Why I Finally Bought A New (To Me) Car

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Over the last ten years, I have driven pieces of crap almost exclusively. I’ve had a few Geo Metros, a Ford Festiva, a scooter and a 30 year old motorcycle to name a few. Naturally, we’ve always made sure that we have one good vehicle for my wife to drive but couldn’t ever justify buying myself something decent for just a brief commute to work.

Why the change of heart

A few months back, I wrote a post entitled ‘Why I Drive A $500 Car’. The truth is, I really took some pride in my cost-effective transportation. I like demonstrating that it’s completely possible to drive a reliable car for $500. (I actually beat my cheap record last month and bought a driveable car for $40 that I resold two days later for $200!)

That said, something happened last month that made me have a change of heart.

Every year I volunteer as a boat driver with a summer camp in a rural area a hundred miles or so from my home. This year I wanted to take my oldest daughter with me and the only way that we were able to work it out was to bring her up in my car; the beater that our family and friends affectionately referred to as ‘Smurf Turd’.

Now I can stomach the risk of driving a car that offers absolutely no safety features beyond a seatbelt. When one of my kids is riding along however, it’s a different story.

The highway that i needed to take to get up to the camp is known to be dangerous and I was really uncomfortable driving my kid in something that is little more than a Pepsi can with wheels.

Now that our children are getting older, I’m having to do more of the picking up and dropping off and I felt that it was time to invest in a safer vehicle.

The New Whip

I bought a 2007 Honda Civic. Though I love the car, I’ve always thought this particular model is kind of a goofy-looking car. Thus, I’ve named it ‘Honderp’.

There is good news though, first off, we had a budget to replace the car! Second, a 2007 still feels brand new to me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to buying older vehicles or perhaps this is something that many people go through in their 30s. 2007 just doesn’t seem that long ago to me and the fact that you can get such a decent car for under 5k just blows my mind!

I got this bad boy with a little over 140k miles and she drives like new!

Related Post: 8 Good Reasons Not To Buy A New Car

How Did I Car Shop?

My main priorities when shopping for a car were safety, reliability, A/C, and an in-dash M&M’s dispenser, in that order. Turns out they don’t sell cars with that last feature as ridiculous as that is. I did a junk-load of research and was able to narrow my search down to 5 cars. Honda Civic, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.

Having several cars on my list made it easier for me to find the exact car that I wanted as there was way more to choose from.

Long story short, I picked up this car for $4600, which is a great deal in the market where I live. I’m thrilled with it and so is the family.

My research tells me that this car is likely to exceed 250k miles with minimal hassle so it’s got plenty of life left in it.

Why Not Just Buy New?

I had a 5k budget to work with, and I enjoy making car payments about as much as I enjoy stepping on lego bricks in the night. Of course know that with 5k in cash I could have turned that into a nice little down payment on a brand new car. That said, I’ve long been of the opinion that buying used is the best financial decision for most people, myself included.

A new Honda Civic at the same trim level as the one I bought would have cost me around 20k. Even with 5k down I’d be paying $200 per month for five years. I can’t justify that payment when I know I can get five years out of this car.

That said, my commute to work is only ten kilometers (6 miles). I don’t need a brand new car to drive that kind of mileage. At the rate, I’m only going to put maybe 6000 miles on my vehicle per year and I can’t justify a brand new car for that!

So there you have it, the $500 beast is gone (I actually sold it for $400 more than I paid for it) and a new era begins.

 

Question for you:

Do you drive a new or used car? How did you decide what to buy?

9 thoughts on “Why I Finally Bought A New (To Me) Car

  1. Nice article, I had to read it because we bought a used Honda Accord for $500. It’s a 1997, though. Your new (to you) Honda looks nice, and I bet it’s a comfy ride. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new car again. Let someone else pay for the depreciation! We tend to drive cars until they won’t go anymore, so they last for years. Our next one will be used, too, but we’ve budgeted for a (used) upgrade when the time comes!

  2. Nice! I currently have a 2000 F150. I bought it in 2004 when it was worth $14,500, but only paid $8,000. It could use a paint job, but $3,000 for the paint doesn’t make sense when it’s only worth $2,000 now. Still runs good. And I live 2 miles from my office.

    • Good call! Sounds like you’ve got your money’s worth of of that truck. You’re fortunate to have a 2-mile commute! I think I’d approach my vehicle purchases very differently if I had a 50 mile drive to work. Luckily, my commute is only about 6.

  3. Great article, Sir! I’m close to buying my very first car and it will probably a lot more expensive than yours for several reasons.

    1. We take the car for our holidays every year: My girlfriend and I will drive with the car from Germany to Serbia/Croatia every year. The whole trip takes us around 2400 miles. Also the streets there are very bad, so you want a car that doesn’t fall apart.
    2. I’m commuting 5 times a week for 40 miles/day. This adds a lot of miles per day.
    3. We want kids. I’m planning to drive that car at least 5-10 years. This will take me in the same seat as you are right now. I want my family to be safe and also I have the responsibility to take care of myself. If you drive a lot a safe car is required.
    4. In Germany, Freelancers have a tax advantage on car purchases. I can decrease the amount of tax with a better (more expensive) car. This makes it easier to decide for a better one.

    However, I agree heavily with you that a used car is totally fine. You should take a look at how many kilometers/miles it will last and listen to yourself. I don’t want to buy more than 3 cars in the next 10 years. So I will not buy one for $500. It’s just more convenient to drive a used (but more expensive) car and I don’t have to care if it will survive the next trip. I also don’t have to think about making a bad impression in front of my clients or miss a meeting with them because my car has broken down.

    I think it’s okay to pay a little bit more on something. But you can’t do this on everything. So again listen to yourself.

    Also as a freelancer time = money. If I spend more than 5 hours searching for a car that saves me $500, it would still be a bad trade for me.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment Sir!

      Here’s the thing: I think the PF blogging community as a whole is really hard on the idea of new cars. I believe that the issue is less about old vs new and more about learning to budget and manage money wisely. You’ve obviously thought this through and concluded that a newer vehicle will be the best option for you. I think that’s fantastic.

      The people I want to deter from a new car purchase are the ones who really haven’t thought it through or people who are getting their information from dealerships rather than independent research.

      That roadtrip sounds epic by the way. I want to get out to that part of the globe someday!

    • Don’t misunderstand me. I totally agree with you and just wanted to add my two cents 😉

      You should definitely check out Croatia. The coast is beautiful!

      Thanks for the great article!

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