Wow, a month off, a new site, a new perspective on a lot of things. Man, it feels good to be writing again. That said, I solved one of my biggest issues that I needed to solve over the summer, getting a new car. When I say new, this was not a “new to me” car, this thing had 4 miles on it when I drove it off the lot.
Some of you that have been reading for a while will remember my post, “Dude, I Totaled My Car” and know that I really needed a friggin vehicle in a bad way. I really wish I was able to live like some of the commenters of Matt’s post at FCN, and sustain myself without a car. However, that wasn’t feasible for me. So here is how this all went down and how I ended up with a 2010 car a week after it came out, surely a personal finance sin if ever there was one.
The Advice Along The Way (good advice I didn’t listen to)
I talked to several bloggers, several friends, and even a friend’s father that is a certified financial planner. Without exception, everyone suggested that I get a used vehicle. Now, some people were more receptive to the idea of a new car (Mapgirl being one of them), but for the most part, it was “find a used car.”
A week prior to purchasing my NEW vehicle I spoke with Baker from Man vs. Debt. When I started telling him about my plans to purchase a new vehicle he plainly said (and I paraphrase, because it was gchat and wouldn’t make total sense out of context), “It sounds like you WANT a new car. There are good late model cars out there, it just takes hard work to find them.” I agree with Baker, I did “want” a new car, but primarily because it was the process of this search that was slowly killing me.
The Process (it sucked)
The process of buying a car should be kind of fun, after all, it’s a big purchase, its something that a lot of people associate as an item that “defines” you. I don’t really buy into that, but whatever. I am here to say, the process sucks. I mean, it really sucks. Especially if you are looking for a used car.
Maybe its just me, I don’t trust used car salesmen, and a clean carfax report wasn’t going to make me feel any better. Ebay, well that just took too long and I want to at least see the car before buying it. Carmax, well that is actually a good option, but all of their vehicles were quite expensive for what you were getting. I decided at the beginning of the process that if I was going to finance anything, I may as well just get a new damn car.
I tried craigslist. I really tried craigslist a lot. I called a ton of people, I saw a bunch of cars. I trusted no one, and didn’t like a lot of the vehicles I tried out for the money they were asking. Why would I spend all of the insurance money I received for my Jetta ($4200) on a car that was much inferior to that car?
Finally, I went down to a dealership and practically bought a 2002 Civic. Something didn’t feel right about the car, but the money was acceptable, and I was a dude that was at the end of his rope. They pulled a fast one on me and threw away the warranty on the car as I was about to sign the papers. I walked out.
“Brian, you aren’t going to be happy or comfortable in a late model used car with over 100K miles on it. Get yourself a new f***ing car.”
A friend who I trust said, “Brian, you aren’t going to be happy or comfortable in a late model used car with over 100K miles on it. Get yourself a new f***ing car.” He was right. I knew which cars were in my price range, and what I would be satisfied with. Knowing it was towards the end of the year, I wanted to see if I could find what I wanted (2009 Hyundai Sonata) as a used car.
Sure enough there was one around the corner from me. If I went that route I could have saved a few thousand dollars, however it already had almost 30,000 miles on it from the past year. I was still close to buying it. Then I called to find out about all the warranty’s (which is one of the reasons I was going Hyundai) and found out that the 10 year/100,000 mile warranty was void for second owners. Also, the vehicle was already halfway to voiding out the 5 year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. I said screw it, and was off to find a new 2009 car.
Because of cash for clunkers, I wasn’t able to find the exact model I wanted, in the color I wanted (pearly white is a shitty color for a car, if you want a Sonata in pearly white, call any dealership, that’s all they have left). J. Money from Budgets are Sexy stated advised that if I was going to buy a new car and go into debt to do it, I may as well get all the bells and whistle I want and not compromise. I followed his advice, found myself a 2010 in the model I wanted, color I wanted, extras I wanted and then started haggling. The next day, I bought the car.
Why I Went New (and why what was best for me broke the personal finance mold)
I really took to heart what Ramit said in his post a few years back. I am paying for value. Also, since this process sucked something big, I didn’t want to have to do it again two years from now if my tranny on my used car blew up. For the following reasons I went new.
- Dollar for dollar this car is much more likely to last me 10+ years of driving.
- A new car is cheaper to maintain, especially under warranty.
- Time was of the essence. 2.5 months without a car and relying on my friends all summer made me expedite this process. If I had six months to search for the “perfect used car”, maybe I would have purchased used.
- This is a big enough car that I can feel safe growing into it if my family were ever to expand beyond myself (ie, I won’t need to replace it because its not big enough for transporting kids).
- That smell really is something magical.
- I know everything about the history of my vehicle. This will be important if I ever have to resell it. I know where its been, whats been done to it and I don’t have to worry about previous owners.
- I was also able to get decent financing. Had to put 0 money down (which may not be advisable based on your situation) which allowed me to max out my Roth IRA for the rest of the year (something I was going to do in the next few months anyway) and invest more money in a marketplace that is likely to rebound huge in the next year or two. This also allowed me to keep extra cash on hand in case of unexpected emergencies in a bad economy (if I bought used or put a big down payment on the car, that money would just *poof* gone).
To the Naysayers (I want to hear from you guys)
This may not have been a great financial decision for me. I went $19,000 deeper into debt on a new car. However, I don’t think this was a bad decision. It was just a decision that was neither good nor bad. Before you hit me upside the head too hard, it should be known my financial goals are still intact. I am still able to save close to $1000 a month. I still maxed out my Roth IRA for 2009. I am still able to contribute 20% of my salary to my 401(K). As for depreciation, I didn’t buy a Benz, I bought a Sonata. It will depreciate a few thousand the first year, and I am not reselling it anyway.
So what now? I want you guys to bring it in the comment section. Give me your thoughts and perspectives.