We bought a van a couple of weeks ago. Gretchen had been wanting one for a while, so we went to a parking lot sale at the mall. It was the first place we looked at, and we hadn't done any real research. Not a good combination. Also scary was the fact that none of the vehicles on the lot had price tags on them. I've since learned that means they charge what they think they can get out of you.
Anyway, we took a test drive on a 2010 Grand Caravan. It's a pretty nice van, with all kinds of electronic gadgetry. The salesman started off with a fairly high offer, and after a few hours of dickering we got down to something that was in our neighborhood. Oh, and he "generously" let us use two cars (one of which had a faulty transmission) for a $5000 trade-in allowance. That brought the price down to something a little more reasonable. He kept coming back with offers that were better and better than the previous offers. I think that since we were kind of in our price range and knew that the van was a pretty quality vehicle, we went ahead and did it. Again, not the best negotiating tactic. I feel like we settled for something when we could have done better. We kind of got into an argument with the salesman at one point, and I should have taken that as a sign to walk away (or at least take a minute to cool off). So many lessons learned.
Don't get me wrong, the van is good. It's nice and roomy, and far more reliable than our old beater cars. We needed a van. I just wish we had done a better job of researching it. We didn't even really know what our budget was. The scary thing is that we will have a certain degree of difficulty affording it with our current income. We're counting on Gretchen getting an almost-certain promotion in the next few months. That job isn't a lock, but it's quite close. Still, if it doesn't happen, we'll have to explore other options with this van. We probably counted our chickens before they hatched, so to speak.
As a side note, we basically swapped out two cars in the space of a month. In addition to this van, we also bought my co-worker's Ford Contour
. That transaction was almost the opposite of the van purchase. The Contour was a 1995 model, and it had a few miles on it. But my co-worker wanted a pretty reasonable price, and we had the cash to do it, so we bought it. No hassle, no fuss, no financing. It's a decent commuter car, but not one that we'll be driving in ten years, and the transmission is in so much better shape than the Neon I had been driving. I'll count that as a win, despite some of the flaws inherent in buying a car that old.