Why I plan on driving my car into the ground

Over the weekend, a friend and I were enjoying a couple of beers in my neighborhood. As we sat outside people watching, he drooled over every fancy car that drove by.

“That’s a whatever-whatever,” he would tell me. “It costs $100,000.”

I live in Los Angeles, where these symbols of affluence are common.

“I can’t help it,” I told him. “All I can think of when I see a car that expensive is that the driver made a terrible financial decision.”

“But what if the driver is rich and can afford it?” my friend argued.

We then got into a conversation about fancy cars, happiness and frugality. I argued that, no matter how much money I might make in the near future, I plan on driving my Corolla into the ground.

“You wouldn’t trade it in for a nice, sleek Mercedes?” he asked. I said no, and he looked suspicious. But here’s why I think I’ll drive my car until it wears out.

It’s Got Sentimental Value

The non-money answer is that I love my car because it used to be my brother’s.

Both of us had Corollas. I paid for the down payment on mine and spent five years paying it off completely. Since college, Old Trusty and I had been through a lot together; he had a good 150,000 miles on him. So I wanted to take him with me when I moved to California, but my parents thought he was unfit to make the trip. My car was a 2004, and my brother’s was a 2008 with considerably fewer miles. For some reason, when my brother went off to college, my parents bought him a new truck (how come I never got a new truck, guys?). Mom and Dad insisted I accept his newer, less worn-out Corolla, saying it would give them peace of mind.

Who am I to turn down a better car and worry my parents? I said goodbye to Old Trusty and drove my brother’s car to LA.

Maybe it’s sappy and weird, but this car reminds me of home. My apartment and pretty much everything in it (even Brian) came from LA. My car is one of the few things from home that I still have with me.

Car Payments Scare Me

“You wouldn’t want a car with heated seats and a comfortable interior?” my friend asked.

Of course I would. But as comfortable as heated seats are, they don’t feel nearly as good as not having car payments.

If my car was on its last leg, or if it was severely uncomfortable and I had a two-hour commute, it might be a different story. But for me, upgrading simply for the sake of upgrading isn’t worth the expense.

I’ve always found it odd that many people consider car payments to be a constant. For lots of people, paying off their car loan means trading in their car for a newer one with all new payments. I guess if you can work it into your budget, maybe you can afford it. But I’ve always been a fan of the Dave Ramsey school of thought:

“When it comes to money, normal is broke. You want to be weird, and weird people don’t have car payments.”

My Cost of Ownership is Low

Last year, my auto maintenance expenses totaled $523, but that included a new set of tires. Granted, I don’t drive much (mostly on weekends and road trips). But I still think this expense is relatively low. In fact, Edmunds shows that the total estimated cost of my car’s annual maintenance (not including the tires) is $150. For a Mercedes C-Class, it’s $260.

Let’s say I did buy a new car this year — even a new Corolla. At least until its eighth birthday, depreciation is the car’s biggest cost. At year one, the cost of depreciation is obviously at its highest — 57 percent of the total owner cost, according to Consumer Reports. Considering my current driving habits, my car would incur higher-than-ever depreciation while it sits in a parking spot. Seems like a waste. At five years, depreciation is still my largest expense, but at least it’s not depreciating as much (48 percent) while it mostly just sits there during the week.

This is a unique example, and perhaps it depends on perception, but the point is, the costs over time should be considered.

My Car Still has Value

I don’t consider buying a new car to be an investment. It doesn’t make sense to think of it that way, because it’s not an asset that has the possibility of appreciating. Yes, if you buy an expensive car, you can later sell it for more money than you could a cheaper car, but the same can be said for apair of boots.

I simply think of my car as part of my Stuff. Sure, I kind of need it, and it’s worth more than most of my other Stuff, but the bottom line is, I bought it to be used, not to watch its value increase. Thus, wouldn’t I want to get as much out of my money as possible?

While I don’t think of cars as investments, they also aren’t like the rest of our Stuff; usually, they’re a lot more expensive to replace. In an age when cellphones and computers are always upgraded, I feel like it’s easy to believe your vehicle needs an upgrade, too. I’m surprised at how many people say it’s “time for a new car” simply because they haven’t had a new car in a while. That’s a costly treat. Though some would argue upgrading a perfectly usable phone is a costly treat, too.

But What if You’re a Gazillionaire?

“But if you’re a billionaire, why not just buy a new car? It would be nothing to you,” my friend argued.

I’d like to think that,even if I had all the money in the world, I’d still drive my little Corolla around town. I’d like to think a lot of things. But most likely, if I were a billionaire, the little dings and scratches on my car would probably start to bother me, as would the non-heated seat cushions.

No matter how much wealth I may build, I hope I never lose sight of value. Because to me, this argument is like saying, “Well, you have a lot of money, so why not throw a buck down the toilet?”

But then again, when you throw money at a fancy car, you’re still getting a fancy car.

As your wealth grows, I suppose your idea of value often changes. “Comfortable” isn’t what it used to be, and you experience lifestyle inflation. This is where my friend and I came to a standstill — where do you draw the line? At 20, spending a couple of hundred bucks on a phone seemed like a huge waste of money, but nowadays, it’s just part of my budget. “You could just live bare bones, but why else do you have money?” my friend argued.

But then again, a $100,000+ Porsche Carrera is pretty far from bare bones. That’s an extreme example, but I see a lot of them around town, and I often wonder about the mind-set that went into spending that much on a vehicle.

Getting Off My Frugal High Horse

Having control over my finances makes me happier than any luxury vehicle could. But not everyone has as much fun with frugality. I also don’t get than new car itch. But plenty of people do, and I itch for other things that some people might see as a waste.

I’m about to take a pretty pricey vacation. I’ve been saving up for it, and I’m relishing it, the way many luxury car lovers would relish their purchase. I forget there’s an important difference between me and people who buy fancy cars: they like fancy cars.

There are plenty of practical reasons for not buying a luxury car. But we all have the urge to splurge on different things.

I’ll end with a question a GRS reader once posed. She wondered whether she should buy a new, luxury car. She could afford it, but she didn’t need it.

This comment was singled out as a favorite:

“If you can really afford it — you’re paying cash, you’re already putting enough money into your 401(k) to get the full employer match, you’re putting extra money into an IRA, you’ve got three (or six) months extra cash saved up, you don’t have any looming debt — then I think you should go for it. That’s what money’s for: buying things. […]”

I would agree with the above comment. When you’re financially free and fully prepared for your financial future, money is for buying things.

It’s a great comment. But I would have closed it with:

“Unless the car costs six figures.”

Even dismounted from my frugal high horse, I still can’t fathom a vehicle being that expensive.

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There are 161 comments to "Why I plan on driving my car into the ground".

  1. Phoebe@allyouneedisenough says 11 April 2013 at 08:47

    I’m with you Kristin! I’m still driving my 16 year old car and I love it and the money I save!!!

  2. My Financial Independence Journey says 11 April 2013 at 09:06

    I plan on driving my car until the amount and cost of yearly maintenance becomes excessive vs the value of the car.

    If I was rich, yes I’d buy a new car.

    • TheGreedMachine says 11 April 2013 at 10:22

      You make an excellent point about the cost of maintenance. Old cars cost more to maintain than new cars, that’s a given. However, a lot of old car owners continue to pump money into their cars in small amounts under the belief that until they are faced with a repair bill greater than the value of their car, they are saving money by repairing their car over replacing it. At a certain point you have to recognize that the repair costs are adding up to a greater annual cost than the average annual cost of buying a newer vehicle.

      • jennifer meyer says 23 May 2014 at 12:21

        I think theres more to it than repair bills vs. is it worth it. yes if the engine or tranny blows then that is a good question but sometimes it is best just to get that done than go spend 5 or 6 years making payments. i have a 2004 kia sedona with almost 300,000 miles on it. everyone knows this van has all these miles and i get comments all the time. theres nothing wrong with it and i drive it all the time everywhere..continuing putting the miles on it. it hasnt cost me a dime in repairs. I am happy to save and i will drive until i decide i dont want to drive it anymore

    • Joe says 11 April 2013 at 10:47

      To me, “excessive” maintenance costs are when the monthly cost of maintenance approaches the cost of a monthly car payment for a “new” car.

      • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says 12 April 2013 at 07:41

        But here’s the thing: Say one year, you have to do a HUGE repair. It’s $2500. That’s more than the payments on the newer car you’re considering ($2200), so you get the newer car.

        For then next several years, with that newer car, you’re still paying $2200. If you had repaired the old car, then the next several years you would have spend only $600, on average.

        You’re ahead after one year–behind by two. If you WANT a newer can and can afford it, that’s fine. But the cheapest option is almost always to keep the old car.

        • SLCCOM says 12 April 2013 at 13:03

          If the rest of the car is in good shape, you can even put in a whole new engine and still come out ahead.

        • Mike says 10 September 2014 at 19:03

          I have three vintage cars. All paid for. I rotate between the three, saving the overall miles driven between them. I only carry collision insurance which runs about $250 quarterly. When one needs repair, I have the luxury of waiting until it’s either convenient time wise or economic moneywise. All three are meticulously maintained. I don’t ever plan to purchase another car the rest of my life. I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars in just a few short years by not buying new.

          • Tony says 21 August 2019 at 18:07

            I would like to do the same as you, but how do you insure all 3 of your cars?

  3. krantcents says 11 April 2013 at 09:15

    I am not rich, but I am financially independent for the last 28 years. I drove my Honda Accord into the ground after 17 years. I still own a 97 Honda Prelude (wife’s car). I tend to buy $20K cars and keep them forever. It is the cheapest solution to transportation.

  4. The Happy Potamus says 11 April 2013 at 09:20

    I agree. I’m 28 and am currently driving a ’99 toyota camry. I’ve had it for 5 years, and its been a great car. Sometimes my friends ask me when I’m going to get a new car. I tell them, “Not as long as this one is working. And even then I’ll probably go with one at least 7 years old.” I guess I’m just one of those people who doesn’t cherish the idea of a fancy car. I’d much rather save for financial independence.

  5. TB at BlueCollarWorkman says 11 April 2013 at 09:24

    My sister always reminds me of the environment in decisions like this too. America is all about consumption and material goods. “If you can buy a new car, you should.” But even if you were a bagarazillionaire, should you really? If you’re car works fine, then no, you shouldn’t. It’s better for the environment and peoples’ happiness in their own heads if they don’t automatically think that money should be spent, happiness is bought, we deserve more and need better.

    Be happy with what you have and you’ll always be happy.

    • MainlineMom says 12 April 2013 at 10:09

      Amen. Fight the consumerism machine.

    • Michael says 16 April 2013 at 07:50

      This is true up to a point, but there’s also an argument that if you can afford a new car you should buy it, because that puts a second-hand car on the market for someone else who can’t afford a new one, preventing them getting into debt.

      • Samir says 17 December 2014 at 04:00

        That sounds like rationalizing your reason for buying a new car. You’re right, but do you really care about saving another guy from debt? Or is that just another reason to tip the scales in favor of your desire?

  6. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says 11 April 2013 at 09:29

    I’m writing a book about frugal car decisions, and you are DEAD right on the least expensive option. Keeping your car almost always saves money. Even if there is a year of heavy repairs, if the problem item gets truly fixed, you should almost always fix it if you’re trying to save money.

    If you’re the kind of person who gets a special enjoyment out of driving a nice car AND YOU HAVE THE MONEY, then sure–go ahead and blow some cash on that amazing car. My husband would definitely want a nicer car if we suddenly got a million bucks dropped in our laps. I just don’t care that much. My 10-year-old minivan is fine by me!

    The fact is that most of the people driving the fancy cars have no wealth. They may make a lot of money, but most of them blow through it. There aren’t a lot of people out there who really have the incomes to be able to afford luxury cars.

    • Jonathan says 11 April 2013 at 16:45

      “The fact is that most of the people driving the fancy cars have no wealth. They may make a lot of money, but most of them blow through it. There aren’t a lot of people out there who really have the incomes to be able to afford luxury cars.”

      Really? That’s quite a statement to make. There are certainly plenty of people with expensive cars and no real wealth, but to say there aren’t a lot of people out there who really have the incomes to afford luxury cars is just silly. I just looked up some quick statistics (perhaps wrong, but not as wrong as your statement!) that say there are nearly 9 million households in the U.S. with a net worth of $1m or more, and over 1 million households with net worths of $5 million or more! There are tons of wealthy people in this country who can easily afford expensive cars!

      • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says 12 April 2013 at 07:49

        I’m speaking from facts, not from opinion: http://buswk.co/YQdIpM

        The #1 reason to lease is so that people can drive more car than they can afford to buy. #1. Really.

        You may not live in an area where there are a LOT of luxury cars. I used to live in Texas, and the laws about paying sales taxes on leases made it so that people were discouraged from leasing cars they couldn’t really afford by a high drive-away cost. Our here on the East Coast, though, luxury cars are EVERYWHERE. Drive down a modest neighborhood mostly populated by dead middle-income workers, and one out of every six cars is a recent-model luxury car.

      • Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says 12 April 2013 at 07:58

        Not to be a jerk, but my parents are among those with a net worth above $1, as ANYONE approaching retirement age and wants a decent income should have.

        They DO NOT HAVE THE WEALTH to drive new luxury cars. And if they HAD driven recent-model luxury cars, they wouldn’t be worth over $1 mil and CERTAINLY couldn’t retire comfortably.

        We’re younger, and we need a dead minimum of $3 million to have any kind of comfort in retirement. $1 million isn’t rich. It’s a nest egg.

        • so says 12 April 2013 at 10:36

          I guess I’d point out that depreciation and interest on a new car for the first year is 25% of its value, but for an entry-level luxury car, that’s only like $10K, which not huge and wouldn’t derail wealth building too much if it was a one-time thing. I don’t agree with leasing or buying new luxury every 3-5 years, but I could see myself buying new again in 7-10 years.

  7. Alea says 11 April 2013 at 09:37

    “But what if you’re a gazillionaire?

    “But if you’re a billionaire, why not just buy a new car? It would be nothing to you,” my friend argued.”

    The founder of IKEA drives a 15 year old Volvo, and seems proud of it. Of course that would be a different story for someone who works for minimum wage where a car repair can mean ruin or additional debt.

    I am in the BUY NEW camp. I had two old cars that constantly cost money. Then 17 years ago I bought a Toyota Camry and it was the best decision I ever made. I drove that car until the repairs started to cost more than the car. I am now the proud owner of a new Honda CRV which I paid for in cash, as I had been saving for it for 4 years. I plan on holding on to this car until it too costs too much to repair.

    • Zach says 11 April 2013 at 17:08

      You’re so right about Ingvar Kamprand driving an old Volvo (another Swedish brand!) but you must realize that in Sweden (and Scandinavia) the Law of Jante applies, and it would be socially unacceptable for him to drive anything extravagant, despite his enormous wealth.

      In an interview, Ingvar once said that he would only drive a vehicle which his customers could afford, and that is the Law of Jante at it’s finest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante)

      I’m Swedish Canadian, and having lived in both countries throughout my life, I am certain that North America could benefit from a similar rule/frame of mind. That said, even if Swedes don’t outwardly “keep up with the Joneses”, they still have higher consumer debt than Americans, actually, so something else is going wrong lol. No country is perfect it seems 🙂

      —–

      I realize my post doesn’t really add to your discussion, or the discussion happening on this thread… I just wanted to point out Jante, and how there are some lessons we could potentially take from it, here in North America 🙂

  8. Tyler Karaszewski says 11 April 2013 at 09:39

    “…and I often wonder about the mind-set that went into spending that much on a vehicle.”

    Usually the “mindset” here is something along the lines of, “hell, I’m a doctor and I just paid off my house. Why not?” Yes, that is the sort of person who buys a brand new 911 most of the time. The people spending $100k+ on cars are generally not middle-income families making $45k/year with two school-age children.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to meet a guy to look at a used Mazda Miata for sale…

    • Jane says 11 April 2013 at 10:33

      Agreed. The only people I know who drive the type of cars Kristin describes in this article are CEOs, doctors, or other high level professionals.

      I think her overall point could have been made stronger if she’d not focused on extremes – i.e. a $100,000 Mercedes versus an old Corolla. I often wonder about the new SUVs and trucks that I see on the road that are easily $40,000-$60,000. Now those types of cars are driven by middle class people who probably can’t afford them and thus are financed with 5-6 year car loans.

      In theory, the maximum I would ever spend on a car is $20,000. But I have never even come close to spending that. Like Kristin, I just don’t care about prestige when it comes to cars. Because of this, I have to watch my attitude towards others who do care. I can very easily become judgmental and lose sight of the principle “do what works for you”.

    • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies says 11 April 2013 at 17:12

      Mr. PoP reads all sorts of sites on fancy cars (like vintage Porsches – though his recent favorite is the NSX) and a lot of the forums tend to use a gently used Miata as a basis of measurement when it comes to calculating the cost of a car. That $100K Porsche? That’s 8 Miatas? Is it really going to be 8x as fun as a Miata?

      By the way, Miatas are tons of fun. We bought mine a few years ago and I really like it!

      • Tyler Karaszewski says 13 April 2013 at 22:23

        I bought the Miata.

  9. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents says 11 April 2013 at 09:55

    I’m at the opposite end of this as we have two new cars (just bought the second one around 3 weeks ago). Luckily, W works as a car salesman so we got a decent deal.

  10. Ivy says 11 April 2013 at 09:56

    While overall I agree with the article, I beg to disagree with the last comment about the 6-figures. Why not, if all other criteria are met? Why pose an arbitrary limit just because it seems high to you? Would you say buy a house but not over $1 million, because I can’t fathom a house being that expensive? Or buy a purse but not over $500 because that’s excessive?

    I don’t care for, don’t notice and don’t appreciate fancy cars, it’s just not something I value. I splurge on books, my kids, and the house. But I have a friend, with at least double my income, who cares about cars, and because she is fine with living in a small apartment with minimal furniture, amenities, she chooses to drive an E-class AMG Mercedes for over $150K. Why not? She can certainly afford it. People have different values systems

    By the way, a nice book about splurging – “Trading Up”, highly recommend
    http://www.amazon.com/Trading-Up-Consumers-Goods—Companies/dp/1591840708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365699194&sr=8-1&keywords=trading+up

  11. Stacie says 11 April 2013 at 10:00

    Right now saving up to buy a new car is my first financial goal. My car is a 2000, runs really well, but has some cosmetic damage that would cost more than the car’s worth to fix(and, as I’m reminded as temps hit 90 yesterday, no A/C). I didn’t spend much this past year in maintenance, but the year before I spent quite a bit. I’m at the point where I’m not willing to spend more on repairs beyond regular maintenance so some days I do wish my car would break down so I can get a new one!

    One thing I keep in mind, which helps hold me off of buying a new car, is that not only is there the car cost, there’s also the increased cost of insurance. I currently only have liability and would need full coverage on a new car. Right now I have about 90% of a new car saved up, so some days I really do wish my car would die…especially as summer approaches.

  12. SwampWoman says 11 April 2013 at 10:02

    I love my 18-year-old F150 truck. I don’t foresee getting rid of it. Ever.

  13. BrentABQ says 11 April 2013 at 10:11

    I’ve had this pie in the sky question come up before, what if you won the lotto, what kind of car would you get? I’d probably stick with my car until it broke and then get or commission a self-driving car depending on the state of things. My time and safety would be the most valuable things, not my 0-60 or sun roof.

  14. Jake Erickson says 11 April 2013 at 10:11

    I have the same opinion you do with cars. They can be the biggest waste of money if you buy an expensive new car. Is new better than used, yes, but it isn’t worth the extra cost. That being said, if I made over $200k a year and had retirement fully funded and everything else taken care of, I wouldn’t hesitate buying a $40k car. Just depends on the situation.

  15. Kyla H. says 11 April 2013 at 10:19

    I definitely agree with your perspective on cars. I live in L.A. too and I feel the same whenever I see all the expensive, luxury cars around town. I bought my ’01 Ford Escape with cash in 2007 and although it’s starting to wear down and require more and more maintenance (it’s at 170,000 miles), I love it for many reasons and plan on driving it until it can’t drive anymore!

    I would even consider going car-less, but since L.A. is probably one of the more difficult cities to NOT have access to a car it doesn’t really make sense to give it up, especially when it’s not costing an exorbitant amount to keep it running. And if I was financially free and/or had great wealth, I’m nearly 100% certain that buying a fancy, new car would be the last thing on my list!

  16. Laura says 11 April 2013 at 10:23

    Kristin’s post dovetails nicely with the review of Elizabeth Warren’s “All Your Worth” – if you want a $100K car and can pay for it fully out of your wants, why not. If you don’t want a $100K car, that’s fine too.

    I’m also a fan of the “buy and hold” strategy for cars; our 2001 Toyota Echo has almost 150K miles, no car payment since 2005. The down side is that it’s in the “repair early and often” zone and we’ve put around $3K into it in the last 8 months. But as a result, about half the car’s parts are brand-new, so with luck this is it for awhile.

    If we could afford a new, needs-no-repairs-for-several-years car, we absolutely would. However, the cost of repairing our beater hasn’t yet matched/exceeded car payments, so we keep on truckin’ with the beater. It’s an incentive to walk and take public transit when we can.

    (And yes, it would have been lovely if we’d put car payments aside in savings for the next one, but life didn’t work that way for us.)

    All the experiences we’ve had with buying used cars have turned out poorly. They needed costly repairs within a year after purchase, and/or died spectacular deaths in bad places; DH has more hilarious “how/where my car died” stories than anyone else I know. Perhaps because of this, my preference is to buy new but buy a basic, low-end model from a good brand. For us, it was a Toyota (good brand) Echo (their low-end model in 2001) for $15K.

    Keeping up on maintenance is crucial to keeping an old car. Otherwise, you too will have spectacular car death stories.

  17. Kay says 11 April 2013 at 10:57

    One piece of advice I have for anyone with an older car they plan to hold on to for a few more years… to help discourage that “new car itch”, you might want to look into investing in a new stereo or remote starter that would cost only a few hundred bucks, but make your car seem like it’s new, with some upgraded features.

    I’ve eyed new cars for years. I could afford them too, but there’s really nothing wrong with the 13-year old car I have, and it still has a lot of life left in it. By installing a new stereo with Bluetooth, Pandora, and HD radio, it’s like having that new car without the investment. It’s AWESOME!

    • righteothen says 11 April 2013 at 13:18

      I did the same thing with my 2001 Honda Civic. I put in a new stereo with AUX in, mp3 cd capabilities, and USB in (all I care about since I can do Pandora through my phone and just use AUX over to the stereo). While I was at it I replaced the speakers, and bam! New car feel without the new car price.

    • nikhil says 13 April 2013 at 05:51

      I did the same on my 2000 focus with 126K miles. Got a stereo from amzn – bluetooth, handsfree talking when paired with phone, bluetooth streaming (control any app – music, podcast, radio), usb, mp3 etc etc etc.
      The car runs well, engine is strong, transmission is smooth (manual). Although I have enough money to buy 2 new cars in a special car fund, I still dont plan on replacing the car anytime soon. Why should I? I paid 6K for it over 6 years ago; I probably average $500 a year on maintenance and repairs (excluding new tires). I drive a lot – over 13K miles a year – and the car is still doing great and is a hoot to throw around corners. I would be very sad to let this one go.

  18. Andrea says 11 April 2013 at 10:58

    This article is so right on with everything. And it is totally rational. For many people, including myself, cars are not a rational thing alone.
    I am saving for the last 2 years to eventually buy my dream car. It is not $100.000, but close enough to it at $75.000. I will not purchase it on a whim, and I will try to do it as financially responsible as I can. One can argue I can spend my money on something better, but for me this is worth it. I feel happiness driving a beautiful car, feel the engine, marvel the gracious engineering. For me a car is more than just a thing, you get an experience with it. And isn’t that one of the things we always talk about on GRS, to rather spend money on experiences than on things?
    Obviously, you should not be stupid about it, and spend more than you can afford. But if you can, a nice car can be just the right thing to spend money on.

  19. Peach says 11 April 2013 at 10:58

    For now I plan on sticking to ~$20-25K cars. I get so nervous about other people dinging my doors, etc that if I spent anymore more than that (say $60K) it just wouldnt even be worth it to drive it around….just because of the damage that happens accidentally. I have a friend that feels the same way. She bought a used Infiniti M36 which is expensive new and used. She still parks in the far reaches of the lot and never wants to drive into a city where she will have to parallel park.

  20. Windy says 11 April 2013 at 11:42

    YES.

    Both my husband and I bought our cars with cash – mine a 2005 CR-V, his a 1995 Volvo wagon. His is nearing the ground part of “driven into the ground,” but mine still runs well and gets me from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss. I had to teach my husband the folly of car payments when we met – even the zero-percent-interest loans. (The payments on the loan, especially early on, can’t keep up with the depreciation.)

    • Jonathan says 11 April 2013 at 16:40

      “I had to teach my husband the folly of car payments when we met — even the zero-percent-interest loans. (The payments on the loan, especially early on, can’t keep up with the depreciation.)”

      Where’s the folly in getting an interest-free loan on a car? In what way does depreciation of the car factor into the decision to get a loan or not? I would absolutely take the free money from the car dealership (or even cheap money – anything at 5% or less) so I could put my $20k or whatever the car were to cost to better use. The value of the car only makes a difference when you sell it – which is unlikely to happen in the first year or two I’d suspect.

      • Jennifer B says 11 April 2013 at 17:16

        >The value of the car only makes a difference >when you sell it — which is unlikely to happen >in the first year or two I’d suspect.

        The big risk here is accidents. If your car is totaled during that time, the insurance company usually pays out the current value of the car. And if you still owe more than the car is worth, you’ll still be paying on a car that you can’t drive any more.

        The thing is, you can’t just decide to drive really carefully during that time – you have to count on all of the other people around you driving carefully as well. You can easily get into an accident even if you’ve done everything right.

        • Jonathan says 11 April 2013 at 17:22

          What is your point? (I’ll ignore gap coverage for now, which insures for this very issue) The insurance company gives you the same amount of money regardless of what you owe. If you paid out $20k in cash for the car and now it’s worth $16k and you total it, you get $16k. If you have made 8 payments of $300 and still owe $17,600, you get your $16k and now owe the lender $1,600 more. Either way, you’ve spent $4,000, but under the loan scenario you didn’t have to front $20,000 and give up any opportunity to do anything more productive with it (or even just save it for a rainy day – such as when you total your car and need to buy a new one).

  21. Alex says 11 April 2013 at 11:54

    After numerous recalls on our 2007 Toyota RAV4 and needing a new $900 water pump just months after the warranty expired on a car that had only 21k miles on it I traded it in for a Volvo XC60. I had owned Toyotas before and loved them but the latest incantation of Toyota is just awful quality. I’m not sure all brands of cars are built to last but one does sure see a lot of old Volvos on the road.

    I’m with others on the buy new strategy. The last used car I got kept flooding during a rain. Turns out whoever replaced the windshield had done it wrong. Can’t trust the previous owner has taken care of the car properly and you may end up with more issues that are not easily or inexpensively corrected. But if you owned the car from day one you know how well the vehicle has been taken care of.

  22. xing says 11 April 2013 at 12:06

    I took an alternative path when replacing my 20 yo Toyota (some texting teen rear-ended it… while it was parked!)

    I bought a used Porsche 911 in excellent condition for less than what most people spend on new vehicles. On the highway it gets close to 30MPH, but when you do feel the need to put your foot in it… Just lovely.

    So… one may see me and smugly think “what an idiot for spending so much!”, but I know that the idiot was the original owner. And I thank him for his sacrifice.

    Porsches are very dependable. Even so, I do all my own maintenance.

  23. Aryn says 11 April 2013 at 12:07

    I successfully drove my car into the ground! I drove my 1997 Toyota Corolla until late 2010. We were planning to replace it in December, 2010 because we were starting a family. In July, 2010, the mechanic told me that three of the four engine mounts had worn out.

    So I bought a new car in August and will keep it until at least 2020.

    • zs says 29 July 2014 at 12:27

      You bought a new car because the MOTOR MOUNTS wore out???????????????

      I drive a car 4 years newer than yours and ALL THREE of my motor mounts were bad on my car. Car shook like a rollercoaster driving down the road and even sitting completely still. I ordered all three mounts online and took them up to my mechanic. You know how much it cost to put them on?

      $200.

      I can’t imagine your car that is 4 years older than mine would have costed significantly more than mine. The fact that you bought a new car because of this is absurd and makes me think you had the “new car itch” and were just waiting for any excuse to buy a new one.

  24. stellamarina says 11 April 2013 at 12:21

    I like an older run around car. I can pile the buckets of mulch in the back and not worry about it making a mess. I also do not worry if it gets scratched or knocked into as I run around town. I think expensive cars are a bit like expensive sunglasses…..you are going to be worried about them all the time….. I just want a car that goes all the time.

  25. El Nerdo says 11 April 2013 at 12:27

    Whoa whoa– who wants heated seats in LA? I’m serious!

    • Alea says 11 April 2013 at 13:10

      Even in LA they are DIVINE!!! My 85 year old mum loves them, when we go shopping and her back is stiff, by the time we get to the store she is at least 10 years younger due to the heated seats. Also great, when taking dad to therapy, loves them after all the hard work.

    • Honey Smith says 11 April 2013 at 13:52

      Haha El Nerdo, I also laughed at the idea of heated seats. Then again, you and I live in the southwest 😉

      • El Nerdo says 12 April 2013 at 07:39

        Ha ha ha, yes– I’d pay a premium for wicker seats cooled by a gentle sea breeze, but they don’t make those…

        • Judy says 12 April 2013 at 10:06

          There are cars available with air conditioned seats (no joke) to deal with the hot seat issue.

    • Kristin says 12 April 2013 at 08:47

      Well, I’m old now so I’m always cold. 😛

  26. Tina in NJ says 11 April 2013 at 12:40

    When I was in high school (mid 70s) my church youth group went to Newport, Rhode Island. The tour guide pointed out one of the gilded residents. His car was driven by a chauffeur, but it was a Toyota. It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. Enjoy your trip.

  27. Evangeline says 11 April 2013 at 12:47

    I follow my father’s advice and it holds me in good stead because it applies to a lot more than cars : ‘Keep it as long as you can but don’t let it nickel and dime you to death.’

  28. so says 11 April 2013 at 13:10

    We hit five figures in monthly rental income and a pretty major net worth goal (3/4m), and we are fairly young (35) and have stable incomes (corporate lawyer / college professor), so I went out and bought an $80,000 car.

    We’re frugal with everything else, so I figured I’m in my earning prime, and if I don’t like it I can always sell it. It is a beautiful car and makes me happy on my commute, and we’re still able to put away six figures a year, so why not??

  29. Beth says 11 April 2013 at 13:28

    We plan to keep our cars a good long time. My husband’s is a 2001 Grand Prix, and we plan to keep it for quite some time. The AC is shot, the gas indicator is broken, but other than that, it’s fine for local driving. It fits our purposes just fine, so there’s no pressing need to replace it just yet. But when it is time to go, I wouldn’t mind buying a brand-new car (in cash) and keeping it for a loooong time.

  30. holland marx says 11 April 2013 at 13:30

    I’ll probably be buried in my ’87 F150. Yeah, it’s a gas guzzler, but I don’t put more than 10 miles a week on it on average. I live in Portland and we have a great public transit system here.

  31. Honey Smith says 11 April 2013 at 13:50

    This article is so pertinent for me right now for so many reasons.

    My car is 13 years old, it has 110,000 miles on it. I just paid $500 today for a bunch of repairs (and will probably pay another $500 before the end of summer). That seems like a lot, but I haven’t had any major maintenance in awhile, and $500 is what, the average car payment? My goal is to get to at least 200K miles, which at the rate I drive could be 10 years from now 😉

    One of my friends just had her compressor go out, and with 100+ degree days on their way, was super frustrated (that’s like a $1000 repair). She is two car payments away from paying off her vehicle and said, “I almost just bought a new car while I was at the dealership.” First of all, she goes to the dealership for repairs? If the car’s still under warranty or is some sort of specialty car maybe, but hers is neither. I did say, “If your car’s almost paid off, you should keep it — you can probably drive it 10 more years” and she said she could envision two more years MAX. This was a bit shocking to me. She then said that the reason my car would last so much longer is because I don’t drive as much — but she said it as if the amount she drove wasn’t something in her control. Her commute’s longer than mine but nothing excessive. I’ve been confused ever since.

    My dad just leased (!!!) a loaded 2013 Hyundai Sonata, but since he is a widower with no debt who rents a tiny apartment and doesn’t travel or have any other expensive habits, I say more power to him. And even if it’s a new car (and a lease), I don’t think he’s going to get in financial trouble over a Hyundai.

  32. Pamela | Hands on Home Buyer says 11 April 2013 at 14:27

    What always makes me crazy about spending money on expensive cars is how fragile they are. Every day you’re putting this depreciating asset in harm’s way. Has anyone ever owned a car that didn’t get dinged or scratched somewhere? I know the misery of having my new, expensive car damaged would vastly overcome any fun I had driving it.

    Of course, what do I know? My only car is a bicycle. 🙂

    And yes, I bought it used.

  33. Sam says 11 April 2013 at 15:00

    I live in Palm Beach, I used to get excited when a Ferrari or a Bentley or Rolls Royce drove by, but its not exciting when you see them all the time.

    To me, being frugal on cars, which we are, frees up so much more money to save or to do other fun things. Yes I could have a nicer car in the sense that I could afford the payment but then I wouldn’t be able to save or I wouldn’t be able to have as much fun.

    I have a dear friend, she and I are the same age, in the same profession and at the save general level career wise. In the 10 years I’ve known her she’s had 4 cars and three were leased.

    When she upgraded from car one to card two it made sense to me, she was getting rid of car she didn’t feel was reliable, she is a professional and wanted something nicer/fancier. But since she upgraded to a Mercedes she couldn’t afford to buy one so she leased. And with leasing, there comes a time when the lease is up so she leased another high end car and then when that lease was up she leased another better high end car. So for the last eight years, at least, she has been paying a lease payment every month.

    Recently we celebrated a birthday and somehow ended up talking about student loans and she complained about hers. Now she’s been out of graduate school for more than 10 years and she still paying off her loans. I was thinking well if you didn’t lease a car every 2-3 years you’d have $300-$400 a month to put towards that student loan debt. It just makes no sense to me.

  34. ed says 11 April 2013 at 15:42

    I had a friend that never bought a new car.
    . . . He said that a new car lost too much value,
    . . . when you turned the key and drove it off the dealers lot.
    . . . He preferred to buy 3 year old cars and
    . . . was handy enough to fix his own cars.

    I always bought new cars for CASH,
    . . . always took them to the dealers for preventive maintenance,
    . . . drove them for around 15 years and
    . . . never “SAVED FOR A CAR.”
    I always spent less than I made and “SAVED FOR A RAINY DAY?”

    I’ve never been rich, but I never paid INTEREST on anything.
    . . . When Bills came due, I always had enough to pay them.
    . . . And when my car finally died, I had enough in savings to
    . . . buy a new inexpensive one, (Standard drive, no options)
    . . . with low operating expenses (High Gas Milage)
    . . . low maintenance (No Options, Air, or Power to repair)
    . . . every year the insurance and tax gets cheaper.

    Buying things that are expensive, never made me happy,
    Buying Stocks that paid me Dividends, made me happy.

  35. kate says 11 April 2013 at 16:09

    It seems like a lot of people who favor buying older, used cars just don’t drive as much as I do. In the above comments, from people who specified both a vehicle age and mileage, there is a 12 year old car with 150k miles, a 12 year old car with 170k miles, and a 13 year old car with 110k miles.

    My car is 8.5 years with 175k miles on it. By the time it hits the 12 year mark, it will have about 225k miles on it. And yes, I intend to hit that mark and surpass it (my current goal is 250k but I don’t thik 300k is outside the realm of possibility), but considering how many miles I put on my car per year, starting with someone else’s miles and questionable maintenance habits is just not something I’m going to do.

    I’m going to buy a new car every single time, and drive it into the ground. Pay cash if I can, finance it if I have to. And maybe I don’t get rich slowly quite as quickly, but oh well.

    • Beth says 11 April 2013 at 19:19

      I plan to buy a new car, too! At least then I don’t need to worry if it’s been in an accident, etc.

    • Panda says 12 April 2013 at 07:25

      Absolutely with you on this. My car’s not even 6 years old and I have over 130k on it. I’ll also replace it with a new car.

  36. MissB says 11 April 2013 at 17:02

    I drove my 14 yo Volvo into the ground, putting over 150k miles on it in the years I owned it. I bought it when it was 3 years old with not quite 40k miles on it. Worked great, but in the last year it was falling apart. Towed twice in the last few months. It was beginning to cost more than it was worth and more than I wanted to spend.

    So I bought a pretty Mercedes. Three years old, not quite 40k miles on it. Less than half the cost of a new one (we use the used lux car dealer that lives around the corner, good deals). I will likely drive it for about the same number of miles as the ole Volvo.

    But I thought long and hard about buying a car. Took me over a year to pull the trigger. We can afford it on our professional salaries and it doesn’t interfere with our retirement or college savings goals. I wouldn’t do it if I had to take a multi year loan. We don’t buy cars very often, and tend to keep them until it doesn’t make sense to do so. But yeah, it’s the first lux car I’ve bought. I’m sure I could’ve bought a slightly newer (non-lux) car for the same price, but I’m quite happy with my purchase. I’m grateful that someone else took the depreciation on the car first, though.

  37. Jen Y says 11 April 2013 at 20:10

    I can’t see spending that much on a car when there’s so much pain in the world that could be helped with the money. My husband & I have been married 26 yrs & have bought two cars in that time that we still drive. they can last a lot longer than most people think.

    • Dar says 12 April 2013 at 14:17

      Those people who built the car have families to support too. I don’t advocate going out and buying an expensive sports car, but I don’t begrudge those who do because the money they spent on it doesn’t go into a hole–it goes to support the workers at the dealership, the factory, the suppliers, etc.

  38. Crystal says 11 April 2013 at 21:19

    I like my money and no car payments more than getting a new car even though I don’t like mine. BUT, if I had like 5 million in the bank and was set for life, I’ll be honest – I would splurge a bit.

    My dream car is actually pretty affordable – I would buy a certified pre-owned red VW Beetle, have it professionally painted with black spots, have the doors changed to open like the Delorean, and have simply hydraulics installed so that I’d be driving a Lady Bug. The doors would open like wings and I could use the hydraulics to “settle” after I park. I know it sounds silly as all heck, but it would be worth all of the smiles it would cause. I actually plan on doing this when I am financially set and retired.

    • Kristin says 12 April 2013 at 08:53

      Woah! I want to ride in your ladybug!

      • Crystal says 16 April 2013 at 13:23

        I’ll let you know if I ever follow through. 🙂

  39. Mom of five says 11 April 2013 at 21:31

    When we were younger, without kids, and generally more tolerant, we drove every car into the ground. We drove cars where the windows didn’t roll down and we had to open the car door to pay a toll. We had one car that had rusted so much in places if you lifted one of the floor mats in the back seat you could actually see the roadway.

    We have paid cash for our last 3 cars (purchased new) and have driven them for seven or 8 years. Our days of really driving our cars into the ground are over. I’d rather have a more comfortable, extremely reliable vehicle than the rusty windowless heaps of our youth. These days, I figure the most we want to get out of a new vehicle is 10 years. At this point in our life, we’d take a low car payment on a new Civic or a Corolla before we’d take a beater purchased with cash.

    • Kate Horrell says 12 April 2013 at 13:27

      I absolutely agree – the need for reliability changes everything, and often you don’t “need” reliability until you have kids. We bought our first new car when I was 9 months pregnant with our first child. After sitting on the side of the road, a bjillion miles from nowhere, until I could track down my husband and a tow-truck, I decided that I was going to require a reliable car if we lived in a remote area and I had a newborn. It turned out to be a decent decision, though I didn’t anticipate that the station wagon would be too small for our family in four short years.

      Dealing with repairs is a whole different ballgame when you have a car full of car seats and their occupants.

  40. SAHMama says 12 April 2013 at 04:16

    Yeah we planned to do the same thing until someone totaled ours.

  41. Mike says 12 April 2013 at 04:20

    Well I have to answer this.
    I have a very “new” 5 year old car bought in 2008 with a loan. Paid for it like crazy in 1 year. Now I have to keep it in shape , do the maintenance and everything but there is no way in hell I would take another loan until 2020. I want to keep it for 12 years at least.
    Because I am doing just 6.000 miles /year I can imagine keeping it even more.
    Now if I were rich(like 10.000.000$) the first thing I would do would be to buy a house , put a lot of solar panels on it and around it and then buy an electric car. Either a Nissan Leaf (which is pretty convenient) or a Renault (zoe).
    No I would not buy a Tesla S .. even if it’s an engineering beauty .. the cost it too high.
    That being said I am considering an electric conversion on my car when it gets to 100.000 miles .. instead of just scraping it.

  42. Alex says 12 April 2013 at 04:41

    I agree. I try to run everything to the ground to get the most value out of it, not just a car.

    I have had the same phone for the past four years, which without the upgrade allows me to cancel my phone plan at anytime because my two years are up.

    This has saved me tons of money over the long run because I do not have to buy a new phone and not to mention if I do not like the bill the company sends me and tries to throw something sneaky on it, then you bet I am calling them up and negotiating the bill. I have high leverage since I can walk away from the company without loosing anything.

  43. juni says 12 April 2013 at 04:47

    thanks for sharing helpfull information

  44. getagrip says 12 April 2013 at 05:37

    I see no problem in enjoying the fruits of your labor as long as you can afford it.

    I’ve a former boss who bought a Porche a while back. I asked about finances, and all bases were covered, no debt other than the mortgage, and he and his wife each make enough that if either lost their job the bills could be covered on one income. His bad weather car at the time was his 12 year old Toyota 4Runner he’d been driving while saving for the Porche. I see him driving the Porche often, he enjoyes it.

    Isn’t that one of the things we save for, to purchase things we can enjoy?

    For some people it’s the 35 foot sailboat, a big pickup truck, a motorhome, or that trip to Australia. The Jones’ were never the problem, it’s those of us trying to keep up with them and shouldn’t be that are at issue.

  45. Vicki says 12 April 2013 at 05:42

    I just paid off my suv and I love not having a car payment. I plan to keep it for years, as long as the car holds up. A new car would happen when this one breaks down and it cost more to repair. I have always brought new cars before my previous car was paid off, but this time paying my car off is a new experience of financial joy:)

    • Kristin says 12 April 2013 at 08:57

      Congrats! It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

  46. betttylion says 12 April 2013 at 07:52

    Your Corolla will last many years more. I had a Geo Prizm (mechanically identical to the Corolla, made in the same factory) and I had it until it had 263,000 miles on it. It still ran wonderfully, but things were starting to fall off (like the door) so I jumped at the chance to buy my brother in law’s off-lease Pontiac Grand Prix for $4000. $4k isn’t that much for a kinda fancy car but I still came to regret that decision. The Pontiac was NOT reliable – everything was always breaking. I could have fixed the minor issues on the Geo for much less than $4k. And I could probably still be driving it for all I know – I still see 90’s Geo’s and Corollas for sale and they’re still running strong.

  47. HKR says 12 April 2013 at 08:33

    In 2009, I found a great deal on an ’07 Dodge Caliber with 20k miles and swore I’d drive it into the ground when I bought it (financed, but paid off in a year). Now I’m torn; I don’t have enough saved up to buy a different car, and I don’t want car payments, but my car drives me a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong- it’s practical, gets good gas mileage, and has been pretty low maintenance- but the noise is killing me. Apparently the early Calibers weren’t sound-proofed very well, and in mine the road noise is at a constant roar. If you’re riding with someone, you have to talk very loudly to be heard, and people on the phone regularly ask me if I can step out of the wind. I’ve considered trading it for another vehicle of roughly equivalent value (which is not much; roughly $4k per NADA) but I know this car doesn’t have any serious problems, and worry I could wind up with someone else’s lemon. I’ll probably just stick it out for a few more years and hope I don’t go nuts (or deaf), but I’m definately eyeing some 2013/2014 models that will make good candidates for my next used vehicle purchase…

  48. Davina says 12 April 2013 at 08:37

    In 2004 I bought a 2000 Lexus ES 300 with 27,000 miles and a 4-year warranty from a dealer for $23,000. I take good care of it and it’s a joy to drive at 174,000 miles. Several mechanics have told me that many cars are going to 300,000 miles these days; I plan to drive this car as long as possible.

  49. Ely says 12 April 2013 at 09:28

    It’s not the cost of repairs that’s the problem, it’s the reliability of the older vehicle. My 12-yr-old Saturn was a disaster waiting to happen.

    On the other hand we now have a 20+ yr old Honda Civic that we’ve had about 5 years. It has a number of small issues that I would get repaired, but my husband likes driving the Millennium Falcon. It has about 225k miles on it and doesn’t seem to be in danger of keeling over anytime soon.

    Still, if we were gazillionaires we would probably buy a new car for reliability and knowing its history. My husband drives a lot of miles, so he might go for a few comfort upgrades as well. My primary vehicle is a bicycle, so the idea of spending more than a couple grand (the cost of the honda) on transport just makes me cringe. 🙂

  50. mike says 12 April 2013 at 09:28

    My biggest obstacle is the amount we have to drive distance wise, which is the only reason we will be getting rid of our 2003 Civic which has been great. I need something that can handle inclement weather and doesn’t weight the same amount as my toaster.

    Also I have found if older cars start having electrical problems unless you can fix it yourself your better off getting a new or newer used car. Although these days for not much more you can buy a brand new car over a 2 year old car with 25k on it. The sweet point seems to be 5 years to get the best deals. Still if I buy a new car for 25k I expect to get atleast 10 years out of it with much major maintenance only routine maintenance stuff.

  51. LA Girl says 12 April 2013 at 09:47

    I live in LA too (working in luxury car city – Beverly Hills) and am driving my 2003 Grand Am which I bought after college – going on 7 years! I would love to get a new car and its been weighing on me but I LOVE no car payments!

    I am saying next year for my 30th… I will give myself a birthday present of …. CAR PAYMENTS! 🙂

    • slccom says 13 May 2014 at 16:47

      Why aren’t you making those “car payments” to your savings account for that time, so you can give yourself a paid-for car?

  52. MainlineMom says 12 April 2013 at 10:06

    I fundamentally agree with driving cars into the ground, but I am not a car person. Clearly you are not either. Like you, I value other things, such as the experience of eating out with my family so that I don’t have to spend time preparing it or cleaning it up. We eat out much more than most frugal people do.

    We’re thinking about this right now as we recently paid off my minivan and my poor husband is driving a car he hates (I love it, it was my purchase) for 2.5 hours a day. It is absolutely showing it’s age, but it seems like it will keep running a lot longer. It has essentially no trade in value either.

    The only part of this post I really disagree with is the premise that if you’re super rich you should buy things because you can. I don’t believe money is just for spending on stuff. I believe it is a tool for life and should be shared, so if I was contributing the max to my 401k, had my emergency savings, was saving extra for retirement…I still wouldn’t buy a new luxury car. I’d give more away. That’s just where my personal values are.

  53. Ms. W @ GrowingHerWorth.com says 12 April 2013 at 10:12

    When my 1998 Honda Accord died on the side of the interstate, I bought a brand new 2000 Honda Accord, with the plan of driving it at least 10 years. When I moved across the country in early 2011, I decided to buy a new vehicle. I’ve regretted that decision (and the car payment) ever since. Today I’m going to sell the 2011 vehicle, and buy back the 2000 Accord (the person who bought it from me found a used luxury car they’d like to buy).

    I can see both sides of the new/used debate. Depending on how much I have set aside when the Honda finally dies, I’ll consider both options. But I’ll do my best to avoid a car loan in the future, and probably drive whatever I have until it’s no longer worth it.

    • mike says 12 April 2013 at 12:16

      That doesn’t make much sense you already have 2 years of sunk costs for the car payments. So even if you get a good deal on the Honda you’ll have those costs, including the fact that it is a 13 year old car with all the maint. costs. You may still be under warranty and probably under longer powertrain warranty. I would do the math first because depending on what you put down and the balance of you loan, you may have to eat some additional money when you sell it.

      The other factor is if you regret the vehicle because it was highly expensive and/or unreliable brand or 1 with bad mpg. But if you bought another Honda or like car you can drive that car for another 10 plus years. Divide the amount that you owe by 10 years and it might see like a small amount compared to say buying a 13 year old car which may only last 2 more years, maybe more but you don’t know and your back to square 1. Of course if you bought a European car I get it.

      • Ms. W @ GrowingHerWorth.com says 12 April 2013 at 13:23

        Yes, I’ve definitely run the numbers, and gotten all the quotes. It’s not a choice that would be right for everyone, but it works for me for several reasons:

        -Once I sell the car (2011 Nissan) and buy the Honda back, I’ll be a couple hundred dollars ahead. Not a huge win, but it’ll mean no car payment, much lower insurance rates, and much lower plating/registration fees. Plus I’m buying the Honda for about $500 less than what it’s worth, so it’s a good deal.

        -Sunk costs are just that: sunk. Yes, from an overall perspective, I’m losing money. I’ll never get back the money I put into the first couple of years. But that would be true whether I kept the car or not. By selling the car, I free up a large chunk of money going forward. No sense throwing good money after bad!

        -My Dad is a mechanic who runs his own business. This is great two-fold: If there are any issues, I can get them fixed by someone I trust, and at cost. Actually, he’s the one who’s owned the Honda for the last two years, and has put enough work into it that it’s in better shape now than when I sold it to him originally. Also, he frequently comes across inexpensive old cars that his clients are looking to sell. So, when I need to buy another car, I’ll easily be able to buy another used one for a couple thousand dollars if need be.

        -Emotionally, I HATE the Nissan. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se. It’s ranked high in safetly and reliability. It gets me from point A to point B. But I bought it when I moved across the country for a job that ended up turning into a disaster. The car is a constant reminder of a miserable time in my life. Everything about it was suited for that job, in that state, for that life. I’m ready to move on! Plus, it sucks in the rain/snow/ice, which is most of what I drive in now that I’m back home!

        It’s not a choice that would be right for everyone, but for where I’m at right now in my life, and where I’m heading, it’s the right choice for me. And trust me, I’ve been thinking about it and running the numbers for months now!

        • mike says 13 April 2013 at 11:10

          Well the section about your Dad explains everything. Buy him something nice for Daddy’s Day. I know for me I would keep the new car or possibly trade it in for a 2 year old Honda, hopefully a close swap just because hourly rates are what dissuades me for keeping a car for too long when I notice they start having issues. If I get 10 years I am happy, anything after that is a bonus.

        • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:11

          Even your Dad might find it harder to service modern cars these days due to the heavy investment most shops have to make in diagnostic equipment, computer systems, etc. for them all. These days it makes a lot of sense to use the local dealer’s maintenance shop for certain things unless a general mechanic has access to data systems to read telemetry on a car that is at the standards required by manufacturers. Cars are now “black boxes” that are designed for modular replacement and servicing is less of an issue if you have the technology in order diagnose and the modular part replacement to replace out what’s broke.

        • Ms. W @ GrowingHerWorth.com says 17 April 2013 at 05:37

          Yes, and no. Really, it depends on the type of car you’re driving, and the mechanic you are going to. While my Dad mainly deals with larger fleet vehicles, he does keep his scanners up to date, making it possible for him to work on most vehicles that are brought into his shop. And he’s willing to admit to his limitations… he works with specialty shops on things like transmissions. And there are certain types of vehicles he won’t work on at all, like high end German models. The German companies have a penchant for requiring special tools that are specific to their vehicles only. It’s only worthwhile to purchase the tools if you work on a lot of those models.

    • Jonathan says 12 April 2013 at 12:20

      I trust that your “1998 Honda Accord” is a typo? If a 2-year old car died on the highway, I can’t imagine why you’d buy the new version of the same car.

      • Ms. W @ GrowingHerWorth.com says 12 April 2013 at 13:02

        Yes, 1998 was definitely a big typo! Should have been 1984. Sorry!

  54. phoenix1920 says 12 April 2013 at 10:39

    Great article, and I appreciate how you recognize we all have different priorities. I would have a similar feeling to you if I was looking at a luxury car. I don’t care about heated seats–at all. But I love sports cars–the first car I bought was a V8 convertible that had an amazing suspension, cornered well, and made me smile every time I drove it. I still have that beautiful car, even though it’s twenty years old now.

    But it’s no longer my everyday car. I have children and need a car that is reliable for when we take trips, for when we drive around town. Now, I’m also looking for cars with great safety features that will keep us safe if somebody else is texting and driving. In my current search for finding a new car, I realize that most of the important safety features that I want in a car are not offered in many cars, and definitely not in older ones.

    As for car payments, I don’t see the difference between car payments and a sinking fund. If you have an older car, you should be putting a set amount aside for when the car breaks down and you need to buy a new car. For me, I think if you anticipate you car lasting 10 years and your next car costing $20,000, you should be setting aside $2000/year for that next car. Which feels very much like a car payment.

    I find it interesting that you can’t contemplate making a car payment each month, but you pay rent each month. My goal is paying off my house, so I won’t have a housing payment each month 😉

    • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:13

      Right on brother. Except that mortgage interest is tax deductible in the USA. So you can write a big fat check to Uncle Sam or make it a part of your bank payment on your house. So with that in mind, it might actually make more sense to carry debt in your house than your car since you can get a tax write-off on the house.

  55. Mario says 12 April 2013 at 10:46

    I think I’ll start by saying I don’t like any sort of absolutes. For example, there was a period of time where the Toyota Prius was very difficult to find new, but if you were lucky enough to find one, you could drive it around for a couple years and almost certainly find someone willing to pay more for it used than you got it for new.

    But the bigger issue is that car technology advances pretty quickly these days. Besides finding new ways to add status to their cars, manufacturers are also adding safety, fuel efficiency, cleaner emissions, driveability, and more. I’d at least look at a value:cost comparison rather than just a pure cost.

    That all said, I would never buy a brand new car unless I got a spectacular deal; let someone else take the immediate depreciation hit. Aaand, I live in NY and am happy that it’ll be ages before I’ll ever have to worry about buying, insuring, maintaining, and parking a car again 🙂

    • phoenix1920 says 12 April 2013 at 13:46

      I agree about the absolutes and think you are right about safety features, etc. In terms of the decision to buy new or used, I like to drive a car until it hits about 100,000 miles, which takes me about 12-15 years. After that, I feel the reliability goes down too much. However, when I was pricing out new v. used cars, I look at the price of car per miles left until it hits 100,000. In other words, for a new car, I take the cost of the car and divide it by 100,000 to determine the price per mile. For used cars, I take the price and divide it by the miles left on the car until it reaches 100,000 miles. I used to get a better rate on the cost per mile on new cars (i.e., new cars were cheaper when determined by mile) than used cars as to the brands I was considering. Recently, I am finding that the percentage is changing and they cost the same. This method really varies based on the model. Some used cars retain their value more and it’s better to buy them new because you spend too much on the used cars since the used cars of that model are in higher demand. Some vehicles (esp luxury vehicles) lose so much value when they are sold that it is a much better deal to buy them used.

  56. hope says 12 April 2013 at 12:26

    One thing I’d like to mention is that with a new car there are fairly expensive maintenance expenses to keep up warranty, I find that now that the warranty is long gone and I’m driving my 13 year old car, the yearly maintenance is less than the first few years of my new car, AND no car payments!

    • mike says 13 April 2013 at 11:23

      I don’t follow you on that Hope. If your do what the dealer recommends, yes it can be a fortune but if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations you will be fine.
      For Ex: 2008 CRV, the dealer wants you to literally spend $300-1000 a year depending on the mile marker, to do a bunch of checks while by following the maint. minder on the car by Honda, I’ve kept the cost under $200 or less a year which doesn’t include new brake pads and tires as they are wear and tear. Mainly they just want you to change fluids (oil, brake, rear diff., trans, coolant, etc.., filters, which can be done anywhere. If you put a lot of miles on you are out warranty quick anyway. Where the money ads up is as the car ages and you start needing to replace parts and the hit you with $90 an hour rates on top of basic maint. or if your electrical system starts to go then costs money. I don’t know if all car brands are the same but most dealers try to get you to do a bunch of stuff at higher intervals than actually needed and do checks on a quality vehicle that also aren’t needed. So I only take my car to a dealer while it is in warranty, once a year for state inspection and then utilize other shops with coupons. For instance Midas costs to do brake pads was half the price of the dealers with a lifetime warranty on the pad replacement (though not labor). It was a $125 for front pads, the dealer and 2 other shops wanted $300+. Granted if I did it myself the pads would cost $25-40 bucks depending on brand but I don’t mess with brakes.

  57. Mario says 12 April 2013 at 14:37

    I think car payments are bad because they trick people into thinking they can afford more car than they can. But if it’s possible to get a low enough interest rate (and there are some crazy low ones out there), I don’t see why I wouldn’t take it.

    But more to the point, your friend brought up a lot of questions about value; but things have value because we assign them value. In your case, it sounds like the new, fancy features don’t sound like they’d be worth the money to you. After all, who needs heated seats in L.A.?

  58. Mel Laurence says 12 April 2013 at 17:27

    How many people make the mistake of buying a new car instead of nabbing a property bargain. In twenty years time, the car is almost worthless. But the well-positioned property will have made some good capital growth.

  59. Robin Capper says 13 April 2013 at 22:50

    I can see why people who can afford expensive cars get them, the ones who cant but still do make me wonder.

    The most expensive running costs are finance and depreciation. When most talk about the cost of running older cars they fail to factor that in. My previous car, even allowing for 100% depreciation as I gave it away in the end, was about 1/3 fuel, service and depreciation. Even then it was $3500/year for over a decade.

    One other aspect is the simplicity of older cars. When something goes wrong in a new car that module can be expensive. Newer cars also seem to be being engineered for shorter lifespan. One problem is plastic components (manifolds, radiator tanks) aging faster than their alloy predecessors.

    • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:17

      The most expensive costs of older cars is maintenance – not finance costs or depreciation. They are going to die due to age unless you are a restorer, and you’ve already paid them off so there is no financing costs on older cars. But depending on the age of the vehicle it would be hard to make that argument on a 10 yr old car these days. The maintenance costs to keep them on the road is typically higher than current interest payments on new or slightly used car equivalents. That might not be the case with a 1980 car since as you rightly say, the maintenance is easier as long as you can get parts for it. But newer cars with computerized modular replacement design doesn’t follow your premise unfortunately.

  60. Priit Kallas says 14 April 2013 at 02:33

    When I was in my 20’s I was a car addict. I am now recovering. Still, from time to time I think it would be better to buy a new car. But then I think about the fact that my friends spend the same amount of money per year on their cars that I paid for my car in total. And that makes me happy.

  61. Deede Betgeron says 14 April 2013 at 08:04

    I drive a 98 Honda CRV. It’s older than my marriage. It’s commuted me from 3 apartments and my first home to a job I love. It’s made regular trips to the white mountains, Arkansas, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and the Stratford festival in Ontario. It’s carried groceries, camping gear, bikes, recycling, tons of props and set pieces, and is borrowed every time one my friends want to buy or move a piece of furniture.

    It was bought the day my close friends’ daughter was born and I remember her name singing with joy in my head as I test drove it with another good friend. And it got its most recent injury in the parking lot of her school while I was watching her play soccer. It has been the teaching vehicle multiple times for friends and their teens to learn to drive a stick shift. And it drove me to my fathers funeral, my niece’s wedding, my friends debut off Broadway, repeated trips to New Hampshire to canvass for Barack Obama, and constantly to the beach- the place I love most.

    It protected my mom and I during a heart stopping accident when a construction vehicle dropped a huge concrete block directly in front of us in the New York thruway at 65 mph. The car lost an axle and two wheels and most of its underside. My mom lost her glasses which had been sitting on the dashboard. ( I missed it during 3 months of repairs, but it came back fine!)

    Battered and rattly, the carpets worn to the metal, the radio upgraded twice, pine needles from Christmas trees permanently lodged in various cracks and wedges. ( and since it’s a Honda it STILL gets better gas mileage than a lot of newer cars!!)

    2 weeks ago the mechanic who lives across the street offered to buy it if I ever want to sell it. If a mechanic wants it, I gotta believe its good to run a while longer.

    And I haven’t had a car payment for the past 10 years….

  62. Tiffany says 14 April 2013 at 14:17

    I couldn’t agree more! I did not want to give up my old car so I literally drove it into the ground. I am working at paying off my new car as quick as possible because I just can’t see the value in over-paying on car interest payments!

    • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:08

      1-2% interest = over paying on interest? You remember the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s? I guess not. Cars have never been more affordable to own and if you get a good one, you’ll save more on fuel economy and longevity with it than you are probably going to save on interest payments.

  63. Jennifer says 14 April 2013 at 16:50

    Congrats for you, Tyler! It should be a great, fun car!

  64. Jennifer says 15 April 2013 at 22:23

    I agree with driving a car until it is no longer possible. I’ve had mine for almost 12 years now and it is still going good. There may be a few scratches, dents, and cracks but all that matters for me is that it gets me from one point to the next. My attitude may change once I am debt free, but for now I’m happy with what I have. No car payments for me ever again.

    • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:06

      Just let us know where you are and where you are going to be driving that junker so when the brakes fail, its ok because you drove it into the ground and not into my car or my family. Cars = lethal weapons and need to be treated with some respect.

      • Jennifer says 17 April 2013 at 00:52

        What’s with the attitude K. I never said I didn’t maintain it. Just because it doesn’t look fancy doesn’t mean I don’t do maintenance on it. A new set of tires, brakes, and oil changes are all maintenance that has to be done on any vehicle you own regardless of how old it is. Maybe you should take a second before you start to judge what you call my junker. We also own a vehicle that is 19 years old. Does that mean you think it is unsafe to drive just because of the age of the vehicle?

  65. bobj says 15 April 2013 at 23:28

    My name is bob and I’m a car-alcoholic!

  66. Marie says 16 April 2013 at 09:21

    I’ve said for a long time that if I was rich, I’d buy a fancy house but not a fancy car. Nobody can t-bone my house with theirs while texting and driving, nobody will key my house just because they’re jealous and spiteful, and nobody will strip my house and sell it for parts.

    • SLCCOM says 16 April 2013 at 14:15

      Unfortunately, they are stripping the houses of wiring and pipes. Be sure to have a good security system!

      Personally, I want something easily manageable and lots of hot and cold running servants!

    • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:05

      I am rich. I don’t get property tax bills on my car. My house’s property tax bill is probably more than the annual cost of car payments for most people. Houses are not assets – they are liabilities until you sell them. Then its a crap shoot what you will get. But you’ll make all the bottom feeders (ie. real estate brokers, etc.) rich if you like housing transactions.

  67. Tina says 16 April 2013 at 10:07

    After years of being “car poor” we finally got our heads on straight.

    We have 3 cars, 2 are paid for. One we inherited(is my son’s car), one we paid cash for(my car) and the one we make payments on is almost paid off(husband car). We have decided not to get new cars until we can’t repair them anymore. Once this car is paid off in August, we plan on putting some of the payment in the car savings account so when we have to purchase a new car, we can either pay cash(if we have enough) or a hefty down payment to bring the payments lower.

    Of course, I would love a new car. But we don’t need one. Retirement is more important to me.

    • ed says 16 April 2013 at 12:57

      Your right, “Car Poor” is the correct term.

      Car = Cost + Tax + Loan Intrest + Gas + Oil Changes + Repairs + Insurance + Registration + Annual Inspection + parking fee’s + Ticket
      . . . and on average, they sit parked 22 hours a day.

      . . . A “Liability” is something that TAKE’s your money (Car)
      . . . An “Asset” is something that MAKE’s you “get rich slowly” (NOT a car)

      . . . and you have 3 of them, sitting around 66 or more hours a day,
      . . . (Depreciating).
      Your absolutely right, that’s how to “Get Poor Slowly.”

      • K says 16 April 2013 at 16:02

        So riddle me this… How do you get to work? How do you go to the supermarket and get groceries? How do you find that GREAT DEAL to save you money and pick it up? How do you take your kids to school?

        You are living in a fictitious world that exists only in your head.

  68. K says 16 April 2013 at 16:01

    I really find this article irresponsible and naive. Firstly a vehicle is a utility to most people. Its their means of getting to work, getting their kids to school, picking up their grandparents for a day out, shopping, etc. In today’s society, although it might feel nice and simplistic to think that you can get away in life without one, its pretty hard if not impossible for most of us.

    That said, its not an investment. A vehicle is a mechanical device with moving parts and requires constant maintenance and repair due to age & wear/tear. The numbers regarding annual maintenance provided in this article completely wrong. The cost of tire replacement for 4 wheels is 1.5x the annual cost stated here for maintenance, not to mention oil changes, oil filters, transmission fluid changes, battery replacement, and that’s not even touching the high likelihood that the vehicle will fail and need repairs. Sure, you might love your car but the fact is that its got moving parts. So its going to wear out.

    At some point the economics of an old car makes no sense. The fuel efficiency alone makes it more and more expensive to drive. The emission standards required by govt to continue its registration cost money not only to be tested for, but have you priced a catalytic converter replacement these days?

    As your car ages, you maintenance costs increase. My wife has a 10 yr old Toyota Sienna. Its costing about $5K per year to keep on the road. Some of which are manufacturer defects that a 160K mileage car is no longer eligible for free replacement. The wear & tear on the chassis along with tires, A/C repair, door replacement (manufacturer defect not covered), etc. alone in the past 12 months has been about $5K.

    I just bought a new Mercedes C class. Engineered to the highest standards and its a beautiful car. I got a 1.75% loan after putting down a bunch of cash and trading in my previous car, I have a 4 yr payment that is LOWER than my wife’s “free & clear” car.

    Then there is the safety factor. The level of maintenance that is irresponsibly stated here is a death trap. The car needs regular service, check ups, brake pad replacements, alignments, etc. just to have a safe car. Its all well and good to selfishly go on about driving YOUR car into the ground, but I read it as “Driving YOUR car into MY car” with your lack of engineering approach and attention to maintenance and safety.

    Please think twice about publishing content like this and the danger it may have to real people who need a safe method of transport. If frugal = dangerous, count me out. Life is too short as it is.

    • Ms. W @ GrowingHerWorth.com says 17 April 2013 at 06:11

      If a 10 year old car is costing $5k per year to maintain, you’ve either got yourself a questionable mechanic, or a lemon. I’d definitely be replacing the car at that point, it’s not worth what you’re putting into it.
      My 2000 Honda Accord does not cost nearly that per year to maintain. Yes, tires can be expensive, but aren’t an annual expense unless you’re putting a lot of miles on it. Same for alignments, break pads, etc. Yes, my maintenance is cheaper than most people’s would be, since my Dad’s a mechanic and I get a great deal. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to keep an old car in good, safe condition.
      I’d also dare to say that me driving my 2000 Honda is safer than when I was driving the 2011 Nissan. The narrow body and “top heaviness” of the Nissan Hatchback made it less easy to control on curves, or on windy days. It was also harder to control when it rained, or on the snow or ice. There are tons of newer model cars that rank lower in safety than a well built older vehicle.
      Yes, there are many people out there who are irresponsible with their maintenance. But those people tend to be irresponsible whether they have a new car or an old car. I’ve seen people ruin the engine on a vehicle that was only a few years old due to lack of maintenance, and others who have a 20 year old vehicle in prestine shape.

  69. Mary Jo Liesch says 18 April 2013 at 09:30

    Yay for the Corolla owner! I have the same affection for my 10 year old Corolla. And as for buying a 6 figure car, no matter if you could afford one or not.. I would just like to add that sharing your wealth with others at that point in your life seems like a better investment.

  70. George says 19 August 2013 at 10:46

    My dad has an old 1991 Volvo wagon that has for the most part worked fine all those years although recently when he took it to the local Volvo dealership they told him it needed new brake pads and rotors. The day he took it in to the shop it stalled on they way there and Volvo replaced something on the fuel pump and thought that would fix it but it seems it might be a problem with the fuel pump instead.

    He’s been thinking of replacing it because it’s so old but I wonder if it would be better to just keep repairing it instead? Sure it’s too old for a trade in but it may still have many years of life still in it.

    • SLCCOM says 19 August 2013 at 17:26

      I’d fix it myself. Those older cars are cheaper to repair, and probably better than the newer cars. No computers, easy to fix.

      I factor in the price of a new vehicle versus the repair costs.

      However, I also factor in the improvements in safety of a much newer car versus a 1991 model. In this case, the safety issue would probably trump the economics.
      Sharon

      • Taylor says 30 August 2013 at 07:20

        Sharon,

        You bring up a really good point in terms of safety technology (or the lack thereof) in older cars. Personally I drive an ’85 BMW, and it is insanely cheap to maintain–largely because I can handle much of the maintenance on my own. I love having no car payment, and I didn’t have to invest a big initial chunk of cash. Older cars like this are so much easier to fix than new ones, even if you don’t have a real mechanical inclination, and I come from a family that drives their cars 200K+ miles. But the safety technology is so far behind. My car, for instance, has neither airbags nor ABS brakes. That is definitely a consideration that, as you said Sharon, may trump the economics. That said, I’m still all for driving cars “into the ground,” as it were. Too many consumers finance their vehicles, then trade them in before the term is up, leading to all kinds of terrible negative equity issues.

  71. Joe says 28 October 2013 at 12:38

    Hi, very nice post!

    But first, I would like you tell me what exactly is a luxury car.

    Having a car is already a luxury itself.

    See, my point is that for most people, a US$15,000.00 is a huge amount of money. However, for some other people, the same amount of money is like peanuts.

    I recently bought a pre-owned Civic coupé 2010 and plan to keep it until 2030, when the car is 20 y.o.

    Its cost was $14,200.00 with 5,300 miles on it

    For me, my Civic is a luxury car and the amount I paid for it (cash) is a huge amount of money.

    My previous car was 14 years old

    So, what is a luxury car?

    You talk about Mercedes? Porsche? BMW? Audi?

    My good God, I don’t even think about that kind of cars, they are on a completely different level and well beyond my current and future scope.

    Really, I don’t see the point in owning a Porsche or Mercedez. What for? Are they really reliable? As reliable as a Toyota or a Corolla?

    Luxury, for me, is whatever car that is trouble free. That’s luxury!

  72. Beth says 09 November 2013 at 21:19

    When I purchased my first car (with a 18 month bank loan) it was a used 75 Mustang II that after 8 months was costing me $400 monthly on repairs. Made no sense or cents so I went into another debt and bought a new car, a 79 Camaro, just in time to have to buy winter tires. Economically minded, I purchased rims also so now I had a bank loan, a car loan and not a penny in savings. I hated that feeling! I was paying $300 monthly in loans and when the 18 month bank loan was done I continued to “charge myself” the $100. When the 4 years of car payments were complete I continued to “charge myself” the $300. And I still do that! It has allowed me to pay cash for all my new cars, cars that were new to me but used by someone else. I keep my cars forever. Updating stereo and technological equipment (i.e. gps) does make a driver happier in their vehicle. My method allowed me to purchase my dream vehicle (2013 Mustang convertible) which I enjoy in the summer but for the winter I’m driving my old 2001 Volvo that I hope will last another few years before being euthanized! And when that happens I hope to purchase a slightly used Airpod car (http://www.mdi.lu/english/airpod.php)and I’ll go into my car account and pay cash for an almost new one. For me, this was the way to go.

  73. newportconvertible says 25 February 2014 at 05:25

    Exactly. If anything once they figure it out it’ll be a lot more accurate and safer than a real human driving. The response time of a computer vs a human is just no content.

  74. JTinSD says 23 April 2014 at 02:19

    You have inspired me not to purchase, a luxury car and to hold on to my car. I purchased my car in 2004, and it’s been with me through my ups and downs as far as money is concern. I purchased it when, I was in college and it has never failed me, and the itch to buy a car happened the beginning of this year. Yet, I find the reason for my itch, was due to my coworkers, talking about my cars age. The performance is still there, I have kept it’s maintenance up, since that what my mom and dad always told me. Lol. I love my car, with its little dings and all, and having mo car payments for the past 5 yrs, is amazing. I divided my car payment amount in to two, half goes to my 401k and the other half goes to fun cash, since I have no debt. Thanks again.

  75. poor man says 12 May 2014 at 13:54

    I drive a 1992 geo metro that cost me $800 in 2010. I put 42k miles in it which puts it at 250k miles. It has a 1 liter, 3 cylinder, 52 hp engine and gets 38 to 44 mpg. I drive my family around in it, with sometimes 5 people in it, one without a seatbelt. It is embarrassing to drive it and I often park far away from where people I know might see me drive it. But at the end of the day, it feels better than driving my previous new bmw convertible. No bills, no hassle. The biggest trade off is having to walk further, avoiding eye contact, risk of loss of life or limbs during an accident, and no dating. What women would ride with me unless she too was poor and old. No young beautiful woman would go out with me with that. no money no honey. Upside is being able to go back to school, work less, and have the freedom to spend my life leisurely with little financial stress. My housing cost is less than 700 per month with utilities. I pay zero for cellphone bills thanks to Google voice and talkatone, providing VOIP. Free WiFi means free phone service.

    • ed says 12 May 2014 at 15:00

      Read “The Millionaire Next Door.”

      You will find, that you are in good company,
      . . . with people who are really millionaires, and
      . . . have absolutely no reason to be embarrassed.

      Than you may feel Sorry, for the “All Flash & No Cash” STATUS people.

  76. Joe says 13 May 2014 at 15:03

    Hey all, very interesting topic indeed.

    As I recently sold my 2000 Chevy Cavalier (no big issues with it) and bought a 2010 Honda Civic Coupe (around 7000 miles odometer), I wonder if I did the right thing.

    I bought the 2010 Civic (with cash, no credit) because I know they are reliable and reliability is top priority for me.

    Two reasons pushed me to get the Civic:

    a) For some strange psychological reason I began to distrust my old Cavalier. It never gave me major issues, but kinda started not to feel comfortable with it. It had some problems with the gas pump that was not that expensive to fix. On the other hand, I was told by everyone that Civics are extremely reliable and if reliability is my concern, Civics are the way to go…

    b) I simply love the Civic looks. This reason is purely aesthetic so I feel stupid to put a lot of money (around 14k) just for aesthetic reasons. Friends and relatives say yes the Civic coupe is gorgeous. But, is that a reason to buy a car? That said, if it were beautiful but unreliable I would never buy it, thats for sure. Still I can’t avoid to feel stupid for buying a car in part for the pure and simple pleasure of owning something aesthetically beautiful (at least to my eyes, don’t know what others may think about a Civic coupe).

    Some people say it was the right move, in spite the Cavalier could have lasted another 5 years running good.

    I don’t know, after 14 years owning the Cav, I seem I wanted a change. Is that a valid reason?

    • slccom says 13 May 2014 at 17:09

      I learned decades ago to listen to those feelings of unease. When I haven’t, unfortunate things have happened to me. You may not be able to pinpoint the “reason” for it, but part of you has one.

      You definitely upgraded safety-wise, too, and paid cash, so there is no reason to second-guess yourself! Just enjoy.

      • Joe says 18 May 2014 at 12:19

        Thanks Slccom, I guess you are right… Thanks for your time!

        • SLCCOM says 18 May 2014 at 15:51

          You are welcome! Have a great time in your new car, and drive carefully.

  77. Seth says 26 May 2014 at 17:48

    In the 21 years i have been driving i have never bought a new car and rarely spent more than $1000. I buy tjem cheap and drive into ground over tje course of 3 to 5 years and tjen replace.

  78. auto wheels and rims repairs florida says 19 July 2014 at 00:30

    Tires, wheels, and rim alignment and replacement will be the mostly availed services since this is
    the external part in the car that has got the most abuse.
    If you do have a part-time 4WD, you will have a transfer case that lets you switch between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
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  79. Pablo says 20 July 2014 at 14:15

    I’m totally with you. I own a 2002 Peugeot 206, my first car. My mom bought it for me as a gift, it had 5 KMS when we got him out of the dealer, now it has over 138.000 my mom drives it now, and I own a 2004 Subaru Legacy. While I might some day sell the Legacy I don’t think I’ll ever sell the Peugeot, reason why??? it has so much sentimental value to me, first it was a gift, second my first car, third I have had great times with it, and I have never ever had any problems with it whatsoever!!!
    I think I will keep it until the end, yeah when the time comes, I migh have another car, probably. But I will still keep the trusty Peugeot 206 for a special ride.

  80. old orange says 20 July 2014 at 18:43

    Is maintenance and depreciation the real cost of a car? I think this may be a more complicated question and would love a online calculator to factor in all the costs and give me a number that can be used to compare two cars.
    Maybe repairing and continuing to drive my used Yukon XL at these ever increasing GAS PRICES is a poorer financial decision than getting a different used, (or even a new vehicle with a long warranty) that gets 2 to 3 times the gas mileage? (one of the biggest advantages of a new car that may out weigh the depreciation is a warranty)

  81. dylan says 08 August 2014 at 12:29

    I disagree, if you have the extra income (on top of retirement/investments…) I don’t see it as a waste of money. 1- new cars are safer, 2- they are more fuel efficient, 3- they are more enjoyable, I make money to enjoy life and thrive in my existence, not to be cheap and hoard it.

    • eds says 08 August 2014 at 14:19

      1) New cars are safer? The NUT behind the wheel, controls safety.
      2) More fuel efficient? The NUT behind the wheel, controls efficiency.
      3) More Enjoyable? The NUT behind the wheel, controls enjoyability.

      The name of this website,
      . . . isn’t, “Be Cheap and Hoard Money,”
      . . . it’s “Get Rich Slowly,”
      but as you can see, everyone can have a different opinion,
      . . . of how that can be done.

  82. dylan says 08 August 2014 at 16:42

    For the same person, points 1,2,3 apply when compared to a old (15+ years) worn out (200k+) car (except point 3, if you have an old ferreri, cobra, gtr, classic restore… Those are prob more enjoyable than most modern cars). My point was even though I am saving and investing most of my money to GET RICH SLOWLY I still would prefer to have a newer, safer car with convenient features.

  83. eds says 08 August 2014 at 18:17

    1) New cars are safer? WRONG!
    . . . Ask any insurance company. Most accidents are caused by
    . . . drivers under age 25(No matter what car they drive)
    . . . Cars do NOT cause accidents, People cause accidents.

    2) New cars are more efficient? WRONG!
    . . . Ask any Car company, “will indervidual gas milage vary?”
    . . . (Same car, different driver, totally different gas milage)
    . . . People’s driving habits cause the waste of gas.

    3) cars 15+ years old . . . were sold as bare bones Standard Models,
    . . . they did NOT come with all the energy using gadgets that you
    . . . are forced to buy as standard today. Also, you could buy them
    . . . with CASH at a discount. Today, the dealers don’t want cash, they
    . . . make more money only if you finance over time, with payments.
    . . . For some reason, paying CASH for a car, makes people feel that
    . . . they OWN the car, while making payments, make people think
    . . . they are RENTING it, and that show’s up, in how well they take
    . . . care of the car.
    Then, if you take care of a car, don’t abuse(waste) it, and drive safely
    . . . there is no reason it wouldn’t last 15+ years, be enjoyable,
    . . . give you great memories, and all those interest payments in your
    . . . pocket, helping you GET RICH SLOWLY.

  84. Joe says 19 August 2014 at 15:14

    I find very difficult to justify buying a newer car when the current one is working reasonably well.

    1) Safety?
    I would say safety is: 25% is your responsibility; 25% is other driver’s responsibility (you can’t control how drivers around you behave, often in a dangerous way); 25% is road/Street conditions plus climatological conditions; and only 25% is your car’s responsibility. And this later improves or worsens depending of how well maintained it is

    2) Efficiency: it is also related to your habits and traffic circumstances. But it is true that newer car tend to be more efficient

    3) Ejoyability: I find difficulty at approaching this idea as driving is not really a joy for me. But I agree that newer cars tend to be more comfortable to drive. It is noticeable!!

    Yes!! We all can scientifically agree that a newer car noticeably helps improve safety, efficiency and joy/confort.

    The problem is that whatever advantage (safety, efficiency, joy) a new car comes with, you pay big, big money for such advantages.

    The problem is that the advantages, while scientifically demonstrated, are only marginal.

    But the cost is not marginal.

    There is an imbalance.

    Cost/benefit is against you.

    I recently bought a newer car (paid with cash, used car) and I can tell you the thing I can conclude is that yes, there are obvious benefits that no one can deny with my newer car.

    The question remains: are those benefits worth the huge amount of money we pay for them?

    When you buy a house, the benefits are obvious and evident.

    But a newer car only takes you from point A to point B in the very same way your previous older car did.

    The newer car does exactly the same but it does it somewhat safer, somewhat cheaper, somewhat more comfortable.

    Even if you buy a car with hundreds and hundreds of horse power, it doesn’t mean you will get to point B a sooner.

    You got a Ferrari, Porsche, Mustang or Camaro? There is absolutely no warranty you will get at home sooner than with your 15 years old Ford Fiesta, specially if you live in a big city.

    Unless your current car is a real pain, a clunker, and its falling in pieces, you will feel the difference the first 2 or 3 days. By day 5 you will be totally used to your newer car and you will not notice whatever advantage it comes with.

    Whatever improvements, they will feel “standard” at day 4 or 5.

    Then, the only real, honest reason I find for buying a newer car is reliability.

    You will say oh but reliability is all about how well maintained and cared is your car.

    I will reply yes, but just to a point.

    There is no denying that some brands and models are far more reliable than others.

    Also, no matter how well you maintain and care and treat your car, it will never ever be as reliable as when it was new out of the dealer shop.

    As it ages, no matter how much you pamper your car, its reliability will suffer.

    Reliability is the only real reason to buy a newer car.

    Reliability is the only measurable fact for getting a new car.

    And still, even with the best of cars (in terms of reliability), you will need to constantly put some money and care into your car to keep it reliably running.

    Yet, there is no such thing as 100% reliable car.

    All brands fail from time to time.

    But some fail a lot more tan others.

    In my case, reliability was the top concern for replacing my 14 years old car and buying a 3 years old car.

    Did I take the right decisión?

    Only time will tell.

  85. Mike says 01 September 2014 at 16:20

    I have my 00 and 07 cars paid for maintenance costs are low as I diy unless it’s too complicated to tackle. Then I will get my local mechanic to do the job as he is working for himself and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg.

  86. Jim says 17 September 2014 at 01:39

    I have 227k miles on my 2001 Honda Prelude. I bought it new. I put in a couple thousand dollars into repairs lately. And I also had it repainted recently. It’s my baby! My goal is to at least hit 300k in miles, it’s a pride thing. There is always a running joke that I’m going to pass on this car to my kids when they are ready to drive. I’m going to have one of those surprise b-day party for my kids, and when they think they are getting a brand new BMW…I’m going to open the garage and show them the Prelude!!! Ha.

  87. ohiodale says 10 February 2015 at 10:09

    My daughter has a Corolla that is 15 years old. I keep my cars 10 years because I like cars that look good. Corollas may run a long time but they eventually need repairs most people neglect. My daughter’s car looks like crap and does not handle anything like it did when it was new.
    I could live in a two bedroom apartment the rest of my life and save a bunch of money but life is not all about finance. People need to consider quality of life. I think you sound cheap. I plan to spend my money and enjoy life. Money is 100%worthless if you do not spend it.

  88. Emilio... says 26 February 2015 at 19:44

    I’m a part time college student & worked part time too I was 20 years old when I got my first car in 2011, a Honda Accord which my parents bought new in 2000 it wasn’t the best car in the world it had dings & scratches, sure it did have a few rattles here in there. But that car drove well got me from point A to point B the good thing it was paid off & I didn’t need to worry about a car loan at a young age.

    I drove that car for almost 3 & half years but after that I had put almost 2,000$ in repairs/ maintenance also the transmission was leaking & water got inside when it rained I couldn’t afford to put more money into it. I was faced with a hard financial decision keep fixing the car or replace it with something reliable. Then my parents and I decided to sell the car & buy a new 1 we fianally sold it so I did a downpayment on new Hyundai Accent both my parents agreed to co- sign for me. Sure It’s a huge responsibility & expense but the payments are only 305 month but I do enjoy a peace of mind without worrying about my car breaking down or something also you can’t beat a 10 year warranty.

  89. Clay says 10 April 2015 at 18:35

    After doing some math, I came to figures that show that paying cash for used cars and doing maintenance on them can save you upwards of 250,000 dollars during the 70 or so years that you drive. That’s a lot of money.
    So, why do people buy new cars? Because they look nice, and we want to look nice. But wait a second, why don’t people buy expensive clothes? Isn’t that just as important? Yet very few people spend several thousand dollars on clothes, but they will throw away 6,000 a year on a new car.
    And, wouldn’t people rather live in luxury apartments and drive a used car as opposed to living in a cheap apartment with crime nearby and have a new car? I guess I just don’t get it. I choose to drive used cars and wear nice clothes and live in luxury apartments.
    Also, and here’s the kicker, certain used vehicles are okay to drive. For instance, it’s okay to drive a fifteen year old pick-up or Jeep. It doesn’t look bad. As opposed to driving a twenty year old Oldsmobile.

    • eds says 12 April 2015 at 15:32

      I bought a brand new White Saturn in 1996 for $10,000.-,
      . . . gas milage is terrific, gets regular maintenance, and
      . . . will be replaced next year, (Parts are getting harder to find)

      What I am doing, is just called,
      . . . getting “GOOD VALUE,” for your money,
      . . . (buying things that will last, as apposed to buying cheapest, or for luxury)
      . . . It applies to food, clothes, shelter, communication, transportation, everything.

      Why would . . . ANYONE . . . NOT . . . want to do that?

  90. Waterloo Resident says 17 July 2015 at 23:31

    I have been searching the past 7 months for a nice quality used Toyota Corolla and the junk out there that I have found has just astounded me ! I know a lot about cars, I can take them apart and put them back together again with ease, and these days it really is much better bargain to simply buy a brand new economy car than it is to buy a used economy car. So if you want to save money, don’t buy a 6 year used Civic or Elantra, the repair bills will eat up any cost savings you made by buying used. My advice to you is to go and buy a BRAND NEW Civic or Elantra some time in June, July, or August, when they are getting rid of the current stock of cars to make way for the next year’s models. You’ll save $3,000 to $5,000 that way; much more than the savings you’ll get from buying a used car.

    As for me: The reason why I want a 2006 – 2008 Corolla so much is because I love the lower belt-lines and higher roofs and narrower bodies on those old Corolla models. They have a ‘Greenhouse’ with bigger windows, seats that sit up higher, and an overall much better visibility of the road in front of the car than the new 2014/15 Corollas. I tell people that the higher belt-lines of the new cars is just horrendous and you cannot see the road ahead of you and they have no idea what I am talking about because they think only about seeing the road 30 or 50 yards ahead of the car. They have absolutely no desire to see the pavement markings 5 yards ahead of the car.
    Yesterday I saw a young man totally wreck his Toyota Corolla’s bottom (a new 2014 model) when he pulled out from the gas station, pulled a hard right and promptly drove right over a rather large island, bottoming his car right over that concrete island.
    You see; he didn’t see it because the hood and the dash in his car is too high, so while he saw the road way out in the distance, he did not see the concrete island just a few feet in front of his car. THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT HERE.

    He had to have a tow truck come and pull his car off that island, it was stuck. With my old 2006 Corolla I have my seat way up to it’s highest position and I can easily see that concrete island when turning right and I never hit it, but these days more and more drivers are wrecking their cars because of poor downward visibility.

    I wanted to find a newer 2008 Corolla with less miles on it and I’ve been searching for the past 7 months and only last week did I find a nice quality 2008 Corolla CE with 42,000 miles on it and in an impeccable condition. Price = a rather steep $10,200 which I was able to negotiate down to $9,300 after a few weeks of heavy negotiations and waiting.

    With the mid-summer discounts currently going on I could have bought a brand new Elantra for only $14,000 and for most people that would have been a much better value than the historic old Corolla I just bought. So there you go, don’t buy used unless you absolutely need to, instead go and buy a new car, but make sure you can see the curbs in front of your car so you don’t smash it every day while driving it.

  91. SoCal Rider says 21 January 2016 at 10:55

    I miss my 2000 Galant. I bought her used in 2004 for 12k I believe and got in an accident in 2015 that toasted the motor. 220k miles on the dash. I did a lot of my own maintenance and it really didn’t have any problems except the car would eat belts. Paint was peeling, a/c was barely cold, original suspension except for shocks…but I know I could drive it from San Diego to San Francisco any day of the week with no worries.

    I finally bought a new car, a 2014 Sentra and plan on running it in the ground for 10-15 years just like my last one. I got it for 18k with 7 year warranty (paid a lil too much but I didn’t have a car to go shopping around like I wanted to) and glad it has a timing chain (no belts!) and no major service stuff needed..just fluid changes, brakes,and tires! I plan on paying it off in 3-4 years.

    I just needed a reliable car with good gas mileage to get me from A to B. I don’t understand people wanting a fancy car. I’d rather use the extra money to save for a better apartment or living in a house.

  92. Michael says 07 February 2016 at 04:31

    I am an Automotive technician(mechanic) I am 42 years old i have never spent more than $2,000 on buying a car, for me the fun is buying a cheap car, doing work that is required,and learning about that car every single part of the way, yes its good, if you know about computer diagnostics and all the other stuff which these days is easily found online, tell you what a nicely tuned up car is heaven and knowing you did it yourself is something special and rewarding, so WHY do people buy brand new cars simple answer they are idiots who buy things to impress people they dont even like, stuff that i would rather like people and be happy with what i havew and look after it, another reason idiots buy brand new cars is they think its a solution to there lack of knowledge about cars, however it just makes them dumber as human beings and most of them lack financial intelligence of any kind, all those people with the flashest cars on the road are around 2 paychecks away from bankruptcy its all part of the bullshit impress game, as well people you only need one car and when you only have one car and its running efficient meaning well tuned your life is simplified, so where is the money to be made in cars , WRECKING them they are worth a lot of money in parts you can buy a car for $300 and sell the parts for up to $1,000 clear profit, the trick is sell your parts dirt cheap and they will fly out the door quickly, its all financial intelligence USE IT, your financial intelligence will only benefit one thing your health, health by not being a slave, money should be primarily used for healthcare, and sorry to all you insecure people whow believe somehow that flash car is going to make you more attractive sorry it is not, dont be a dummy or a slave, take pride in what you have though look after your car do modifications to make it more efficient, look after it, im really happy i dont need to spend money paying someone to solve problems for me and doing it myself, i also make lots of cash working on other peoples cars us mechanics are highly sought after, so learn about cars if its one of the biggest liabilities learn how to minimise those costs, use your BRAIN

  93. bb_turn says 04 April 2016 at 13:58

    I like cars, Guess its just want your into. My Dad is really into money, he has lots of the stuff. Has not really made him happy. New cars are safer, Not talking about what causes accidents, does not matter who is in fault with your family in a crash in your car I bet the extra payments you made might pay off. Just my point of view.

  94. Ed says 26 June 2016 at 01:37

    I understand and mostly agree with the author. I’ve always said that there is no repair that one can make to a car that will cost as much as a new car. I have been employed as a car salesperson, auto trimmer (that’s an auto upholsterer), worked for Chevrolet as a technician with specialties in body mechanical, glass replacement, SRS, interior trim. I was also instrumental in creating a Service Bulletin for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo sunroof which had a horrible water leak problem. Also had a business which restored antique car interiors. So I know a little about cars. What do I drive? A 1995 Dodge Ram 1500. I bought this new and mechanically it has had only minor issues. To be fair, I only have 121k on the odo. So most of the work I have done to it is cosmetic and this truck looks like new and still puts the same smile on my face that I had the day I bought it. Many times I have thought about selling it and buying new but when I run the numbers it makes no financial sense to me, and I have the means to pay cash for a new $30k truck. I would have a very new truck that I could show off to everyone. Yipee! So what do I give up buying this new truck: $30000, higher insurance premiums, much, much higher registration fees, and lots of depreciation in the first year of ownership. Another thing to take note of is that newer vehicles are much more complex mechanically than they were in the past, the good is they may initially have less maintenance issues, but at $30k (approx. cost of a new vehicle – US) they better have less. Having worked as a car salesperson I have heard my share of justifications for buying a new vehicle, and I wouldn’t argue against any potential buyer’s justification. Instead, I will gladly write the deal and collect my commission. Many people can’t just admit that they want something new and shiny than trying to justify their purchase based on something they perceive as reality. And those who fail to do the math, are in a vulnerable position in a car showroom. We called them “lay downs”. On the other hand, if you have megabucks, and you have a love affair with cars, I say buy whatever you like. I admire Jay Leno and his passion for cars. Unlike most he has the money to pursue this type of hobby, and good for him.

  95. Pam says 06 July 2016 at 07:54

    I’ve read Dave Ramsey’s book and in the back of my mind I realize that I need to keep my 2002 Honda Accord with 132,000 it runs perfectly and I’ve never had a major problem with the car. I still think it drives nicely and I’ve kept it clean and maintained.
    The only reason I want a newer car is for the bells and whistles which make no financial sense for me. I bought my honda brand new and after reading your article it reminded me of why I need to stay put with my Honda. Thank you for mentioning Dave Ramsey.

  96. Aral says 04 December 2016 at 09:49

    Even if the estimated maintenance/repair bill of old clunker for a period of time is relatively lower than a new car payment for the same period, it doesn’t automatically guarantee that you can save money by keeping the old chunkers. (And you shouldn’t compare it like that if you’re not on 120 mo. 0% APR finance)
    Let’s say you’re driving total of 60 years in your life. If you buy a compact sedan every 10 years, you’ll need 6 cars. If you pay more maintenance bill to get it rolling until it hits 15 years, you can buy two less cars and done with it. But it doesn’t make you saving two car worth of money.

    Because if you prolong the ownership period of each vehicle by 5 years, there is 99% chance that you’ll spend more on maintenance. Let’s say the brokedown repair cost is average of $100/mo for the 10-15 years old vehicle. That’s total $6,000 and you’re gonna spend $6,000 for every vehicle. So that’s $24,000 for four vehicle. Already one new car worth of saving is gone. I think $100/mo repair is nothing close to extreme for 10-15 years old vehicle but even at $30/mo repair cost (I think this must be extreme case lean toward high reliability), You’ll lose one third car worth of saving.

    And you’re gonna get lesser money when you’re selling out your old car. You’re gonna get $3000 by selling the 10 years old compact sedan with 180,000 miles on it. In 60 years, you’re gonna get total of $18,000 from 6 trade-ins. However you can only get $500 from 15 years old compact sedan with 300,000 miles on it. That’s $2,000 for 60 years and there is another $16k difference.

    Furthermore, you’ll need to buy more wearout parts, like a set of tires, changing oil 10-15 times and a full brake job. Because new car must be comes with new tire/brake and it usually comes with 3-5 years of free oil change (or at least some of them is free). That would be additional at least a couple of grand.

    Also, the gas mileage would be different. In 2004, average passenger car gets 29.5 mpg. However, it’s 36.4 mpg in 2014. Average men aged 35-54 drives 18,858 miles per year. So if you drive just as long as average men aged 35-54, and keeping your 2004 bought vehicle to 2019, you’ll gonna burn total of 9,588 gal while if you buy new car in 2014, your total consumption would be 8,982 gal. There’s 606 gal difference and it would translated into $1-3k depending on the future gasoline price trend.

    Thus, even at $100/mo repair cost(which is certainly lower than monthly payment of new car, even if it’s 120 month payments), you cannot save more than $4k for 60 years. And if you’re spending avg $116/mo on repair of 10-15 years old car, you’re basically driving an older car for no financial gain. (You can actually lose money if you’re spending more than $120/mo)

    Lastly, total of $4k saving for 60 years is not a great deal. If you invest 4.42 cents per day and invest it for 4 percent interest, it’ll give you $4k in 60 years. You’re gonna endure the driving of clunker for 20 years, just for a saving of 4.42¢ per day. And those potential 4.42¢/day saving could be completely gone anyday by single major broke down (which didn’t included in $100/mo repair spending). And what you have to remember is that you’re gonna have to survive 4 times of repeated dice rolling of 10-15 years old car to turn those potential saving into real saving.

  97. spirals says 22 October 2017 at 10:12

    I’m definitely not into owning an expensive car to impress anyone or to treat myself. I don’t need any treats; I need discipline. I don’t care what people think of my car, my wardrobe, or really anything else outside of my character. (I want to have good character and opinions help with that.) In fact, I’m not into car ownership at all. I pretty much hate it. It’s like a ball and chain around my ankle with the inconvenience of repairs, worry about weather damage, insurance payments, etc. But this town is not built for the car-free lifestyle so I have to. It’s a necessary annoyance.

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