New Or Used Car? Why I Don’t Plan To Buy Another Car Again

2013 Range RoverI’m in love with Moose, my 12 year old SUV. There, I said it! When you are in love with something, no matter how old, out of shape, slow, or dumb, you will love it unconditionally until the day it dies. Moose is like my overweight son, who eats too much, but still gets me to point B without any problems.

And lest you think that Moose is a big polluter, not so, as he passed our stringent Smog Test every year without fail. Besides, I bought him used, which means I’m more environmentally friendly than new car buyers who failed to destroy their old cars. I did not add to the car population!

In “Fighting My Car Buying Addiction,” I highlight three things everybody must do to quit splurging on things that lose value and destroy their personal finances. After all, the act of buying too much car has significantly damaged many people’s financial livelihoods. Always remember the 1/10th rule of car buying where you should consider spending no more than 1/10th your annual gross income on a car.

1) Name your car. Anthropomorphism is a powerful, powerful thing. As soon as you name your car, you give it a personality and a soul.  With a personality and a soul, you can no longer just abuse it like a ragged doll.  My truck’s name is Moose.  I love Moose. He’s handsome, reliable, and very loyal. Given he’s part of the family now, I’ve decided to keep him for as long as it makes sense. At some point, I’ll realize I should sell or donate Moose since he is turning 12 years old.  However, at this point, I’m happy to buy him new brakes, rotors, batteries and change his fluids.

2) Go to the dealer and intoxicate yourself. Moose’s private party retail value is about $3,600 from $8,500 five years ago.  When you go to a dealer, you start appreciating what you have.  Just the other day, I stopped by the Mercedes Benz dealer for fun on the way home from golf. I test drove a well-equipped $47,000 out the door 2012 C250 coupe. I loved the new car smell and the drive was exhilarating. This wasn’t even the highest end version as the C350 coupe had 100 more horsepower and cost $5,000 more. When it was time to negotiate, the salesman insulted Moose by giving him a trade in value of only $1,114!  There was no way this C250 coupe was worth 45X more than my beloved Moose! I declined his pitch and left smiling.

If you aren’t convinced how silly it is buying a new car when a used car can do perfectly fine, take a look at this picture carefully. Analyze it and soak all the data in.  Look at the monthly payments after a $4,000 down payment. Observe the Trade Allowance of $1,114 for Moose and the Net Sales Price of $46,497.98 after taxes. Ridiculous and insulting!

3) Visit a garage sale or throw your own. One of the most humbling experiences is de-cluttering and minimizing your things through a garage sale.  That golf club you spent $120 on might only get $10 now. That purse you were dying to have for $350 now is worth only $20 bucks.  The list goes on and on of things you spent way more than you should.  Once you start going to garage sales or to Goodwill, you will find so many bargains that you will seldom ever spend full or sale price ever again!

SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENED THAT SEALED THE DEAL

In the seven years I’ve owned Moose, I’ve been pulled over by the cops three times. One was going perhaps 50 in a 35 mph zone, another was not coming to a complete stop when taking a right at the stop sign, and another was driving too fast through a yellow light (but the cop said it was a red light).

In every single case I was let go with just a friendly warning.  I might attribute my good fortune to my courteous speech, or good looks, but somehow I doubt it.  The reason why I was let go without hundreds of dollars in tickets is because of Moose. Moose just looks slow. Not only that, he looks honest and safe.

When a police offers sees Moose, even if he’s speeding, he doesn’t look like he’s speeding. His eyes will glance over at the black on black 911 Porsche Carrera S that’s going the same 10-15 mph over the speed limit instead and give him a ticket!  Police officers look at 12 year old Moose and think, You ain’t worth too much old boy.  No need for you to get slapped a ticket when there are cars on the road that cost 25X your price!

It’s way more satisfying for cops to catch and ticket the rich. When you drive an old car, they want to show mercy. The only way rich folks can get out of traffic tickets is by paying thousands of dollars to sponsor the 11-99 foundation for fallen officers and get the license plate border. A good cause if you have the money.

NOBODY GETS LET GO THREE TIMES WITH ONLY WARNINGS

I’ve come to realize that I’m not lucky when it comes to tickets. I just have Moose.  Even a hot movie star like Jessica Alba probably wouldn’t be able to get away with three warnings in a row. Nope. But, Moose can. As a result, I will never sell Moose for another car.  I refuse to cheat on him given how loyal he’s been to me.

Only if Moose suffers some irreparable damage, or needs to be fixed at a price that costs more than his entire value shall I put him to rest and donate him to charity. I owe you that much Moose!

OTHER REASONS TO NEVER BUY ANOTHER CAR AGAIN

* Car sharing. The rise of car sharing companies like ZipCar and GetAround helps clients borrow cars on an as needed basis, lowering the cost of ownership.

* Health. I try and bike or walk or bus before driving. It’s easy to stop exercising as much once you have a day job. Exercising to work is a great way to stay active.

* Tickets. With budget problems all throughout the country, the ticket cops are out in force! Ticket prices have risen by over 100% here in San Francisco past 10 years and won’t stop. Nothing is worse than getting a $70 ticket when you could have taken the bus for $2.

* Avoiding hell. DMV is one of the worst places on Earth to visit. From the long lines to the fees to the crazy deadlines. Each time you buy a new used car, you’ve got to register your vehicle and pay taxes to the DMV.

* Freedom. When you can take public transportation, you can keep going. You never have to worry about going back to retrieve your car. There is something extremely liberating about my monthly bus pass, even though it won’t impress the ladies.

Recommendations For Protecting Your Assets And Saving Money

Check for lower insurance rates. Auto insurance is the second biggest expense to owning your car. Esurance is the leading online market place to help you find the most affordable and reliable auto insurance. They get you comparison quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You can easily purchase auto insurance straight from their website if you like what you see. It is very important that everyone gets at least basic liability car insurance. You can total your car and be fine. But if you total someone else’s car and injure them, they can go after you for ALL your assets and wipe you out! Check for a better auto insurance quote via Esurance today.

* Your Finances In One Place: The best way to become financially independent and protect yourself is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing and how my net worth is progressing. I can also see how much I’m spending every month. The best tool is their Portfolio Fee Analyzer which runs your investment portfolio through its software to see what you are paying. I found out I was paying $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying! There is no better financial tool online that has helped me more to achieve financial freedom. It only takes a minute to sign up.

* Sign up for Uber and get a free ride. Uber is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around town. They are much cheaper than a taxi (~30% less) and much more reliable because you hail them through an app and can track their progress. There’s never any cash or tip to pay since everything is linked to your Uber account. If you sign up for Uber, you get your first ride up to $30 for free!

Updated: 9/14/14

Regards,

Sam

 

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    I owned a very old car for 3 years or so here in Germany, which cost me only a lousy 150 Euros. I loved that car, sure something broke down once in a while, but financially there is not much that can depreciate. Nowadays, I use public transportation only. As the post says, it is liberating. And when I really do need a car for longer distances, I can rent one for over the weekend.

    I have many friends, who get sucked into buying new and expensive cars, mainly because of the pressure of their environments and colleagues. Only a few of my friends resist this pressure, and it is almost insane all the comments they have to endure from people. There was an extremely interesting discussion on AFN Europe this week about the pressure to keep up with the Joneses, which also affects how much we are willing to spend on an item; it seems this topic is getting increasing attention, which I think is a good development.

    If I ever buy a car again, it will be a used one for sure. Maybe not one for 150 bucks, but one that is reliable.

    • says

      Wow, 150 Euros for a car ain’t bad! Petrol itself for a couple weeks will eat through that!

      I just don’t understand the pressure of buying a fancy car b/c of colleagues or neighbors. I actually think it’s much cooler to go the complete opposite!

  2. Mike Hunt says

    In the 6 years I’ve been working in Thailand I’ve had a company paid for car & driver. When it comes back to buying my own car I’m thinking about bicycling. It is really a big expense to own a car for a marginal return on utility in my opinion. Ride sharing is a way to go!

    -Mike

    • says

      Good for you!!! I would love to be able to ride my bike to work one day, but one of my jobs is almost 40 miles one way and I’m not that hard-core. I definitely need to name my car, I was thinking of maybe Bertha or Myrtle ;)

  3. says

    Public transport is liberating when you’re in a densely populated area and it works. When I traveled for business, I never rented a car in Chicago, because that system really works well. Southern California? Not so much. There, trying to use PT is suicide, unless you have four hours to get anywhere and a boss who accepts the “bus late again” excuse.

    We keep our cars as long as they will go. The two we have were bought used. We’re contemplating a Toyota RAV4 to replace the smaller car, only to add 4WD, and we’ve looked at Craigslist. In this case, though, the car seems to hold its value so well we might as well buy a new one. Who knows? We’ll see how this plays out…

  4. says

    We go through cars probably more quickly as others. Everyone has some sort of splurge in their budget, for us we value having a fun car and dedicate our fun money towards that. We would be all for public transportation, but it’s extremely unsafe here and the city actually recommends you NOT to take it alone.

  5. Virginia says

    I like your 1/10 rule. I will probably always have a car given that I live in the burbs but I have only ever bought used. My current car is 7 years old but it is in great shape. I keep up with regular maintenance and keep it clean. I feel like my car is in better shape than some folks with newer and more expensive cars.

  6. says

    We have two cars now (both paid off) and if anything ever happens to one of them I don’t think we would replace it. We carpool to work (we work together) and we rarely use both cars on the same day. My car is a periwinkle minivan and its badass. It has a button on the key fob that makes the side doors open by themselves. It’s amazing.

  7. tom says

    OK…I have to know… what make and model is Moose?

    We will be selling our cars and trading up to a large SUV in the next 6 years once we have more kids. Until then we will keep our current cars, both 7 years old and running strong. Being in the Burbs of the midwest, there are very few public transportation choices.

    Also, every time I get pulled over I get a ticket :(

  8. says

    I have a pretty good warning/pull over ratio, but 3 in a row is fortuitous.

    My car’s name is Saabrina. She’s a Saab. (She’s also a she). I know, I have no imagination.

  9. says

    I plan to keep our current car for at least 10 more years, hopefully 15. I like driving a car into the ground. It’s familiar and we don’t like changes. :) Now that I’m not working anymore, I drive about once a week so I think this car will last a long time. I only had one warning when I got pulled over and I was driving a POS Toyota Cressida at the time.

  10. says

    Love the post Sam. I dont think I will be buying a car anytime soon, if ever again. I can think of lots I could be doing with the money right now instead of buying a car. In high school I went through cars often but that was because I got them cheap and sold them. Now I have a 96 civic great on gas and no problems. As for traffic violations I have been stopped several times and let go. The reason – I told the truth. The cop asked to you know why I am pulling you over I said I was speeding, i was riding in HOV lane, and because I through paper out of the window. One time I ran a light and throw paper out the window. The cop actually laughed at the fact I just simply didn’t fight him about the ticket. I told him he was doing he job and I was wrong. He said don’t worry about it and let me go. My wife tried that with a cop and still got a ticket. LOL

  11. says

    But what will you do when Mooose dies? Not to bring up a sensitive subject, but it happens to all of us. Someday, you will have to bury him in the backyard and replace him with something (someone?) else that can get you from point A to point B. Will you get a used car, or a new one?

    I am in the same boat. My wife has named her car, but you know what, I have yet to name mine. We both have mid-90′s Hondas wiht over 250k miles each, and I couldn’t imagine buying a new car. But, we are going to need a van once we have more kids, so I’m already spec’ing out the make/model/year of the car I will need. It will be hard to part with one of our cars, but it’s for the best……man, I’m gettin’ all emotional just thinkin’ about it…!

      • says

        Sam,

        Sorry to disagree with you, but you didn’t answer Jacob’s question, instead you sorta avoided it. WHAT WILL YOU DO? If your car is worth $5k, and the tranny goes on it, and you still got 100k in lifespan left on the car, but the tranny costs $3k to fix (labor in), what will you? I think I know the answer, but I’d love to hear it from you.

        Secondly, the rise of zip/daily rental cars only works if you live in the downtown core of the city, and don’t rely on your car for your job. 25% of my job requires me to be on the road, hence why I purchased a reliable new-used car six months ago.

  12. says

    I went to Carmax to get a quote for Haley, my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid and the gentlemen looked me straight in the face to offer $1,200. She has 59k miles and about another 100k to go! Glad to see you stayed strong.

  13. Kris says

    Nice that you mentioned zipcar. We’re thinking about it a lot now, for the days that my husband goes to work on the weekend and I need a car to take the kids places. Unfortunately a zipcar would cost us around $250 a month to use it for 4 days a month – it seems pricy. Need to run the numbers on how much we’d save on insurance and gas to see what’s the better deal. Unfortunately he can’t take public transport to an from work as buses don’t run during the time he’d get off work.

  14. Gina says

    My friend and I bought a “new” car at the same time. Her’s is a 2011 top of the line Jeep
    SUV that sings and videos and onstars and tells you you’re beautiful, She paid $39,000.00
    Has a payment of $620.00, (I think her credit stunk too, so higher interest rate).
    I bought from Hertz Car Buying Service, a 2010 Nissan Sentra with 21000 miles on it. No haggle pricing, interest rate of 2.99, payment $277.00 a month. She gets me to work same as my friend’s Jeep, I just have $320.00 more smackeroos a month than she does!
    The car was a year old, and I will have her until I die. I DO NOT want to buy another car EVER. I could pay her off quicker, but I put the money in Roth ira instead. $ 45.00 fills her up, she is silver, and looks as slow as mollasses, I don’t think cops even see a Nissan Sentra..Que the music..Glory… Glory…Hallelujah!! My other car.. a Toyota Corolla had 250,936 miles on her, and developed an oil leak. Still miss her..

  15. says

    I was pulled over in y wife’s Nissan red 300ZX, years ago and let go with a warning! I did not have my license with me and the CHP suspected that I was drunk because I went over the lines around a curve on the freeway. He put his flashlight in my eyes and realized I was cold sober. I explained I switched cars with y wife and left my wallet in my car. I was near home and offered to show him, instead I got just a warning. I attribute it to just lucky!

    I wished I lived in San Francisco where public transportation is good and no reason to own a car.

  16. Paul says

    Great topic. Moose reminds me of my ’95 Pathfinder. I bought it in 2002 for $5500 with 143k miles. I drove it 100k miles, the last 20k without reverse (plenty of pull through parking and don’t have to parallel park in Oklahoma) and got $3500 for it through Cash For Clunkers (thank you fellow taxpayers). My wife insisted that we get a new car as we were about to have our first baby. I probably paid $2000 in repairs during that time. I figure driving 100k miles for $4000 plus gas and tires is pretty decent.

  17. says

    Just for clarity regarding the 1/10th rule…

    Let’s say I make $100,000/year. Does the 1/10th rule tell me to buy a car that costs no more than $10,000 OR I can spend monthly up to $10,000/year on my monthly payments?

    • says

      The rule states that if you make $100,000, to buy a car that costs no more than $10,000.

      Its crazy during the Cash For Clunkers program where the average HOUSEHOLD only makes around $58,000, and the average person was trading in their clunkers for a vehicle that cost $25,000 on average!

      The government put tens of thousands more people into debt!

  18. says

    Well, we have 2 current cars. The van is 8 years old now, and the car is about 5 years old. Granted they each have over 117,000 miles on them, however we plan on holding them for at least another 7 & 10 years respectively.

    We usually go through cars after they’re about 15 years old.

    One thought you mentioned: “Besides, I bought him used, which means I’m more environmentally friendly than new car buyers who failed to destroy their old cars.”

    There are several things that figure into environmentally friendly Sam, which includes gas mileage. But I’m sure that you knew that. :-)

  19. says

    We have a green 1999 Civic named Yertle. Yertle doesn’t go fast enough to get pulled over, but she gets you where you need to go. I have been pulled over at least 3 times in my boring Altima without being given a ticket. I think they just see I’m a rushed mom on my way to work and let me go. The Altima doesn’t look fast either. We plan to keep both plus our truck (you need something 4WD where we live) for as long as they run. Everything is paid off, and we’ll never have a car payment again. Maybe we need to name the other two.

  20. says

    In my 7 years in this country I changed only one car. The Hyundai Elantra repair cost was more than its worth. I sold it on Craigslist. Now I have two cars a new new and a new used. Happy with both and continue to give them company till they want.

  21. says

    I still drive Honda CR-V that I bought 12 years ago. It has 438,000 miles. My CR-V looks young for its age. And like your Moose, I love it. I won’t sell it ever! And, I plan it till it dies.

  22. David M says

    In my 30 years of owning cars I have owned 4! I had a 1978 AMC Gremlin my last year of High School. When graduated from college in 1988 I bought a Toyota Carolla which I kept 10 years and drove about 110,000 miles.

    In 1998 I bought a Chevy Malibu which I kept for 7 years and drove about 55,000 miles – looked good still but it chewed up breaks and had other problems – so I cut my loses and traded it in. Paid about $18,000 and got $2,200 for trade in – very expensive mistake this Malibu was.

    In 2005 I bought a Honda Accord which now has about 35,000 miles on it. This car has been WONDERFUL. I bought new tires last year as the wall were starting to rot from lack of use more than anything else – the car often sat for a month at a time. I think there is a good chance that I will never buy another car in my life – only time will tell.

    I LOVE public transportation and walking. Every my morning commute is about 4,600 steps and 2 stops on the subway. I could take the subway 5 stops – but if I did this I would only get 1,500 steps or so.

    I also live within 1/2 mile of 3 different food stores and 3 different chain pharmacies – I do most of my shopping by foot.

    Total steps a day by not using my car at all during the week – 35,000 on average!

      • David M says

        The Gremlin was all I could afford – senior in High School.

        I was married when I purchased the Malibu – my wife hated the car – thus I likely got less action than I would have had we bought another car.

        After the failure of the Malibu – the next car selection was 100% left up to my wife!!!!!!

  23. Paul says

    I threw a spreadsheet together a few months ago to try to determine a sweet spot for buying a used car. I used todays values of used cars from edmunds.com to approximate the depreciateion of a selection of cars, most of which I’d consider buying but also trying to get a good variety. Avg milage of 15k/yr is assumed. I’ve provided the link below.

    Since I have a wife and toddler and another one on the way, my assumption is that I don’t want to have a car with more than 150k miles because even a well maintained Toyota can leave them stranded on the side of the highway, there’s just too much that can break at that mileage. Based on that assumption, it would be cheaper/better to buy 5 year old cars with 75k miles and drive them to 150k than to buy 7 year old cars with 105k miles and drive them to 150k.

    Sam’s 1/10th rule may work for single guys or those who earn more than $100k, and in my case all of the 5 year old cars are withing 1/10 of my wife and I’s combined income. But even for those with families who earn considerably less than 100k, I think this would justify spending more than 1/10th of their income on transportation.

    • says

      Paul, as long as you maintain them and get the proper maintenance done on schedule if not slightly before, the Toyota should be perfectly fine.
      We have 4 munchkins ourselves. My wife was driving our old Ford Escort that had 160,000 miles on it with 3 kids, until we had to get the Sienna because there just wasn’t enough room for 2 adults and 4 kids. Otherwise we would’ve kept driving that.
      Since I have done routine maintenance (including brakes and tires and oil changes every 3 months or sooner if they hit 4,000 miles since the last oil change), I have NEVER had a vehicle break down on the side of the road — which is now about 25 years!
      We’ll keep driving these vehicles until they hit at least 250,000 miles or more (which should be another 7-8 years), and then consider our options at that time.

  24. says

    I disagree about naming cars. Cars are just a thing that get me to point B approximately twenty times faster than I could walk. I drive a Corolla, which looks like every other car on the road. It starts every time I want it to, so I’ll treat it right and keep it until it dies.

  25. Denny says

    I have a ten year old Buick Century with 167,000 miles. The car is so boring it makes me drowzy to drive it. I have never been pulled over in it. A freind of mine says that this is because its the color of dirt and invisible to cops. It’s also invisible to other drivers and has recieved several dings when parked. My five year old daughter reminds me that I have to keep it until its used up whenever I mention getting another car.

  26. says

    I drive a car until it is no longer worth fixing. That means when I reach the point of spending around $150 average per month to maintain the car.

    Sell my car. No. I still have the previous car I purchased that I drove until it died.

  27. JayCeezy says

    Great topic, and I’m loving Sam’s book (2/3 thru, and taking his advice to read it again…). Like Carvin and Sam and others, I use the auto for utility and will drive it until the value is gone. 36 years of driving, 670,000 miles, 4 cars. I’m a long-distance commuter for the past 12 years, so my car has to be reliable, light, and cheap to repair. Got 137,000 on my current 2007 VW Jetta, hope to get another 250,000 at least.

  28. lucky says

    We bought a new 2010 model in the spring of 2011 below blue book value, it was even cheaper than comparable pre-owned models. Now, 18 month later the car’s blue book value only went down by roughly 7%.

    Lessons learned:
    - Buy when you don’t need to but anticipate having to buy one soon. (the car we replaced was 14yrs old and had >200k miles)
    - If you want to buy a new car, keep your eyes open for a model from the previous year. Dealers want/ need to empty their lots for the newest generations.
    - If you negotiate a great price and want/ need to finance the car the 0% or 0.9% financing rate is usually not available. (that happened to us 5.5% but paid off in 6month and the damage was only a few $100 – probably help our credit)
    - be prepared to walk away. actually do not bring your trade-in with you, that makes you walk away and gives you a chance to reconsider.

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