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Mom Cashes In on Cash for Clunkers

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And she couldn't be happier!

car salesman handing over a set of keys to a woman

Dani Klein Modisett: I never thought I'd feel so lucky to be driving a new car. Not that I ever take a huge purchase for granted, but my husband and I just bought it last week with the Cash for Clunkers incentive. In the nick of time, since they've barricaded the doors on this deal a lot more quickly than it took to chisel them open.

It's good I married a man who tracks this kind of thing so he could pounce on it the day the law passed.

Here's how it worked. The government agreed to send up to $4,500 to the selling dealer on your behalf, if you:

1. Traded in a car that had been registered and in use for at least a year, and had a federal combined city/highway fuel-economy rating of 18 or fewer miles per gallon.

2. Bought a new car, priced at $45,000 or less, and rated at least 4 mpg better than the old one (this got a $3,500 voucher). If the new one was at least 10 mpg better, you were given the full $4,500.

No wonder Tod waited to get rid of the 1989 Pathfinder truck he was still driving.

The program allocated a billion dollars to qualified participants, and was scheduled to run from July 1 to November 1, 2009, or until funds were depleted. Due to overwhelming demand, the end date came quite a bit sooner than anticipated. In fact, thirty days later and the car party was over.

Fortunately, the ink is dry on my husband's contract, which holds the dealership responsible for securing the $4,500 from the government, not us.

Interestingly though, last week, the day the government announced it had run out of car cash, Tod got a call from his Nissan guy telling him what a great opportunity he had for him for even more of a tax break if he would just come in and sign a new contract and tear up that silly old one.

Tod hasn't gone in yet, but we'd bet dollars to donuts that the new "tax incentive" contract is really a charade to get him to waive the dealership's responsibility for getting the money from Uncle Sam.

As I listen to the sweet and yet knowing voice of our GPS lady telling me where to drive next, and lie back on our leather seats, it feels like we won a small lottery. So, yes, good to have a partner who stays on top of stuff like this. Even though he is laughing at me patronizingly right now for referring to history-making legislation as "stuff."

Apparently, the only clunker left in our household now is my brain.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 3, 2009, 9:20 PM

There’s no more money left.

jwhenry August 5, 2009, 1:58 AM

You can either Lease or buy a new car to use the cash for clunkers program. It has to be new vehicles and not used ones.


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