Side-seat Driver

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband had a horribly botched hip surgery several years ago that we finally
settled with the doctor’s malpractice carrier. We have enough money to buy a
new car (which we’ve not had in a decade). My priority, and what he originally
said was his, was a car in which he could sit for long periods (still the biggest
long-term damage) so that we can resume our long-held hobbies of hiking and
bird watching. The problem: most cars are like recliners and he needs to sit up.
We’ve established which cars meet the criteria, but he keeps getting distracted
by “great deals” on used cars, even though they won&'t solve the problem. I feel
like money dropped from the sky and we should use it to get exactly what we
need for the long run. How can I get him back on track?

Side-seat Driver

Dear Side-seat:

Given the prices new cars go for these days (double what my parents spent for
their first house), I understand his instincts to cheap out and get “a deal.” But if
the money came as remediation for a disability that will be with him for the long-
run, I agree with you that paying for long-term comfort, mobility, and the ability to
travel to further destinations should be the primary criterion, with all others a
distant second, third, etc.

Let him go through his process on getting a deal but impose some boundaries.
Make a list of all cars of no older than say two years in which he could sit without
damage for at least two hours at a time. Then canvas local dealers for new and
used models that are on the list. Establish a maximum budget for the purchase
from your settlement. If you can get a deal, hoorah. But do not be penny-wise
and pound-foolish. It&'s not money from heaven. You earned it the hard way but
you can still spend it only once. Choose wisely. Happy and healthy adventures to
you both.