Oh Snap! My Car Died (and My Bank Account Cried)

*Guest post

Let me begin by saying that my car didn’t actually die, but at the time I surely thought it did.

My car at the time, a beautiful Vauxhall Corsa, was my prized possession. I had been using it for about five years and it had always been a stable part of my life.

Life is not exactly predictable and one day my car decided to give me quite the scare. However, it was a necessary one and opened my eyes to the importance of personal financial management and the reality of bad credit loans. Contrary to popular belief, bad credit loans are not as scary as they may seem and can be an effective source of financial relief. However, I still firmly maintain that they are only for when you’re in a financial emergency and you’ve exhausted all your other borrowing options.

This is my journey of going from broke to financially woke all because my car broke down on me one fateful day.

A Rude Awakening
It was a chilly morning in November, no different from any other morning. I’d woken up a bit earlier than usual, made myself a delicious breakfast of some sausage and eggs. I even had a bit of a skip in my step as I got ready for work.

I felt well rested, my eggs were perfectly runny and I was going to actually make it to work on time, it felt like everything was going my way. Until it didn’t.

I cheerfully made my way to my precious Vauxhall Corsa, a smile on my face until I turned on the ignition. No matter how hard I tried, my car just wouldn’t start. The headlights were flickering and the engine appeared to be stalled. Hoping for a miracle, I frantically tried restarting my car multiple times to no avail. After around 15 unsuccessful attempts, I decided it was time to accept reality. My car was dead. This was definitely not how I expected the day to go.

After accepting my fate, I called my workplace and let my supervisor know I wouldn’t be able to come in that day. Just like you would expect, he wasn’t exactly thrilled but there wasn’t anything either of us could do about it.

Next, I made a call to my local car servicing garage and asked if they could have one of their mechanics examine my car and let me know the damage.

Waiting on a Diagnosis and Praying I Don’t Have To Write A Eulogy
While I waited, I contemplated what I had done to deserve my car breaking down on me. Was it that time I chose plastic over paper at the local grocery store? Or maybe that one time I laughed at a kid who slipped on an icy patch of grass? Well, whatever it was, clearly, the universe had decided it was time for some karmic intervention.

I was already barely scraping by. After all, living in Manchester without a flatmate is not exactly the most affordable living situation. In all honesty, this disaster was the last thing I needed.

After the mechanic arrived and spent a good twenty minutes fiddling and taking apart my car, he called me outside. Standing in front of my car, he then pointed to some metal part below the propped-open bonnet and said, “You see that, young lady?”

I stared for a good two minutes and no matter how much I racked my brain, I didn’t have the foggiest idea about what he was talking about or gesturing toward, so with a wary voice, I said, “Not really…”.

After a tired and frankly uncalled-for sigh of resignation, he told me it was my alternator – a car part that I never even heard about before that day. He then informed me that it was malfunctioning and my engine had stalled as a result.

Fortunately, he quickly reassured me that my car’s fate wasn’t sealed and it was fixable. However, due to its age, it would need to be replaced entirely. Moreover, since Corsa car parts are rather difficult to find, it would also cost me around £200 to repair.

As you can imagine, I was completely flabbergasted upon hearing about the repair costs. I thanked him for coming down and then soon sent him on his way. Then, setting myself down by the kitchen counter to process the events of the day so far, I promptly burst into tears.

A Healthy Dose of Reality
After getting some of my frustration out through a good healthy crying session, I decided to think about my options.

I needed my car to get to work, so I couldn’t exactly leave it in its current state. That Vauxhall Corsa was a gift from my parents and I promised I’d take good care of it and I did! It’d been almost 5 years without any incidents until that day. Still, they had been firm when they said the car was solely my responsibility so asking them for help was definitely off the table.

Next, I decided to examine the state of my current finances at the time and nearly started to cry yet again. My bank account was in shambles, I was late on paying some of my utility bills and two of my three credit cards were completely maxed out. Suffice to say, my credit score at the time would definitely not have won me any awards.

I was barely staying afloat and my car breaking down on me was probably the last thing I needed.

Taking Back The Wheel
After a few hours of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I decided it was time to get serious and figure out what I could do. I called a few close friends of mine who had experienced similar car troubles and somehow managed to successfully overcome them.

Some of them were predictably unhelpful, however, a couple of them did bring up bad credit loans once they heard about the pitiful state of my credit score. Despite the name and the intimidating reputation, they felt that low-credit loans were actually helpful in their time of need.

One of the biggest things that they stressed and I would like to highlight as well is that these loans are only for when you are in urgent need of financial relief, but you’ve exhausted all your other options.

I then decided to do some independent research of my own into these loans, regarding where I could find them and how they worked. The high interest rates did scare me a bit, but I felt if I cut out some unnecessary expenses here and there and dipped into the remainder of my emergency fund, I’d be able to manage the monthly repayments.

Thankfully for small blessings, that day was a Friday. I had the entire weekend to carefully consider if I was willing to put all my eggs into this one basket, so to speak.

I read multiple blogs on the subject, cross-examined various online lender options and even contacted my friends for their opinions on trustworthy loan options available. Finally, firm and somewhat confident in my decision, I applied for a bad credit loan on Saturday morning and luckily, by the evening I was approved.

I also recognised the past few days’ events for the financial wake-up call it was and decided it was time to get my affairs in order. The next weekend, I cancelled all my plans with friends, sat down at my kitchen counter and started budgeting my expenses. I was able to come up with a plan that would allow me to pay off the loan while still keeping up with my regular expenses as well.

The calculation was difficult, but I’m glad that I finally got down to it. The real challenge as I found out in the next few months was to actually stick to my budget.

The Aftermath

Sticking to my budget was one of the biggest challenges I had done in a long time. In my mundane life, celebrating with a little treat here and there was one of the ways I always rewarded myself. As such, having to scale back on that was difficult. However, it was undoubtedly worth it.

Within just two months, I saw the positive effects of my cautious spending reflected in my bank account. Moreover, the more I got used to living on a budget, the less frivolous I was with my spending. I actually saw myself making smarter financial decisions in my everyday life and I was glad.

Within a few more months, I was able to completely repay my loan, without any late fees. It felt good.

To this day, I continue to budget every month and I have little to no trouble sticking to it. While my car breaking down was not great, it does feel like a blessing in disguise and I am immensely thankful that it opened my eyes to this new era of financial responsibility.