CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Looking a gift horse in the mouth?

I was listening to Car Talk this morning and a woman called in wondering how to gracefully get rid of a car given to her by her father. She said “The car isn’t me”. The woman and her husband had sold their cars due to high payments. The car they received from her father sounded like a great car. I would think she would be grateful to have a good car and no car payments. She could put a blanket over the seat when she takes her dog with her. Any one else have the same thoughts I have on this?

If I had to sell both my cars due to “high payments”, and someone offered me a car, I would be eternally grateful and vow never again to be such a poor money manager.

The lady in question needs to eat some humble pie and and learn a little gratitude.

There is a reason why this women and her husband extended themselves in their car payment on two cars; they may not have a grasp on financial reality. I doubt anything we say will change her mind about the reality of being given a car as a “good buy” and one she should take advantage of. Maybe, just maybe, the gift of the car from dear old dad is a sample of how this “lack of understanding” was acquired.

Some people are their own worst enemy.

I think if she does’t want the car, she should sell it, or give it away to someone who could use it. She has no obligation to keep it if she doesn’t want it. It’s not some irresplaceable family heirloom. It’s just a car is all.

Ungrateful ingrate IMO. There’s a lot of people out there who could use any kind of car at all; even a thrashed beater about a heartbeat away from the car crusher.

She should give the car up to someone who will really appreciate it and then this couple can walk to wherever they need to go.

Ahhhhh, come on, just because a car is free and functional doesn’t mean you want it, or should take it.

But here’s the thing our prejudices have caused many of us (me included) to wrongfully conclude that the free car was a junker, however the actual case is just the opposite.

Listen to the show, she’s about the forth caller in, I think right after the puzzler.

If a couple has worked to figure out how to not need a car, I have no problem with them not wanting one, free or not. Nothing ‘ungrateful’ about it.

If the couple doesn’t need a car, then this is a horse of a different color. I had a friend from my undergraduate days who called me and was upset because a relative forced a car on him and his wife that they really didn’t want. He was doing doctoral work and they had bicycles. In fact, they rode their bicycles cross country 700 miles from his parents’ home to his university. He and his wife had 5 bicycles between them–2 road bikes, 2 bikes for travel around town and 1 big old bike fitted with baskets for going to the grocery store. This was back in the late 1960s. This couple loved bicycling and were in excellent physical shape. They didn’t want the burden of licensing and insuring a car.
However, my impression from the telephone call was that the caller had a dog and at least one child to transport. She didn’t want the car because the particular style of the car “wasn’t her”. She wanted a car to fit her image.

Apparently the image was the main thing because the couple had not one, but two cars they could not afford.

If the couple are adverse to accepting a well intentioned gift like that car then they should have politely declined it from the get-go rather than worrying about what to do after the fact.

It could be that a possible reason was that they were 2 seconds away from driving or walking and chose to drive a car they were not really happy with.
With the 2 upside down vehicles now gone it’s also possible that their financial situation has gotten a shade better in the interim and the urge to get upside down once again is gnawing on them while making the current ride now unacceptable.

Or they found a couple more cars that would save them a few bucks a month over their old car payments and that figured into their paycheck to paycheck lifestyle

I like OK’s assessment. Some people just can’t live without “owing” someone. As long as you buy on time, you never have all of your money committed and can live a " better" life. This reasoning works when people are weaned on sub prime and 0 % interest rates and a steady job. Let one of these elements fail, and they are underwater.

The fallacy is, when you retire, you still we on a fixed income especially if you use “home equity” to fund all your guilty pleasures. I blame the Fed. For continually lowering the interest rates so the only savings vehicles left for the average person was the stock market and home ownership. This forced most people into credit buying to the degree we never saw. Alan Greenspan should have been run out of town for not standing up to the administrations he worked for. Many of these people come by their attitudes honestly…it was the environment they were weaned on.

Dagosa,you pretty much nailed it-because I’ve noticed this trend in the past decade.In the 90’s I was living better then ever,now working more reaping less.This still is the best country in the world in ways".the chickens are coming home to roost now".I suppose we are starting to meet the rest of the world on our descent,as they rise.Not saying there is a conspiracy,but its sort of strange how societal evolution has sort of been arrested(seems we got put in our place)Pity we dont have a true Democracy,would like a say on policies,that can change our lives-Kevin

“As long as you buy on time, you never have all of your money committed and can live a " better” life".
@dagosa–you make a good point and I am glad you put ‘better’ in quote marks. Rubber band credit has given people instant gratification, but has taken away the satisfaction of working toward and saving for a goal.

There are a bunch of other fallacies too that contribute economic distortion. Along with blaming these people for not saving, which no one can do without off shore accounts, it’s things like; telling people social security is in trouble, which it never has been. It’s really a cash cow that nearly every administration and congress has borrowed off. That Medicare is costing us…no, it’s medical costs that are going through the roof along misplaced priorities where 80% of our med. costs are on preventable illnesses. That somehow the poor are hording all the money while the military which “burns” money at a rate social programs including education could only dream about still needs to be financed at a level equal to the total of the entire, rest of the planet. That everyone “needs” things but not a diploma. Basic financial security is lost and bankrucies become the norm…a get out jail card that all to often is uased by the uninformed but really the "taken advantaged of ".

So no, I don’t blame borrowers…

Sorry Dag, you base your opinions on some major fallacies:

“blaming these people for not saving, which no one can do without off shore accounts” So you’re saying nobody but the richest can save? Self-defeating nonsense, don’t you think?

“social security is in trouble, which it never has been. It’s really a cash cow that nearly every administration and congress has borrowed off” True for the past, but a simple analysis of in vs. out shows that the ‘cash cow’ is just about dead. We and the politicians have been living off it, but some changes will have to occur to keep it funded. Those changes are tiny compared to the real problem:

“That Medicare is costing us…no, it’s medical costs that are going through the roof along misplaced priorities where 80% of our med. costs are on preventable illnesses” We can blame rising health care costs on whatever we like, but Medicare costs are rising MUCH faster than Social Security, and are not funded. They + interest payments will result in huge deficits in the coming years:

“That somehow the poor are hording all the money while the military which “burns” money at a rate social programs including education could only dream about still needs to be financed at a level equal to the total of the entire, rest of the planet.” Military as a % of the federal budget is 20%, SS+Medicare+Medicaid is 54% (for reference, in 1990 defense was about 40% of the budget):

We have major problems to solve, and no easy answers.

Our country is suppose to be by the people, for the people, – serving the people of the USA should be first and foremost. The people of the USA should be the LAST to suffer cuts, if any whatsoever.

Before you cut any domestic aid cut foreign aid. Why are we borrowing money to give it away?

When we become the world’s govt, and collect some world taxes, then we could talk about world aid; until then, USA first.