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Finances & Money

Want Vs Need: Stacie got a new car

After selling the Chevy Malibu in August, we were going to wait either 1 year, or until the Pontiac Grand Am died before getting Stacie another car. This past weekend, we chose not to wait. We found the exact vehicle Stacie has wanted for at least 4 years now, and bought it.

Do you want to know which car? Take a look:

mini cooper

Yep, that’s Stacie with her shiny new (well, used) 2005 Mini Cooper. And yes, Stacie really is that little too.

Now hold on a minute! I know you have a bunch of questions, and may even want to yell at me for going back into debt, but let’s handle this in a civilized manner. I’ll do a little Q&A format for most of your probable questions:

Why would you go into more debt when you’re trying to get out?

Simple. Because we have a plan. And Stacie has wanted a Mini Cooper for a long time. We found a way to fit the purchase into our budget, although it did come a bit sooner than we had expected.

Tell us the story about the purchase!

Well, here’s the short form. A couple weeks ago, Stacie saw the Mini at a dealership up the road. She mentioned it, I went online, but saw it was a manual transmission. I said no deal because she doesn’t want a manual. However, she mentioned the Mini again on Thursday, so I went back online since I forgot why we skipped it the first time.

This time around, I looked more closely at the pictures. Well, surprise, surprise, the pictures showed an automatic, not a manual! I stopped by the dealership with my grandma just to peek at the car to make sure the pictures were right too. Sure enough they were, so I left my information with the salesman.

The next day, Friday, both Stacie and I took a day off from work. I took off to dethatch the lawn, which I did in the morning. I was exhausted so I took a nap, but was awakened by the salesman calling to ask if we wanted to drive the Mini, and reminded me that it was the end of the month (almost). I woke up instantly, came downstairs and asked Stacie if she wanted to go. However, Stacie hates dealerships from the last 2 auto purchases, so I went by myself.

I showed up at the dealership and drove off with the Mini to let Stacie test it. Of course I was also testing it out for soundness, noises, drive, etc. Even before I drove it, I knew Stacie would accept the purchase, but I wanted her final approval. I got home, we went out for about 45 minutes, and we both agreed that we found her a Mini.

What are the numbers?

The dealer price was $20,990, but the “rock-bottom” internet price was $17,990. I got it for $17,600. Before you shout that a car that small isn’t worth that price, I’d say that you’re right. But if we all only bought what we needed, not what we wanted, then we’d all be Amish. And I don’t think that beard would look good on me.

With tax, tags and title, and some extra wheel and tire warranty ($485) for the run-flats, the final price was about $19,200.

Did you get a loan?

Yes. I got a 5 year, 6.45% loan on about $13,200 from the credit union, and put $6,000 on a credit card. The card has a 0% offer for 6 months. Ironically, it’s our Mini Cooper Credit Card (with a picture of almost the same Mini on the front). I’ll write up a different post about the credit card another time.

Since Stacie didn’t go with me, I got the loan in my name, as well as the title. Although it means I can pull rank on Stacie and claim the car for my own whenever I want, I won’t (probably). I got it for her, but it’s ultimately out of our combined income.

And as a side-note, even with the new credit card, my credit score was about 800 when I applied for this loan. That’s the highest I’ve ever seen it, but I’m sure it’ll come down quite a bit with this new loan and credit card debt. We have no plans for more debt in the future, so I’m not worried.

How will you pay for it all?

Here’s where our plan comes into play. When it  came time to sell my car, we sold the Malibu, we got $10,500. When we canceled the extended warranty and GAP insurance, we got another $1,115.50, for a grand total of $11,615.50. And instead of spending that on more crap, or paying down more debt, I put it in the bank for a Mini Cooper. We were set on buying a Mini as Stacie’s next car.

The first loan payment isn’t due until mid-November. We had a $2,000 over-payment set for my student loan this month, but I’ll set that aside for the loan. When the first payment is due, we’ll pay off the loan in full from our back account. Next up is the credit card debt.

Since the CC debt is at 0% for the next 6 months, we’ll stash away the money each month in a high-interest money market account until we reach the $6,000. I expect that to happen around January, given Christmas is around the corner.

So, although I would rather have had all the money up front for the purchase, this deal happened anyway, and isn’t going to kill our budget. We got a car that Stacie wanted (although she prefers new), for a decent price (Minis barely depreciate) and in pristine condition (except for a small chip near the door and the chicken noodle soup smell). And although the car takes premium fuel, it gets about 5-8 mpg better than the Pontiac.

How much did you save getting it now versus later?

I’m glad you put it in those words. Had we waited to just buy a new Mini, with the exact specs of this used car, we would have paid $26,000, and probably waited 2-3 months to custom order it. By buying this 2-year-old Mini with only 30,000 miles, we saved $8,400! I should mention that we probably wouldn’t have ordered the sports package (with sport seats and run flat tires), or custom leather, but everything else on the car is as we wanted it.

You can download my custom-configured 2007 Mini spec sheet here. It shows all of the add-ons that the prior owner put on this car, but in 2007 pricing.


So there you have it. I got Stacie a new car. We should have gotten it years ago, but we were buying based on what we thought we needed (family car) versus what we wanted (coupe). Now we have a family-sized multi-purpose truck and a cute, little hatchback. And we still have the old, faithful Grand Am, which I’ll drive to classes now to save on gas.

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Clever Dude


  • Since everything has been discussed pretty well, I’ll mention something new. Get that 0% card paid off quick! Yes it is 0%, but unlike a your 6.5% term loan it’s not a fixed rate. One slip (like them not processing a payment on time), or even a arbitrary decision by the card company (who might pull a report and decide you have too much debt and revoke your 0%, or you just fit in some random computer category labeled “lets stick it to this guy!” – I’m certain all card companies have a special filing cabinet with this label on it) and they could hike your rate to 20-30%.

    That would give you a month to pay it off, and if you don’t, could lead to massive interest charges. Unless you have the cash on hand, that could leave you scrambling.

  • Malibu to Mini Cooper – Sweet upgrade!

    As long as you are progressing towards your goals to your satisfaction, I don’t see any need for justification.

    Another part of opening one’s finances to the public is to realize someone will always disagree with your spending decisions – just don’t let it make you enjoy the Mini any less 🙂

  • […] on our “mini” vacation right now. No, not that kind of Mini, just small vacation. This is a free getaway for us, so the only thing that we are paying for is […]

  • Clever Dude,
    I did the stupid “I just graduated college and I’m going to finance the car I’ve wanted for 4 years” thing. I’ve been driving my ’06 MINI Cooper S since June ’06, and still absolutely love it. I probably could (should?) sell it and buy something a bit better on gas but really, I have a 45 mile commute each way, why shouldn’t it be in a car that I absolutely love to drive? It sounds like Stacie is in a similar mindset. If you guys have a plan to pay for it, she’s wanted it for 4 years so it wasn’t just a rash decision, and you got a good deal on it, enjoy it! The “new car eyes” don’t go away.

  • If you really want to get out of debt, you’ll stop spending so much money on cars. If you really want to build wealth, you’ll stop investing so much money in depreciating assets. Right now you just want to have nice cars. That’s the bottom line.

    For real though, enjoy the car! My parents have one (convertible) and I love driving it.

  • Cleverdude and Cleverdudette,

    I have read all the comments and really wonder about some people. This may not be the best financial decision you could have made – but, come on…how old are you, live a little! If having a spiffy new little car makes your day then go for it. Having lived as an adult for over 40 years, I can promise you that there will be times in your life when the “best” financial decision just doesn’t cut it. Yes, you have to be responsible – but, what happened to everything in moderation. Just make sure you don’t get yourself buried into serious debt with no way out. Right now, you are both young and have full careers ahead of you. Congrats Cleverdude for returning to school – education is valuable and a solid investment in yourself.

    Enjoy your car, enjoy being young, enjoy life. I will think of you, Stacy, on my commute tonight everytime I see a little MINI.

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