February was a weird month, but it wasn't bad. Mostly, it just highlighted the fact that we eat out too much. I mean, within the first week of the month we had used all our entertainment budget on restaurants with the kids--so, no date nights or anything. All of our cash envelopes were empty with a week left in the month. We have some bad habits to break.
On the bright side, we did make a big purchase with cash: a minivan. As owners of two compact cars for 10+ years, we knew that we would eventually need to replace one of the cars, and would need a larger vehicle when we had a third child, so we've been putting money into a car replacements fund for several years. In the last three years (since O was born) we have beefed up our contributions a little bit, just so that we would have some money to use when the time came. We have known since we graduated from FPU in 2008 that we never wanted a car payment again, so it was important to us to save up and pay for the whole shabang in cash.
Let's just say that it was disappointing to shop for used minivans with the money we had, though I thought it was a pretty large chunk. Most of the vans within our price range were ten years old with moderate mileage. But, we kept looking. One day, I found a van on Craigslist that was four years newer (with low-to-moderate mileage) than my other searches, was at the max of our savings, and was in Atlanta. That's a ways to drive (1.75 hours) to look at a van that we may not buy, but if I were to put it all in perspective, we drove from Waco to Houston to buy the Subaru (new) in 2004, and that's about three hours. So, one Saturday, we packed up the kids and drove up to NE ATL and spent the whole afternoon appraising this car, test driving, running through our checklist, keeping the kids from going bonkers being cooped up in the Saturn, negotiating a deal. And we drove home with a 2008 red Town & Country Touring with 118,000 miles and some change. That's low mileage for us, considering the Saturn is about to turn over 250,000 miles and is still going strong (Saturns are such good cars--wish they still made them!) and the truck we have has over 300,000 miles. I was a bit leery of buying a used car, and this was from a wholesale dealer, so I prayed over this van on the way up there and while we were there, asking God to show us if there were any major problems with this van. There was nothing obvious so we bought it. But, there are some (minor?) electrical issues, and as we build up our maintenance and repair fund again, we will take care of that. In the meantime, it is eagerly trying to serve its purpose, but is awaiting its third pint-sized passenger.
Anyway, this van is the fanciest vehicle I've ever driven and could even dream of owning--and the things that impressed me are things I didn't even know about when I test drove it. For instance, there's a back-up camera (somehow, I didn't notice this when I was test-driving). Say what? And the headlights come on automatically when the wipers are on--so cool! I'm rather a fan of the integrated garage door opener, the optional lumbar support, the power lift gate--open AND close!!--and the kids love the automatic doors. I realize that some of you think this technology is so old school, but seriously, the Saturn is the base model from 2000--no power anything--not even power steering--and a standard transmission (which, I confess, I like better than automatic, but, alas, minivans do not come with standard transmissions), so I feel like I'm driving a vehicle from the future, even though the technology has been around for at least seven years. Humor me. :)
So, this means that the March budget has to be adjusted for gasoline, insurance, repair fund, and vehicular taxes for next year. But, it will be worth it. :)