My Caddy Lives to See Another Day!

WOO!! I’m keeping it! Literally just deposited the check seconds before starting this post (thanks USAA for deposit by phone!), and the whole car crash dilemma is now officially behind us :)

For everyone new to the story, here’s a recap:

  1. I crashed my car into a girl’s car (her fault)
  2. And Progressive (her insurance) considered my car a “total loss.” Forcing me to decide whether to keep it and pocket $2,100, or ditch it altogether and walk away with $3,500 instead. Something I was REALLY torn about because I really do enjoy riding my car (a ’93 Cadillac Deville)

I went back and forth with the decision – reading each and every one of your opinions and advice – and at the end of the day it felt MUCH much better holding on to it than it did having more money and being car-less. Something I’m not quite ready to experience just yet after being without it for 4 days as a mechanic checked it out determined the costs (I felt so naked!).

That was really the remaining variables to be figured out – Could the car be back to being safe again? And at what cost?

Well I happily learned that, yes, it sure can! (It ended up being truly cosmetic) And no, not for a super high amount either. AtΒ $830 it would get her back to looking as close to brand new as possible (at least with safety and being street legal again, haha…), so I paid the man quickly and began taking celebratory rides around our new place as soon as I had it in my possession again :) I felt like it made my decision much much easier in the end.

Here were some other interesting nuggets I found out too!

  1. The accident only caused $400 of what needed to be fixed. Which means I would have had to pony up $430 moving into the state right out of my pocket! ACK!
  2. The mechanic fixed my AC!!! He said he didn’t really do much other than jiggle a few things (that’s what she said?) but that’s fine with me – it’s now pumping out cold ass air again! First time in two years – freakin’ awesome.
  3. My title will NOT be getting a “totaled” designation! Which means I can sell it or trade it in at any point later whenever the time may come :) Turns out the rep who helped me hadn’t boned up on his knowledge there all the way so it was quite a surprise to come into :)
  4. My settlement check only came out to $2,000 – instead of $2,100. That same rep above seemed to not be good with numbers either. He forgot to exclude some fees that didn’t relate since I chose to keep the car instead of give it to them… $100 is a $100, but not a big enough mistake for me to change my mind.

So when all was said and done, I came away from the accident with a few scratches (on the car, not me!) and $1,170 extra dough in my pockets. And with a much more appreciation for my car too, I’ll tell you what. That saying of letting things go and seeing how you feel? Man how there’s some truth to that. As soon as the possibility of losing this car entered the picture I started realizing how good I had it with her all these years, and how much I really wanted to keep her going forward. Not so much only a sentimental feeling either, but more of a “this car gets you from point a to point b, and in style!” type way. Along with having no car payments to boot ;)

Here were some of the points y’all brought up, by the way, for *not* keeping the ride. Which as I mentioned I did take into consideration and appreciate, but as you’ll see from my thoughts they weren’t enough to really sway me against keeping it:

  • It’s a gas guzzler. 100% accurate (AND you have to put *premium* gas in it!), but since I drive it maybe once a week – and for only a few miles – it’s not really that much of a variable.
  • It’s bad for the environment. Very true too, as most cars are, but probably LESS so in my hands than someone else driving it on a daily basis. Or sitting in a junk yard somewhere :)
  • You don’t need a car. Also pretty much true! I don’t really *need* one, but I definitely *want* one. At least for the immediate future. The thing I am putting on pause, however, is the desire to upgrade to a nice SUV like I really want to do. I think I’ll just have to wait for our finances to settle in a bit more though, and then see how things are going in this great new state we’re living in. The nice thing about the caddy is it sure can hold a lot of stuff in the back of that trunk! Mobsters don’t ride around in them for nothing you know ;)

Now eventually I’ll of course have to move on to bigger and better rides as time goes on – she ain’t that young anymore! – but for right now I’m completely happy. We get to explore a whole new city together, and I now have over a thousand extra dollars in my pockets to help pay for theΒ house renovations we got into last month. Not too bad of an outcome if I do say so myself.

It’s not $3,500, but it does feel “right.” And that’s what I’ll always go with at the end of the day. Feelings can be just as important as the numbers in my book, and I’d rather be happy on both sides of the equation than only one. So here’s to happy endings!

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  1. Skint in the City July 2, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    Woo-hoo! New house, same caddy! CaAnd n’t go making too many changes at once! Enjoy showing off the caddy all around Virginia J$! And best of luck with unpacking the boxes, finding the coffee pot etc. . .

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      haha… that coffee pot was the first thing I grabbed! in fact, I didn’t even pack it away – I just threw it in the car ;) Priorities!

      1. David Hunter July 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM

        Hmm… I dunno why…. but this reminds me of Zombie Land.

        “I want my Caddy baaaaaack!!!!” But, you got your caddy back. Woody Harrelson didn’t. ha

        1. J. Money July 4, 2013 at 10:35 AM

          HAH! I totally forgot about that. Was a killer movie (no pun intended).

  2. anna July 2, 2013 at 7:02 AM

    WELCOME to Virginia! No matter what part you are in, the state is pretty awesome.

    1. J. Money July 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM


  3. Cj July 2, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    Love the excitement in your post! I’m glad you got to keep your car and some cash.

    Enjoy your new home. We’re almost neighbors.

  4. Lance @ Money Life and More July 2, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    That’s awesome and especially that it didn’t get totaled. I think that made your decision a no brainer!

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Yeah, that part – along w/ the $ to fix – sealed the deal. It was a hard one before that!

  5. jestjack July 2, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    Congrats on dealing with the iinsurance companies …success is no small feat when it comes to dealing with these fine folks. Sad though that they would negotiate a bit on the $2K…but it is what it is. Gonna be making a decision on a similiar situation on our “extra vehicle”….’94 Tracker that runs great BUT has a lot of rust to the frame. What is it about old 20 year old vehicles and our attachment?….

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Oh man, I hear that. The very first car I actually owned was a tracker! I thought it was so bad ass having a convertible, haha… Good luck with your decision over there. Maybe someone will hit it while it’s parked and you’ll get it all paid for too? :)

  6. Jon July 2, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Yay! I was one of the commenters who voted to keep it. It would’ve been a shame to have a perfectly good car go to the junkyard over such minor damage. Told ya you could get it fixed for way less than $2500!

  7. Shafi July 2, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Hey J., that looks classic. For me, it’s kinda hard to sell a car that has stayed with me for more than 10 years. I am glad you kept it. And getting some extra dough is on top of that.

  8. Katie Lake July 2, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    In the end no car payment is better than paying out $$ each month. Makes it a no brainer for me!

  9. John S @ Frugal Rules July 2, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    That’s awesome J, especially considering that it was not classified as totaled! Nice work on getting the AC repaired. You may not be driving it much, but you’ll appreciate that AC now that you’re in VA.

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Yeah, what a totally random – and nice – surprise! Was NOT expecting that one, haha…

  10. Jordann @ My Alternate Life July 2, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Congrats! Sounds like you’re definitely happy with your decision!

  11. Tara July 2, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    I never realized that you could end up with a car you couldn’t sell (having a totaled title) if you took the check payment. Is that normal for an insurance agency to do, or is that dependent on your state you live in or vehicle age? glad it worked out for your benefit though!

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      I think it has to do with a lot of variables really. But luckily I don’t have to worry about it anymore – woo! :)

  12. Retire By 40 July 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Great job! Now you have some money in the pocket and the Caddy back.
    I thought you can still sell a car with a totaled title. I have seen those before.

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Yeah, you totally can. Just a smaller group that would accept it probably.

  13. BARBARA FRIEDBERG July 2, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I love this article on so many levels! When I came home from college the second year, my dad bought a beautiful caddy! I loved that car, so classy. Over the years he and my mom had several additional cadillacs (bough used of course). And the other reason I love this article is because I adore my 1998 SUV (not as cool as a caddy) with 120K miles and would probably keep it if I had an accident as well.Keeping a caar for a long time and investing the savings (VS driving a new car) is a great wealth building strategy.

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Yeah, parents!!

  14. Slackerjo July 2, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Don’t feel bad for driving around in a car that makes you happy. You exercise common sense.

  15. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) July 2, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Awesome sauce!!! Glad you got to keep your pimpin ride. I bet you’re lookin all snazzy driving her around the block. (Oh and glad you’re okay too!)

    1. J. Money July 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Haha, thx. I’ll take you a spin if you ever come visit ;)

  16. E.M. July 2, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    I’m happy everything worked out in your favor! That’s awesome that the car is not considered totaled. Sounds like a win from all directions. I would have a difficult time parting with my car, too.

  17. AverageJoe July 2, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Well, the good news is that your newly re-pimped ride can continue to match the awesome tunes on your radio. I totally imagine rap music blaring from the speakers in that thing….

    1. J. Money July 4, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Is there any other way to do it? :)

  18. Jacob @ iHeartBudgets July 2, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Please tell me you threw 24″ spinner rims on yo’ caddy with that cash money?! You can bump “Still Fly” while rollin’ down the road with a “baby on board” sticker, throwing gang sings at all your new neighbors! MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    1. J. Money July 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      haha… no rims yet, but I’ll admit I’m starting to consider it again. there are TONS of ballers rolling around town here on jacked up rims. so cool!

  19. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen July 2, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Alls well that ends well! You sound so happy to have your car back, sounds like you made the right decision in the end!

    1. J. Money July 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Haha thanks. Def. wouldn’t try it all over again though ;)

  20. thepotatohead July 10, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Glad to hear you kept the pimp mobile, I definitely think you made the right choice. Like I commented on your last caddy article, if worse comes to worse and it starts getting shaky you can always sell it for $1k or so, so you would still make money on it by keeping it. Now go drive her around and giver her some love.

    1. J. Money July 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      Yup! That’s what I figure too.