Money matters

Sheila the Mazda2

Friday evening, I somewhat impulsively became the proud owner of a new car.

The adorable manual Mazda2’s name came to me by accident in a slip of the tongue in my post-purchase shock—Sheila. Her name is Sheila. And she will be my California car.

Thankfully, I got a great deal—Sheila, brand new, cost about the same as this model costs used, thanks to an employee pricing event. Though it was a quick decision on my part (it was the last day of the sales event!), I knew I’d regret not getting this car for the price. And I was right to do it—I’m so happy to have a reliable (and, omg, CUTE) car. But with a new car comes a down payment and several years of financing, and this was the first of many blows to my bank account with this move to L.A.

John and I are embarking on an amazing journey. We’re following our dreams of living in California, I’ll be getting my master’s degree, and after four-plus years of coupledom, we’ll finally be living together. (I cannot WAIT for John to see my retainer.)

It’s pretty romantic on the surface, and I have no doubt we’re doing the right thing. But with following your dreams comes an inevitable, not-so-romantic side of things: the financial burden of doing so.

By quitting my job and moving to California, I’m giving up a certain level of stability. Though my mostly part-time income was modest, I lived at home, commuted less than 15 minutes to work, and managed to save a fair amount of money. It was the responsible thing to do, and now that I’m packing up my things for this cross-country move, I’m so glad I was patient and socked it away.

Despite all that, I know my savings will vanish way faster than it took to build them up. Aside from the car payments, we’ll have the cost of shipping out our stuff, food and lodging along the way, first month’s rent plus deposit, utilities, insurance, groceries, school (uh, big one), hopefully the occasional fun (but cheap) outing, and gas. (Luckily, Sheila is excellent on gas.) I mean, whoa. This is a lot of new financial responsibility for a girl who has had very little of it living with mom. Consider the factors that many of these costs will be up front in large sums and neither of us have secured jobs out West, and it’s a little intimidating.

Am I worried? I have my moments, of course, but not really. I think about it daily, but I don’t doubt our ability to make it work. I will not be picky in my search for flexible, part-time work because I can’t afford to be. I think that attitude will serve me well because it will keep me both humble and hard-working. I’ve been pretty comfortable over the past few years. Maybe I’ve gotten soft. L.A. will snap me out of that real fast, and I think it’s a good thing.

So I tell you these things to remain transparent. Yes, I’m excited—elated—to be making this amazing trip with John. The new car? I’m in love. But these decisions we’ve made that may seem easy and carefree on the outside are actually the result of a lot of patience and sacrifice, and there’s a lot of hard work and even more sacrifice in our future to actually sustain this “California dreamin'” lifestyle we want.

It will not be easy, but it will be totally worth it. Sheila better get ready for some drivin’.

Get the newsletter

Sign up to get love letters, good reads, writing deadlines & more delivered to your inbox every week!

powered by TinyLetter

And don't forget to follow WTH on Twitter, Facebook & Bloglovin'!


  1. Ooh how exciting! A car is one of themist important investments you can make — especially for LA! It’s like your new best friend, haha! And that’s also exciting about moving in with your boyfriend. Wow, so many changes are encompassed in this decision! 🙂

    • HAHA no kidding. My head is spinning from all the change! But it is good change. And Sheila will be my best friend throughout. 🙂

  2. best of luck cassie! this sounds like just the sort of challenge you’d be up for. 🙂

  3. Ah! Sheila! I love it. I got a car last year, a little Ford Fiesta that I promptly named Fancy, a la Drake and she zips us around town, takes us out of the city when things get cray, and allows for so much adventure and exploration. After years of living in the city without wheels (and not caring much about that fact) I suddenly felt…free.

    Congrats on the new car and the new adventure and all the places this gal’s going to take you!!

    • Ahh I bet that was such a great feeling! I was looking at the Ford Fiesta, too. Love the little hatchbacks that are good on gas.

  4. Moving is expensive, and it only gets more expensive the farther you go. Ah! Best of luck, and congrats on the new car!

  5. You and Sheila look quite lovely together!

  6. well worth the cost. Plus it will be invaluable in California! and now you have a reason to take some awesome road trips!

  7. Congrats on the car, it’s so nice and new and shiny looking!

    There are certain people where you can tell they’re making a snap decision, even about something as big as moving across the country. There are other people where you know they’ve thought things through and didn’t make any decision lightly. You seem like the latter :).

    • Thank you! I am definitely an over-thinker when it comes to any big decision, and this was especially huge. Before Sheila, my biggest expense was a new computer. So glad I ultimately trusted my gut and made the right decision!

  8. Yayyy new car! Liz Lemon cannot wait to meet Sheila. I think they will look rather snazzy together, parked side by side at the beach.

    And dude. Money. Ugh. I’m going through the toughest financial stuff I’ve had to deal with since we moved here, being between jobs and all, and my biggest (unsolicited) advice is make sure to think hard about the little purchases. It’s easy to be like “oh, five dollars, not a big deal” and then “oh, twenty dollars, totally worth it”, but those little amounts add up, and suddenly you’re down a couple hundred dollars that you really need to pay a few bills. I wish Toby and I had spent less on little things throughout the past couple of years and instead stuck those dolla bills into a savings account or something. Luckily, there is a ton of free, fun stuff to do in LA, which I need to take advantage of more often.

    • Black & yellow hatchbacks! The bumblebee brigade? I dunno, it sounds cool to me! Cute cars unite.

      Yeah, you know, I have a tendency to buy the “little things” that I think I deserve and don’t amount to much (like that dress I was coveting), but it’s a habit I need to rid myself of. Those things don’t ultimately make my life better. And I’ll never regret NOT spending money frivolously, even if the purchase in question is a gorgeous, HUGELY discounted dress. (Thank God it sold out before I had the chance to change my mind. I feel like it was a sign.)

      • Yes! The Bumblebee Brigade. That is going to be a thing. Liz & Shiela. Sistas 4 Lyfe. Etc. (I’m on a comment binge right now and can’t seem to stop myself. Must. Go. To. Bed.)

  9. Aww Sheila!! The perfect name for a black Mazda 2! 🙂 I love it! Congratulations on the new car!

    As for starting fresh and how much money it actually takes to do that…I’M TOTALLY hearing you sister! The excitement definitely ends up outweighing the financial concern, and I really hope it all goes well for you in your transition to LA! 😀 Yay excitement!!!

  10. You and John are amazing people who have made amazing sacrifices to do what calls to you. I think that is incredibly brave and inspiring. I wish both of you the best and can’t wait to see where this takes you!

  11. Shelia is a cutie 🙂 I think because you know money will be tight while you are living the dream it’s not such a worry. If you weren’t prepared this would be a real downer right now.

  12. Sheila is adorable! My car was an impulse buy as well because of the good deal, but I don’t regret it at all (mostly because I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will start every day.. heh). Even though you’ve got a car payment now, at least you *probably* won’t have to worry about maintenance for a long while, since it is new. Hopefully I’m not jinxing you by saying that. Knocking on all kinds of wood.

Speak Your Mind