The struggle is real – it’s not easy to say goodbye to your car as you prepare to move abroad. But the good news is you are definitely not alone. All of us become so incredibly attached to our lifestyles and the material things in it. Just the thought of making a change scares us and prevents us from considering our options with an open mind. This is especially true about your selling your car…
In the past, having a car meant having freedom. You could finally be independent and do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted to do it. Now that you have chosen to move to another country, freedom might look a little bit different. And getting rid of your car is a vital step to achieving the freedom that you are looking for. After all,
selling your car = more money in your bank account
…AKA more travel experiences OR emergency money (JUST in case things go wrong)
Get the importance?
Now that you understand how vital this step really is, when do you do it? And HOW?
When you do it depends a lot on where you live. How close are you to public transportation? If you can get to and from work without a car, the sooner you sell, the better. Although it does not seem ideal to take a bus to work every day or walk 10 blocks to the closest subway station, the amount of money you’ll save in car insurance, car payments and gas is INCREDIBLE. It is beyond worth the extra bit of trouble. Of course, if you’re not close to any public transportation, you’ll have to wait until right before you move to complete this step. So whether it’s immediately, or the week before departure, any time is a good time to make this change. But just don’t forget that the sooner you pull the trigger, the sooner you’ll start to benefit.
There are a number of ways for you to sell your car. Whether you take it to a private seller, or use a trusted used-car retailer like Carmax, it’s up to you! Just know, that selling it privately CAN give you more money, but it also creates more of a headache. Between the time it takes to meet with potential buyers, to the cost of detailing the car and fixing any minor problems, all of these extra factors add up.
For this reason, we decided to visit Carmax. From what we had heard, their quotes are pretty on point, they take the car at that moment, and write you a check for the difference instantly. Even better, if you are still making payments towards the car, they take care of all the paperwork, exchanging of titles, and walk you through the steps of what you need to do after the transaction is complete. Without their guidance, we would truly be clueless.
And so our mission to sell began…
Now, before we go into the details of our experience selling boy Erin’s car, I thought I would give you a bit of a background. Erin was beyond emotionally attached to his little Mini Cooper. It was the car he’d always wanted. LITERALLY since he saw The Italian Job, all he wanted was to zoom around in his secret agent car, and weave through the terrible traffic of DC/VA in style.
Not only was the car itself his true love (of course after me…I think?), he used his obsession with Star Wars to add a little flair. His license plate: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center VA plate that read: R2DTU (I’m sure you get where that comes from), and he even added a “Falcon: Millennium Edition” custom car emblem on the back. As he drove down the street, sunroof open, blasting Deep House music, Erin was truly in the ZONE.
When we decided to sell one of our cars, unfortunately, it had to be his. After all, mine was completely paid off, while his was a whopping $220 per month, and his premium tank cost $60 to fill up, while mine was only $30. R2DTU had to go… It would save us almost $600 PER MONTH to consolidate to one car between the insurance, gas, and car payments. And with 6 months to go before our move date, an extra $3,600 in our bank accounts was completely worth it.
The day R2 was released into the world…
One faithful Sunday in February, we decided to pull the trigger. It was time to let R2 go. It started off as an emotional moment for Erin – cleaning out his car, making sure all his gadgets were transferred to mine, and taking that last drive where R2 would meet his new destiny.
After a short 20 minute drive, we arrived to Carmax. Within minutes, we were approached by a super friendly Salesperson who seemed to appreciate the difficulty of selling a car you love so much. Within 20 minutes, we had a quote…
It’s hard putting a value on something that you love, but in reality, it is JUST a car. A car that we can repurchase later on, when our lives are more stationary. As we looked at the quote, there was a little bit of silence on our end. Sure, it wasn’t the true Kelley Blue Book value, but it was close. Erin put the decision completely on me, because he just couldn’t give our new salesman friend the OK to sell. We sat and talked about it for a few minutes, but we knew it was time. It was time to make that first step towards saving for our move abroad. This was the first big commitment we were making to get us to Europe, and it needed to happen.
SOLD! It was that simple. Once we agreed to their offer, we were escorted to the checkout counter for them to arrange paperwork and distribute our check for R2. We pulled him around for drop off, and that was the final goodbye.
Within an hour and a half, we were down to one car, and saving an extra $600 per month in our savings account. Although it was an emotional hour and a half, the benefit was clear. And it actually felt pretty amazing. We had just completed our first and biggest steps towards saving for our July move.
And the changes that followed…
Now although Boy Erin was the one to lose his car, I lost my comfortable transportation to and from work! Okay, to be fair, I do work in DC and can easily commute with public transportation. But changing up my routine and relying on our city bus vs. driving myself proved to be a major adjustment to my schedule…
Of course, relationships are all about give and take. Erin gave up his car, so I can use the bus/metro instead of sitting in my very comfortable…reliable…bright red and beautiful Matrix.
The first week was pretty rough – I missed the bus, went to the wrong bus stop, got a little nauseous from the traffic. I might have been a TAD dramatic and bitter in that first week. BUT, after a few weeks of commuting to work by bus, I realized it’s really not that bad! I get exercise, don’t have to deal with traffic myself, and I’m actually forced to leave work on time, so I don’t miss my bus! SO FAR SO GOOD!
5 Things we Learned from Selling our Car.
1. Do your research. Be sure to look up the Kelley Blue Book Value of your car before you go to a dealer. Know the trade-in value and what your car would sell for to a private buyer. Be as knowledgeable as you can about the extra features you’ve paid for.
2. Consider all costs. Before you decide to sell privately, or to an authorized reseller, understand all the additional costs that would go into both. Selling it privately, does end up bringing you more $$, but it also can be more of a process. Time (= money), cleaning/detailing, minor repairs, and the paperwork and aftermath required when you sell it privately are some things to consider. Now, that money can be worth it, but just make sure to consider everything! A dealer or a reseller will give you less, but buying and selling cars is what they do, so it takes the pressure off of you.
3. Remember the significance of following through. Selling your car is one of the more difficult tasks you need to complete, but also proves to yourself and everyone else around you that you are committed to the mission at hand. You are making the sacrifices that you need to achieve your dream. So give yourself a MAJOR pat on the back for pulling the trigger and adjusting your lifestyle significantly. The results will be instant
4. Less comfort now = more comfort abroad. Although getting rid of your car can be frustrating and less convenient now, when you are abroad, it means more money in your pocket. There is no need to leave your a car at home waiting for you to return from your travels – it will just hold you back. Having that extra money in your bank account now only means having more money to travel and experience what you’ve set out to experience. It also gives you money to set aside as an escape route, if things do go wrong and you need to come home (which is exactly what we plan to do with our 2nd car).
5. It’s just a CAR! Simple as that. Let go of the emotions that you’re tying to your trusted 4-wheeled friend. You can always buy it again, when you’re more settled in life, and aren’t traveling the world. And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to get an even BETTER version later! It’s time to let go, and start making sacrifices towards your dream. Trust me, you’ll be selling a lot more as you get further along in the process, so it’s good to start now with one of the bigger items. It will make all the smaller things that much easier to say goodbye to!
Good luck with your mission, and in honor of R2, our Mini, we’ll leave you with one last Star Wars reference…