Next up in the Examine Your Motives Series, we’re going to discuss something close to my heart: Buying a car. I’ve told you how we lost $14,500 by stupid mistakes. We didn’t think about why we wanted or needed a car. But that’s why I’m here: to help you examine your motives!
So, let’s get right into it. You want a car. Maybe you just want something simple, or maybe you want something sweet like a Mercedes, BMW or Chevy Aveo. Wait, how did that slip in there?
Some of you have enough cash to pay for a car in-full, while most of you can only dream of walking into a dealership with a wad of greenbacks, slapping it on the salesman’s desk and driving away in a Mini Cooper. But ask yourself this first: “Do I NEED a car, or do I WANT a car?”
The answer is pretty simple for many of you because you may have few transportation options. Let’s look at those options. I’ll just list out as many as I can think of, regardless of urban, suburban or rural location:
- Mass transit: bus, subway, light rail, trolley, train
- For hire: taxis, limos, shuttles
- For rent: Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, Avis, U-haul, Home Depot (yep, they got trucks), Segway
- Car sharing: Zipcar, Flexcar, other networks
- One/Two/Three wheels: bicycle, motorcycle, unicycle, tricycle, scooter, moped
- By sea: ferry, yacht, surfboard, sailboat, kayak, strapping dolphins to your feet
- By air: plane, helicopter, U.F.O., strapping 500 hummingbirds to your body
- Other: horse and buggy, skateboard, rollerblades, shopping cart, walking, running
And the list goes on. So why do you NEED to OWN a car or truck when you have all of these other options? Well, duh, cause you want one! No, really, some of you need a vehicle for our jobs, such as farm work, plumber, or pizza delivery, but what about the rest of you? Why do YOU need a car? Can you use one of the options above? I’ll let you answer that for yourself. My purpose is to get you to think.
Now, we know you NEED a car. Let’s ask some questions about what kind of car you should get:
(I’m excluding parents and children with handicaps from these examples)
Do you tow something more than once a month?
Obviously if you’re going to get frequent use out of a towing vehicle (we’ll stick with a truck for now), then it may be more cost effective to own the truck rather than rent one multiple times each month. However, just thinking that you’ll use a truck a lot isn’t reason enough to buy one. I own a truck, and I really don’t need it. I can count the number of times I absolutely needed the truck on just one hand. But it’s hard for a man to sell his truck once he’s got one. And it’s hard for the wife to let the husband sell it too!
Do you have a large family (3 or more kids)?
Having a large family is usually the deal-maker for buying something more than a little hatchback. If you have 17 children, or even 3, you probably need something bigger than a sedan or small wagon, and renting a car just won’t cut it. Why is 3 a magic number? Because the stuff you haul around town for mom, dad and 2 kids can just fit into a standard sedan. If it doesn’t then you have too much junk. There’s little reason for a family of 4 to move up to an SUV or minivan, unless you go on major driving vacations every month.
Is it just you in the car a majority of the time?
If you really only drive yourself around, then you really don’t need something big, right? Unless you fall into the “towing” category, then you should be able to haul yourself around in a Ford Fiesta every day, and rent something for those days in which you need more capacity. How many of you have bought an SUV with a third row for “those times the in-laws come to visit”? I bought my truck because “it was big enough to grow into”. Well, it’s been over a year. I’m not fatter and we don’t have kids, so who else is growing? Stacie sure isn’t!
Seriously folks, think about WHY you need a vehicle first before thinking WHAT KIND. If you automatically think you need a car because it’s the easiest option, then try out some of the options above first. If you just absolutely MUST have a car because of emotional reasons, then you’re beyond help, much like myself.
Photo Courtesy of SqueakyMarmot