Friday, March 20, 2009

Buying a New Car

Last week, my husband and I bought a new car. New, new. Not "new to us". As in, less than 30 miles on it when we left the lot. Thanks in part to lots of great input from all of you back when I posted this question, we decided we would make it a goal and mission to trade in my 2002 GMC Envoy (a mid-size kind of "fancy pants" SUV) for a minivan. We figured this would be helpful in accomodating three car seats come June!

We talked it out. We debated. We came up with pros and cons. We tried to decide between buying used or buying new. And you know what? We decided to buy new.

You know what's funny? As we left the car dealership, this thought crossed my mind:

"My frugal blog friends aren't gonna like this. They're gonna think I made a big mistake. This doesn't fit in with my 'deal-seeking' self..."

Except... it does. Buying new was the logical, frugal thing for us to do. And here are some reasons why...

First of all, I really, really don't like the idea of not knowing the history of a vehicle... at least not "for sure". For the same reason experts advise against buying car seats at yard sales (you don't know for sure what they've been through), I don't like the idea of buying a car from a stranger. I KNOW where my minivan's been. And that makes me feel better. I've known too many people who bought used cars and inherited a bunch of problems.

My car has extremely low mileage. Is this a deal-breaker? Nope. But it's nice knowing that I am just THAT far from all kinds of necessary maintenance.

Speaking of maintenance, I love the fact that my car came with a 10 year/ 100K mile bumper-to-bumper warranty INCLUDING my tires and roadside assistance. Oh yeah, and they'll also fix minor scratches and dings from shopping carts and such for free. And change my oil. Because here's the thing-- I am not a mechanic. Nor is my husband. He knows his way around cars, but neither one of us really wants him spending his family-time poking around a vehicle and trouble-shooting. Plus, newer cars are so computerized there's not too much you can do from home anyway.

And aesthetically? My new minivan is clean, shiny, smells fabulous, and is the exact color I wanted. Those are all just perks, but I'm not going to deny that it makes me happy...

But what about the cost? Don't you know it depreciates when you drive off the lot? NEW CARS ARE A WASTE OF MONEY.

I can hear you all. I've heard your voices in my head for weeks now. Months even. And this is what I have to say to that...

Our new minivan did not cost us nearly as much as most people would expect. We chose a 2008 model since the dealerships are desperate to unload them. The economy is SO bad right now that the incentives are crazy ($8,000 cash back). Even though we plan to pay the whole thing off with cash, we went through the financing guy because he threw in all kinds of "extras" and "incentives" and "coupons" that saved us a bundle. Truth? Because my husband and I are real "financial types" (we both come from banking backgrounds), our credit scores are ridiculously high-- we have, and use, credit very wisely. The result? Finance companies fall all over themselves to make us happy because they're so delighted to have truly qualified buyers. We know this and we definitely benefited from it.

Still... a new car costs money. And likely more than a used one. Where did we come up with it?

Short answer? The stock market. My husband started with a very small investment and managed to grow it into many thousands over a few months. Is that a good way to go for everybody? Um, no. You just have to decide it's important and commit to scraping some pennies together in whatever way you know how- for some, that's selling things on Craigslist. For others, it's having an Etsy shop. Still others buy and resell from thrift shops. For us, it was stocks. Whatever works.

So now I have a brand new pretty blue minivan that I love. It is absolutely a Finer Thing to know I have plenty of room for my growing family! Yes, I bought a brand new car and I'm not ashamed. I'm also not wasteful.

New car = frugal choice?

In my case, I truly believe it to be so.
For more Frugal Friday, be sure to visit Life as MOM hosted by Jessica.
To read about more Finer Things, check out Finer Things Friday hosted by Amy.


Jillbert said...

We are similar. We buy our cars new and keep them a LONG time (our minivan is 8 yrs old now and still going strong!). When my DH bought a new car (to replace his 16 yr old car that just didn't work for a family with 3 kids), we paid for it with cash we saved in anticipation of the purchase and used some stock we bought years ago to make up the difference. Due to our frugal, money-saving ways, we have no guilt about buying a new car, knowing how long it will be a part of our lives. Enjoy your car, guiltfree.

Phoebe said...

You made really great points! There are some situations where buying used just doesn't fit the bill. You made a great decision--and the peace that you will have knowing everything about it, is priceless.

Jennifer said...

I am absolutely, positively buying a brand new minivan when we replace ours at the end of the year (hopefully). I can't wait, and I agree with all of you reasons. We are working hard at saving cash to pay it, but I like what you did with the financing. We have excellent credit scores too, might have to take advantage of that. Way to go!

Amy @ Finer Things said...

You know I love ya, and you made some great points, but... I still don't think we'll be buying brand new.

Higher tags and taxes, immediate depreciation, hmmmm. Will definitely have to give it more thought while we spend the next few years (hopefully!) running our current vehicles into the ground. ;-)

Can not argue that it's a finer thing to have cash for a vehicle, even if you pay cash through the financing option. That's the ONLY way to go!

Sizzlin' van! Congrats!

Heather Benza said...

I have thankfully never bought a lemon, but even still I have always been so much happier with brand spanking new! We LOVE our Dodge Nitro we bought brand new. My husband thinks we may have to go the mini-van route someday, but I say we're holding out until we can pay cash for a brand new Challenger! We'll only drive it when we're sans babies.

Sherry said...

Great looking van! You definitely have to do what works for your family. There are some great deals with the way car companies are losing money. It sounds like you made a great choice! :D

Have a great weekend!