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Oh you know, just sharing this post 6 months after the whole fiasco + buying a new truck. Initially, I waited to share because I wanted pictures of our new whip and needed to wait for the weather to warm up, but then I got pregnant and had no energy for blogging for the entire first trimester.
4 years ago, Andrew and I were a few months into the “getting to know you” phase of our relationship when I had a crazy idea — since he had a 4-day weekend for Independence Day, he should drive up to Kentucky (from Louisiana) to meet me. After all, our “dates” thus far had only been via Skype. There was just one problem: his wheels. His beloved 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII he affectionally called Lady Shrapnel wasn’t up for the 700-mile trip. Eager to meet me in person, Andy spent his deployment savings at the on-post “lemon lot” (a parking lot for people wanting to sell vehicles/boats/RVs, not just “lemons”) for a 2001 red Ford F-150 that he named Kim.
A photo of Kim from the weekend Andy bought her
The three of us (Kim, Andy, and me) have shared numerous memories: mudding at Land Between the Lakes on our second date, getting lost on our way to Newburgh Beach, Kim’s breakdown a few weeks before our wedding, being teased by the Fort Knox gate guards for being “that couple” (I always sat in the middle seat next to Andy), my driving Kim to Iowa while Andy drove ahead of me in the moving truck with me accidentally running over construction cones, and the dozens of dates we went on.
We’ve known for a few years now that Kim would need some serious repairs and would need to be replaced eventually, but we hoped she would hang on until we could pay cash for a new truck. Saving my entire paycheck from my full-time job (at the time), we estimated that we would buy a new-to-us truck in 2020. Unfortunately, our well-thought-out plans fell apart in December while Andy was in Missouri for 2 months of Army training at the Advanced Leadership Course. Because there aren’t any reasonably-priced flights between our rural recruiting pinpoint and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Andy was authorized to drive his personal vehicle to ALC. Although my car gets better gas mileage, he opted to take his truck as I’m (obviously) more comfortable driving my own car. Andy’s coworkers joked that “Kim the F-150” was a hunk of junk and wouldn’t make it back from Missouri…. and they were right.
As Andy was driving back from ALC, he felt a clunk and suddenly, all of the forward gears stopped working. Trapped in the middle of a rural Ozark highway with no shoulders to pull off on, he threw the truck in reverse and coasted 2 miles backward (!!!) to the nearest gas station. He called AAA and had it towed to the nearest shop, in Jefferson City. From what the mechanics could tell based on Andy’s description of the events and a quick look at the truck, the transmission in his truck went out. It would cost $3,600 to replace the transmission, yet the truck was worth maybe $1,500-$2,000 at the most. Knowing Andy was in a bind, the auto shop “kindly” offered to buy the truck from Andy for a measly $200.
We were stuck on what to do, so I made the 6-hour drive to Jefferson City so we could talk over our options in-person and so I could give him (and all of his Army gear) a ride home. After sleeping on it and thinking some more, we decided that our best option would be to get the truck home and figure out what to do later, partly because we were so insulted by the auto shop’s “kind” offer and partly because we wanted mechanics that we know + trust to give us their opinions. We found a slightly-questionable tow truck operator to tow it back to Mason City for $1,000 and pushed it into our garage. (Questionable because they offered us a discount to pay cash “so they wouldn’t have to tell the tax man”…) Kim sat in the garage all winter/spring until we got around to listing her on Facebook Marketplace; we made a decent amount from the sale, so I guess she wasn’t in as bad of shape as we thought!
For 6 weeks, we lived life as a one-car family. It was somewhat doable in December; since Andy’s work was on a holiday schedule and he was away for a few days at annual training, there were just a few days where we had to figure out how to get him to the office. Once he returned from holiday leave in mid-January, we realized that we would buy a new car as soon as possible. We had been looking for a new truck throughout December but felt an increased urgency as Andy’s work schedule returned to the chaos that is normal in Recruiting life. I had been praying that God would send us the right truck at the right price and in His timing, and boy did He deliver!
One evening after work, we stopped by the dealership where we bought my car in July to see what they had on their lot. There wasn’t anything within our price range, so Andy left them a few minimal details with what we wanted in a truck and his phone number. The very next day, the dealership called; there was a truck at an affiliated dealership in Rochester that met our price and mileage requirements. They offered to bring it down for us to see in-person. We looked at the truck on the Rochester dealership’s website, and I realized this truck was an answered prayer. Not only did it meet Andy’s requirements, but it was also a ruby red Ford F-150 — the same make, model, and color truck I had hoped for. (Obviously, Andy didn’t provide those details to the dealership since the odds of finding that exact truck was a long-shot!)
We went to the dealership for a test-drive and left that evening with our new-to-us truck, Ruby. (Side note: As we were looking Ruby over, I mentioned to make sure that she would be suitable for car seats “someday.” Little did we know that just a few months later, we’d be expecting our firstborn!) However, I wasn’t quite as ecstatic to bring Ruby home as I was to bring home my car last July. Ever since we became debt-free the November before, we hoped to avoid debt and pay cash for any new-to-us vehicles. We successfully paid cash for my car, but due to the unfortunate and unexpected ‘death’ of Kim, we had no choice but to take out a vehicle loan for Andy’s truck. That’s been tough for us (especially me) to adjust to. I had worked for 4 long years (since before I even met Andy!) to be out of debt for good, only for us to be back in debt a year later. Although we would love to pay Ruby off ASAP, we know that the journey to debt freedom this time will be slower, as circumstances in our lives have changed quite a bit (I left my full-time position for a part-time one, we need to save money for our PCS out of Iowa next summer, and we’re expecting a baby in December!)