Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free Car / Bad Idea

I recently saw a nonprofit organization offering to give a free car to a needy person.  The idea of giving a poor person a free car looks good on paper.

This is an example of a car that might still run good but may have over 200,000 miles on it.

The owner may feel he can't get more than a few hundred dollars if he trades it in and he may not want to hassle trying to sell it privately.  So he donates the car to a nonprofit organization that fixes up a few things and gives the car to a poor person.

The person is, of course, delighted to get this free car.  But this is what happened to a client of mine several years ago.  She got a free car and was driving it back and forth to her work in another town.

She got stopped by the police because a turn signal was not working.

The officer asked to see the driver's proof of insurance.  She did not have it because she could not afford to purchase insurance for her car.  In our state it is a crime not to have car insurance (and I think in most places that is true).

The woman's driver's license was suspended because she did not have liability insurance.  However, later on she made the choice of driving her car even though her license was suspended.

That was a really, really bad choice.  The same police officer who arrested her earlier saw her driving and pulled her over again.  This time she went to jail.

Because she was in jail she could not get to work.  She lost her job.  And because she lost her job and was not making any money, she could not pay her rent.  Since she could not pay her rent she was evicted from her apartment.

Not having a job and having no place to live, her former husband got custody of their children and she was ordered to pay him child support.

Because she had been evicted from her apartment and had been fired from her job and now had a criminal record, it was extremely difficult for her to get a job. 

I am not saying the free car was the reason this woman's life got all messed up.  She had problems long before the car was given to her.  But the free car made matters much worse.  Since she could not afford insurance or repairs or new tires or lots of other expenses associated with a car, she never should have had a car.

As with many things in life, the idea of giving a free car to a poor person looked good on paper.  In this particular case the alleged act of kindness actually resulted in exasperating the poor person's troubles.

1 comment:

Leslie: said...

When my sister wanted to buy a new car, she offered to give it to my younger daughter. I suggested that she not give it to her because she could not afford the insurance, gas, and maintenance that goes along with it. So she gave it to my older daughter, whose husband promptly sold it for cash. Now my sister is pissed! She would have gladly paid for some of the expenses that went along with the car had she known my SIL was so crass about the "gift."