A Streetcar Called Ron…
And how unreliable cars can cripple the budget!

Late 2013 I decided to make a career change and move on from a comfy job to take a risk at a new role. The new role and new company meant that I had to say goodbye to my current company car. Wanting to keep the cost of purchasing a new car down due to low funds and after many years of being a Ford Falcon man I decided to purchase a 1994 EF Ford Falcon Fairlaine for $3000.00 which Alyssa and I nicknamed “Ron.”

Ron was burgundy in colour so we paid homage to the Will Ferrel Movie – Anchorman. Ron had all the technology for 1994 in the current day. A cassette player to play the latest singles, beautiful gloss wood trim insides for the “executive style and luxury,” and a Christmas tree of warning lights on the dashboard that just wouldn’t go out…. Ron was a car of class, style, luxury and a bit of an old bomb. But I loved Ron. I didn’t have to worry about parking in shopping centres as it had a few dings and dents of its own. Another trolley hit would just be another experience that Ron had in this life… Ron was great until he let me down and he let me down big time!

The first time Ron broke down the RAA helped us and said “I have a friend who has one of these and his doesn’t want to start in hot weather.” “Apparently if you turn the key and hit the dash the car will fire up every time.” Sure…. this guy is pulling my leg surely? But no, he was correct. Every time you would turn the key and not hear the car start it was a swift hit to the dash and would fire up every single time without fail. How stylish! It did worry me sometimes when Ron would “turn off” at the lights… nothing but a turn of the key and a hit of the dash and we were off and moving again!

After a tired and busy 3 days of presenting at an expo in Melbourne, packing up on the Thursday night ready for the Friday morning 6.00am flight from Melbourne to be in the Adelaide office by 9.00 – no later. After waking up at 3.30am in Melbourne (that’s 3.00am Adelaide folks) and starting my day I knew I had a long day ahead of me but I had the weekend to look forward to and the “stylish sophisticated luxury” of 1994 Ron to look after me.

Arriving home just after 7.30am, I fired up Ron and he coughed and farted just a little bit… I told him to be good as today was an important day in the Adelaide office with the CEO from America visiting the office. A great opportunity to meet the company owner and discuss future plans for my new role and for the business I was representing. We made it from the coast to Port Adelaide on the way to Stepney when Ron died… a small 10 minute drive into a 50 minute drive was all he had left. The RAA couldn’t help me, Radiator blown, Distributor module below blown, and the head gasket and plugs all went at once. They couldn’t even give me a “jump start” because Ron didn’t have enough power to get around the corner once he started, and if he could…

So… what is the most humbling thing the household man can do to suck up his pride and get to the office on time? I rang Alyssa my wife and asked for a ride to work… Sitting in the passenger seat dressed fully professional in a suit shirt and tie was the most humble and embarrassing thing for a man to do. Firstly to ask for the help, secondly for the sense of powerlessness to come over me, and then the fact that I still had to find my way home and deal with Ron that was parked in a car park in Port Adelaide later that day and from my 3.00am start to the day.I made it to the office 5 minutes early. So what was the lesson of the day? Well I quickly learned…

  1. Love and honour thy partner/wife/husband. They are your lifeline when things can and do turn to shit.
  2. Don’t be a typical bloke that says “she’ll be right” when it comes to car servicing as I neglected to service this car and just drove it till it stopped. I actually joked about that but never thought it would happen…
  3. Plan in your budget the cost of servicing and/or replacement of your transportation. It is imperative that you include this at the bare minimum as when a car dies the issues and blow out of budget are significant!
  4. Consider your upgrade options and make sure they align (below your means) with your current income and expenses.

The quote to fix Ron was $1000.00 which we didn’t have at the time, and also thought if Ron is this old and all of these problems have just happened then what could possibly be around the corner? We ended up selling Ron to the wreckers for $250.00. I still miss Ron and the “style, sophistication and luxury of 1994.” I could play all my cassettes… I have learned not to put my head in the sand and plan ahead – always!

At Adelaide Budgeting we are a small and passionate team dedicated to making budgeting simple, easy and fun.  We pride ourselves on the ability to remove anxiety and create empowerment around budgeting for each and every single one of our clients without the extreme costs of other “leading” service providers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANDREW MATES is the director and operator of Adelaide Budgeting and has always had a keen interest in numbers and the philosophy of succeeding financially in a world full of consumerism.  Andrew is a valued member of the team and is passionate about education and empowerment around finance and providing people with the confidence to successfully manage their own finances.  Equipped with a Diploma in Finance and Mortgage Broking (but not a broker), Andrew and his team can work with you to create a budget plan and savings strategy that is second to none which will see you kicking goals and doing the things you want to do but never thought you could!

In between helping clients and working on strategies, Andrew also enjoys walking on the beach, playing with his Lilly his Labrador and road trips with his wife Alyssa.