DRIVE A BEATER. That’s what my coworker Neil admonished us to do. He explained that this was a key strategy on the path to financial freedom. Neil, as you might recall from one of my earlier articles, was the colleague who warned about the perils of funding a 401(k) plan.
All you really need is something to get you from point A to point B, Neil said, and consistently spending money on expensive cars simply meant you’d be forced to stay in the workforce longer.
I WAS HAPPY TO receive this year’s boost to my Social Security benefit—but I’m regularly reminded that it doesn’t match the endless inflation.
A case in point: The same oil change at the same gas station for my 2020 Honda Fit cost me 28% more last week than it did nine months earlier. With detailed invoices, I could compare the reasons for the jump. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the cost of four quarts of full synthetic oil,
WE’VE OWNED OUR NEW 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for six weeks. The technology and features are breath-taking. Until now, both of our vehicles were 18 years old. I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up in a time I do not recognize.
Here are some of the bells and whistles on our new SUV, and my evaluation of their usefulness. Please forgive me if some of this information isn’t accurate; I’m still learning about these features.
WE JUST PURCHASED a new car. The whole buying process has been upended by the pandemic and today’s chip shortage, and we learned seven important lessons.
My wife and I view car buying as an unavoidable chore. We know financial experts recommend buying a car that’s a few years old, so someone else takes the big hit on the initial depreciation. We haven’t done that. We like to buy a new vehicle and keep it for 15 or 20 years.
CAR LEASING WILL likely make a comeback in 2023. But is leasing a good idea?
Before the pandemic, leases represented about 30% of new car sales and as much as 70% or 80% for some luxury vehicles. But during the pandemic, with new vehicles in short supply, manufacturers reduced their generous lease subsidies. This, combined with low interest rates, reduced payment differences between financing and leasing, making leasing less attractive.
But that may be about to change.
IT HAS BEEN THREE months since we closed on the sale of our home and drove away from the storage unit that contains everything we couldn’t donate, sell, give away or take with us. It was a big decision to have no fixed abode, and we feel great about it.
We’re about to move our rambling lifestyle across the pond to spend some time in the U.K. and continental Europe, and we have no return date in mind.
ONCE I GRADUATED college and started working fulltime, I knew what my first major purchase would be: a sporty new car. I was jealous of the cars my friends drove in high school. I had just spent four years grinding through an undergraduate engineering program. I was ready to reward myself.
To prepare for the purchase, I minimized my expenses. I shared an apartment with two friends who had also just graduated from college.
OUR LAST SUMMER road trip didn’t exactly go as planned. That ordeal changed my mind about an annual expense I’d been paying without much thought. I gained a new perspective—even if I did learn my lesson the hard way.
On a Saturday morning last summer, Sarah and I woke our kids at 4 a.m. for a predawn drive through the mountains of East Tennessee and across the Carolinas. We were on our way to enjoy the beaches of Hilton Head Island,
“NEVER BORROW MONEY to buy a depreciating asset.” This personal finance tip is often used to dissuade folks from taking out car loans. But does a car really leave folks poorer?
When we value an asset, it’s typically thought of as its dollar value on a balance sheet. The monetary value of my car might indeed decline, and quickly at that, but it has far more usefulness than my personal balance sheet shows. When I consider my car’s true value,
SAVED A BUNCH of money so you could retire and buy that sporty car you always wanted? My advice: Do it.
In almost 50 years of owning vehicles, I have bought just one car that was almost fully impractical. It had a shallow shelf of a trunk. My wife couldn’t drive it because it had a stick shift. More than a few times, I had to start it by pushing it down a hill,
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,
I’M DEBATING whether my life is better described by Tom Cochrane’s Life Is a Highway or Eddie Rabbitt’s Driving My Life Away. In a recent article, I noted that our family has driven our cars about 1.9 million miles. Since I’m the family’s King of the Road, I’ve been along for at least two-thirds of that ride.
I’m also, alas, the king of lost time.
The average commuting speed in the Washington,
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 HATE BUYING CARS. I can’t think of too many sales transactions that are more loathsome. When I look back at all the times I purchased a car, the one with my father in 1976 was the most memorable.
I needed a new car. I was living in San Diego and often driving to Los Angeles to visit family and friends. My 1966 Volkswagen Beetle couldn’t take too many more trips.
I asked my father if he wanted to come with me to look at new cars.
MY CAR EMAILED ME to say its tire pressure was low. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it this way: An email from Subaru was triggered by data uploaded from my 2020 Forester, all part of the automatic safety and maintenance technology built into the vehicle. The email confirmed the dashboard light indicating the same problem.
My frugal friends and I have had friendly debates about car buying. Is it better to buy a used car and avoid the instant depreciation when you drive off the dealer’s lot?