"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Minivan Mama: Our Odyssey for Our Odyssey

So I had intended this to be exclusively about my new minivan, which is very fun, but first I am begging for prayer requests over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Not only is it illegal and WRONG, but all of its people would then become Russian citizens… as in none of its orphans would be eligible for adoption. My heart is sick, sicker than it was over the Russian ban if you can believe it, EVEN MORE beautiful children denied families.

HUMAN BEINGS created in God’s image, by him for a purpose, locked away institutions FOREVER. Asher has a family, but will they be able to come for him? I’m just SICK, SICK, SICK.

Go to my friend Julia’s blog HERE if you want more information. I feel completely powerless, except in prayer.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~Mark 11:24

Now onto the minivan… and lighter subjects, even though my heart is heavy.

The Search and Minivan Decision

I think that if someone had told me that I would buy a minivan when I only had one kid, I would have flat out denied it. Actually, I remember briefly flirting with the idea of getting a new car when Isla was born, but it was a want, not a need, and I would never have considered a minivan at the time.

Fast forward to soon-to-be-three kids and minivans are pretty much the ONLY option we considered. There’s something about discovering those phantoms stains for the umpteenth time after you have left your house (I swear they were not there when I walked out the door – kids are MESSY in case you didn’t know), unloading your car full of kids again and again, now times THREE, that humbles you and makes you embrace being a mom along with all of the trappings of momdom (hello goofy sweat vests!). Being a practical mom is much more important to me than being a cool mom… I never had much of a chance at being a cool mom anyway. Anyway moms with one kid that possibly want two or three… hold off on buying that car, consider waiting until you need it because you might regret not getting a minivan when you had the chance. At the very least, please reserve judgment (I wish I had).

Here is why we picked a minivan:

  • They are designed for families with small kids so they suit all of our needs. They are low to the ground and I may have another c-section to recover from. I’m getting tired of loading Isla into our TrailBlazer, so I can only imagine how annoying it would get with a bigger, taller car (I’m very short) and more kids. My kids will be able to climb right in and I can stand IN FRONT of them (especially handy if its raining) to buckle them in. Also the sliding doors are a GOD SEND when some jerk parks RIGHT UP NEXT to you, so that either you cannot even get your infant car seat through the opening to the car or your toddle manages to kick your car door and totally DING said car… which then you have to leave a note for and get yelled at. Not even a problem with sliding doors.
  • The only other cars that offer such a roomy interior are SUVs, like the Suburban and Tahoe, and to get them with as many features as my minivan they cost OVER $20,000 to 30,000 MORE! Maybe you are made of money, but I’m not, plus we generally pay cash for our cars (more on that in a second) and I’d rather keep that 20 to 30 grand in my bank account or use it for something better…
  • Another point against SUVs and for minivans is gas mileage. I would feel pretty guilty getting such a low fuel economy when I could have had my Odyssey’s pretty rad 27 highway miles per gallon.

The minivan we selected and why:

  • I did not even consider American cars. I do not support unions when I can help it, and especially not the thieving UAW unions… remember back in 2008 and when the UNSECURED creditor unions finagled their way into owning large percentages of GM and Chrysler, pushing out secured creditors, did nothing to reduce their wages to competitive levels, ect. The whole thing was illegal and nothing but a payback for the millions of dollars donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. It still ticks me off. Nick might want a Ford one day, at least they didn’t take bail outs, but as for me, I’m DONE with American brands and the unions they support. I would love to buy American, but not when I might as well write a $500 check to Democratic party.
  • So it came down to the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey (we hadn’t heard good things about the Nissan). Nick’s sister has a Sienna and its great, but when it came time to actually look at the cars in the lot, I was so impressed with the Honda. It had so many features that came standard and the way that they built their cars, it was easy to price out models and understand what exactly you were getting. I don’t want to go into to many details but one Sienna we looked at that was roughly the same price as the Odyssey I wanted, didn’t have heated seats, a moon roof, automatic passenger side seating, no back up camera, and several other things. Maybe those things don’t matter, but if you can get them standard in your price range, why not?

The winner: The Honda Odyssey!

The search for the best price (READ THIS PART):

Nick and I have been fairly avid Dave Ramsey followers since we received the Total Money Makeoever when we had been married for one year. He’s awesome, we believe his plan works because we’ve lived it and he only recommends getting used cars. Cars are the only investment (I use the term loosely) that you sink thousands of dollars into and don’t expect to get back MORE than you put into it, in fact you get only a teeny amount of what you put into. Buying used lets someone else take the full brunt of the steep early depreciation. So Nick and I dutifully shopped around for used Odysseys, roughly two years old with not an excessive amount of mileage… we quickly ran into problems though!

First of all, GOOD LUCK finding a decent used minvan in the Midland/Odessa area, people here are family oriented with a lot of kids (4 is very common, more is also common) and minivans are very popular. People generally keep minivans forever and run them into the ground. So we widened our search to all over Texas, where new and used Odysseys were also flying off shelves. The only one that we could locate that fit our criteria was a 2012 in the model we wanted with 17k miles on it was selling for $500 less than we were quoted for a new Odyssey. When we offered a lower and what we thought was reasonable price, we were quickly steered to Nissans and other minivans that “were more in our price range”! That car was just overpriced, but Odysseys do maintain their value very well.

So we decided to go with a new car. We knew that we would not get a good deal in Midland, and I knew that I wanted to shop online and have a price before I went in. That is how I bought my TrailBlazer 10 years ago and that is the way to do it for the best price. So I started two search radiuses of roughly 2 hours drive each, one from my parents’ house and one from Nick’s parents’ house, where I could price out roughly 10 Honda dealerships and let them compete.


Our lowest price was at Round Rock Honda and we emailed a few dealerships that seemed to want our business to see if they could meet or beat that price. David McDavid Honda of Irving (near Dallas) PROMISED US, repeatedly, in writing and OVER THE PHONE that they could beat that price. They had never lost a sale for price and could beat any off by $500! So after multiple confirmations, we set out on the 2 hour drive to Irving to pick up our car.

We get there, they show us the minivan, its perfect, Nick’s #1 color choice of dark grey (mine was black and hard to find in our model), everything.  We wait while the guy goes to set up the deal and he comes back: I’m sorry, we can’t beat the price. We can’t even meet it! Nick was livid. We had forwarded the quote, we had talked to them over the phone. We had received multiple confirmations of their commitment to lowest price over the phone, and they lied. We will be writing several complaint letters to say the least.

So we had to drive all the way back to Round Rock, back the way we came plus another hour, three hours more, where thankfully we had a hassle free buying experience. They came in, let us pick out our car from their color options (maroon, blue and silver – we picked silver, not our first choice, but we weren’t too hung up on color) and gave it to us for the price promised. It was a wonderful, quick experience. Also as I said, it was only $500 more than the USED 2012 car that was the same model! Wild.


This is important because we had planned on paying cash for our new car (another Dave Ramsey thing). However, Honda was offering $2500 off the car if you financed through Honda at 0.9%. For us it was a no brainer. We financed the minimum amount we could (for a whopping $70 in interest) in order to get $2500 off the price of the car, and we will just pay it off next month. I hope Dave will forgive us, but I just couldn’t pay $2500 more just to pay cash for the car.

Here’s Nick at the dealership, our awesome salesman, Matt Alpers, was showing us how to work some of the fun features!

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Here is our new Odyssey in our garage!

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We are holding onto our last new car (which is now 10 years old) for a little bit longer, but hopefully we can get rid of it soon. Anyway, it was FUN driving this car back from Temple and I can’t wait for more road trips in it in the future. Isla loved the DVD player and Gemma seemed a lot more comfortable and cried less too! I know we will enjoy this for many years to come!


  1. Thanks for this detailed account. We are okay on our cars now, but we will probably end up in the market for a minivan at some point. Sorry about the 2 hour trip to see the liars. What douchebags.

    My brother has an Odyssey and loves it! It seems to be the most popular choice.

    I fully support all of your financial decisions. They are based on sound logic and I think you made the right calls. Go you guys for having that kind of savings.

  2. woot woot for the minivan! My bro & SIL just had their second, and for several of the reasons you mentioned above, were wishing they didn't buy a small SUV after #1 was born.

    FYI: All the COOLEST momma's I know have minivans! :)

  3. Meg - We've been saving for 10 years :); its been hard because I have always wanted to use the money for something else, but Nick keeps me focused.

    Melissa - I love being in YOUR cool club!

  4. Stori, Congrats on the Odyssey!!! Of the things I miss about our life in America, my precious Honda Odyssey is right near the top- after Chick-fil-A and bacon, of course!! :-) I hope yall enjoy it!

  5. Congrats on your mini van! When we moved to Saudi we bought their version of the Toyota 4 Runner which was great with two kids (and fine long term at that point because we were done)….well, now with baby #3 coming soon it is lacking in space for sure….three car seats do not fit across the main row! We have the big kids in the way back third row (no trunk space now) and then me and baby in the main row (since we have to drive 1 hour to anything) and it is an interesting squeeze! Since we only have 2-3 more years here we are not looking to upgrade but moving home…I might be joining the minivan club!


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