Yesterday was Elliott’s 6 month birthday. I celebrated by heading to the dollar store for some “toys” inspired by this article. I found some fun baskets, balls, a mirror, and shaped containers. They are simple toys for him to roll, bounce, open, close and explore.
It’s been a while since I have done a financial freedom post, but after this crazy week of buying and selling vehicles I thought this would be a good time. I said goodbye to my little VW this week. I’ve driven it for the past 8 years so it was hard to see it go, but after months of loading Elliott in his car seat into the back of my 2 door hatchback I was also so excited to get a more family friendly car.
THINGS I LEARNED ON THE NEW CAR JOURNEY: BUYING
- Figure out what kind of car you want: We decided on the Mazda 5 because it had a 3rd row of seats and sliding doors so that we wouldn’t have to open them into traffic on busy city streets, but it doesn’t look like a mini van and it is easy to park. We also have a couple friends who own them and my Mom LOVES hers.
- Do your homework: Check Kelley Blue Book to see what a fair price is, check out Edmunds for ratings and reviews, and shop around Autotrader to see to see the real market of cars for sale
- Look for a car with low miles and a few years old for the best deal: Jason commutes to work on his bike and I don’t drive very much since most of the things Elliott and I do are in the neighborhood. We need the car mostly for trips to see family and to run errands. We didn’t want a huge chunk of money tied up in a car that is going to sit in front of our house most days.
- Consider a car from a private seller: We actually weren’t considering private sellers at first since we wanted some kind of guarantee that we weren’t getting a lemon. In the end I am so happy that we found our new car from a sweet couple in the suburbs. (more on that below)
- Get a Carfax report: The $40 we paid was worth the peace of mind knowing that regularly scheduled maintenance had been recorded and that there were no reported accidents on the vehicle.
- Be Patient: This one is a really big deal. I had done my homework, I knew how much Mazda 5s were selling for and had been scanning Autotrader for a couple months, so when I saw a vehicle from a private seller come up with low miles and a reasonable price we were ready to jump on the deal.
We ended up buying our new to us 2009 Mazda 5 with 56,0000 miles from a retired couple in the suburbs. They were downsizing to become a one car family. We had such a pleasant experience buying from them that I even sent them a thank you card at the end of the transaction! I’m so thankful for the way that it turned out, it was way more personal than buying from a car dealer.
THINGS I LEARNED ON THE NEW CAR JOURNEY: SELLING
- Do your homework: As with selling know what the market is for your car
- Clean your car: We dejunked, vacuumed, windexed, and scrubbed our cars. We even used this headlight cleaning kit to get the gross yellow film off my headlights.
- Take good photos: Make sure to get all angles, an interior shot, and a shot of the odometer
- Contact Info: We made a special e-mail address and got a google voice number so that we didn’t have to give out our personal information
- List on Craiglist: This video had some great listing tips. We sold my car is less than 24 hours after listing it.
- Meet the potential buyer: Make sure the new driver is licensed before you let them drive your car. Let them know the price and why you priced it that way, mention bluebook value, what you’ve seen similar cars selling for, any other selling features. Also disclose anything wrong with the car. If they want to take the car to a mechanic ask for some sort of deposit. Let them haggle a bit, it’s fun and know your bottom line.
Buying and selling cars can be so intimidating, but the process is really easy. Here’s a breakdown so that you know what to expect once you are sure you want the car. It’s different in every state, so this is PA specific. For your state you can call your DMV.
- Bring a certified check or cash to pay. If you’re negotiating you can bring a certified check for part of the payment and cash for the remaining amount.
- Make sure you make up a bill of sale so that you each have a receipt for the transaction.
- Go to a title company where you’ll need your license and proof of insurance if you are the buyer and just the car title if you are the seller.
- At the title company you’ll pay the taxes (8% of sale price in Philadelphia)
- You’ll also get the title transferred for a small fee. The seller signs the title, it gets mailed to Harrisburg and you’ll receive a new title in the mail.
- At the title company you’ll also get a new license plate and registration.
That’s it, isn’t that bananas? We are selling Jason’s car next week. I feel like we have learned so many things through this process! Skills I’m thankful for and would have completely missed out on if we had bought a car and traded in one to a dealer. And we saved so much money by selling the cars ourselves and purchasing one from a private seller!
I have been meeting with the same two women once a week for over a year to pray. Every Monday we sit and catch up by listening to everyone’s stories from the week. We listen about the cute things our babies are doing, the things we are wrestling with and thinking about. Then we spend the rest of the evening bringing one another before God in prayer. Bearing one another’s burdens. I am thankful for them and the friendship that quickly develops when you dive into the thick of life together.
This past Monday I made a berry crisp to share, and wanted to give you the recipe so that you could share it with some sweet friends.
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
- Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and butter in the bottom of an 8×8 pan
- Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture
- Squish the rest of the mixture on the bottom of your pan
- Sprinkle blueberries in an even layer on top
- Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mixture
- Bake for 40 minutes
I really would love to see the Horace Pippin exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum. I am in love with his floral paintings.
We have been really blessed by friends and family after Elliott’s birth. New parenthood is a time of intense emotions, of love and sleep deprivation. We are pretty good as a culture at providing for the physical needs of a new baby by showering them with clothes and cribs, but the needs of new parents are often overlooked. I wanted to share some of the gifts that have been most helpful for us in hopes that they can be blessings passed along to someone else.
- MEAL TRAIN: We haven’t made a single meal all month. Our friend Karen organized a meal train from my bridal shower list. Each of the ladies signed up for a night to make our family a meal after Elliott arrived, then every other night for the month someone has brought us something delicious to eat. It has been AMAZING to not have to worry about what is for dinner or making frequent trips to the grocery store.
- MOM CARE SUPPLIES: Some of the best gifts came from other new Mom’s. They gave me things I didn’t even know that I needed. Things for lactation like Mothers Milk Tea and Lactation Cookies. Personal care items for post birth like New Mama Spray and Nipple Balm.
- HEALTHY SNACKS: There is very little time to fix anything to eat with a newborn, so grab and go items are essential. My favorites have been yogurt, fruit, granola bars, cheese sticks, trail mix, and hummus. A care package of these for a new mom would be VERY appreciated.
- NETFLIX: A netflix subscription has been great since new moms spend a lot of time breast feeding on the couch.
- CHORES: Doing a load of laundry or the dishes for a new Mom is an invaluable gift. Or you could purchase a gift card for a housecleaning service if you do not live in the area.
- NO THANK YOUS: Take the pressure off new Mom’s by assuring that your gift requires no thank you note, or that you understand that the thoughtful e-mail you sent requires no speedy reply.
We saw Granny’s work on a recent trip to Asheville, NC. I wanted to share it since it made me so happy.
I’ve been reading a lot about the Danish idea of Hygge. It’s a word that roughly translated means “cozy” but encompasses untranslatable feelings of warmth, comfort, and companionship. Hygge is one of the reasons that despite having long cold winters Danes are still ranked among the happiest people on earth. I am not a big fan of winter, after the lights of the holidays go out I usually get a long bout of seasonal affective disorder. Here are some of my hygge inspired coping mechanisms I plan on employing.
- LIGHT: Lots of aromatherapy candles spread throughout the house in energizing scents.
- BLANKETS: big cozy ones in big piles
- COMFORT FOOD: Bowls of Soup, cups of tea, oatmeal, roast chicken
- FRIENDS: I think my winter needs more laughter. A couple weeks ago we went to a neighbors house, I brought cookies and tea. We sat in front of their wood stove and chatted for hours. It definitely brightened my dreary day.
- COZY SHOWS: Thank the Lord that we will have Downton Abbey to look forward to January 4th. (Let me know if you have any other recommendations!)
- WARM CLOTHES: The Danes also say, “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing”. I think that bundling up and getting whatever sunshine I can would be enormously helpful for my well being.
Do you have any Winter coping strategies?
I was looking over my goals for 2014 and laughing. This year has been an eventful one, but not because I accomplished even half of the things on my list. I have been reminded over and over that as much as I want to plan, sometimes we are called to give in and be along for the ride.
Here is a snapshot of our roller coaster.
It has been amazing to watch these events unfold and see how we have been provided for. We are so thankful that we had an emergency fund in place and very few expenses when Jason got laid off. It made that initial “oh shit” feeling momentary. It also pushed us outside of our comfort zones to go and get some really interesting freelance gigs that we would have been really intimidated by other wise.
And hooray for Baby Harmon!
Other notable highlights
I was walking into the grocery store yesterday when I caught the glance of an African woman in a beautiful orange wax print dress. I told her that I loved her dress. She smiled, waved her hand to point at my printed pants, tried to find the right words and said I love you.