In June of 2008, I was working at a place in New London, CT and living 50 miles away in an overpriced, poorly insulated studio loft apartment. I was driving my beloved 1990 Nissan 240SX. My BMW Hellrot Red, RWD, Silvia-front-ended car that took me two years to find, that I rescued from the dead after some little old lady made an illegal left hand turn, and made me believe in love at first sight. Ahhh, how I miss you.
It wasn’t going to survive the commute, so I began my search for a new commuter car. Wanting to stick with Nissan, I settled on the the vehicle that housed the last of the SR20’s: An Infiniti G20. Via Bank of Dad, I purchased a 1999 5-speed touring model.
(It is here that I would like to point out that I bought the car with the crack in the front bumper. I did not carelessly run into someone’s tow hitch. I actually know how to drive.)
Sure, it wasn’t red. And no, it wasn’t in perfect condition. And yes, it had a severely underpowered motor for the size and weight of the car, and was FWD. But I liked it, it had super low mileage, power windows, mirrors, and seats, and was going to keep me safe with multiple airbags and ABS.
Anyway, Bank of Dad financed my car for me, interest free with a payment of $100 per month. After tax, title, and everything else that you have to go through when buying an out-of-state car, we decided the final price was $6500. I paid off $1500 right away, and then another $400, and another $1500 in the next six months. I lost my job in January of 2009, and my parents told me that my car payments were suspended until I found work again. I managed to scrape together a few payments of $100 each during the 10 months I was unemployed.
In October of 2009, I found work in a law firm in Hartford, only 14 miles from my home. They also offered me 25% more than my previous analyst job was paying, and it seemed to have a great culture. Because of the money suddenly rolling in, I was able to pay off even more of my car, and six months later, am now left with a balance of $1900.
Here begins my dilemma:
My brother has been living, rent/board-free, in my parents house, since…well, since 2006. Granted, he wasn’t all right upstairs, and there were a lot of ups and downs, and now he’s been doing lots of random odd jobs for people around the community to earn some money, pay his bills, pay off his expenses (DUI lawyers aren’t cheap, you know), but he has no degree, has been rejected from 3 branches of the military, and has generally been a mooch due to his own choices.
My parents and I had screaming, crying, yelling, loud, hysterical fights during the time he was acting out. I felt like the forgotten child. The one that did everything right, graduated college with dual degrees, had a successful relationship, was a victim of the economy and came out on top…I was respectful, thoughtful, caring, and responsible. And what did I get? My belongings were “kicked out of the house” and I had to take my piano out, my storage bins in the basement, and everything else I had ever kept in RI. I was/am even getting kicked off my dad’s car insurance, something I’ve offered to pay for multiple times. (I want to stay on that insurance, and have the car registered to my dad so I can keep my cheaaaaap fleet rate insurance and my RI residence, plates, and license until I’m engaged.)
In an effort to make things more “even” between my brother and I, my parents have decided to forgive the $1900 balance on the car loan. They said they never want one child to feel left out, which is clearly the message I sent to them. I wanted a little leeway with things like car insurance, and missing 15/10,000 family events a year due to racing. They’re considering it a gift, since he’s been there, rent free, and I’ve moved out, found work several times, and have been moving forward with my life. I, however, consider it just short of an insult. And this is where you folks come in.
I am having a ridiculously hard time with this. I want to pay off my car. They keep saying that it’s a gift, and I shouldn’t pay it, and if I am going to keep mailing them checks, they’re either going to write “Return to Sender” or cash them and put the money aside for me for later. I had a long talk with my mom this morning, and she says she does, but I don’t think she quite understands why this is so important to me. Normally, people would say “Wow, almost $2k in debt and you don’t have to pay it back, and it’s just going to go away??? OK! Sign me up!” But I can’t do that. I cannot do that and sleep well at night.
I was thinking maybe it’s because it makes me feel like a mooch. And partially, it makes me feel like I purchased something I can’t afford, even though I’ve made $2200 more in payments than I had to. I don’t want to be like BadFriend, or my brother, or my cousin (or even PJ to some very mild extent) and be living outside of my means in any way. I can finally pay all my bills and my rent in one paycheck, and still eat out a few times a week (Taco Bell counts as eating out), and still race, golf, and live a decently comfortable life with a few toys and lots of fun. I am on my feet, earning and saving money, and I am financially and mentally able to repay my debt to my parents…not to mention that I want to.
They forked over $6500, I paid some of it, my dad just bought a truck, and they are still dealing with my brother living there, eating you out of house and home, putting wear and tear on the vehicle he’s using, and using your electricity, gas, and hot water. Don’t tell me money isn’t tight, and don’t tell me that you couldn’t use the extra few hundred per month. I am the largest proponent of personal responsibility I know, and there is an immense amount of pride in earning my keep. And they’re trying to take it away from me. I know their intentions are good, but I just can’t stand it. It’s making me feel very, very badly about myself.
I don’t understand why they’re so adamant about making things even between my brother and I in this manner, and I don’t understand why they’re not understanding where I’m coming from. This is important to me, and if they really want to even things up, they should talk to me and let’s compromise on a solution (like let me pay for the car, and start paying for insurance, but keep me on your policy). I don’t like this, “Oh, it has to be even, this is what we decided, and we don’t care if you’re having serious personal internal conflicts about it.” It’s never been even…why start now, and why start with something that is adding to my stress and causing me to grind my teeth at night?
Help me sort this through. Rec it to your friends, write a novel in my comments, send me a message or something….just help me a) figure out how to explain this to them, b) figure out how to convince them that this is something I need to do, for my own mental stability, and c) try to understand what the eff is going through their heads. And any other advice you can think of. I am not doing well with this whole thing.