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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I do not admire your fancy schmancy car.

In my volunteer financial counseling, I have noticed that one of the biggest financial problems people have is a car payment. I was about to fill in the end of that sentence with restaurant spending, but I realized that's not the biggest problem. So I will tackle restaurant spending another day.

The average car payment is $460. If you are paying something like that each month, imagine what else you could be doing with that money. Stop and think right now, I'll wait.

Did you think of what you would do with that money? Tell me in the comments!

I have talked to several people who have bought new cars in the last year and have big car payments, but are living with their parents. If they were driving old, paid off cars, they could find a small apartment for the price of their car payment. At least in my area you can. A quick search on ApartmentFinder.com found several.

Many people think that they will always have a car payment, only new cars will be reliable, you should get a new car if yours reaches x amount of mileage,  you should sell your car before it starts breaking down, or that once it breaks down a few times, it's time to get a new one. In reality, unless you have the type of repair that costs several thousand dollars, it is cheaper to pay occasional repair bills than to get a loan on a new car and start paying car payments.

I hope this blog reaches you before you get a loan on a brand new car. But it's not too late if you have bought (and borrowed for) a new car. But you got a really good deal on it, you say? Why is it that everyone tells me they got a really good deal on their brand new car? Could it be that car salesmen are good at making us think that we got a good deal?

It's no secret that new cars lose a lot of their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. If you didn't have a down payment, you now owe more for your car than what you can sell it for. You can find out what your car is worth at kbb.com It will take a while for you to pay the loan down to what it is worth, but I suggest you do just that. Then sell it.

Are you part of a two car family? Is there any way that you could make do with one car for a while? Do you live and work in a place for public transportation is reliable? Is there someone you can carpool with? If any of these is an option for you, you can do without a car while you save up cash to pay for a used car. If not, you should save up $1,000-$2,000 for a cheap used car. While you are driving the cheap used car, save up to buy a better used car, unless there is someone else more important to do with your money at this time. The good thing about a $1,000 car? It will hardly lose any value. When you go to sell it, it might still be worth $1,000.

When buying a car, always look at Consumer Reports. Your library might have it, or you may have to pay about $6 for a one month subscription. You can look up a car from any year and see how well it is expected to perform in several different areas. Then be patient. You won't see the best deal right away. Wait for the right one.

In my research, I learned that the average car is about eleven years old. Each year, this average goes up. That means cars are built better and are lasting longer, and age/miles is not a reason to get rid of your car.

Maybe it's just my age, but when I was a kid, I remember ten year old cars looking really old. Now, for the most part, they don't look old at all. Of course, I'm not interested in cars, and I don't pay attention to them except to wonder if the drivers of fancy schmancy cars are in debt up their eye balls. In fact, I am so uninterested in cars, that when I was in high school, and my parents bought a new used car, it took me about a year to be recognize it with confidence. This car was so nondescript that I always had a fear that I would walk up to someone else's car and get in and die of embarrassment.

Why does this car come up when I search for "most nondescript car"? This car is definitely fancy schmancy.
I believe this is the most nondescript car. It is practically parking lot camouflage.

So instead of admiring your friend's new cars, let's start a new trend of admiring your friend's oldest cars. Have a contest to see who can keep an old car the longest. We used to drive a car that was almost old enough to vote. We did not really love that car. When it rained, it poured. Inside. Especially when turning left. But we saved up while we drove it, and bought better cars for cash. Our current cars are six and eight years old, and they feel brand new. And they are going to last a long time.

1 comment:

  1. I drive an 84 Oldsmobile that my parents gave me when I was 19 years old. I'm 41 now. Do I win a prize? :)