CONSUMER REPORTS and other authorities will tell you that you get the greatest value for your car-buying dollar by purchasing a two- or three-year-old vehicle. They also often recommend selling your current car after you’ve owned it for about seven years.
We favor a different strategy—one that suits our family but certainly isn’t for everybody.
My wife’s No. 1 priority is that her vehicle be reliable. She insists that every time she gets in the car,
THIS PAST YEAR marked my 50th anniversary of driving. Over that time, our family has owned 19 cars and driven them roughly 1.9 million miles. While latte purchases frequently evoke financial debate, cars seem less discussed, despite being Americans’ second-largest expenditure after housing. The purchase, ownership, maintenance and sale of cars can all get pretty complicated.
Cars are considered a depreciating asset, but not always. My first car was a 1967 Mercury Comet, which I bought for $400 in 1973.
I ALMOST NEVER MAKE fast decisions. But I bought a used car in August immediately after seeing it. If I hadn’t, I might still be looking.
Inventories for new cars are at record lows. Prices for used vehicles are at record highs. This was not the year to buy another car, but I wanted to replace my 14-year-old Mazda sedan with a more reliable vehicle for long trips to see my children. I was tired of months isolated at home,
I’VE BEEN KNOWN to overanalyze decisions, especially financial ones. When faced with a money question, often my first thought is to create a spreadsheet. While this brings groans from family and friends, I find them a great way to clarify my thinking and gain insights. Sometimes the resulting insights are glaringly obvious, and I get to laugh at myself.
My wife and I were looking to replace her nine-year-old SUV. We had read and heard that new car inventory was the biggest problem we’d face,
IN SEPTEMBER 2017, my wife and I sold our home, car and almost all our earthly possessions. We spent the next four years driving across four continents. Along the way, I learned a great deal about renting a car that, in this rental-car-challenged world, could make your travels less costly and more reliable.
1. I use Expedia, Kayak and Hotwire to compare rental car rates. When you book, pay attention to whether your reservation is free cancellation or pay now (noncancellable).
AFTER 20 YEARS, the U.S. military has withdrawn from Afghanistan. The news brought back memories of the year I spent deployed there—and a crucial financial lesson I learned. Perhaps that lesson resonates even more today given the past year’s pandemic and the role deferred gratification has lately played in many of our lives.
When you’re deployed to a combat zone, the government doesn’t tax your wages. Consequently, most soldiers can sock away a lot of money.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM posits that a car is a poor investment, at least from a financial standpoint. It’s extraordinarily difficult to turn a profit, especially over the long term.
According to Carfax, the owner of a new car can expect the vehicle to lose 20% of its value in the first year and 10% annually thereafter. Beyond depreciation, owning a car involves fuel and maintenance costs, insurance premiums, parking fees, registration fees, tolls, sales tax,
LIKE SO MANY OTHERS, I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. But I know in my soul that we’re all going back—and I’m mostly okay with that. There are things I miss about the office: colleagues who have become friends, the collaboration, the access to ideas and creativity.
The biggest thing I don’t miss? Traffic. Nothing even comes close.
I live in Austin, Texas, which ranks tenth in America in terms of worst commute.
MONEY IS ONE of the most emotional issues we deal with. It can create both immense stress and moments of pleasure. I’m guessing the way each of us view money, and how we handle it, is as unique as our fingerprints.
My wife’s car of 14 years was kaput and headed for the junkyard. Fixing the wiring and computer on her 2006 Jaguar would have cost $5,000—far more than the car was worth, even though it was otherwise in very good shape.
MY FATHER WAS A CAR salesman. For the last 20 years of his career, he sold Mercedes and he was good at it. He even won a sales contest that included a trip to Germany to tour the factory.
Unfortunately, selling Mercedes does not mean you can afford one. But he did get to drive them. As a kid, I was also hooked. When I was 17, I was allowed to drive a 190SL in the local July 4th parade.
IN THE PAST, WE’VE always bought certified preowned cars. We know new cars lose a big chunk of their value when you drive them off the lot, so we had our eye on a used car when we started our search earlier this year.
Our goal was a Mercedes Benz GLC 300 AWD 4MATIC. My husband enjoys the negotiating and drama that comes with buying a car, so he investigated choices, checked out prices at dealerships and was ready to start his usual two-to-three-month car hunt.
IN MARCH, I DROVE off the Tesla lot in a new Model 3 with Ben Franklin’s quote in my head: “So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
Elon Musk had just announced availability of lower cost versions of the Model 3. After eight years of waiting for a Tesla that would cost less than my first home,
OKINAWA IS a Japanese island that is southeast of mainland Japan and about two hours and 40 minutes from Tokyo by plane. It is famous for fierce Second World War battles and currently houses about 26,000 U.S. military personnel. From 2006 to 2008, I was one of these military personnel, working as an emergency physician in the naval hospital.
Okinawa, my new dream come true. Going to Okinawa was not my first choice.
CAR BUYING CAN BE overwhelming, which partly explains why we held onto our 2002 Toyota RAV for as long as we did. When the time came to part ways, we needed to decide whether the replacement would be new or used, how much we were prepared to pay, the features we wanted and what vehicle would meet all our criteria.
These were relatively easy tasks. While I realized that purchasing a used vehicle made more sense financially,
HAVING RECENTLY lost several people, I was in a bit of a daze. Grief stopped me from doing some of the things that brought me incredible joy, like downhill skiing and whitewater kayaking.
Being the Swede I am, I fell in love with Sheila—my gently used Volvo AWD V60 sedan. My attraction to Volvos included family nostalgia, safety and longevity. The dealer was a friend of my aunt, so I was able to negotiate a very reasonable price,