The Story of Shaky: My 1992 Honda Civic


happy girl in her beloved hooptie

Car ownership can be a major expense for a lot of people, especially if they decide to lease or buy a new car and are left with car payments. I wanted to look back at my first and only car to see how much it cost me to have her for the short time that I did. Less than a year.

I named her Shaky because she would randomly shake when I was driving. Super safe. She was an old, but very well taken care of, Honda Civic that I brought my senior year of college for $2,600 using my refund check. I hadn’t yet discovered the financial independence movement, clearly. 


not thinking about the interest i’d paying on this car years later by using refund money.

It was love at first sight. I lived in New Jersey at the time and Lyft was just starting to blow up, so it was easy to justify the purchase when in reality it was a WANT. I had done okay without a car the years before, except everyone in life had one and I simply hated depending on carpool/rides. Of course, my plan after graduation was always to find a job in the city, which didn’t add logic to my owning a car. FOMO was real.

I insured Shaky In March 2015 about a month after purchasing her, but didn’t officially move back into my parents until May. I would use her here and there when I was home, my dad mostly took her around the block while I was gone so she wouldn’t just sit there. Once I finally moved back home without a full-time jobI failed to land a full-time job during college (I had no idea you could do that)I was using her a lot more. I drove her to and from my restaurant job and to friends’ graduation parties. She got the job done.

As my luck would have it, on the first day of my internship, I received a phone call from Mami that Shaky had been robbed. Awesome. Till this day I don’t believe that Mami locked Shaky before going into work, in my defense, her driving has always been questionable and she can be super oblivious. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a mother of five and are working two full-time jobs. Of course, by the time I was home the entire State of New Jersey was out looking for Shaky.

Tweets from that day:

Screen Shot 2019-08-29 at 6.12.47 AM.pngScreen Shot 2019-08-29 at 6.02.34 AM.png

We finally located her a week later in a junkyard, she was still drivable. Little did we know. Shaky would never the same. Not only did they steal my car but they also took the coffee maker I had left on the passenger seat. I was saving for my first big apartment, thank god I didn’t hold on to that for four years. Honda’s are mechanic gold, their parts sell for serious money. It was no surprise that they tried to remove parts, which resulted in her constant overheating after the robbery. This major problem in her engine was not something my waitressing job and a $15/day internship could afford.

Instead, I drove until it no longer felt safe to, which happened when she overheated at night on my way home from work. Until then, I had been managing by only driving her for short periods at a time. I don’t know exactly when this happened; it must have been the late summer or early fall because it was still warm out. 

In order to really understand how much it cost to keep Shaky, I dug into my bank statements from 2015.

Total for Car Purchase – $2,600


My insurance was pretty low, for Jersey, because I had a nice driving record. That happens when you never drive but have a license for four years. It was probably also taking into account that Shaky wasn’t an attractive car to rob. Ha! The joke was on them, clearly they didn’t understand how sexy Shaky’s Honda parts might be to a North Jersey asshole. Also, I couldn’t find the insurance payment for May 2015. I’m going to assume Geico cut me a break. LOL yeah okay. Lastly, it appears they increased my monthly payment in September because my Shaky was stolen from me? Rude.

  • 03/13 Geico Geico Pymt $107.67
  • 04/13 Geico Prem Coll $98.67
  • 06/12 Geico Prem Coll $98.67
  • 07/12 Geico Prem Coll $98.67
  • 09/14 Geico Prem Coll $103.67
  • 10/22 Geico *Auto Macon DC $115.62

Total Insurance – $622.97


This was a bit harder to find because 1) I don’t know if all the gas stations I swiped my card for were for Shaky and 2) I was waitressing during this time so I used cash to pay for a lot of things, gas being something I can totally see myself having used actual bills for. This breakdown is a very incomplete gas total, though you can see that Shaky, a four-cylinder car, didn’t need that much gas anyway. 

  • 03/20 – $20.23
  • 05/07 – $21.86
  • 05/28 – $10.00
  • 06/22 – $10.00
  • 06/30 – $10.00
  • 07/10 – $30.01
  • 07/21 – $10.00
  • 09/28 – $10.00

Total Gas (that can be accounted for) – $122.10


It didn’t make sense to hold on to Shaky for many reasons. Primarily because I didn’t have the money to repair her so I posted her on Craigslist and after a week, we found a buyer willing to take on the project. 

Shaky was sold on November 2nd, 2015 for $1,270 ($1,330 less than what I paid).

Sold – $1,270

Total Cost of Shaky Ownership – $3,345.07 (not including expenses that can’t be accounted for)

Total Cost of Shaky Ownership (including selling price) – $2,075.07

Buying another car is not in my plans for the foreseeable future. If I do, it’ll definitely be another used car.

Do you remember you first car? How much did maintaining a car cost you?

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