Buying into an Auto Illusion
Yes, we have 3 cars. But two are paid-off: A 2005 MINI Cooper and a 130,000 mile 1997 Pontiac Grand Am. And yes, there’s only 2 of us. And finally, yes, I ride the metro to work so I drive MUCH less than I did when I drove to work (not since 2006 really).
Back in March, 2006, I traded in my 96,000 mile 2002 Acura TL-S for a brand new, 2006 Honda Ridgeline truck. Also back then, we had a 2005 Chevy Malibu instead of a MINI Cooper. I made the trade for a truck with the following reasoning:
- We’re now homeowners, so we’ll need the hauling capability
- We’re going to start a family, so we’ll need the size and safety of a bigger vehicle
- We still weren’t certain about the Pontiac’s reliability, so that’s why we went with a new vehicle
- We already had 2 sedans, so why get another “car”?
But looking back almost 2.5 years over our decision, I can relegate every one of those reasons as pure illusions.
Shortly after buying the truck, I started making the joke “I have the truck, but no money to buy anything to haul“. That was when I made about $15,000 less per year than I make now (not counting the income from CleverDude.com and Building Nutrition), so now we have some money for renovations (we’ve spent thousands this summer!).
But seriously, it took about 2 years before I really started hauling stuff that I couldn’t move in a car, wagon or even an SUV (like 1200lbs of bricks or gravel). That was 2 years of $450 payments that I could have avoided.
Whahuh? Kids? Where?
So unless we were sleeping for 9 months during the last 2.5 years, I don’t think we’ve had kids yet. And we aren’t planning any soon, what with uncertainty about whether we want to stay in the D.C. area, and our general lack of energy to do much more than work and sleep.
Our Trusty Steed
Back in 2004, we had some problems with both Jiffy Lube and then a mechanic who messed up our Pontiac to the point where we just drove it to PA to our “family mechanic” (not related) to fix. He got it up-and-running in no time and it’s worked fine with about $600 in repairs or upgrades each year as maintenance. That’s less than 2 months of truck payments each year.
Honestly, I just used the “uncertainty” with the Pontiac as excuse to get a new vehicle. And I also used it as an excuse to not buy used, even though I feel the car could run to 200,000 miles with proper maintenance.
Three of a Kind?
Not much to say about the “not another sedan” deal, other than it was icing on the “Excuse Cake”. I used all of the other arguments to get a new truck; to justify why I couldn’t just 1) keep the Acura or 2) sell it and just drive the Pontiac
So Now What?
I’m closer to selling the truck than I have been since getting it, but it’s a hard sell to myself and to Stacie. Stacie will stand behind my decision either way, but that doesn’t mean she’s not asking questions first. Also, both of our sets of parents think I should keep the truck, but they both live in rural/semi-rural Pennsylvania “Truck Country”. They see the value in having a truck, but they’re not thinking of the rental options.
So as much as people ridicule us for having 3 cars for 2 people, the important people in our lives don’t want us to sell. And selling the Pontiac isn’t an option because it’s almost worthless to buyers (not to us though) based on KBB values. Also, it’s either get rid of $18,000 in debt (I could probably sell for $19k) or make $1,400.
Lastly, though, we’re not in dire need of money, and that’s what I think gets most people in trouble. We’re paying the bills just fine, but I realized that we could get ahead much faster if we had $450 more per month. I won’t say how much I make per hour, but that’s less than 2 days of work per month, and that’s why it’s hard for me to just give up the truck.
It’s convenient and we can “afford” it. But can we really afford it?
What about you? Are you, or have you been, in this situation? What did you do, or not do?