She wouldn’t turn over. Boo-Boo Bear. My BMW, I mean. She. Just. Went. Dead.
The horror, the horror.
My partner Bob kindly reminded me that it was a CAR, for goodness sake.
I icily responded that Boo-Boo Bear and I had been together longer than he and I had.
Seventeen long years and she had only failed me this way when she needed a new battery.
We tried our local repair shop and after three failed attempts (and a full refund), they threw in the towel. That’s when I heard those dreaded words, “It’s electrical, you need to take the car to a specialist.”
Being frugal, I immediately knew that ‘electrical’ was automotive code for ‘wildly expensive’.
I knew this was going to cost me a bundle but I also had several things going for me.
First, I had not spent money, aside from gas, tires and oil changes, on Boo-Boo Bear, in several years.
Second and more importantly, I have made it a frugal habit to fund more than one savings account. I have a work emergency fund in the event that I lose my job. That I never touch and only add to. I now have enough to support myself for a full year if ever unemployed, I now focus on bulking up other savings funds though I do add to the emergency fund as well. I have a ‘any kind of emergency’ savings fund that Boo-Boo Bear’s surgery fell under. I add to that monthly, a moderate amount but enough to keep the fund padded in the event that an emergency expense that crops up. Then there is my vacation fund which I add to when I can and finally, my savings fund from teaching yoga which I only access twice a year to pay my house taxes. Yup. I’ve got savings.
The electrical auto repair guy was very reassuring which I found oddly unreassuring. I thought for sure they would never figure out what was wrong but turns out, I was wrong about that. He called just a few hours after he had her and informed me she needed a new dashboard because two of the four elements in the dashboard were dead. There was also another minor part that had to do with keeping the car from being stolen that needed replacing.
It would take a week, he predicted, based on having to buy these parts from the dealer. No after market parts for Boo-Boo Bear, this was going to be designer fix all the way.
And cost me a cool $3,200.
“Let me call you back,” I said.
I then made three calls to find out what others would charge me for this. The dealer wanted nearly double. Of course they did. Two other similar shops wanted at least $500 more.
I called the repair guy back.
“When can you have it done?” I asked.
Three days later he called again. Parts came in early and the car was done. Done? Done.
I called my partner and told him to come get me (we’d been sharing the other car all week and I needed a ride). While I waited for him I called my credit card company to make sure the charge would go through. No WAY my cash card would allow that charge like that so I put it on my card (which typically carries no balance) with the mind to pay it off in a few weeks (and for the record, I did exactly that).
Once behind the wheel of my newly fixed Boo-Boo Bear, I froze. “Something is wrong,” I announced to my partner who stood nearby chatting up the repair guy. He bent down and peered inside. “Oh look,” he said. “A brand new dashboard.”
Then it hit me. A dashboard was not a bunch of wires and small components attached behind the dashboard itself as I thought. It was the actual dashboard. Huh. I peered closely at her new face and gently peeled off the plastic that covered the dials and lights.
“Why are you frowning?” my boyfriend asked.
My eyes narrowed, unconvinced at what I was looking at. “It like she’s had cosmetic surgery.” I said.
Bob sighed heavily. “Baby, he told you the car needed a new dashboard. Everything works now.”
“Yeah but she looks…different. Like those celebrities who get too much Botox.”
Bob showed amazing restraint. “I will see you at home.”
I carefully peeled off the plastic film on my new dashboard. Like gauze from surgery, I thought.
Later Bob asked me if the cost was manageable, was I ok financially. I nodded absent mindedly because I was not concerned. I’d planned for this financially. Was I happy with the surprise expense? No, of course not. We frugal types absolutely hate spending money like this. It makes us twitch. But I was also not worried or upset. I had a two year warranty, a reliable second vehicle and Boo-Boo Bear had a nice facelift.
“Tell you what,” Bob said. “The car has been sitting in that shop for days, it’s filthy. Why don’t I take it to get washed and detailed?”
“Sure,” I said. “But she hates cold water, don’t let them wash her with cold water.”