My First Car—with Kelly Dixon

By Sarah Netter

When Kelly Dixon graduated from college and landed a job teaching first grade, she headed to the car dealership to buy her first new car.

Now 33 and married with two kids and two dogs, Dixon is the blogger behind Smart School House, a fun-filled DIY extravaganza born from her love of Pinterest and family-friendly activities.

Dixon, whose easygoing DIY crafts have earned her 1.7 million social media followers, also published a book based on her website, Smart School House Crafts for Kids.

Dixon recently headed back to the car dealership to drive away with a new SUV that will fit her family of four. It’s been years since she first test-drove a new car, but she still fondly remembers that sporty little sedan she worked so hard for.

Here’s what she learned:

Who were you when you bought your first car?

I was a first-year teacher. I had put myself through college, got my teaching credentials, finished student teaching, landed my dream job and finally got to buy myself a brand new car. My first new car ever.

Did it make you feel like an adult?

It did. The responsibilities and even just talking the contracts—that’s adult stuff right there. Taking out a loan with the bank, test-driving on an actual car lot—it all made me feel like an adult.

What surprised you the most about buying and owning a car?

Maintaining it—the price just to maintain a new car, especially one that didn’t come with a maintenance package. My first car was a Volvo. At the time they didn’t have a maintenance package.

Volvos are more expensive to maintain. I knew that going into it, The tires are more expensive—just little things like that. But it still surprised me when I had to shell out that cash.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I can reach my own goal, that I can be a hard worker. I could do the right thing and good things would come to me if I did that. I was proud I actually had given myself the opportunity to go and do that: get a new car.

Describe your lowest point.

It was not even a year old, maybe a year old. I was teaching summer school and the car broke down. What kind of new car just dies? I was trying to get to school one morning; it was the battery, and a few days later it was dead again. I took a picture of it in the school parking lot on the back of a tow truck, like, Are you kidding me right now?

After everything I’d done to get to this point, I had this brand new car, I was paying an arm and a leg for it and it was a lemon.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

A car is going to be more expensive than you anticipate. Little things come up between the car payment, the maintenance, the keeping-it-clean, the gas, the insurance, the registration… The costs are never-ending, but it’s super exciting.

As you embark on new adventures in your life, like buying a new car, Amica Insurance has you covered. Amica has many different auto coverage options to choose from, and it’s even more affordable when you combine with other Amica Insurance policies. Visit AmicaQuote.com to get a quote today.

Sarah Netter is a Yahoo Storyteller. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News.

  • Getting Married? Now You Know

    Getting Married? Now You Know

    Walk down the aisle with some peace of mind with these insurance tips from Farnoosh Torabi.

  • Having a Baby? Now You Know

    Having a Baby? Now You Know

    Keep your new bundle of joy protected with some of these helpful tips.

  • Renting Together? Now You Know

    Renting Together? Now You Know

    Farnoosh Torabi gives the scoop on renters insurance.

  • One Thing to Know About Renters Insurance...

    One Thing to Know About Renters Insurance...

    One piece of wisdom from our video series, “Now You Know…” with Farnoosh Torabi. For more, check out the video.

  • One Thing to Know About Home Insurance...

    One Thing to Know About Home Insurance...

    One piece of wisdom from our video series, “Now You Know…” with Farnoosh Torabi. For more, check out the video.

  • Buying a Car? Now You Know

    Buying a Car? Now You Know

    Farnoosh Torabi lays out some helpful tips to keep in mind while buying a new car.

  • Buying a House? Now You Know

    Buying a House? Now You Know

    Looking for a new home? Here are some helpful insurance tips while you’re on the hunt.

  • My First Apartment—with Katherine Accettura

    My First Apartment—with Katherine Accettura

    Katherine Accettura’s first apartment was awash in crisp, clean white. Accettura, now 31, is the blogger behind the popular lifestyle and food website Lily the Wandering Gypsy. At the time, Accettura was in college, studying graphic design and marketing, and her boyfriend was into photography and photojournalism.

  • One Thing to Know About Life Insurance...

    One Thing to Know About Life Insurance...

    One piece of wisdom from our video series, “Now You Know…” with Farnoosh Torabi. For more, check out the video.

  • My First House—with Dorothy Kern

    My First House—with Dorothy Kern

    Growing up in pricey San Francisco, Dorothy Kern wasn’t sure that she’d ever be able to buy a house. Today Kern, 39, is back in California where she and her husband are raising their 12-year-old daughter. Tucked away in her home are dozens of photos of that first house in Arizona, as a reminder that dreams do come true.

  • My First Job—with Byron Talbott

    My First Job—with Byron Talbott

    Byron Talbott was 15 years old when he landed his first job—scooping ice cream at a Baskin Robbins. Now married, with a 3-year-old and another child on the way, Talbott is an accomplished chef.  He and his wife own a production company, and he has taken his food expertise to the internet, creating recipes and videos in his Thousand Oaks, California, home to share with the world. Talbott worked hard and rose through the ranks at his first job.

  • My First Baby—with Emily Frame

    My First Baby—with Emily Frame

    Emily Frame was a multi-tasking maven. Whether working as a technical writer, editing a local fashion magazine or running a market featuring handmade items, she was always on the go.

  • My First Car—with Kelly Dixon

    My First Car—with Kelly Dixon

    When Kelly Dixon graduated from college and landed a job teaching first grade, she headed to the car dealership to buy her first new car. Now 33 and married with two kids and two dogs, Dixon is the blogger behind Smart School House, a fun-filled DIY extravaganza born from her love of Pinterest and family-friendly activities. Dixon, whose easygoing DIY crafts have earned her 1.7 million social media followers, also published a book based on her website, Smart School House Crafts for Kids.

  • Things They Don’t Tell You About... Renting Together

    Things They Don’t Tell You About... Renting Together

    In this episode of “Things They Don’t Tell You About…” couples share the challenges and rewards of moving in together — plus, the one item that means the most to them. Financial expert Nicole Lapin also details the importance of protecting your valuables with renters insurance.

  • 5 Tips for When You’re Getting Married

    5 Tips for When You’re Getting Married

    Officially forging a union with the one you love, in public, can be both exhilarating and terrifying. Get crafty and save money. You can still save money by handling some of the programs, menus and seating cards yourself.

  • Getting Married

    Getting Married

    For more life lessons about getting married, check out “Things They Don’t Tell You About… Getting Married.”

  • Buying Your First Home

    Buying Your First Home

    For more life lessons about home-buying, check out “Things They Don’t Tell You About… Buying a House.”

  • Renting Together

    Renting Together

    For more wisdom about what changes when you decide to rent together, check out “Things They Don’t Tell You About… Renting Together.”

  • Things They Don’t Tell You About... Having a Baby

    Things They Don’t Tell You About... Having a Baby

    In this episode of “Things They Don’t Tell You About…” new parents share advice on having a baby and the rewards and challenges that come along with it. Financial expert Nicole Lapin also shares the importance of life insurance for your child’s future.

  • Things They Don’t Tell You About... Buying a Car

    Things They Don’t Tell You About... Buying a Car

    In this episode of “Things They Don’t Tell You About…” millennial couples share what their cars mean to them and the advice they’ve received when buying a car, including car insurance. Financial expert Nicole Lapin also talks about the problems with minimum insurance coverage and how Amica insurance can help.

  • Having Your First Baby

    Having Your First Baby

    For more wisdom from parents who’ve been there, check out “Things They Don’t Tell You About… Having a Baby.”

  • Things They Don’t Tell You About... Getting Married

    Things They Don’t Tell You About... Getting Married

    In this episode of “Things They Don’t Tell You About…” couples share what they learned about each other after getting married and the advice they never received about marriage. Financial expert Nicole Lapin also discusses wedding insurance policy and how it can help you prepare for any wedding day mishaps. 

  • Buying Your First Car

    Buying Your First Car

    For more wisdom from first-time car buyers, check out “Things They Don’t Tell You About… Buying a Car.”

  • 5 Tips for When You’re Buying Your First Home

    5 Tips for When You’re Buying Your First Home

    Before you set your heart on that cute colonial on the corner, make sure you’ve checked your credit score—and that it’s accurate. If you do find a mistake, open a dispute, since higher credit scores should net you a lower mortgage rate. Pre-approval doesn’t lock you into the loan, but it does let realtors know you’re serious about buying.

  • 5 Tips for Buying Your First Car

    5 Tips for Buying Your First Car

    Americans spend an average of $30,000 on a new car, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. Finances first: Before you shop for your car, figure out financing, suggests the Federal Trade Commission. Check with banks, credit unions and finance companies for car loan rates, and bring your best offer with you to the showroom.