First of all, let me say this: my car is not really that crappy. In fact, it’s almost a collector’s item – they no longer manufacture Pontiacs, so this baby is going to be sitting in a museum or Jay Leno’s garage one day. Right? Just humor me.
Here’s the history: I got this bad boy way back at the end of sophomore year of college, when the Lumina I was driving (and what a wondrous 6-passenger grandma boat she was) decided to turn off all A/C capabilities. I couldn’t fathom spending an Indiana summer with just the breeze to cool me off on my car rides, so my parents agreed it was time to retire the ol’ Lumie (200k+ miles and all) and get me something a little more reliable. So in came the G6, and she quickly became the apple of my eye. If you know what a Lumina looks like, you’d know why this was a major upgrade in my world.
Flash forward 8 (ah!) years, and she is still with me, although not looking in as good of condition as she was during those college summers. She’s got a dent in her side (courtesy of an early morning airport run and a very tired me – don’t ask), scratches on the front bumper (it was a battle with a fence that I lost), and her fair share of wear-and-tear on the interior. However, even though my parents have been trying to get me to buy a new vehicle for 2+ years now – my mom doesn’t think the G6 is safe and my dad is probably just tired of looking at it – I’m still holding on to her. Even though I can afford a new car. Even though I REALLY want an audio auxiliary input (you can only listen to your high school mix CDs for so long). Even though I’ve had her for 8 LONG YEARS. I have no emotional attachment to this car, and yet, I still don’t want to give her up. And here’s why:
No Monthly Payment
This was listed 1st for a reason. My parents and I paid for the G6 outright back in 2007, so I have never had the experience of making a monthly car payment. Nor do I ever want to. Having to shell out a few hundred bucks per month on something that I now spend $0 on sounds horrific (HORRIFIC) to me, so I’d rather drive this sucker into the ground and use that cash to pay for vacations or margaritas at Bakersfield or those ankle boots from Aldo I’ve been dying to get (they’re on sale, but not on sale enough for me yet – hence, the waiting game). Better yet, I can use some of that cash I’m not spending on a monthly car payment to save for my next one – and avoid paying interest in the process.
I Don’t Hate Seeing the Tax Man
Here’s another money-savings bonus: my annual registration fees and excise taxes are CHEAP. As in $50 cheap. If I would buy a new vehicle for the same price as I bought this one, I’d be paying $150-$200 more. No, thank you. I’ll keep that cash in my pocket.
Want to see how much you’ll roughly owe based on the car you have? If you’re a Hoosier, this link will take you to a chart laying it all out. http://www.in.gov/bmv/2843.htm
Remember those payments I’m glad I’m not making? Well, one of the major reasons I never want one is because I don’t want to pay people to loan me money on something I can buy outright myself. Especially for an item that only decreases in value. The longer I keep the G6, the more time I have to save for a new(er) and nicer vehicle, allowing me to never pay a dime of interest in the process. And mama ain’t mad about that. It makes the waiting so much more worthwhile.
Oh, A Dent? Okay.
This is so nice. So, so, SO nice. You know when you go to the grocery store and park next to a car that looks like it went through World War 3? Well, I can calmly walk in to grab my bottle of wine and Talenti ice cream without worrying about whether or not I get a small scratch or dent in my door from the tornado of a family attached to that disastrous vehicle. I won’t cry if it happens. I won’t get upset if it happens. And that peace of mind is wondrous.
Because CARS AREN’T INVESTMENTS
Here’s what I LOVE (note the sarcasm) most about America – we are so disillusioned when it comes to cars. Everyone thinks of them as a status symbol instead of seeing them for what they actually are: a means to an end. You need one to get to work, to the movies, to your friend’s for a backyard grill out sesh…not to show off to your buddy or the ladies (newsflash: we really don’t care).
The moment you drive that new truck off the lot, it goes down in value. Every day you put miles on it, it goes down in value. Every day it’s in your possession, it goes down in value. See the pattern? That’s why I never understood why people would invest so much money in something that adversely affects your net worth. If you have the extra cash lying around, go for it. Buy that Audi. But if you are like most 20-somethings out there, with a mountain of student loan debt and a non-existent retirement fund, then you need to scale back and drive that clunker until it starts nickel and diming you to death.
So what’s my advice to you? Suck it up, buttercup, and drive your 6, 7, 8 year-old vehicle for as long as you can. Even if it’s an embarrassment. If you have a nicer one with payments you can’t afford, sell it and buy something cheaper. Money you spend on a car is not money well spent, so you want to make sure you’re allocating as little as possible to that area.
Once you get all your financial ducks in a row – your debt is paid off, your retirement account is set up, you have an emergency fund, etc. – then you can think about upgrading. You just need to bite the bullet and sacrifice (and it’s such a small sacrifice) now so that down the road, you’ll not only be able to have the nice car but also your dream home AND exotic vacations AND a killer closet. It’s going to be magical and well worth it. Trust me.
Drive a clunker yourself? Leave a comment below and tell us why!