a disaster, but I'm not worried. My electric is safer, my car is big enough for the whole family, and I have enough AC to survive. We're stable financially and are both looking into additional income sources to be safe.

As always, thanks to the great GWers for the rational advice!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 10:05PM
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Congratulations! I think you did a great job prioritizing your needs vs wants, and hope you have a nice healthy baby arriving to gladden your hearts!

Keep bugging DH about maintaining the cars. It makes a lot of difference to be able to keep them running well beyond the 150K mark, without needing too many expensive repairs.

Best of luck to you going forward. Thank you for posting again, it's always nice to know that things turned out well in the end.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 4:56PM
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Good to hear that some of the really big problems have been taken care of. I can not relate to the pregnancy flashes but to the old woman type. Try to find a fan that can be placed in an alcove or at least where the new baby can not reach it. A floor fan although nice can be tipped over by a crawler. Several of my friends had the same problem when they were pregnant but for a couple it continued for several months. After the cool shower stand in front of the fan and allow it to dry you. People may laugh at you but you will cooler.

May you and the baby be safe and well.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 12:01AM
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