Along Came Sheila

Anika Hedstrom

HAVING RECENTLY LOST several people, I was in a bit of a daze. Grief stopped me from doing some of the things that brought me incredible joy, like downhill skiing and whitewater kayaking.

Enter Sheila.

Being the Swede I am, I fell in love with Sheila—my gently used Volvo AWD V60 sedan. My attraction to Volvos included family nostalgia, safety and longevity. The dealer was a friend of my aunt, so I was able to negotiate a very reasonable price, while offloading an old car I was unable to sell on my own.

Now, I had no excuse. Sheila took me up mountains, hauled my kayak plus gear, and handled like a dream with anything mother nature threw at us. She fostered a sense of confidence and independence I never would have expected from a car.

I no longer hesitated to take off on last-minute road trips or adventures, sometimes by myself and sometimes with others. Fearless and confident, Sheila provided a gateway to nature, increasing my health and happiness.

Sheila received impeccable care—regular spa days, proper nutrition, exercise and rest. Our companionship—nine years together and over 100,000 miles—was cut short by an accident. Volvos are incredibly safe. Thankfully, I wasn’t injured. Sheila, however, was totaled. My heart sank as she was hauled off. How was I ever going to replace her?

Luckily, I had somewhat of a reprieve in my new husband’s trusty 2006 Toyota 4Runner. As much as it hurt, it didn’t make sense to own two vehicles that were all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. I began searching for a practical four door sedan I could drive for several years.

Test driving several vehicles helped to assess overall quality, fit and finish. Safety, reliability and total cost of ownership ranked high on my priorities. Coming out of the financial crisis, dealers were ripe with incentives and low interest rates. I was debt-free and had about $7,000 from insurance proceeds to use as a down payment.

Welcome Priscilla Rose.

Buying new was comparable in overall cost to buying a used model that was two years older, thanks to better financing terms, the negotiated price and the extended warranty. Priscilla Rose also came with a lower insurance rate, no miles and a clean slate, not to mention that new car smell. Given my previous relationship, I knew I would take excellent care of her for years to come.

I do reminisce about snow adventures, secret waterfalls and Sheila. If Priscilla Rose—a practical, well-equipped Honda Accord—facilitates more of these opportunities, then I consider her a success. As Einstein said best, “What counts can’t always be counted; what can be counted doesn’t always count.”

Anika Hedstrom’s previous articles include Gold Dust and Growing Up (IV). Anika is a financial planner with Vista Capital Partners in Portland, Ore. Follow her on Twitter @AnikaHedstrom.

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