Money Under the Bed Liner

by Cheryl Gochnauer

My husband and I saved $15,000 this month. Here's how:

October marks my sixth year as a stay-at-home mom. Things aren't nearly as tight as they were that first year, thanks to regular raises and several years' practice in learning to live on one income.

As the budget began flexing a bit, Terry started letting the remote linger on new truck commercials. At first I was nervous, but hey - he's been jockeying his Dodge Ram for fifteen years, and I figured with all the overtime he puts in, he was due for an upgrade.

We followed the TV ads onto a friendly lot, took a look at the new truck prices, resuscitated each other, then headed next door to the Used Trucks section.

Still tough; $16,000+ for a program truck. But maybe with some creative financing -- and 20 years to pay -- we could swing it. As we continued talking ourselves into a possible purchase, Terry and I took a critical look at our trade-in. Hmmmm....15 years can do a lot to a truck, no matter how well it runs.

Faded paint and rust patches; cracked upholstery and washed out interior door panels; bald tires, missing trim and peeling pinstripes. The only way we'd get anything out of this baby would be if we parked it close to the new truck lot and snagged someone blindly stumbling around with sticker shock.

It was time to spend money to make money. Scheduling an appointment with a local discount paint shop, we had them buff out the rust and give the Dodge a new coat of charcoal gray, along with fresh pinstripes. We had the interior door panels re-dyed and bought a colorful slipcover and mats. Old or missing trim was replaced with shiny edging. By the time we added deep-treaded new tires, we were in love.

No way were we giving up this truck. Instead of a clunker, Terry now had a classic. And instead of paying $16,000+ for a program truck, we spent a little under a thousand to spruce up the reliable one we already owned.

Think about your own car, home or furniture. Do you really need new? Or is there a classic hiding under some old paint? If you're concerned about getting the most bang for your buck, see what it will take to fix up what you've already got before you reach for the credit cards or loan applications.

Maybe like me, you'll save $15,000 this month.

Cheryl Gochnauer is the editor of "Homebodies" - a free, weekly ezine designed to help the stay-at-home mom and those who would like to be at home with their children.

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