The time has come to replace the 4Runner. I was a little shocked to realize today that I’ve had the 4Runner for 6 years. I bought it with a lot of miles on it and wasn’t sure how long it would last, and while there is an ever growing list of things that could use a repair, it just keeps going. It was useful for me in getting my race car to the track, and it was really fun in the snow and ice, but as a second car for our family, it’s no longer the best option.
So I started looking for a smaller car a while back, scouring craigslist and facebook auto groups and classified ads, etc. Last Sunday, my friend Nick and I drove to Cheyenne to buy a little Audi A4. It’s about 15 years past its prime and has a lot of miles, too, but I hope it’ll work out as well as the Toyota has for us. As I was driving it home, I got to thinking about my car history a little bit. A couple mini vans, the A4 & the 4Runner, a little Dodge Avenger that was a lot of fun… And I started calculating the money we’ve saved by driving old cars. In comparison to buying what I wanted, we’ve saved over $45,000 in just the last 6 years!
The commercials tell me I need a better car.
The bank tells me I can afford a better car.
When I drive by the car lot, or worse yet when I stand in a showroom, my pride tells me I deserve a better car.
When I look at a Wed. night parking lot full of my students’ cars, and my car is about the crappiest one there, my sense of entitlement tells me I should have a better car.
But I don’t.
This goes way beyond cars, but I wonder how much money we actually waste by buying what we want, when we want it? Our desire for instant gratification will kill the economics of our families if we don’t kill it first. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not pointing out myself as the model of self-denial and contentment. The truth is, if I wasn’t so set on not having car payments, I’d be driving newer vehicles. If I didn’t have a wife who’s not impressed with my driving prowess but loves me unconditionally for a whole lot of more meaningful reasons, I’d replace cars a lot more often. If I could afford nicer cars, I’d probably have one. But I’m more proud that the car is paid for than that is has a flawless paint job. I didn’t have to become a slave to the bank for the next 48-60 months in order to buy it.
And that’s kind of the point. Whether it’s clothes or vacations or homes or cars… what if we based our decisions less on what we wanted and more on what we could actually afford? Could we find more meaningful ways to use the money we’ve saved by slowing down?
How do you save a lot of money really fast? Don’t spend it.