By Kevin Jones, CEO/President
Like many car guys, I take different routes in my travels in hopes of catching a glimpse of some rare car tucked under a tarp or stuck behind a garage. One day, just a few blocks from my house, I spotted an early wire wheel MGB roadster parked behind a garage. I started driving that way regularly thinking someday the car would be put up for sale.
My first sports car was a black 1974 MGB convertible. I really wanted a new Mazda RX7 (that’s another story), but the MGB was all I could afford. I grew to love my MGB and later regretted it when I traded it for a grown-up car.
Not long after first spotting it, I was driving by the house with the MGB again and noticed three women sitting on the porch. I stopped, walked up to the porch and asked if the MGB was for sale. The women were obviously from three generations and the middle-aged woman replied that she wasn’t sure. Her father was the owner, and he had just passed.
(Now I have a confession, I have been known to be a little insensitive at funerals. I once told a story at a funeral about the golfer who paused in his back-swing to tip his hat to a hearse passing by. He told his foursome that he would miss that woman.)
I shared with them my love for MGs and spent more than an hour visiting with them about their husband/father/grandfather. I never actually inspected the car except from a distance, but I offered $1,000 for it anyway and promised to restore it to like new if they would like to sell it.
They agreed, and I started to make plans to have it towed to my house. The daughter said she thought it will start, so we walked over to it. For the first time I got a good look at the car. Sure enough the old Walmart battery had just enough umph to start the engine. Being unsure about the brakes though, I went ahead and towed the car home.
After getting it home, I realized it needed a lot of work – a new engine and clutch, shocks, seats and even new fender panels on three of the four corners. I considered selling it, but a promise is a promise. Over the next two years, I had a rebuilt engine and clutch installed, rebuilt the carbs, the seats redone, body panels fixed, new paint in Old English White, new chrome bumper, new wheels and rims, etc. etc. About the only part I didn’t have to replace was the old Walmart battery, which is still in the car today!
Finally, all that was left was the inside door panels. On a beautiful cool day, I finished the car, fired it up and drove it back to see the middle-aged woman that I bought it from years before. When she and her daughter saw the car she had tears in her eyes and said, “Dad would be proud.”
Jones Garage will be a monthly column by Kevin Jones, President of MIDFLORIDA and certified car guy to talk about his cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members. In addition to his stories, we will feature a different member’s car and story each month.
By Dennis Pershing, Chief Lending Officer
I read a lot about how younger Americans are steering clear of credit cards to avoid debt. Though admirable, rejecting plastic may have some unintended consequences. Credit cards build credit history, which is important when you get ready to make a big purchase like a home or a car. Few of us have the luxury of buying those big ticket items with cash, so we rely on loans. Without credit history, you are unlikely to get the best interest rates from lenders, or worse they may reject your loan altogether.
There is a way to honor the ideal of avoiding debt while also building your credit history, and that’s with a MIDFLORIDA secured credit card. A secured card builds credit, but the charge limit is tied to the amount in your savings account. You control the limit and have the peace of mind knowing that you cannot spend more than what is pledged from your savings account. That’s the no debt part. Many people may have the impression that a secured card is only offered to people who have had prior credit issues. This is no longer the case. Secured cards make sense for many people under many different financial circumstances.
Credit ratings affect our finances in more ways than just loan rates. Landlords pull credit, and auto insurers pull credit. In fact one way to lower your cost of auto insurance is through a good credit rating. So if you have little or no credit and you take out a secured card you can build a credit rating and possibly lower your cost of auto insurance.
Making travel arrangements with cash is virtually impossible. Hotels, airlines, and car rental companies all require credit cards as part of using their services. A secured card can get you a hotel reservation and still allow you to pay cash when you check out. The best deals for airline tickets are usually found online where paying with cash is not an option, and car rental companies do not accept cash payments to rent a vehicle.
Planning to buy a home someday? Even if you have saved up a sizable down payment, most mortgage lenders are going to want to see a good credit history as well. If you have little or no history, your interest rate on your mortgage could be higher than someone with a good established history. Even a 1% increase in your rate could cost you thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage. Establishing a good credit history prior to buying a home can save you far more in interest than you could save toward a down payment.
All of these financial benefits can be accomplished with a secured credit card and all can be accomplished without going into debt for more than you have in your savings account. In short, if you really wanted to, you could pay it all off with your savings.
Not all cards are created equal, though. Did you know that MIDFLORIDA offers a rate as low as 10.99% on a secured Visa Credit Card? Many national credit card companies offer their best credit card customers rates around 17%, and people with little or no credit may pay rates as high as 25%. Our secured card is much better than that. Our secured card works just like any other credit card. You just cannot spend more than you have pledged from your savings account.
Consider applying online or stopping into one of our branches to talk to a MIDFLORIDA financial officer to learn more. Get started in building your credit rating. A good credit rating can greatly improve your financial well-being, and a good way to accomplish this without getting into debt is with a fully secured credit card.
I have worked at MIDFLORIDA since shortly after graduating from college. My goal is to improve the financial well being of all of our members by providing great service when and where they need it.
Dennis Pershing, Chief Lending Officer
In addition to my day job as MIDFLORIDA’s President, I am also a certified car guy. I like to buy, sell, drive and wrench on cars. This hobby started when I was in my teens in Indiana. Even in high school and college I owned multiple jalopies and enjoyed improving and repairing my own cars.
While I was in college in Indiana, I had three goals – 1. Get a job in accounting or banking. 2. Move to Florida. And 3. Have a warehouse to work on cars. A few years ago I finally accomplished the third goal. With the help of a weak commercial property market, I was able to buy a small warehouse and open the faux “Jones Garage.”
Jones Garage is what is commonly referred to as a man-cave. I have my office with a Coke machine, TV, die-cast models, car books, etc. In the main warehouse I store, restore and tinker on about a dozen cars that I have collected over the years. But you would be wrong to assume that I have a collection of trailer queens. Most of the cars I own were only a few thousand to a few hundred dollars to purchase.
What I enjoy collecting are primarily the cars that I lusted after in my youth but couldn’t afford at the time. After finally getting my warehouse, the next car I purchased was a 1985 Alfa Romeo Spider Graduate for a mere $1,600. (I had first seen it a year earlier in a yard on Fish Hatchery Road in Lakeland, but that’s another story to come.)
You might think I collect cars primarily to drive them. However, I realized many years ago that what I enjoy the most is the restoration, or what I like to call the preservation, of cars. Where I get the greatest satisfaction is buying a barn-find and bringing it back from the dead. My wife jokes that I prefer buying cars that don’t run. She’s correct. I love it when a car that hasn’t run in years chokes back to life again.
Jones Garage will be a monthly column to talk about my cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members. In addition to my stories, we will feature a different member’s car and story each month.
Keep them running!
Please email your car story with a picture of your car to Julie Townsend at jtownsend@MIDFLORIDA.com . A special prize will be awarded if we use your car in an issue of Jones Garage.