Whelp, My Caddy is “Totaled”

Two and a half hours sitting at Progressive’s car center to get a report back that my car is considered a “total loss” now :( Apparently the damaged caused in our recent accident (which I was not considered at fault in, btw) exceeds the total worth of the precious sexy car. Meaning it’s not as simple any more of taking a check or getting it fixed :(

So that’s the bad news out of all this. The GOOD news, of course, is that they’re going to compensate me for the whole thing once I make up my mind which of the two routes I want to take. And at the moment, I’m at a total loss (no pun intended).

Here are my two options:

  1. Take a check for $2,100 and be on my merry way. I can choose to use the money to pay for most of the damages (the total damage came out to $2,500 per their estimates), or I can pocket it and see how long I can get away with driving it a little busted up.
  2. Take a check for $3,500 and leave my car with them. Their fancy system thinks it’s worth about $3,500 by the time the car and taxes and everything comes into play (more than the $2k KBB shows for it), so they’re pretty much offering to buy it from me outright and be done with it.

Now. Half of you probably think my poor sweet car is a pile of junk, and thus would take the $3,500 and get the hell out of there, but to ME, she’s a beauty :) I take her out for a spin blaring some hip-hop and all kinds of players and pimps give me head nods while the ladies start throwing their panties my way, haha… Well maybe not the latter, but most definitely the former. It’s the perfect ride for a blogger who just wants to feel good in his car and get excited every time he turns that key. Even if it’s a little ghetto and/or grandpa like (funny how both connotations can come with the same car too).

So that’s where I’m currently left with right now until I let them know how I’d like to proceed. I want to get y’alls opinions here in a bit, but before I do let me just brain dump all the pros and cons I can think of for each scenario first to give you a better picture of where my mind is at. I wish it was just a simple cut and dry choice!

Option #1: Taking the money and running.

  • I get to keep enjoying my car!
  • I get over two thousand dollars to do with as I please!
  • My car still drives/looks fine albeit w/ a few minor dings.
  • On the other hand, my car will now be reported as a “total loss” on the record :(
  • Meaning it’ll be much harder to sell or trade in down the road…
  • And I’m not even sure it’ll pass a safety inspection when we have to get the next one done.
  • Or that the $2,100 would even cover all the needed fixes in that case?
  • Which also means the $2,100 isn’t to “do with what I please” anymore :(
  • And lastly, who knows when my car will eventually die out anyways? It’s over 20 years old!

Β Option #2: Selling my car to them

  • I get a check for $3,500!!! Way more than I would if I sold it (by $1,500, probably)
  • I don’t have to worry about any car inspections or selling it later.
  • Or it breaking down when least expected… especially if Baby Money was with me.
  • But then I have no car :( Which, may be fine once we’re settled into our new home since most things will be walkable, but it’s still scary to be car-less when you’ve owned one your entire life.
  • I also don’t know how the hell I’m going to find a replaceable car that I like so much??
  • And on the CHEAP for that matter? I paid $3,100 for this caddy almost exactly 5 years ago (on credit card, if you recall;)) and have been living car payment-less ever since.
  • I’m also don’t even want to THINK about car shopping anytime soon while we’re moving… too many things to do all at the same time :( And it takes me forever to finally choose a car anyways.

Lots and lots to think about over here… Now on the plus side, our statute of limitations in Maryland gives us a few years to accept a claim so I def. have enough time to think on it, haha… Not that I’d ever want to wait that long of course. But at least I don’t have to decide over night. Or when the Progessive guy asked if I wanted to leave my car there right on the spot – I was like whaaaa?? How would I get home?? :)

It’s funny. You get in a car accident that isn’t your fault, but none of the options to resolve the situation seem to make the most sense. I can’t even choose “just fix it back up to normal, please” – ya know? I either have to PAY money to get it back to snuff (and I’m sure the “total loss” is still on the record either way), or I give up the car completely and start all over again. Doesn’t seem real fair to be honest with you, even though I can understand the reasoning behind it by insurance companies (hard to justify putting more into a car than it’s worth – even though it’s not their car!!

But such is life, I suppose. We gotta do our best to roll with the punches… Now to just figure out which option to choose though! Again, at a total loss here as to which is better than the other. I feel like Option #1 is best for the short term, but Option #2 is best for the long term. And I’m not quite ready to depart with my poor baby yet at least until after the move, so who knows…

Which option would YOU take? After reading all my thoughts on each? (Which you have to do for me so you can better understand my dilemmaΒ  here. If you don’t you’re liable to choose based on your personal taste of cars! :)) Pretend this is YOUR car that you love and enjoy dearly, and then you’re hit with these choices. After getting hit in a crash too, mind you.


UPDATE: I’ve made up my mind :)

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  1. Sense June 10, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    I’d take #1, drive it as long as it is legal/safe to do so, then sell ‘er for parts. Sad face that the Pimp Daddy Caddy is on his(?) last legs. :(

  2. Sense June 10, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    Or donate him, if you are feeling charitable! Then you can pretend he’s off to some lovely, smooth road-filled car heaven in the sky.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      oooooooh that’s an idea! but if it’s totaled would they even accept it? :(

  3. Free Money Minute June 10, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    Figure out exactly how long you can wait, drive the car until the day before and then turn it over and collect your $3500. You can get maximum usage of the car and the maximum check.

  4. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle June 10, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Take a few moments for a tearful goodbye and take the cheque that is valued at twice the value of the asset. How often does someone offer you twice what something you own is worth?

    I get attached to my stuff too but you just have to let it go and put the money away for your next car.

  5. Aimee June 10, 2013 at 6:49 AM

    I had a similar situation with my old 1994 Toyota Paseo, except I didn’t LOVE that car I was just attached to it. You can’t kill a Toyota, but a Mercedes SUV can! Anyway, I contemplated keeping the car and fixing it since I hadn’t hit 300k miles yet, but in my case I wasn’t going to get much at all if I kept it (they valued it at $1500 plus other expenses). If I’m not mistaken once it’s a total loss you can’t make any more claims on the vehicle if you get hit again, but don’t quote me on that (plus that would vary by state). The other factor at hand was that it was disturbing to me how easily my car crumpled up, and I thought about the likelihood of living through a t-bone style collision. If you’re wondering, I would die along with all passengers which could include nieces or nephews. SO! Long story short I say take the $3500 and go find yourself another pimp a$$ ride at a similar price, and don’t take the $2000 and then donate the car because you won’t make up the $1500 in saved taxes. Would it possible to wait to find a car until you move? I imagine it would take that long to fix it anyway.

    1. Jillian Ashby June 10, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      So wacky as, I too have a Paseo, a 1996 one. I couldn’t imagine being in J Money’s incident. I love my “Taco Paseo”. I would take double the money and run especially since my car is worth $350 I believe. $3500 would be amazing. The emotional attachment is hard seeing that it wasn’t your fault. Sad face :(

      1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM

        Y’all love some Paseos! Haha… But I’m glad we have these attachments – I think it’s good to have some emotion in it. We should enjoy all that time we spend in our cars :)

      2. Aimee June 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        Any running car is worth more than $350, especially a Toyota! Don’t sell the Paseo short ;)

  6. Lance @ Money Life and More June 10, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    I say do some research. State car inspections are generally pretty cheap so if you have those in the new state you’re moving too and you can get there pretty quick, I’d take it and see if it passes inspection. If it does, then your decision is will keeping the car and losing $1,400 pay off by keeping the car longer. Even though your car would be totaled, the most you have to lose is $1,400 plus any repairs you make. And honestly, how much do you think you can sell it for anyway?

    I’d get the inspection then go from there :)

    1. SB June 10, 2013 at 8:29 AM

      I can answer this – Virginia State inspections cost $16, but are pretty strict in my experience. I failed once because I needed my tires rotated.

      1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        I’m going to find out here soon! As soon as I’m in the state I’ma take her in and see if she passes… maybe I won’t even mention the packing tape around the light and see if they notice, haha….

  7. Cameron Thomson June 10, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    As someone you KNOW loves his cars, this one is sad :( But here is what I would do:

    Take the check for $3500 dollars and buy another car with it, hopefully with a little change! I know you love your car man, I get that, but its not worth driving a car which could potentially be dangerous for baby J or your good lady to be a passenger in. Or getting into an accident and leaving your family with no dad. It sounds harsh but accidents can leave the chassis bent without looking like it is, or cause tyres to wear unevenly.

    I would suggest keeping the spare key or the hood ornament as a reminder of the car, make a little plinthe to keep it on display.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      haha… totally snatching the hood ornament if we go that route – they’re dope!

  8. jestjack June 10, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    As so many things are in life …”everything is negotiable”. How about you tell the insurance company you want deal #3 (your version of settlement). ….that you’ll take the $3500 BUT want to buy your car back for $350….which is the going rate at “Crazy Rays” for junk cars. You may point out by selling you the car back it will save them the costly over head…ie towing…commisions and storage for said car…administrative costs…etc and it may not bring $350 at auction…it’s over 20 years old and scrap metal is taking a dive. Or of course you could put the ball in their court and tell them OK find me the same car in the same condition and give me a call when you do… The fact that by agreeing to this the insurance company can close out the file and avoid a messy arbitration as well as everyone coming out a “winner”…well that’s just gravy. Take the dough and invest it…..do minimal repairs to the Caddy…and continue to motor on……

    1. Rick June 10, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      J. Money,

      I would agree w/ jestjack that there is an option #3. This variation would be that after get the $3,500 for the car, you then buy it back for ~$350, drive it until your inspection is due, then as Sense pointed out, donate it. In this scenario, you max out cash, time remaining with your ride (until inspection time) then be very charitable to someone like the Kidney Foundation plus get a deduction on your 2013 taxes.

    2. David Hunter June 10, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      I like option #3 too!

      You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

    3. Kristi June 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      I also agree with jestjack and think it’s the way to go..and like others mentioned..If you don’t ask the answer is always no.

      1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Okay!! I’ll ask them! I technically have 2 years to make the decision per the law, but since they don’t want it on their books as an “open issue,” maybe they’ll work with me?? Doesn’t hurt to ask for sure. In the meantime I’m gonna get it checked out in VA as soon as I can get there and see what we’re dealing with as well… Worth the $15 or $20 or whatever at least to get the info. And maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll pass?

        1. Heather June 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

          I’m sure they wont let you buy it back.. Its “Salvaged” and I’m sure your policy says they will keep it…. I did aviation insurance for 6 years and it works the same way. However, if it works.. More power to you… :-) Just remember.. Progressive is NOT USAA. So dont expect much :-) My brother did get an extra $1000 for the inconvenience of having his car totaled by writing them a letter.

          1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

            HAH! Amen to that. USAA rules in this area :)

  9. SB June 10, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    I would do option #2 and then sit on the money for a while. Wait until you move and see what your needs are in the new town and then decide if you even want a second car and what type of car you need.

  10. Brian June 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Sell the car to them. Wait to see what kind of car you need in your new location (if you really need one). You could always buy a moped if you really needed to be mobile and those are cheap to buy and own.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Tried the moped route once – not so fun in snow/rain ;)

  11. Shafi June 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Actually if blind folded and said “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” and pick on of the two options, you’d not lose. They’re both good options. Plus if you’ve had the car for long, you may have some emotional attachment to it. In that case, keep the car and “take the money and run”, just like Woody Allen at one time did.

  12. Watson June 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Ah, memories. I had a car totaled years ago, and chose to “retain salvage” and keep the car, which I think at the time cost me a few hundred dollars. That car lasted four more years–albeit with some significant body dings that didn’t matter to me or to the safety of driving the car. I had no issues with annual registrations or insurance or anything else. At the time I lived in a state without inspections, though. And when it came time to “sell” it was to the junk-car guys. So of course YMMV.

    If part of the savings of keeping the car can be not buying another one, it’s a great deal. Mine lasted long enough to save to pay cash for the next car. In your case you may be able to own one less car in your new location. That’s frugal and good for the environment.

    As others have said, though, both options are winners.

  13. Jon June 10, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Keep the car! Get some cheap junkyard parts, fix it for way less than $2500, and pocket the change. That $2500 quote is including repainting the fender and making it look perfect. If you don’t care about a little chipped paint, leave it as-is and just replace the light. You can fix this for WAY less than $2500 if you don’t care if it’s less-than-perfect. It doesn’t make the car any less-safe and you should be able to still pass any inspections.

    I wouldn’t worry about resale value. The car is old enough and worth so little that a “total loss” isn’t going to affect it hardly at all. If/when you try to sell it, explain to the potential buyers about what happened and show them “before” pictures of the damage. Any reasonable person would be able to see that it was minor cosmetic damage and shouldn’t deter them much from buying the car.

    Or, if you keep the car unitl it’s pretty much dead and ready for the junkyard, resale isn’t going to matter at all. The junkyard is going to give you the same amount regardless of what’s on the title. (scrap value)

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Yup!! That’s what I’m thinking too – that it would only take a few hundred to get the safety stuff fixed and the rest can be left as-is. That would be PERFECT if it works that way. My fear is that they’ll find something structural during the test which screws it all over. But I guess then the decision is nice and easy – time to let her go and move on :( I def don’t want to be riding in an unsafe ride – esp with baby!

  14. Jake @ Common Cents Wealth June 10, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I was thinking the same thing as Free Money Minute. Being that you have a couple of years to accept a claim can’t you just drive it for now, then sell it for $3,500 when you decide that it’s not worth driving anymore? You may not get any money currently, but it seems like a win-win. If you can’t do that, I’d just take the $2,100 and ride it out. It’s obvious you like the car a lot and, who know, maybe it’ll last another 5 years.

  15. Slackerjo June 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    From the dept of totally useless advice. I dare you, DARE you, to go out and test drive a Smart car. Just for fun since it’s about as far away from a caddy as you can get!

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Hahahahha…. I don’t even think my ‘hawk would fit in that thing! (but you’re on)

      1. Slackerjo June 10, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Take pictures. Pleeeeeeeaaaassseeee!

  16. John S @ Frugal Rules June 10, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    That’s a tough one. I could understand the concern of it breaking down and not wanting to do car shopping right now. I might sit on it for a few months to give you time to decide, ot look for a way to repair yourself on the cheap.

  17. grandmasmad3ringcircus June 10, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Once a car is “totaled” it’s never quite right.
    There could be so many problems that are not seen yet.
    Say good bye to your baby and take the $!!

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      Well, right now it’s only totaled cuz of *PRICE*, not damage to car outside of cosmetics. But that may be a different story once I go to see if it passes an inspection… I’m nervous!

  18. KC @ genxfinance June 10, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Yeah, it’s indeed a toughie. O know how sentimental someone can be with their cars. Stay with it for a few days and then let it go. Listen to the folks here. You have to say your goodbye man.

  19. Jessica O. June 10, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I’d take the big check. I’m sure that pimp-daddy-caddy is a gas guzzler! Buy a little gas saver with the $3,500 check and save beaucoup bucks in future fuel expense!

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      haha…. true, but having car payments cost more ;) plus I drive like 2,000 miles a year which is nothing.

      1. Jessica O. June 10, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        I meant to pay cash for a $3500 car :) But 2000 miles in a year?! HA! I drive 150 miles per DAY!

  20. Rachel211 June 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    So let me get this straight –

    1) You still have a working car that can just get by with a minor headlight replacement (yes, it would still look like it got smacked, but still works just fine)
    2) You currently don’t have car payments
    3) Someone is offering you a check for $2100 for basically doing nothing.

    I really don’t see how you could possibly deal with this any other way! ;)
    (This from a girl who runs her cars INTO THE GROUND before getting rid of them. I once had a car that I had to bungee cord the door shut after I got in so it wouldn’t fly open on right hand turns. ;) )

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      hahahaha… awesome.

      I don’t mind some “character” on my cars at all either :) Really the only variable in question left is whether it passes a Virginia Safety inspection. If it does (with minor fixes like that light) – I’m keeping it! If it has structural damage, then it’s good-bye for good :( Wish me luck!!

  21. Jeff Sustainable Life June 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    yo dawg,
    sucks about your caddy, but I think that you should take the big amount and walk off. Right now, you’ve only got 3 people and you’re moving to a walkable area. You can work from home, and honestly shouldnt need two cars. You’ll be able to lower your expenses that much more, and if you take the partial check you probably wont be able to sell a car with a wrecked/salvaged title down the road.
    so your options are either to drive it until it totally falls apart (and strands you or becomes a money pit) or take the money now.
    a bird in the hand, right?

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      I know, I wish I knew what working and living at our new place will be like w/out a car, but we’re not there yet… I’m pretty sure it would be fine w/out one, but I also like the idea of just jumping in and going if I need to at any time. Esp during bad weather…

  22. Rachel June 10, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    From a #’s standpoint, take the check. Your estimated value to sell it outright was $1,500. The insurance company is offering $3,500 (over double the asset value). That deal won’t come along again.

    Also you mentioned you originally paid $3,100 5 years ago so essentially you will have driven for only the cost of maintenance for 5 years. If you needed to you could use the cash to purchase a different $3,500 car which would be worth more than your car was.l before the crash. Or you could dive in full force into being a 1 car family. It’s scary, but you want to do it eventually anyway so maybe this is the nudge.

  23. Rachel June 10, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Addition to my prior comment… It would only make sense to the $2,100 and continue driving the car if you felt you could get the additional $1,400 value out of the combination of how much longer you can drive the car and how much you could sell it for now that the title is totalled.

  24. Jaime June 10, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I would wait to decide after the move. I believe you said your wife is now home working on thesis for the next year and you are moving in walking distance to places. You very well be ok just sharing her car for a bit.

    My fiancΓ© got rid of his car when we moved to years ago. We share mine and it works out perfectly only having the expense of one car.

  25. Kelsey June 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I would do #2 because I’d be worried about selling it down the road. Plus that is more money than you can ever get for it and since you work from home you can probably go without a car at least for a few months.

  26. Samantha June 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Like most others, I would choose option #2. Take a few months to say goodbye to your car (most folks don’t get that time to grieve!) and sell it back to them. Who knows? After the move if you still want a nice baller ride, you can always find a Caddy (better than this one) for $3,500!

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Haha… true that. We need some grieving time! :)

  27. Mrs Smith June 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    You’re a dad now. Think like one :)! It is a good thing for your family to learn to live with one car. Walking everywhere is setting an awesome example for your son and helping respect the earth he’s got to live on after you’re gone. You “love” your Caddy but you know that’s not even remotely the same love you have for your family. So do what’s right by them. It won’t be a heartbreak to take 3,500$ and set it aside and see how long you can go with one vehicle. It might even sit and make enough in interest to pay for a car for your son!

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      I’m alllll about walking and living w/ less cars, but the two major things that scare me there are a) getting places in crap whether w/out car #1 around, and b) car #1 breaking down and then being car-less. Especially with a baby that may need to go to hospital or something just as important. We could def. do it for a while if need by, but just not sure how long… Guess we may find out though ;)

  28. Mary Anne @ BillGuard June 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Let’s rephrase the question: for $1,400 (the price difference between Choice A and Choice B), you can keep the car. So the question is, would you pay $1,400 for the car? If you were buying that car new (well, new-to-you) today, would you pay $1,400 for it? If the answer is yes, go for Choice A. If the answer is no, then go for Choice B and put that money in a fund for your next car purchase.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      YES!!! I would buy it for $1,400 (if it passes safety) in a heart beat.. Shit, I’d pay $3,000 again for it really! Haha… I prob put like only 20k miles on it in 5 years, she’s still beautiful :)

  29. Money Beagle June 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I would probably take the full $3,500 and look at it as a sign that you had a great time with it, but same as with all good books, the last chapter must come to an end at some point. You’re probably going to enjoy it less with the constant worry of something going catastrophically wrong, so while it’s hard to let it go, it sounds like it’s time. Might as well get the maximum check possible.

  30. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) June 10, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Waaah. So sorry you have to choose between two not-so-great options. I’d choose #2 and get the bigger check. Hold out for a little while and use the car while you look for others. Maybe you can find something even sexier to drive that’s also only $3100 like your last one. Then you’d have a $400 profit. :)

  31. Jeremy @ My Financial Road June 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    I would definitely take the $3,500. You can now you buy a bicycle with a little third wheel carriage thing for Baby $ and get a PF work out into your day! Or you could buy a motorcycle and blame it on an early mid life crisis ;)

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      Haha… already thought about that motorcycle ;) My dad and bro have one and thought it would make for some good bonding experience! But alas the rain/snow/etc would not be so sexy…

  32. Diamond June 10, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I agree whole heartedly with Free Money Minute and Jane Savers. All good things must come to an end. Pimp mobile or no pimp mobile, yo still da man. Shed yo tears, and get yo check for $3500.

    1. J. Money June 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      Well at the least I’m still glad I’m da man! Rock on yo.

  33. One Frugal Girl June 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I think you should keep your car and take option #1. If it’s drivable (dings and all) and you love it why not? Some decisions aren’t about the money. I bet you could drive it for quite awhile longer with minimal repairs. Is there any way to find out what it might cost to repair the damage at a local mechanic shop?

  34. Penny June 10, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Let it go. Take the $3,500, move to your new life. Buy a bicycle for distances that aren’t walkable and relish in not only NO car payment, but only ONE set of maintenance/fuel costs. Things happen for a reason. You’re moving to a very walkable area and fate has blessed you with a get out of jail free card to both further simplify your life and put a little extra cash in your pocket. Also take it from someone who had a car that should have been totaled after being badly injured in an accident and yet accepted it back “fixed”… don’t even take the chance on the Caddy. Your family’s safety is not worth a bit of sentiment.

  35. Kacie June 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    You’re probably going to have to make a decision on it soon — either before you move or shortly after. You’d need to insure it in your new state (or not…) but either way, the move will affect the timing of it I believe.

    I’m wondering about the nature of the repairs needed. If they are cosmetic, perhaps you could just ignore it/have the biggest-impact ones handled.

    If your new city is indeed walkable, I think it would probably be worth it to take the $3500 and either get a bike + baby seat/trailer and enjoy the freedom of that. You’ll still have one car in your family, which will take some adjustment going from 2 to 1, but it can be done!

    Also, think about your monthly insurance, gas and maintenance savings.

    Perhaps you can delay your decision long enough to at least try the 1-car lifestyle (while still owning your Caddy) and if it doesn’t work, well you can reevaluate…and if it is working, then yay!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      I think that’s exactly what I’m gonna try and do – hold on to it and find out about costs of fixing it up (as long as it’s only cosmetic), and then see what it’s like to not drive it and pretend it doesn’t exist for a bit. At least it’s a fun change of pace either way ;)

  36. Mom June 10, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    For $16 drive across the river and get it inspected in VA right now :P (VA inspections are VA inspections – the only difference is that in NoVA, we have to do emissions every 2 years as well). Then you at least know what you’re dealing with when it comes to repairs.

    One thing to consider – will they continue to insure the “total loss” vehicle? VA’s got some exceptions (fines – $500/yr) for uninsured drivers, but do you really want to be driving around uninsured?

    My opinion: take the $3500 and use it to help with the move or buying a bike or other furniture, etc when you get to your new place.

  37. Kendal @HassleFreeSaver June 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Aw man, not a fun decision. I had a Saturn nicknamed “Snowcat” who died a noble but all-too-sudden death at the cold clutches of a guard rail on Raton Pass. I was surprised when the insurance company totaled her but I ended up taking the money and carpooling with my husband for three years. I used the money to pay down my student loans. It sounds like you’re pretty attached to the car and since it’s still usable, I vote for option #1.

  38. Debt and the Girl June 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Sorry about your car. I went through similar situation when I was a teen and my car got totaled by a deer that jumped in front of it. It was declared a total loss so I feel your pain. Hopefully things will work out.

  39. Heather June 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Its 20 years old.. you’ve done well.. There are MANY cars out there at good deals because folks need to get out of them. I’m sure its time to get one that can haul the little man on some adventures with his daddy.

    Seriously, take the money and forget the headache. Close a chapter. Dont you have a lot going on right now? Moving, rental, renovations etc? I keep cars for YEARS. Are you about due for some major repairs that would eat up that $2K? I know you can never predict that but you probably know that you are “about due” for this to break etc.

    That said, I’d throw in some “I’ve been inconvenienced” letters and request some additional funds. I think if you hold off until month end… you’ll probably get a few more $$. I’m in insurance.. and know they like there things closed out before the end of the month.

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      That’s actually why I want to KEEP the car right now – cuz we have so many things going on! Haha… the idea of losing one or picking up another one gives me more of a headache than keeping one that runs perfectly fine ;)

  40. Cathy June 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Since you don’t have to make a decision right now, maybe wait until after you’ve moved and gotten settled. Or until the inspection is due.
    If the car is still road-worthy, check with local body shops and ask about after-market parts. I was able to prettify that same front corner on my pickup for 1/3 the OEM quoted cost, and it looked original.

  41. Nick @ ayoungpro.com June 10, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I would take #2 for sure. There is another Caddy out there just waiting for you!

  42. Tara June 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Found your site through another PF blogger and love this article. I’ve never had a totaled car that was drive-able after the accident but I do know that paying for comprehensive coverage always pays off when you get in an accident as with every totaled car that me or my family has had, we all seem to get more than the car is worth, just like in your experience.

    I would take the money as soon as you find a good replacement. If you’ve got a budget with what you can spend on a newer car, I’d try searching for a car within your budget constraints and accept the insurance money when you find the car. (hopefully before inspection runs out). It’s worth asking any family members who take good care of their cars if you can buy a car off of them, especially if they want to replace anyways… I generally buy my cars off of my parents or other family members.

    I understand attachment to a car (I was in love with my already-10-years-old Chevy Blazer I got when I was 16) but I do know that Cadillac’s do not get the best gas mileage (same with my old Blazer) so at least with the newer car, you’d be saving money on gas if you go with a more economical choice. But as I see in a later reply response, you mention you don’t drive much so it may not affect your savings as much.

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Glad you enjoyed the article! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment – they all help! :)

  43. Debt Blag June 10, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    If it were me, I think I’d figure out exactly what it would cost to fix to make it drivable (never mind the cosmetics) from a trusted mechanic then buy it back at an extremely discounted price. My dream car would be one that doesn’t look like anything special on the outside, but is comfortable and hard-working on the inside

  44. Jordann @ My Alternate Life June 10, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    I was actually IN this situation two summers ago, a month after I graduated from university. My car was hit on the highway and declared “totalled”. It was completely paid for, had four brand new tires on it, but the insurance company would only give me $3,200 for it. It pissed me off because it was a four year old car, it would’ve been very tough to replace it for that amount of money. What can ya do though? I took the money and walked away from the car, and I think you should too. :)

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Ouch! Were you even able to pick up a new (to you) car with that amount? That was similar? Or did you just give up cars for a bit?

  45. InACents June 10, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Can I suggest taking the money and buying yourself an ox? Then use said ox to pull the car around town. In the end you get to keep your car AND raise a new friend.

    Sorry, I just picture a big set of horns strapped to the grill. :)

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Ahahahahhaha…. you win the comment of the day ;) That was awesome.

  46. My Financial Independence Journey June 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    It doesn’t look like there is much damage to your car. If it’s driveable I’d keep driving it. Depending on where you’re moving to you might be able to find someone who can fix up the more egregious damage for under the price of the check.

  47. Yana June 10, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    I’d take the $3,500, but wouldn’t be happy to lose something I’d loved. I would do it because things would likely be worse, and really a total loss later. It would be speeding up something that I was not ready to do, but I’d be thinking about the future.

  48. Alexa June 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    I have never been one to get sentimental with cars so I’d take the $3500 and run. Find you a new cadi for about $1500 and take the other $2,000 grand and pimp it up lol. Or pocket the other $2,000.

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      If only it were that easy! Caddys in good condition are not only hard to come by for that year, but also more expensive the better condition they’re in. So $1,500 would either get me a worse off beater or one with like 200,000 miles on it, haha…

  49. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce June 10, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    I’d take the money and invest (so as not to have any regrets), but it seems like the car has some emotional value to you–don’t ignore that connection, either!

  50. Financial Black Sheep June 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    I would take the money and ditch the car. Not sure why a car would have emotional attachment, but if it does, then you probably already made up your mind to keep it.

  51. Rachel211 June 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    BTW – Have to say that I love your comments sections. It’s like the only place on the entire interwebs that people aren’t total jacka**es to each other and actually have something intelligent to say. ;)

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      I know, right??? That’s a tribute to the quality of readers we have here :) Y’all are respectful and here to learn/share – not bash each other just for the sake of it. I’m glad you noticed!

  52. Fleamarket monger June 11, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    Take the $3500 and buy another pimper for $1500 bank the 2K for repairs……

  53. Bobbi June 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    I wanted to address the one car concern. Lots of families have one car with children and mange just fine and no one dies. Our family has had one vehicle for ten years and we have a toddler. We have a 14yo 4runner with 232k miles on it. I work at home and me dh is a sahd. If it breaks down then we get it fixed. We then borrow a car from family, rent one or go without. I am confident that as a fully capable adult that you could figure out how to get your sick child to the doctor if need be. I am assuming if it was an emergency you would call an ambulance, if not then I would assume your city had either public transportation or cabs.

    If you are truly honest with yourself then two cars are not necessary in a household where no one works outside the home and is a luxury. Having one car to fill with gas, pay maint on, insurance, registration and so on is good savings. Not to mention the environmental impact. When we sold my husbands car before a big move we planned to get him a different car right away. But after a few months we had adjusted and decided to stay with one. In fact, while we were both commuting we found that we really enjoyed the quiet time together coming and going.

    Good luck with your decision. I suspect it is the sentimental aspect that is masking all of the other issues.

  54. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Fair enough :)

  55. thepotatohead June 18, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    If the pimp mobile still runs and drives fine, albeit with some cosmetic damage, I’d opt to just keep the caddy and keep the pimp hand strong. You’d be getting $2k and still get to keep a functioning car. Plus at a minimum if your car runs and drives with a reasonable fix you can get $1k on craigslist. So potentially you can keep you car for however long it takes till something more major happens, you get $2k, and you can still sell your car for at least $1k. I’d keep rolling in the caddy.