The Little Blue Hyundai That Could

Three hours and 29 signatures later, I was the proud owner of a brand new 2006 “ice blue” Hyundai Accent. Yes! I did it. My car. No co-signer. No day-one mechanic needed. I was the sole owner of an automobile manufactured the same year we were living in. The 37 miles of test drives it came with only brought it closer to me. Because, on this fate-filled day of financial independence, its keys became mine.

My sister’s boyfriend “knew a guy” at the dealership 45 minutes away, which was all the “in” I needed, along with the solicited advice to walk out when the first day’s offer was still too high. Two days after my first-ever negotiation, the salesman called and asked me to come back in to consider “the lowest price he was permitted to offer.” I accepted.

From the inaugural fear-filled drive off the lot (because I opted out of their $1 million first 15-minutes of ownership insurance coverage), I looked back never. The cautionary recommendation to not exceed 55 mph for 500 miles was clear, and yet I paid it no mind. I was on my way, and no one could stop me. Especially not Hyundai’s “suggestions.”

I had places to be in my new, non-sporty whip. Places, as I discovered, such as Expensive Monthly Payment-Ville and Financial Independence Doesn’t Mean Financial Prosperity-Place. Things got real. I wasn’t naïve enough to think these places weren’t on the map, but I hadn’t considered that my life goals would be re-routed to the “scenic route,” which included these dreaded destination spots.

In the nearly 200,000 miles the small blue Hyundai fought, the wear and tear took its toll on both of us. Four get-by jobs, 3 college degrees, 2 break-in attempts (Hyundais are tough), and 1 repossession/recovery later, I was idle at the rock bottom of self-sufficiency.

Like this hanging-on-to-its-livelihood car, I kept it moving. We were, after all, fighters through any and all terrain, despite our unintimidating stature and threat-less presence. On its last day, I drove my ride into a new dealership to trade-in for something less likely to fall apart in the next 5 minutes. It was an upgrade I needed. (We won’t go into detail about the oversized, embarrassing rims that came with this “upgrade” because that’s not what’s important, here.) The point is, we endured many a tough time together and now it was time to regroup, rebuild, and re-up.

The road out of No-Money Town was a trek. An obstacle-filled adventure with no EZ-Pass. It was indeed a process I wish upon no one but a process that salvaged my appreciation for keeping my eyes on the prize, pushing limits, and respecting the people who sneakily filled my gas tank and made it possible for me to make it along the way.

My introduction to Ownership was a tough course. It was not for the weary in heart or faint in focus. The 2006 Accent I signed my life on the line for wasn’t the most impressive vehicle on the lot, but it was a start. I didn’t need the dream car right away; I just needed a vehicle to get me out of Park. I was the driver in the little blue engine that could, and I was destined to make it.

It took a team — a network “in” and a little love and mentorship along the path, a lot of GPS’ing over obstacles, and daily doses of determination — but I was on my way.

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