This is more story time than anything. I have always been fond of cars. I love the way it feels to be behind the steering wheel, changing gears and working the clutch. An open road is a place of peace for me. I love it.
My love of cars has its pros and its cons. On the one hand, my interest in cars has given me a pretty decent knowledge of how they work, which makes and models are reliable, and how to do general maintenance and fix a few things here and there. But like any good thing, it can take you for a bad ride.
One thing I’ve learned about cars is that they are a depreciating asset, meaning, they lose value over time. At one point I bought a 2004 Mach 1 Mustang with my first every auto loan. I picked it up for $9,500 in great condition. It was a ton of fun! Unfortunately, the payments were a stressor. That payment comes around each month and kind of kicks your butt. I eventually realized I didn’t like the high insurance rates, poor gas mileage, and the constant stress of writing a check to the bank each month. If only I had learned.
Later, I made the mistake of having two cars at the same time as a single guy. Dumb, right?! Yeah, it was. I had a 1998 Buick LeSabre while having the Mustang. The Buick was paid for, but I had to pay extra for the insurance, gas, maintenance, you get the picture.
At this point in my infinite wisdom, I sold the Mustang for $7,000, taking a hit on that depreciation we talked about. I sold my perfectly good Buick as well to one of my best buddies and roommate at the time. Let’s just say he figured out how to steer his finances in the right direction before I did. That car is still serving him well today.
After having two cars at the same time, one on a loan, I figured I “deserved” a nice big, comfortable car. It had to be fast though. So I got a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO. Really cool car, a great sleeper (for you car folks out there). My loan for that was almost $300 a month. I was shelling out money left and right to the bank for interest on an asset that lost value every day. Buying it for almost $17,000 with an “extended warranty” (please don’t ever get one of those), I ended up parting with it a year later for $12,500. Ouch.
Why do I share all these personal details about car deals gone wrong? Well, I share them because they were mistakes that I hope others don’t make. If you don’t have the money for a car, don’t buy it! If you want it, save for it. In that time of saving, you might just find that you didn’t want that car after all, or you might realize that what you are driving now is just fine. At the end of the day, it’s not about getting there in style, it is about getting there.
As a funny wrap up to this post, I now drive a 1993 Mazda Miata. Yeah, one of those small little convertibles. Got it for $5,000. This time it is paid for. The best part is, I always thought that my Mustang and SHO were super cool cars. I’ve gotten way more compliments on the Miata as it turns out… life has a funny way of making us laugh at ourselves sometimes.