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$240K at nearly 9% interest on a new truck: Deal or no deal?

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I’ve known Matthew Mickenberg for several years. He is connected to a small peer group of truck and small fleet owners who’ve come together to support each other both professionally and personally. And he’s no stranger to sudden changes life and business can throw at you. Mickenberg is a cancer survivor, and one of the most calm truck owners I’ve ever known. That experience with a potentially deadly disease tested that calm nature, certainly, after he made what he describes in retrospect as possibly the worst decision of his life -- a move to cancel his health insurance.

The decision yielded more than $70,000 gone from his savings account before he was able to re-purchase health insurance. Yet, crucially, he learned from the experience.

[Related: How to recognize the high business risk of failing health]

Matthew and Karen MickenbergMatthew Mickenberg pictured with his wife, KarenEarlier this year, Mickenberg made a U-turn on his original equipment game plan, one that had been in place for about four years. Since purchasing his current truck, a 2018 Kenworth T680, when it was brand-new, he'd held fast to the discipline needed to carry out the first phase of the original plan -- closely manage maintenance and repairs, avoiding potential service failures to continue to improve his reputation of reliability with his most valued customers.  

In February, a consequential day approached: He would be making the final payment on the note for the rig. The timing felt good to launch Phase 2 -- to trade into another new truck, following the same plan for the next one. 

Mickenberg’s past experiences set up expectations for how negotiations would play out. Contacting a dealership he had used previously, he learned the inventory was much better than anticipated, with 20-plus new owner-operator-spec’d tractors available. Other owners had put money down on these to order, but they were “No Take” sales – the prospective owners had pulled out of the deal. 

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