It’s official: I signed the papers to close on my car loan today. I am now officially $10,000 deeper in debt, to yet another bank. But I’m not too worried – the loan will be paid off in 4 years or less and the payment is very manageable.
But this post is actually about the importance of shopping around. In this case, I’m talking about car insurance. Part of the reason my dad and I worked out the deal that we did – where the car was kept in his name and I paid him every month and he paid the bank – is because I was afraid that if I switched my tags over to VA, my insurance rates would skyrocket. One of the really crappy things about the DC area is how expensive car insurance can be because of the large number of accidents in the area, which are due in large part to the constant traffic congestion. I crunched some numbers when I first moved here, and most of the big-name insurance companies quoted me at $200 per month. That’s a huge jump from the $60 I was paying with my PA tags; I have a pretty decent driving record (okay, one speeding ticket – one!) so $200 per month seemed outrageous. My dad was willing to keep me on the family policy, so I just let the issue drop. Until I was forced to confront it again back in February.
My dad has always told me that comparing prices is the key to saving money – and I’ve always rolled my eyes, because he is obsessive about price comparisons. To the point that my poor mother has to just end conversations and leave the room because he gets very, very obnoxious. My dad just can’t stand to think that he could have gotten a better deal somewhere else, and he will shop around for anything until he is certain that he has exhausted all of his options. However, in this case my dad’s over-the-top behavior served me well because he and I shopped around for car insurance policies until we found one that gave me an identical rate to the one I was paying in PA. Exactly the same. Who would have thought?!
The policy I have now is with a smaller company, but my coverage is exactly the same as it was in PA, my agent was a gem, and did I mention: I’m not paying any more than I was in a suburban area, parking my car in a personal driveway (if you’re not familiar, the factor that matters the most in determining your policy rate, aside from your driving record, is where your car “sleeps” at night).
So I learned a valuable lesson about shopping around and comparing prices, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like insurance.
What’s your best shopping around story?
PS – I bought some desperately needed shoes this weekend. In my efforts to put as much of my income as possible towards paying off debt, I have forgone buying shoes for a REALLY long time. I got two sensible pairs and one fun pair, all on mega sale. It felt really good to wear the fun pair to school today