Getting Real With Myself About My Car

Confession time.  I’ve been thinking about buying a new-to-us car.  And by thinking, I mean obsessing.

A little back story –

My wife and I own three paid for automobiles – a minivan we paid cash for in 2007, an 2001 Accord we paid off in 2005, and an old pickup truck that I use for hauling off trash.  When we purchased the minivan back in 2007, we did so because our previous minivan was dying, and I didn’t want my wife to drive around in an unsafe automobile.  I felt, and feel, that buying the newer minivan was a good idea.

Back in November, I hit a deer with my car.  The insurance adjuster visited, and I now have an estimate for the repairs.  The collision with the deer really bummed me out – but it also got me to thinking – Do I really want to spend $1000 – my deductible – to fix an automobile that is 9 years old?  Perhaps I should just sell the thing, and buy something newer?!?

Fast forward –

And so, for the past several weeks, I’ve been debating about what to do with the car.  Should I sell it, should I keep it?  Should I fix it, should I drive it as it is?  Should I buy something newer, or should I get the Accord repaired?  At the end of the day, all of this self-talk managed to do was one thing –

It kept me from admitting the truth to myself!

See, I kinda, sorta want a newer car, and the collision with the deer was just the excuse that I needed to justify the purchase.  Plus, I’ve done really well over the past few years, and I deserve a newer car.  Right?!?

There, I typed it.  I’ve been trying to convince myself that – as a reward for making prudent financial decisions – I should reward myself with a new car.

Instead of just spending the $1000, which I have, and repairing the Accord, I’ve seriously considered dipping into my savings and buying something nicer.  Heck, for a fleeting moment, I even considered buying a brand new car.  In that fleeting moment, I could actually smell that new car smell, wafting up as I tooled about town in my sweet new ride.

Thankfully, I have snapped out of my own funk, re-read several of my old posts, and come to my senses.

I do not need a new car.  My Accord is in great shape – aside from the deer damage – and once it’s fixed, it will look (almost) as good as new.  And, if I continue to change its oil on a regular basis, get it serviced regularly, and keep good tires on it, I should be able to drive it for several more years.

So, I’ll spend the $1000, get the car fixed, and continue to drive it.  Sure, it wold be fun to have something newer, but the reality is, it’s just a car.  All I need it to do is get me from point A to point B, safely.  If I have to spend a little money, each year, to keep in on the road, so be it.  I’d much rather pay for (reasonable) repairs than to pay for an entirely new automobile.

For a few weeks, I almost got caught up in the power of car fever.  Thankfully, I did not listen to my temporary emotions and I chose to stick with my long-term game plan.

What about you?  Have you ever talked yourself into a bad financial decision?  Or, conversely, have you ever talked yourself out of one?

24 thoughts on “Getting Real With Myself About My Car

  1. I know exactly how you feel! When my husband hit a deer late last year, I was secretly hoping the car would be totalled, since it is paid for, still has some value, and I don’t really like it all that much! But I came to my senses, and realized that spending all that money just wasn’t worth the flexibility that having some money in savings gives you!

    One tip for those of you with older vehicles: Consider spending the money (about $50 to $100) to get the car detailed inside and out. It will look, feel and smell like a new car and make you appreciate that it’s paid for! 🙂

  2. Why do you talk yourself out of it without even doing some math? If you want, say, a truck or SUV, you can get so much more for your money right now, and resale is up on cars like Accords. I think you at least need some information before you totally write this off as wasteful.

  3. @dogatemyfinances I have run the numbers… but, if I sold the Accord and got something for the same money, it’d be more of a “lateral” move… and, frankly, if/when I buy something newer, I want a much nicer car than I could get for the Accord money…

  4. We have been planning to buy a newer car for my wife since the day before we were married and her ’96 Ford Escort broke down in traffic 3 years ago. Luckily her li’l car has been quite reliable ever since and now her commute is about one mile, so there’s little to worry about.

    We actually made the fateful trip to a dealership a few months back to look at SUV’s, the guy was such a jerk I yelled at her supervisor and my wife now wants to drive her $800 car until the wheels fall off.

  5. Also, props to my brother (who maybe reads this blog?). His Accord was totalled back in November, he wasn’t hurt and it wasn’t his fault. He took the $9000 check, bought a used Civic for $5000, and put the extra cash on debt.

  6. Good for you! Hang on to that car and enjoy the money you save in the long run. I have been wrestling with the same temptation but your post helped me get back on track. No need to buy a “newer” vehicle until my current one dies. I also appreciated the comment from Christina to get the car detailed… $100 bucks beats spending thousands for the same result!

  7. Good for you for sticking to your guns! I’ve had back-to-back repair jobs on my 19 year-old van the last two months and started to get that feeling that I’m sinking money into something that is about ready to give out. I started stalking the used car lots for a new-to-us pickup truck, but managed to talk myself out of it. I sucked it up, paid for the repairs and will happily continue to drive my old van until her wheels fall off (literally).

  8. Yeah when i bought my new car back in 2007, i did not listen to my inner voice. I bought a new SUV which i had to make sacrifices to pay it off. It would have been much nicer to just get a good 2-3 year old car.

  9. Good decision!

    If we were all honest, we all would prefer the newer, prettier, shinier, faster version of what we already own. And anytime there is extra money on the table, we’re all looking for a justification to upgrade.

    But in most cases, I’d rather stick with my older, uglier, slower version than experience any amount of “buyer’s remorse!”

    Great post…thanks for your transparency…

  10. Thanks for the post. The reality is that you can “always” repair your car cheaper than you can buy new and I’ll admit I fight new car fever frequently myself. Average cars (like an Accord) have lots of parts available and prices tend to be reasonable. Of course this rationale doesn’t apply to odd, very old or very exotic cars which frequently cost bundles to repair.

    New cars average $20,000+, sometimes a lot of ‘+’…

    You can do a lot of fixin’ for that kind of money.

    CarTalk’s web site devotes a lot of space to this discussion and breaks the math down in detail and gives some great tips on finding good mechanics to perform the work you can’t DIY.

  11. Congrats for being able to take a step back and re-assess the big picture! It is easy to come across this dilemma, especially with cars & cell phones. I mean, I can’t twitter from my slider phone, and it has cracked buttons. I should probably just upgrade, right?? 😉

  12. Haha, I actually talked myself into a bad decision then talked myself back out of it less than a year later. My car was totalled just over a year ago (not my fault!) and I ended up getting a check, and buying a nice Civic. I loved that car, but I really couldn’t afford it. After a few months of denial and a lot of cajoling from my boyfriend I sold it, and got a cheaper car. Now I’m saving myself a monthly car payment, and my insurance costs HALF as much as it did before! My car isn’t pretty, but like you said, it’s just a means of transportation.

  13. Smart move. The pleasurable feeling provided by a new car is shallow and fleeting. The reward of a wise decision timely made will last much longer. You deserve the latter, not the former. Don’t let the car addicts (and there are lots of them) tell you otherwise.

  14. I agree – great decision! I have been driving the same car I bought used at 43,000 miles over 7 years ago, and now it has over 150,000 miles! It still runs great, and I have always enjoyed driving it. I would much rather keep driving it until it falls apart than take on a car payment, higher registration (for a new car, it’s much more expensive in my state), and higher insurance!

  15. You keep saying $1000 Out Of Pocket. Don’t forget the negotiating power that cash brings. With the economy in the shape it is today you may be able to get the work done for much less.
    I am wrestling with the same thoughts lately. I have a 98 Explorer with only 90,000 miles. I would love to take in that new car smell on my short ride to work, but I just can’t force myself to write the check.
    BTW, Thanks for the work that you put into your site each day.

  16. Sometimes replacing an older car that gets poor gas mileage and needs repairs makes sense, but come on, we’re talking about an accord. It’s a good car just a bit old, it’s not like you’re driving around in a rust bucket with no safety features. I’m keeping my subie as long as I can, my parents always bought cars new and kept them for 10-15 years.

  17. This has happened multiple times with me and a computer. I almost talk myself into in – snap out of it, and then get back into it a few months later. Haven’t given in yet though!

  18. Was it totalled and structurally damaged? I would not be happy driving a car with structural integrity compromised. But I wouldn’t necessarily buy a new car, but a newer car without structural damage yes.

  19. Good choice on keeping the car. I recently purchased a new-used car for my fiance due to her old car being unreliable. I could have easily gotten her a basic, cheap, reliable car, but let my desires talk me into a more expensive, less practical car. If I could have done it over, she would be driving a 2001-2003 accord. I owned a Honda, and will admit, they are one of the most reliable cars out there. A car is a car, and should be used only to get from point A to B.

    Again good choice.

  20. Good financial choice. I have ask, though, do you really need 3 vehicles? That seems like not only a lot of upkeep, but also insurance, etc. That would be the only thing I would think about changing.

    As far as bad financial choices I have made, yes I have made quite a few, including: 1) co-signing a loan with my husband that start a home based business selling air purifiers. Business flopped and we wound up declaring Chapter 13. 2) Adding my hubby as an authorized user to my credit card, which caused me to run a $2000 balance up to $5000 with business related debt, 3) Together with hubby, traded in a 2000 Honda Civic in good running order and bought from a private seller a 1968 Mustang that we later found had rusted u-joints, a cracked engine block, lousy power steering, a leaking gas tank, turn signals that didn’t always work, and no working heat or a/c.

  21. @crazyliblady My wife drives the minivan, and I drive the car. The 3rd auto, my old pickup, is used for taking off the trash and stuff around the yard. We live in the country, the truck has been paid for for several years, its prob worth about 500 bucks, and there’s no real reason to get rid of it.

  22. You’ve hit on one of my biggest temptations. I love nice cars. New cars. Sleek cars. But I can never bring myself to leave my world of practicality and frugality to do anything more than enjoy looking at other people’s beautiful cars on the road.

    How can I buy something new when I know the best deal is almost always going to be that three-year-old car that was owned by an infrequent but responsible driver? I keep trying, but it’s difficult. 🙂

  23. Thanks for putting that bit in there about deserving a new car — that really struck a chord.

    Mr. Savvy and I have talked about buying a new car, but because we’re planning a wedding-ish party, everything gets put into wedding terms. $1000? That wouldn’t even cover the cost of room rental. $5000? That would buy us a room, catering and photography. It certainly helps us keep everything in perspective.

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