Let me start by saying that inexpensive is a relative term. Inexpensive quickly turns into a ridiculous term when it comes to buying something you didn’t need to buy in the first place. Basically, you’re spending money to save money. Hmmmm…that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, does it? You know, it’s kinda like all the Black Friday sales that encourage you to spend money you weren’t otherwise going to spend by creating an imaginary need and telling you how much money you’ll save by buying something. Hint: Buying stuff does not equate to saving. Ever. If you’re buying something because you can’t bear the thought of not saving money, you have officially failed Frugality 101.
Why I Needed A New Car
When I was first starting out in my post-college life, I landed a decent job, making about $45k/year. I also bought myself a nice, used Jeep Grand Cherokee for about $20k. Crazy, I know. But, that was my pre-frugal self. Please try to understand 🙂 Roughly 2 1/2 years later, my place of employment closed its doors, forcing me to take a job 1hr 15mins from my home. Thankfully, I received a nice severance package and was on my way, with only a weekend in between. After two weeks of commuting back and forth in the titanic, I decided to put my severance pay to good use (this is
oozing with sarcasm) and purchase a used “commuter” car. I spent $4k (cash. cash that could’ve been used for investing, but never mind that) on a 1999 Chevy Malibu. It wasn’t flashy; but, it was comfortable, safe, and reliable, and only had 60k miles on it. My friends and I lovingly referred to it as The ‘bu. It quickly became my main vehicle, but I hung on to the Jeep, too. Payment and all. Why? I have no good answer for this. Eventually, I paid off the Jeep and had two vehicles that I owned, free and clear.
A couple years ago, I met Mr. MMM. Unfortunately, there were two long hours between us. Because this was a new relationship and I didn’t want to be seen driving an old lady car, I started using the gas guzzling, V8 Jeep to travel back and forth. It was costing me roughly $40 for each trip. Can you say, RIDICULOUS? Of course you can.
What I Did
Needed and new are also relative terms. Because I couldn’t possibly afford to keep using my Jeep to go see my new squeeze, and I wasn’t about to start employing my not-so-sexy, old lady car, I created a need to
purchase a new (used) car to save money on gas. So, one fateful Saturday in 2014, I woke up, got dressed, and decided I was going to go get myself a new car that day. I wanted something stylish and sporty, yet safe and affordable. I landed at the Mazda dealership. I very quickly calculated that between my gas and maintenance, I would be spending a similar amount each month with the new car payment, given that gas was so expensive for the Jeep. Within hours I had traded in my Jeep and ‘bu and walked out with a 2012, inexpensive, fuel-efficient, Mazda 3. Financed for just under $200/mo.
What I Should Have Done
There is no question I should have kept rockin’ my ’99 Chevy Malibu. The ‘bu had a ton of miles on it, but it never let me down. Sure, there were repairs and upkeep that it required throughout the years, but, it was the most reliable, comfortable car I have ever owned. I should have told Mr. MMM that I was going to start driving my little old lady car. And guess what, he would not have cared one little bit. He often says to me now that he was puzzled when I gave it up for a car with a payment. *sigh*
Where Are They Now
I realize now that I made that decision from an emotional standpoint. The long and short of it: I was embarrassed. I wanted Mr. MMM to think I had everything under control and that I didn’t need to be driving such an old car (without A/C). Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mr. MMM would’ve loved to have heard I had a frugal mindset. Ironically, I did, I was just trying to impress him. I was being run by my emotions, right into a financial ditch.
Even though this didn’t compare to the worst financial decision of my life, it still wasn’t the smartest choice. The smartest choice would’ve been continuing to drive the car that I already owned and saving to buy my next car until I had enough cash to buy it outright. I currently owe about $8k on my inexpensive, fuel efficient Mazda. It should be paid off in 2016. Thankfully, we have evolved into a married, power couple (in my mind, anyway 🙂 with a frugal plan. We will never finance another vehicle, as long as we both shall live. The End.
How do you pay for your cars? Do you finance, lease, or pay cash? Have you ever regretting a car purchase?
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