Don’t let your emotions drive your car-buying decisions

I was in the 6th grade when I first laid eyes on her. She was a 1989 BMW 635i Coupe that did donuts in the school's parking lot after class thanks to an obnoxious, rich 11th-grader who got the car as a birthday present. I was immediately smitten and promised myself one day I'd be able to buy such a car too.

The new 6 series BMW came out in 2005 and all the memories came rushing back. What cost only $35,000 then now cost $75,000 thanks to inflation and an infinite amount of new features. I don't know about you, but $75,000 is a big chunk of change and is way beyond my 1/10th rule for car-buying I say everyone must follow.

I figured instead of spending $75,000, why not go back in time and actually buy that 1989 635i Coupe! My brilliant idea led me to Craigslist where I found my true dream car listed in "fantastic condition with only 160,000 miles"! That's only 8,000 miles a year I rationalized, and off I went to see the seller 45 minutes away.

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One expense you have control of in ways you never thought

What do you spend most of your money on? For most people, their two biggest expenses are their home and car(s). If you remember the post comparing expenses in 1913 to 2012, you might recall the three things that Mr. Average spent most of his "raise" on were:

  • Housing (36 percent of the raise)
  • Income taxes (28 percent), and
  • Transportation (24 percent)

A majority of the increase in transportation has, arguably, to do with that wonderful instrument of freedom -- the automobile.

The choices we make

Our spectrum of choice in cars is, of course, wider than a mile. Egotistas spend big on the latest model of the coolest car. Hollywood celebrities once flaunted their beblinged Cadillac Escalades at the annual Oscar ceremony. That was before the 2002 recession. When that hit, it suddenly wasn't cool any more to be seen piloting a behemoth slurping down rivers of Mother Earth's precious resources. That's when the curtain went up on the eco-friendly Toyota Prius, which Cameron Diaz and other stars rode to the 2003 big event in their sipply little Priuses. Overnight, saving the planet with the Prius became California Cool.<

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More about...Credit, Insurance, Transportation

Deals on wheels: Should you buy your child a car?

As far as I know, only one reader of Get Rich Slowly knows me personally. And last week, I was having lunch with my one-person fan club. (Actually, I am not sure she's even a fan, but she did buy my lunch. Thanks, Lisa!)

"You really stirred up some controversy with one of your recent posts," Lisa said, a forkful of salad in hand.

"You must mean the one about not paying for our kids' college, right?" I said.

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5 car maintenance services you can get for free

We get a lot of pitches at Get Rich Slowly. Despite the underlying marketing agenda, sometimes these pitches contain useful information that is worth sharing. Case in point, Pep Boys emailed us a whole array of free services they offer. My ears perked up for a few reasons:

  • I was impressed with just howmany services they offer.
  • It made me wonder about other places that offer free car maintenance services.
  • A Pep Boys shop just opened downstairs from my building (selfish, sorry).

Not every city has a Pep Boys store, I know. But there are a handful of other places that offer free services too. At any rate, I thought I'd find out more and put together a list.

Tire Repair & Rotation

Stacey Hamilton is manager of Pep Boys' Services Sales and Operations. She told me, "Our free tire repair is probably our most popular service."

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Big wins: The quickest way to wealth

There's a divide in the world of personal finance. On one side are the folks who offer advice for scrimping and saving your way to financial success. On the other are the experts who scoff at frugality and champion big wins. I think there's a place for both.

From my perspective, it's important to do the small stuff -- clipping coupons, conserving electricity -- because doing so builds good habits. And, of course, many small actions combine to yield big rewards in the long term. (Plus there's the fact that a frugal lifestyle costs less to support, which means you can reach financial independence all the sooner!)

On the other hand, the "big wins" camp has a valid point. Too many people focus exclusively on the small stuff because it's easy to do and doesn't require any real sacrifice. Yet you improve your monthly cash flow by hundreds of dollars by achieving a single big win, which is likely to be more than you save on all of the thrifty things you do combined.

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More about...Psychology, Transportation

Saving money with my feet: The joys of a walkable neighborhood

On Saturday, I bumped into Rhonda at the local natural food market. Rhonda is one of Kris's co-workers and friends. I haven't seen her much since the divorce, although we live only a mile-and-a-half apart. For 20 minutes, she and I stood in the freezer aisle and chatted about life and the neighborhood.

"Do you know any other places to shop for groceries?" I asked. "We like this store, but it's pretty expensive. I know there's another market near your house, but its prices don't seem any better and the food quality is worse." (This is actually the subject of an already-written but yet-to-be published post I've produced for GRS.)

"I know," Rhonda said. "That store has great seafood at good prices, but that's about it. Their produce sucks. You could always hit the fancy supermarket across the river, I guess."

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More about...Frugality, Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, Transportation

Do you repair your own car to save money?

This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to

As a former auto mechanic and service manager, my dad's car expertise has saved our family from countless binds.

Over the years, he's done everything from replacing my wife's broken timing belt in the parking lot of her apartment complex to rebuilding our truck's toasted alternator at a motel high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A master of seeing mechanical possibilities, he replaced the alternator's seized bearing with a wheel bearing from a motorcycle we happened to be carrying.

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Tips for the Introverted Negotiator

In my last article, I talked about saving money on the big things, like cars and houses.

Multiple readers contributed good reasons why we don't save as much money as we should on cars and houses. But one of my favorite comments was from Tracy:

See, it would never even occur to me to negotiate on a car, nor do I have any desire to. I realize this costs me extra money and it would do me good to do it. But I find dealing with people tiring and stressful (introvert), and apart from saying "I saw this vehicle priced for this much less" at this other dealer (which wasn't an option last time we bought a car, because it was the only Suburu dealer within 5 hours of our house), I don't really know HOW to haggle (I understand it is a skill that you can learn and get better at). And finally, haggling makes me feel trashy. I'd put off buying cars FOREVER if I had to do that.

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More about...Psychology, Transportation

Consumer reports auto issue: Best and worst cars

If it's March, it must be time to talk about cars. The annual auto issue of Consumer Reports landed in my mailbox this week, and I spent some time skimming the pages.

I'm not nearly as interested in car info as I used to be, but I know that many folks are in the market for a new car, and I think Consumer Reports is a great source for info. Plus, it's fun to review their findings to see what (if anything) has changed.

This year, the Consumer Reports website — even the part that's not behind a paywall — has plenty of useful info. There are video reviews of top cars again in 2012, although external embedding has been disabled (meaning I can't share a video with you here — you have to go to the CR website to see them yourself). You can access all of the free, public content from the site's April 2012 issue homepage. But let's review some of the major news.

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