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Three cheers for used cars!

In the process of buying our home, one of the questions which came up was about the garage door openers. The owners said they didn’t have any garage door openers because it was just programmed into their car.

My husband and I were scratching our heads over this. Programmed into their car? Their realtor looked at us like we were possibly from the Dark Ages and said, “Yes, my car has three buttons — one for each garage door — you just program it to each garage door and then push the button to open your garage door.”

Um, seriously? They make cars with onboard garage door openers now?

Apparently, yes. And as is also apparent, we know nothing about newer cars.

As we were chuckling over this while driving around town yesterday in Old Blue Van — our beloved van that has been miraculously hanging on by a thread for over two years! — we got to talking about how much money we’ve saved over the years by buying used vehicles and keeping them running until they’ve lost all life.

You know what the best thing about used and paid-for cars is? They might not be beautiful and luxurious, but they don’t come with a big car payment you have to lug around and pay every month.

How Much We’ve Saved By Not Having a Car Payment

Just for fun, I added up an approximate amount of money we’ve saved over the course of our marriage as a result of driving used cars.

We’ve been married 7.5 years and have never had a car payment. If we had, instead, always had one $400-per-month car payment, we would have spent $36,000 in car payments over the course of the last 7.5 years. And if we had two vehicles with car payments, we would have spent something like $72,000 in car payments.

$72,000! And that’s not even factoring in the interest you could earn if you invested that money.

Of course, these numbers are just a hypothetical and obviously, they would be inflated for many people. However, no matter the case, I would argue that you’re always going to save a fair amount by driving used and paid-for cars.

Not only does driving used vehicles mean you don’t have a car payment, it also means you usually have some funny vehicle stories to share as a result of driving clunkers! Like the time we were on our way home and Old Blue Van started smoking pretty significantly out the hood. We pulled over and my Mama Bear instinct kicked into gear and I got my babies out quicker than I knew was possible because all I could imagine was that it was going to blow up.

It didn’t. And somehow we resurrected it, yet again, and it’s driven for another two years — without another smoking incident.

Another great reason to buy used cars? They hardly depreciate at all! For instance, Old Blue Van has probably only gone down in value a few hundred dollars in the last two years. By contrast, a brand-spankin’-new minivan would likely have gone down in value by thousands of dollars in the last two years.

Yes, there are lots of great reasons to drive used and paid-for cars. Which is why I loved Amy’s post today:

When our 2001 mini-van recently rolled over 130,000 miles, I decided to ask my Facebook Fans if I was the only “weirdo” happy to drive an older, high-mileage, paid for vehicle.  Turns out… I’ve got company! ;) A few commenters {ahem} even insinuated that my van was “practically new.”  Ha!

I’m fully convinced that one easy way to save big money is to purchase used vehicles (with cash) and drive them as long as possible.

Read Amy’s full post here.

And yes, I was one of the commentors who had to rib her about a 2001 van being “new.” Because seriously? Only 130,000 miles? That baby’s got a long life left — at least according to our car standards. 🙂

photo by GManViz

Please note: I’m not advocating that everyone drive unsafe, gas-guzzling, money pit cars whose doors are falling off. If you can afford it, I’m all for getting good quality used cars — something we’re hoping to save up for in the not-too-distant future. In the mean time, though, my husband’s still driving Old Blue Van.

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173 Comments

  • Stacie says:

    We bought a used car, and it’s all paid off! We’ve never bought a new car either for the same reasons you mentioned! Amazingly, it was a really nice car for a good price — so it does have a garage door opener in it! I remember being so surprised because I had no idea what it was! Thanks for giving me a chuckle today!

  • Marla says:

    We also buy used cars and pay cash for them. Although my Suburban does have the garage door opener in it. They’ve been doing that for at least 10 years now. It’s a 2001 and has tons of life left, with only about 150,000 miles on it.

    • Jaime says:

      @Marla, LOL! I drive a paid for 2003 Mustang and it definitely doesn’t have that button! I wish it did. I’d never heard of that before this! 🙂

  • K Quinn says:

    Amen! When we bought our car about 8 years ago it was used. Our previous car died completely one day. We still had to make payments but we paid it off 3 years ago. I did have one comment from a family member try and tempt me into buying a new shiny mini van, yada yada. And I quietly responded that no shiny new car is more beautiful than a paid in full car. We get it serviced, tires changed, etc. It has run beautifully all this time. That extra $300 has helped others in need, come in handy for other emergencies and allowed us to move to a larger home when the family expanded. I’m all for used.

  • Shelly says:

    It doesn’t make any sense to me why people buy brand-new cars. I tend toward significantly older cars, but even if you want a newish car, buying one that’s 2 years old saves a lot on depreciation.

    We have a 1992 and a 1997, both purchased used. One has 160k miles and the other 206k. They’re still going strong. I love older vehicles because they’re much easier for the home mechanic to fix and, as you mention, we’re not stuck with car payments. We pay the smallest amount the county charges for vehicle registration and don’t bother carrying comprehensive insurance (our liability-only premiums are $215 every six months). We’ve spent maybe $2k on repairs in our 6 years of marriage, and I’m certain we’ve saved far more than that. Hooray for used cars!

  • Shelly says:

    @Margaret, Not necessarily – you can find plenty of used cars that get great gas mileage. In fact, Geo Metros and Ford Escorts (which they don’t make anymore) consistently get reports of gas mileage in the 40s even now, which is WAY better than most new cars.

  • Allison says:

    We have long-since-paid-off ’96 Honda Civic and a paid-cash ’97 Olds Aurora with 3 little kids in carseats. Sure, my Olds only gets about 21 mpg of the Premium gas that it guzzles, but our insurance for 6 months is only $311, and we only paid $1000 for the Olds in the first place! And while the car is 13 years old, God has kept us safe. Last spring I was driving around with a major gas leak in the engine (which could have been really bad!), then in the summer I had to carry bottles of water for a radiator leak, then the tires were bald and shredding. But my mechanic fixed the gas leak and let me pay him later, we got Christmas money just in time to fix the water leak before cold weather hit, and when a tire did blow out, it was in my parking spot and not on the road, stranding me with the kids. I truly believe we have honored God by staying debt-free and paying cash for a cheap car, and he has taken care of us. MSM has inspired us to stick to our guns and be patient with our money (what little we have). I’d rather have a disabled car in my parking spot waiting for fix-it funds, than watch a bank repossess a car I couldn’t afford.

    And my Olds does have all kinds of bells and whistles, including a built-in garage door opener…now if only we had a garage!

  • Megan says:

    I have a ’99 stratus with 118K and my fiance has a ’92 (!) with about 125K on it…mine has needed a new trans but I bought a slightly used one for 400 dollars and had a family friend do the work for me. I absolutely refuse to have a car payment after my experience. I missed ONE car payment and they came and repossessed the car WHILE I WAS AT WORK. Without even telling me! I absolutely refuse to lease a vehicle. Since the repo incident, we’ve always been able to find plenty of cars in our price range to just pay cash for and so far ours are hanging on fine. Take care of them and they can last over 200K.

  • Holly says:

    We always have bought used cars. We have donated a car that we could not afford to fix. Now our boys will ask what car we are going to get when we give this car away. They know that we are content to drive a vehicle until the doors fall off. 🙂

  • Dani Wegman says:

    We both have paid for cars, but mine is getting to the point where it is quickly becoming more money to fix it than the car is worth, so we are saving up to pay cash for a brand new car. We should be there just about a year from now.

    We plan on waiting til the end of year clearance next year and they want to get rid of all of the leftover 2011s, for the 2012s and trying to make ourselves a deal.

    No car payment, a safer, more fuel efficient car, that can handle snow a little better than my ’99 Camry with no ABS.

    • Crystal says:

      @Dani Wegman, Of course, you are free to do whatever you want with your money, but I’d encourage you to consider getting something which is almost-brand-new as opposed to brand-new, if that’s the route you want to go. You can often find something which is just a few years old with low mileage and save yourself quite a bit of money while getting a great car at the same time.

    • Melissa says:

      @Dani Wegman, The first owner of a car always takes the biggest hit in depreciation. You can save thousands of dollars by buying a car that’s even just a couple years old. We got a car that had only been used by high school driver’s ed students, which was a pretty good deal. It had low mileage and was just a couple years old when we got it, but it had the “used car” price.

    • MJ says:

      @Dani Wegman, I have to agree with the others. When my hubby purchased his last car, we bought it in ’05 and it was an ’05 car, but it was after the ’06 cars had came out. It was used, (one owner) but only had 5,000 miles on it (apparently someone traded in quickly!) but we saved a TON in depreciation.

      You would be surprised how easily new cars depreciate. People on here mentioning 1-2 years… I used to work in the Insurance department at a bank. I’ve seen claims from people who purchased a brand new car, drove it off the lot and had an accident within a week (one person the same day!) and were “upside down” in their loan, beause the purchase price was now higher than the depreciated value of the car. Once a car is purchased and driven off the lot, depending on the value of the car to begin with, it can depreciate two thousand dollars in the first months of ownership!

  • Crystal says:

    @Margaret, From the research I’ve done, the national average for a car payment is something like $378. However, many people are paying upwards of $500 or more per month.

    That said, even if it’s only $200 per month if you lease a car, that still comes out to be around $18,000 saved over the course of 7.5 years — or $36,000 if you have two cars. Which is definitely not an amount to sneeze at — especially if you’re on a small income. Plus, you own your car free and clear — which is also not something to sneeze at, in my opinion!

    Now, I’m not advocating that people drive gas-guzzling old cars which are money pits. If you can afford it, I’m all for getting a good reliable used car which will last you at least five or more years.

    While we’ve had our fair share of car repairs, they’ve cost us much, much less than it ever would to have a car payment.

    • Adrienne says:

      @Crystal, This makes me smile! My husband and I have been talking about cars a lot lately because his 22-year-old pickup truck is starting to die — again. Every time we think it’s about gone, one of our family members suggests something to fix it — and it seems to breathe a little more life back into it. We are on our way to being debt-free, even though my husband has been laid off 3 times in the last 3 years. The last time for a year and a half.

      My van is 11 years old, and we have to roll the windows down now because the A/C doesn’t work any more. One day, we’ll have the cash to buy a couple of nicer used vehicles.

      We have actually made money on several of our used cars — selling them for a couple hundred dollars more than we bought them for.

      Living like no one else 🙂

    • kirsten says:

      @Crystal,

      5 years ago , my husband and I purchased a car with a $500 plus car payment and it is a decision that we regret dearly.We realized our mistake when we thought about all the other things our money could have went towards rather than a car. We still have two years left to pay on it. After it is paid off we are going to drive it into the ground and buy used for now on. My husband also has a pickup we paid cash for. Paying cash is the way we will go for now on 🙂

  • Crystal,

    We are a one-car family. My husband is a Realtor, so he does do some driving in town.

    We have had our car for 6 1/2 years and only put a little over 63,000 miles on it. I expect it to last a long time!

  • annette says:

    $400 a month for 7.5 years is $36,000 but why would you be saving $36,000? Who takes 7.5 years to pay off a car? And who would have 2 car payments for 7.5 years straight? I guess if you buy a new car everytime you pay off one?!

    Most cars are paid in 5 or fewer years which would be closer to about $24,000 a year.

    Just saying – I understand the point in buying used – but the numbers are bit exaggerated.

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, the numbers would definitely be exaggerated for some people, I was just throwing them out there as a hypothetical. Many people always have a car payment as they buy a new car before they pay off their old one, so that’s what I was running the numbers off of.

      • LN says:

        @Crystal, Your math made perfect sense to me. Everyone I know either buys a new one before their “old” one pays off or buys a new one as soon as the “old” one pays off. If you were the kind of people to do that (and I believe many people are this way), 7.5 years makes perfect sense.

      • Miriam says:

        @Crystal, “Just always gonna have a car payment…. everybody has a car payment…” Guess which Dave Ramsey lesson we watched Wednesday night? 🙂 LOL, that’s the first thing that popped into my head – his voice saying that 😛

      • Marie says:

        @Crystal, That has certainly been true for our family! We sold cars and bought newer cars before finishing paying off the other ones.

    • Mary S. says:

      @annette,
      I had the same thoughts about the numbers but I think part of it is there is just such a range of experiences when buying cars. There are some people who do spend that much on car payments but there are also people out there who pay 100% down for a new car or have lower payments or loans with shorter terms. Although I personally do think that a used car just a couple years old is the best bet I think there are ways to buy a new car that are a lot more responsible than the numbers listed here would imply.

    • @annette, Just last week I was chatting with a gal who mentioned “I have two payments left, and then we’ll get the new (whatever it was they have their eye on).” It dawned on me that they literally jump from car payment to car payment! I can’t fathom…

  • Keesha says:

    I’m cracking up at the garage door thing, because we just bought a “new” 2007 van (to replace our 1998 compact pickup truck, which doesn’t work too well with two kids!), and we were blown away by the built-in garage door opener. The guy at the dealership looked at us like we were a little simple-minded to be so amazed at what is apparently now a common feature. 🙂

  • Kelly O says:

    I’ve also found that by buying used, you can often afford amenities you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get – I’m in my very first car with keyless entry and power windows! But this 2002 Taurus is doing pretty well, and will last us until we can get something a bit more reliable. We won’t buy new, and my husband is already researching used or older “certified pre-owned” to see what will work best for us once the baby arrives.

  • Michelle says:

    My dad taught me that you never ever loan money for a car because they depreciate so fast in value. That was some of the best advice he gave me. My husband and I usually buy a car in the $8,000 – $10,000 range, we cash it off, drive it for a year or two and resell it for close to the same amount we paid for it. (I might add that we DO NOT buy cars through dealerships. We hunt around on ebay and craigslist to find a really good deal. Doing that allows us to drive it for a year or two and sell it for close to the same amount we paid.) So far it’s been working good for us.

  • Kristen says:

    I have never heard of such a thing as a built-in garage door opener in a car! We just bought a used minivan yesterday, mostly because we are expecting kid #4 and our car can’t fit one more kid crammed into the back seat! I’ve never owned a car (until now) that was even made in the same decade that we are currenly in! Horray for used cars!

  • Jennifer says:

    We have two paid for cars. The “new” one is a minivan that we bought slightly used. It currently has over 150,000 miles on it and I plan to drive it till it refuses to go another inch. Our other car is a VW Beetle that is almost as old as we are. We have never bought a brand spanking new car. Our experience has been that you can buy one with a few miles and a whole lot of bells and whistles for less than a brand new one without any luxury options like power windows, locks, and garage door openers (who knew??? Not me!)

  • Carrie says:

    used cars aren’t the only way to have no car payment though. i bought my car new with a 0% interest loan (best thing i ever could have done for my credit score) and paid it off in 6 months. going on 4 years now with no car payment and hope to get at least another 4 years in before the car starts to have any major maintenance needs

    • @Carrie, It’s not just the car payment that costs people, though. Depreciation of value, higher tags, taxes, and insurance in new vehicles is also a cash sucker. Even if paying CASH for a new vehicle… there is money to be saved when they have a few thousand miles under the wheels.

  • Jen says:

    I am very thankful that in our country there are still lots of good quality used vehicles around. We are very blessed indeed. If I could go back in our early years of marriage I would have not purchased new which we did twice. It was a mistake both times and looking back we wasted lots of money.

    Another thing you save on is insurance older cars are cheaper to insure. You can also save on taxes some states charge property taxes on cars and you guessed it cheaper cars pay cheaper taxes.

    So, my advise is pray and seek the Lord about your next vehicle. He already knows what we need and He is able to provide it for us.

  • Ducky says:

    The owners are crazy for saying they don’t have garage door openers because it’s programmed in their cars — they HAVE to have at least one for their car’s built-in learning remote to learn the codes from, since that’s how the learning remote works… Plus, all the times I had to replace a garage door opener, it came with 2 remotes out of the box…

    • Jennifer says:

      @Ducky, For the record, our vehicle’s Homelink system only requires that the user have one hand pushing a button on the vehicle system, and one hand pushing a button on the actual opener box that hangs from the garage ceiling. No remote needed, and from our experience, the remote would have made things a lot easier. However, I do agree that garage door openers still COME with remote controls, whether you choose to use them or not.

  • Jen says:

    Amen Allison. I believe that when we honor the Lord He honors us also. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that FEAR HIM.

  • stephanie says:

    We are a one car family. Red Van is 2001 with 150K+ miles. Still running great and we paid for it outright. Going on 5 years with no car payment. Hubby works at Dodge/Chryl dealership so we see the “shinny, new” ones all the time. Look great and nice-but to have the $400 or more avg car payment his customers have-hell no! I’ll keep my van till it no longer is safe to have. Then we will buy used again. This is coming from a car salesman’ wife 😉

  • Patti says:

    Although we have not always bought used cars, we have usually paid ours off quite quickly and kept them until they barely run – and then sold them! Right now we have a 1968 VW Beetle, a 1989 Volvo (bought new), and a 2003 GMC Envoy (bought used). Our insurance only went up $149 when we added our teenage son. The insurance man couldn’t believe it! Actually, we like our son driving our old car (the Volvo). If he does have a fender bender, we won’t be so distraught.

    • Shelly says:

      @Patti, I agree with this for sure! I love being able to push my grocery cart against my bumper (so it’ll stay when it’s windy) and not be concerned about scratching it. I also had a neighbor tap my bumper on accident as we were leaving the apartment parking lot and was able to let it go. If I had a brand new car that I was worried about keeping pristine, I would always be stressed about dents and dings!

  • Jessica says:

    My husband and I bought a used mini-van recently for which we had *most* of the cash, but needed to loan a few thousand dollars. Funny thing was, the car dealer told us we couldn’t loan that much because it was TOO SMALL an amount! So we had to make a loan for a larger amount, and then we just paid off the majority of the loan right away. :-p Go figure!

  • We made the mistake of buying cars with payments for a few years of our marriage (both used and new). We paid off the last one about four years ago and even bought our most recent car with cash. But it does have a button for the garage door opener, haha!! We will never have a car payment again!

  • Jackie says:

    I’m definately not against a new car, you just have to be smart about it. Our truck, which we bought new in 2008, we got for employee pricing and 0% interest. It didn’t have the big drop in value that is sometimes seen. AND my husband got his first brand new car ever, which was pretty cool to witness!

  • Chris says:

    For those who perpetually have the average car payment (x 2), that’s enough money to buy a decent house in some parts of the country.

  • Ms.M. says:

    While we haven’t been able to pay cash for our cars, we do believe in driving them until they fall apart – which for us (30 and 31) hasn’t happened yet. My husband’s 2002 CRV was purchased in 2005 from his parents for $10k. We paid them off in 2 years and have since put 110,000 more miles on it – it’s up to 175,000, without any problems and I forsee that it will last for a good long while. When baby #3 came along we had to buy a minivan – which turned out to be a poor purchase that cost us too much money. We traded it in and just bought a 2009 Mazda5. While we did have to take a loan and have a car payment, buying a 1 year old car (it still smells new inside!) saved us $6000 off the sticker price compared to the 2010 model. It had only 22k miles and gets excellent gas mileage, so I expect to be driving it long after it’s paid for.

    • Kristine says:

      I love my Mazda 5!

      • Lauren says:

        @Kristine,

        I’ve got my eye on a Mazda5! I’ve been driving an old dented Buick Century with my three kids smooshed in the backseat. BUT- I’ve almost got enough saved up to buy something like you did- an almost new Mazda5

        • Ms.M. says:

          @Lauren, That’s exactly why we got it – we’ve got at least 4 more years of 3 kids in car seats or boosters, and the Mazda 5 is wonderful . If it’s as reliable as Consumer reports says, my 4 year old may be driving it someday!

  • Jennifer says:

    I absolutely agree about buying used. No point in losing $5,000-$10,000 when you drive away from the deal. However, there is one word to be said for having a newER vehicle: SAFETY! We saved for five years the money that would have gone into a car payment by only driving one vehicle (which, with my husband working an hour away, was NOT easy) and purchased for our main vehicle the SAFEST vehicle on the market at that time, that we could afford and I cannot describe how thankful I am that we did so. That minivan actually SAVED OUR LIVES last January when I was driving our four kids, by myself, home to Indiana from New Mexico through the worst ice storm I’ve ever seen. And even though I’m a huge proponent of save now/spend later, I would gladly spend 5-6 years paying double the $400/month you mention if it meant the difference between making it home safely and not.

  • Miriam says:

    Last year we bought a “Grandpa Car” – and we’re in our 20’s just startin our family. We paid cash for it, and it’s all ours, baby!! Even if it is an ’02 Buick LeSabre that you normally see in the classic “old people” baby blue color (ours is white – we wouln’t have bought a blue one 😛 ), it has a huge back seat that should see us through our first 3 kid’s carseats just fine 🙂 (And it has the 3 garage door buttons – I didn’t know what they were either! And we have no garage :D)

  • Alison says:

    We own both of our cars, a 2000 Civic and a 2005 Ford Focus. We did buy them brand new (there’s something about that new car smell!) but paid them off within 18-24 months. Sure, it would have been wiser to buy used cars in cash (which we could have done with the car in 2005) but knowing that we had a car payment made us extra inspired to pay if off quickly.
    I like not having a car payment and we’ll probably drive both of our cars until they’re due to meet their maker. I would love to have a brand new car with leather seats and all the bells and whistles, but our distaste for car payments keeps us from going for it.

  • Prathee Selvam says:

    We;re not into new cars. But we won’t buy a car which has more than 100,000 miles in it. In my opinion, its not safe. We don’t want to save few hundred $$ by risking safety.

    We will give ample amount of time before buying a car. That way, we can get excellent deal.

  • Shelly :) says:

    My 1999 Acura TL has over 175k miles on it. My husband I took it in for it’s 150k check up and the they said it would probably go another 150k. Other than the standard maintenance, it’s never had a major problem (though I probably just jinxed myself in saying that). 🙂

  • Julie DeWilde says:

    We have 179,000 miles on our Cavalier and 230,000 on the 1990 Ranger. We still figure we are paying less in repairs than in car payments.

  • Melanie says:

    Dave Ramsey talks about buying used cars and/or paid off cars. You are right the new car starts depreciating in value as soon as you drive off the lot. You mentioned possibly paying $400 a month for 7 years. Think about those people who think they should always have new cars and continue to pay that kind of money into cars all of their lives. That’s a lot of money.

  • Michelle says:

    I got my kia sedona minivan on eBay. Got it cheap enough that the state asked for additional sales information because they thought I was trying to cheap them out of sales tax on the van (it was bought out of state) since it went below wholesale. Know what you are looking for in a vehicle and then look in all different places.
    My DH’s car was bought new but we got 0% financing and paid it off early. I guess I didn’t think Crystal’s numbers were that far off. My BIL and SIL are in car loan debt higher then those figures and they are already talking about when they get their next new car. They are all about having the right “look” on their vehicle. They make fun of our older vehicles (both 2005 so not that old I think) but in the next breath they are complaining about never having any money.

    For the garage door openers you can buy replacement openers. Just make sure that you take the model number and brand off the actual opener because they aren’t all universal (just returned one because I didn’t do that) 🙂

  • Amy Lauren says:

    I’m 24 and I’m on Car #2. I got it for my 21st birthday, with money from trading in Car #1 and from my inheritance from my grandma, who always wanted me to have a nice car. Right now it’s having some issues with the A/C, the CD player is no more, etc. But hey, it’s paid for. I’ll probably spend nearly $1,000 getting everything fixed before it’s over with (not including the CD player, which would cost more to fix than I think is worth).

    A lot of my friends have said to get a new car and have payments… most of them are in debt and have payments up to their necks. I’m debt free and really want to buy a house soon (haven’t saved up 100% down but got a good chunk in the bank & CDs toward it).

    I figure I’m doing something right by sticking with my Honda Accord. I’ll probably trade it in in a few years though, while it still has decent trade in value, and upgrade a few years (05-06).

    Amy Lauren

  • Dawn says:

    @Margaret, Leasing cars is the worst way to ‘buy’ a car – in reality, you are paying up jacked up rent for a vehicle you will never own. But guess what – when that ‘perfect’ new car breaks down, gets a scratch or has an accident: guess who pays for it – you. Do the math – leasing is never a good idea.

    Here’s just one example of why: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/still-getting-fleeced-from-our-lease-cnl/lifeandmoney_other/

  • trisha says:

    Crystal,

    You forgot to include the costs of higher insurance for newer cars. If you have a car loan, you have to carry full coverage insurance, which costs more. This is definitely an often overlooked expense in having car loans and owning newer cars. We pay less than $60/month to insure two cars with liability only while living on the east coast. I dare say in the almost six years we’ve been married, we’ve saved enough for car repairs and replacement cars in insurance savings alone!

  • Nicole Hatfield says:

    Our 98 Ford Windstar has the garage door opener feature although I was never able to figure how to get it to program.

  • Mey says:

    Ladies,
    There is such a thing as a bike, they even come with a huge basket to place up to three children tied with nice safety belts and 4 to 8 grocery bags. You can find them used for under one thousand. No gasoline, very few repairs, very good for the environment and for sure no garage door opener. As an added value you will stay in shape. Pedal your way into a great family budget. Once your kids are too big to fit in your huge basket, get them their own shiny bikes!
    🙂

    • Jessica says:

      @Mey, I would be in great shape if I did that. We live 15 miles from the closest place to shop for groceries and we would probably get run over–LOL this place is unfriendly to bike riders and I have seen a few. That would be fun though.

      • Lauren says:

        @Jessica, hahaha- I would love to see three kids in the front of a bicycle!

        Sadly here too there is nowhere safe to bicycle, or I would be all over that, with a bike trailer for the kids.

        • Chelsea says:

          @Lauren, Same here! Where I live, there are no bike lanes in the city, the roads are horribly maintained, and drivers are extremely rude to bikers. Whenever my parents bike, they get cursed at, flipped off, honked at, etc, just because people are so upset about having to slow down or pass them. At least once a year since I’ve lived here, I’ve heard of a hit and run car-bike accident, one resulting in death. You don’t see many bikers on our streets!!

        • Mey says:

          @Lauren,
          Ladies the basket goes in the back of the bike. It is really cute. There is always a danger factor in a car or a bike but the way I see it God has counted the number of my days and has planned every minute of it. I realize for most this sounds super foolish but I see it this way. In India and China people frequently ride an average of 40 kilometers daily with their bikes plus loads. The average rider can sustain a speed of 15 to 22 miles per hour on a road bike. If you are intense in your riding you will burn about 600 calories each hour So I figure it this way: Leave home at 10.00 a.m. arrive at store at 11.00 a.m. shop for one hour, arrive home at 1.00 p.m. 1,200 calories burned, no environmental foot print and a great opportunity to be the weird lady in the pink bike with kids riding on a basket. Do this once a week and you are going to be famous. Chances are drivers will not be nasty once they see your funny (huge) bike full of kiddos.

  • Melissa says:

    I am all for buying used cars vs. new cars – but I do not believe in buying junkers that you have to constantly fix! My husband’s family are big believers in buying cars you can pay for outright and they have done so their entire lives; however, none of the cars they have purchased are still running. Not only that – they have paid well over 10x the value of those cars in an attempt to keep them running. Of the two cars I have purchased(and still own), one is the first car I ever purchased when I was in high-school. It had just under 20,000 miles when I bought it used 13 years ago – and now has just under 200,000 miles on it and I have never had to pay for anything other than basic maintenance on it. I paid it off in a little less than two years. My minivan we got a year ago and it will be paid off this year. Both cars have been a huge blessing and wonderfully reliable. I am GLAD I didn’t go the route my husband’s family did and have the constant worry of not having a running vehicle. We may have paid a little more in interest – but I guarantee we have made that back in the form of not having to pay someone outrageous prices to fix our car constantly!

    • @Melissa, No way. 🙂 Quality used and junker… big difference. I’m with you, no “not running” cars sitting around!

    • Melissa says:

      @Melissa, I think the key is to a) make sure you’re getting a quality used car, not a junker and b) save up for the purchase so that you’re not just using whatever cash you happen to have on hand at the time. We got a good used car that had been used as a driver’s ed car at a local high school. It didn’t have very many miles on it and was only about two years old. That was 5 years ago, and we’re still driving it without any problems. And we chose that car after shopping around for quite a while. That’s different than saying, “Let’s go see what car we can get for the least amount of money possible.”

      • Melissa says:

        I agree that having all the money saved up would be ideal; however, sometimes a situation presents itself which negates that possibility. With my first car, I was working two jobs and attending school full-time. I could not afford to NOT have a car and after much discussion with my father (who teaches a Crown Financial Ministries class) I came to the conclusion that the extra $1000 I could make a month taking a job that was a little farther than walking distance, paid more, and provided experience in the field I was attending college for was worth carrying the debt short term. In the case of our van – my husband found out we were pregnant with our third child and my little GEO does not fit three car seats! We had little money saved up for this because we had been saving for his last semester of Student Teaching. We ended up again financing a vehicle, but we live on very little since I stay home with the kids, and we should have it paid off in about 4 months(1 year after purchase). Neither situation has been ideal, but God has provided well for us. We always do our research and weigh every option – but in the end we trust God to help us determine what it ultimately right for our family.

  • Katie says:

    I must have really bad luck……I had a Nissan Altima that only had 130,000 miles on it and the engine blew in it!!! I was expecting it to last way longer than that so I had no money to fix or replace it. It was going to cost over $5K to put a new engine in it, so I said screw it and bought another (newer) used vehicle. Hoping this one lasts me more than 130,000. (And no more Nissans for this girl!!!)

  • @Margaret, Maybe my understanding of a “lease” isn’t correct… but when you lease a vehicle, don’t you have to give it back or write a new contract after a certain amount of time? So in the end, after paying all that money ($200, $400… doesn’t really matter) plus a down payment, you walk away with nothing and start over? I still think driving an older *paid for* vehicle with no payments for many years is the frugal way to go.

  • Mandy says:

    We just hit 100,000 on our truck, and it’s still going strong. In fact, our mechanic is determined to talk me into selling it to him one of these days. I’ve already told him that my dad has first dibs IF we ever decide to sell 🙂 Thanks for all of you do! You are amazing!

  • Jennifer says:

    I am a TOTAL used car advocate! My parents always bought used cars, and while I was a little embarrassed to drive them as a teenager, financially they made a lot of sense. I still don’t understand why people buy new cars and pay those ridiculous car payments. I know several people who had finally paid off the last payment when the car died! So they never really owned it at all.

    I am currently driving a 97′ Ford Taurus with about 46,000 miles on it. No, I didn’t forget a decimal place, it really is that low! Praise God for his provision!

  • Olathe Mom says:

    Crystal, Bless you for this post! 🙂

    Following Dave Ramsey’s advice, we saved up $16,000 for the purchase of a new-to-us minivan, which we just purchased in April. We found a great deal on one after months of patience (we didn’t even spend our whole 16K!) and drove off the lot cheering. We now have to save up to replace car #2, which might be called “Old White/Rusty/No A.C. Van!” Ha! It is almost sinful how much I love my newer van. Here’s one thing, sister: power sliding doors. Mercy me. And YES, a button for my programmable garage door opener. My trunk also opens automatically. There are now two distinct eras in my life: BTS, and ATS. Before Toyota Sienna, and After Toyota Sienna.

    And, no car payments! Woot!

    • Cilicia says:

      @Olathe Mom, We bought a 2003 Toyota Sienna off of ebay a couple years and paid cash and LOVVVVEEE it, also!!! :)) I cannot fathom the days before rear sliding windows! :)) I don’t know if mine has a garage door opener in it so that will be my ‘project’ for the week! off to talk to the husband now! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    We say yes to used cars also. I have not figured it up but, I do know that there are people that have baught cars for about the same price our house cost $23,000(unfortunately we have a mortgage)but, the cars are paid for and the insurance is low too.
    I know what you mean about the newer cars having all the unbeleivable gadgets like pushing a button to crank up while your in the house, ours is a ’95 Toyota almost 250,000 miles. Too, we still don’t have cell phones around here, is anyone going without the cell? I am 39 yrs old and we lived without cell phones before when I was a kid. Family is not thrilled with that one but, all is well.
    Yay, to used paid for vehicles!!!!!

  • Jessica S. says:

    Yes, a 2001 is pretty new! 🙂 We have “disposable” cars here!

  • JenK says:

    This is one point where my husband and I differ. My parents always paid cash and drove cars into the ground. It helped that my dad used to be a mechanic and could take care of them, but still–that’s what I thought everyone did! We have two little girls, and my husband does not want our main vehicle to be less than five years old because he’s worried about safety. He hates dealing with auto repairs, and even though he doesn’t drive that far to work, he would still rather have a new, “more reliable” car than drive a paid-for, older car.

    When we got married, we had two older cars that were paid for. One was my minivan, which was old but still fine. His really was a bad deal–his mom found it, paid for it for us (without our approval!) and it never ran reliably. I think that soured him on used cars. We got rid of that one and paid cash for his next car, a Lumina. We bought a newer car for me just because we could when we both graduate college and got real jobs. We upgrade both cars (mostly for space) when we moved across the country and had to haul a bunch of stuff and five cats with us.

    Here’s the catch, though–we have had MORE CAR REPAIRS with our “newer, better” vehicles than we did with my old van and his Lumina. I want to drive these two into the ground and build up our savings instead of upgrading them in a few years just for the sake of upgrading!

  • chris says:

    I have had many comments to add to this, but I am going to only add a couple.

    Crystal have you kept track of how much you have spent on the inital purchase prices of the vehicles plus your repairs in the last 7.5 years? In other words have you kept track of actual “car payment.”? I ask mostly because I am curious because I have never calculated it for my family although I could reconstruct a pretty good guess.

    I love Dave Ramsey to pieces, but I think he tends to oversell the used car thing. DH and I have personally have bought both new and used over the years, but have only actually had purchased two cars in the ten+ years we have been married and have no plans to place replace either of them anytime soon (although we are saving for their eventual replacement). I think it’s way more important to buy within your means (ideally with cash) and to take care of/be a good steward of what you do own. The whole new versus used part can be more situational and complex.

    I do think that in general trade-in to dealerships are rip-off. Most of the time you can get more money from a private party sale for a pretty limited amount of work. Teenagers have ended up buying the last two cars that DH and I have owned.

    • Crystal says:

      @chris, Yes, our total costs of buying 3 vehicles and repairs was under $15k over the course of the last 7.5 years — and that includes our current family vehicle which we paid $6k for (two of our cars were totalled over the course of the last 7.5 years, otherwise that number might be significantly lower.)

  • Roxanne says:

    We always buy used cars too, and drive them as long as they’re safe.

    Hubby’s last car we paid about $5,200 for. He drove it for 5 years before it was totaled in an accident. We were so disappointed because we KNEW the car had at least 3 years of life left in it. We didn’t expect much at all from the insurance company, since it was an older vehicle. We received $4,500 AFTER our deductible.

    We just couldn’t believe our frugal good fortune. We basically drove a car for 5 years that cost us $700!!!!

  • Kerry Boles says:

    We have a 1998 Suzuki Sidekick that is still going strong. My husband uses it for his commuter car to the local park and ride so it only gets driven about 30 miles a week. We have only had to replace the clutch which seems pretty good. It may not look pretty but it does the job. Nothing wrong with getting used vehicles. I would love to have something ‘brand new” one day but I am ok with driving something someone barely put any miles on because they wanted brand new

  • Amy R. says:

    I agree with buying used cars. Something that has always worked for us, is praying specifically for our cars. You wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of mileage we got out of “dead” cars, simply from prayer. 🙂

  • Darrylynne says:

    I have to agree with the used car, no car note idea. I was very lucky. I was given a 1999 Dodge Caravan. It had about 32, 000 miles on it. Five years later, it only has 169,000 miles on it and I have had to little to no maintenance on it. Tires, oil changes and air filters are all I have done to my van and she is still kickin. If I won the lottery, I would still drive old faithful. Sure i might be missing a few up to date features, like a cd player. I still have a tape deck but I really never turn it on. I am telling you it pays to not have a car note and be able to put that money toward other stuff. Try it you’ll love it!!!!!

  • Jessica says:

    Another upside, older car = lower car insurance. Plus, if you have a car loan, you HAVE to have full coverage. No loan means you can choose your coverage balanced with what’s affordable.
    But there comes a point where you have to ask if it’s worth it to keep fixin up an old car. I put a new trans in my last car, and it lasted for another couple years, 250K+ miles. wanna say 270k+ even. but eventually the gremlins got too bad, and I got a used car. it was maybe a year old but the amount of depreciating just taking the car off the lot… it was an insane cost difference. And I plan on keeping this car til it dies

  • MarySunshine says:

    Thanks for this post! Our family buys ONLY used cars, because you never get back what you pay for new cars. The most my husband and I have paid for a car is $3500, and we also pay very little for repairs. (My dad, a retired mechanic, maintains our cars for us.) Also, I know many people argue the “environmentally friendly” aspect of newer cars because they are more fuel efficient; however, in order to be more fuel efficient, newer cars are made of lighter materials and lack the more substantial body-over-frame structure of older cars. Because of this, even minor accidents can total a newer car–or cause serious harm to passengers. It’s much more important to me that my car is “people friendly” and keeps my family safe.

  • Michelle Z. says:

    My dad bought me a new car when I graduated high school and told me to take care of it. That was 1990, and I’m still driving it. I’ve replaced the engine once. I love this car, and I can’t imagine ever getting rid of it.

  • Lisette says:

    We were lucky two get two new cars at super great prices — a ’07 Charger and an ’09 T&C, and they’re both paid off! We prefer to use the sinking fund method to save up a decent chunk of change and to buy something at a great price with a great warranty. Now that we’ve paid off both cars, we’re getting ready to start a sinking fund for the next car even though our oldest car has less than 25K miles on it. There is more than 1 way to skin a cat.

    Also, the one thing that bothers me about driving clunkers is that both my husband and I have BOSSES to report to. Bosses that care A LOT when your car breaks down and you’re late or you don’t show up — even once. Both you, your husband and Dave Ramsey are self-employed! It’s a factor that has to be taken in to consideration!

  • Dela Prado says:

    Well, I also didn’t know about the built in garage door opener, LOL. We have two vehicles, a 1993 Subaru ( that we paid $500.00 for 4 yrs. ago!) with 230,000 miles on it, and a 2003 Trailblazer ( paid for in full , but high miles 158,000.) . And right now we are doing just fine. We simply can’t afford new cars, especially with 6 kids 😉 Luckily we have only had to have regular repairs.

  • Vonice Hoffman says:

    My husband’s Lincoln is going on 300,000 miles. It’s a little dumpy but gets him from point A to point B which is the point, isn’t it?

  • JuliB says:

    I’ll be the black sheep here. I bought used cars while in high school and SUFFERED immensely from them. (I’m 44 – maybe I was unlucky back then). I said never again!!

    I bought my car new(2001 Toyota Solara) with all the bells and whistles. I didn’t care about resale because when I go to re-sell it, it will be worth nothing at all. My car is at 97K now. I’ve been very happy. I figured the immediate depreciation was the price I paid for not having any worries about breaking down. Yes, it could have happened, but I chose my car based on all the reviews and Consumer Report feedback (for one of the most reliable for the money). As a single woman in my early 30s, I bought more car than I needed at the time. However, I bought it with an eye to the future. I now have a fiance and 2.5 dogs, so I’ve grown into my car.

    I had a car payment of $500/month for 4 years. But I paid it off early and will only finance my next car if it the financing is a fantastic deal.

    • Elizabeth says:

      @JuliB,
      I hear ya here… we nearly always buy used, but a Toyota Rav-4 was the best bet for us when I was looking the last time and they depreciate so little in the beginning that it wasn’t worth the risk of having had a car that had been badly maintained for the thousand or two bucks a used car would have saved us. My husband had bought a used Nissan the year before and we ended up with a $3000 repair bill because the person who had had the car before had NEVER changed the oil. For luxury or American cars that rapidly depreciate, I think buying a couple years old used (or this new Certified Used program) make a lot of sense, but if you are buying a Honda or Toyota and are planning on hanging on to it for 10 + years, I’d buy new and take care of it.

  • Shari B says:

    My 06 Honda Civic doesn’t have the garage feature, just power locks and windows which to me is living high. There was an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about how used cars might cost more or close to the price of a new car. More info at:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/deals/sc-biz-0702-car-prices–20100701,0,4021621.story

    On a side note, we just sold hubby 2000 car that was truly destined for the junk yard because so many components were broken, dented, rusted out or smoked more than my stove. We had people beating down our door to buy it than for any other car we have sold. We were completely honest with what was wrong and they still wanted to fix it up and use it. So, my point is more people than ever are looking at used cars.

  • Natasha says:

    The in car garage door openers are not a new thing. Our 12 year old ’98 Nissan Maximum has those buttons. I think a lot of people might have them and not know what they are for LOL!

  • Sara says:

    Two cars ago I drove a Mazda 626. I drove it til it’s death…which involved both rear bearings going on my way home from work one day. I sold it to a guy for $50 who had another and he planned to make 1 good running car between the two. I was “green” without meaning to be, even then! It had 268,000 miles on it. I drove it for over 3 years, Grand Rapids to Lansing every day for college. It never broke down, though at the end I had to climb in over the passenger seat because the driver’s door wouldn’t open. The gas tank leaked so I would only put in $8 of gas at a time (gas was about $1.40/gal then). I bought it “used” from my dad for $1000, with 150,000 miles on it. He sold it to me over the course of a summer…and just before I took possession a tree fell on the roof, denting it slightly. His insurance company paid him $1300 for the damage. He handed it over without fixing the dent…I still kid him about selling me damaged goods! He made out pretty good!

    Then I leased a Tracker for 3 years, and bought it after on a 5-year loan. I had financial reasons for doing so (mainly I had a poor paying job! LOL) but I shudder to think how much I paid over those 8 years. I paid it off early, got two more years out of it until last summer when I was hit twice by “distracted” drivers and each time it was totaled and I was nearly killed.

    I now drive a big 98 Old Silhouette, not my dream car but it does the job. Paid $3000 for it and it’s blue booked over $4k. I get 22 mpg which is about what I got driving the Tracker! It’s a miracle van. Lights go on and off on their own, a heating system malfunction seems to have disappeared all on it’s own…and seriously? If someone offered me a new car I’d probably take it…and SELL IT and pay my bills, and keep driving my crazy old van. 🙂

    • brookeb says:

      @Sara, You’re so lucky! I had a 626 and had major transmission issues with it twice, which is common with that make/model. I put so much money into trying to keep that car. 🙁 Then the timing belt slipped and it ended up being worth $500 to a junkyard at just under 100k miles.

  • My used 2001 car has the garage thing. Some older used cars have great features.

  • Brandi says:

    We have finished the Dave Ramsey plan and now drive decent vehicles. They are used and we paid cash, but we worked our way up. We would buy a used car we could afford, drive it while we save up cash (3-5 years), sell it add the money and move up. We have very minimal depreciation. My latest car is awesome. Garage door opener and all! We will NEVER have a car payment. I’m shocked when I hear how much people pay in car payment. More than our mortgage (15 year fixed of course 🙂

  • We have always paid cash for our cars and we have always done okay with it. i just got a new to us Honda van with all kinds of new fancy features….like only the second car i have owned that I could use the A/C in….that is pretty spiffy! But all in all, we are not well off, and we have found by being frugal, taking care of the old cars, the savings in insurance, registration, and all is huge. Our old Buick 1991 with almost 200K miles on it, gets pretty good gas mileage too!!!

  • Chelsea says:

    We believe in not buying anything you can’t pay cash for, so depending on how much we have, that’s what we spend on our car when we need it! What’s worked for us is sticking with the same local dealer who we trust, he buys junked cars and fixes them up. We normally spend 5-6 thousand for a car, and it usually has between 100-120 thousand miles and we will drive it until we no longer can. We don’t make a lot of money either. We do, however, have two vehicles, so we definitely could cut back there and choose not to.

    I’ll just never understand all my friends who say “I can’t wait to get this car paid off so we can get another one!!” We have debates all the time!

  • Melissa says:

    @Margaret, I don’t think leasing a car is a good idea. You’re basically renting it for a really long time – you’re making payments but not actually getting equity in the car. The people I’ve known who leased cars really regretted it in the end. It ended up being a horrible deal for them.

    • Margaret says:

      @Melissa,

      I guess it depends.. I like leasing a car because I don’t have to worry about paying for repairs if needed, and depending on the lease, you give it back and get a new car! and I think most leases can be affordable if you know how to haggle and get a good deal.

  • brookeb says:

    I’m kind of in-between; I don’t have an issue with borrowing some money to pay for a car. Most of the times I’ve had to purchase cars it’s due to an immediate need — a timing belt slipping, a car getting totaled that was worth next to nothing, etc. In those cases where you hadn’t planned on buying another car, you might have very little saved but still need a reliable car. However, my cars have generally ran around $10k and I drive them as long as I can (although I’m unlucky enough that they tend to die soon after they’re paid off…)

  • Tammy says:

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one. 🙂 I have a ’02 Impala that we bought new. I was SO happy the day I drove off the lot with my first new car – but WOW – those payments really hit us hard. I jumped for joy when we paid it off three years ago. It is about to flip 200,000 miles and although we’ve had a lot of mechanical problems, I am COMPLETELY happy with it. Each time something else “breaks” – for a second, I think “I wouldn’t have this problem with a new car.” Then I think of that new car payment and I snap out of it!! Thankfully, my husband is a good mechanic and the repairs are MUCH cheaper than a new car payment. I’m gonna drive it until the wheels fall off! 🙂

  • Tina says:

    My brother-in-law always makes himself feel better about their two car payments by pointing out to my sister how often our paid-for cars break down. I did the math with their exact payments – they pay $6,000 a year for their cars. We’ve NEVER EVER EVER paid $6,000 in car repairs, even in the years we’ve had to replace transmissions or entire brake systems. Even if you add in the maintenance that ANY car would have no matter how new (tires, oil changes, etc.), we’ve never had $6,000 a year in repairs. One of our vehicles has over 200,000 miles on it, one is about 300 miles away from hitting 200,000. Just a little encouragement to anyone out there who doesn’t think it’s worth it have older cars due to the repair expense!

  • lizajane says:

    Oh, my! I’d better read up on the “new” (i.e., introduced in the last 10 years) features on cars before I buy another one. Although I’m not likely to be embarrassed by a salesman, since we usually buy from a classified ad or at an auction. LOL
    For 1 week a year, I pretend I’m driving my own new car when I go on vacation to visit family and fly in & rent a car for a week. That’s my fix for the year, though. I would NEVER want the car payment or the insurance payment that comes with buying new.
    Another plus? It really doesn’t matter if someone opens their car door in a parking lot and it hits mine. I never notice!

  • Julie says:

    While we did buy our 2006 Ford Fusion new, it replaced my husband’s previous car that was literally falling apart!! Then a little over a year later in late 2007 we decided it was time to replace my old station wagon and traded it in for a 2004 Ford Ranger. Now the Fusion is my car/family car and the Ranger is my husband’s daily driver.

    Funny story about that old 93 Subaru Legacy station wagon of mine though. I bought it from another missionary who got it at auction for $400, so that is what I paid for it in early 2003 and drove around for the next two and a half years. I hit 200,000 miles in January 2004…bought a bumper sticker to “celebrate”…and kept on driving!! I used it all through my deputation and then when I left for the field I turned around and sold it to some family friends from our homeschool group for their new teen drivers for the same amount I had bought it for…$400!! Little did I know that just a year and a half later I’d be back in the US and getting married…and they gave me the car back as a wedding present!! It lasted us for that first year of marriage and then my husband crippled it in to the dealership to trade it in for the Ranger.

  • Rachel Haugaard says:

    My husband and in-laws buy wrecked/repairable cars from salvage lots…they’re all very handy mechanically, and we have a neighbor who does body work for us very reasonably. We’re able to get cars that are only a few years old with low miles at a great price, put a little into them to fix whatever had been wrecked, drive it for awhile, and then sell it for a profit!! 🙂 It’s awesome!!

  • Connie says:

    My husband bought a brand new truck to celebrate getting hired by the fire department. That was 1982 and it was a small blue Datsun pick up truck with a “king” cab.

    We took it off the lot and drove it to California, our first road trip as a couple. When he became a dad to our fabulous boys, he drove it with their two car seats (it had jump seats that pulled down from the sides of the truck and the kids sat sideways, their feet touching in the middle). And he drove it to pick up our son from football camp at a college across the state when he was in High School.

    My husband still drives that truck, every day, and says he will until he retires from the fire department. He just might make it! In about 12 years he’ll have 40 years in as a fire fighter/lieutenant and I’m hoping we can then give this truck a decent send off. 🙂

    Gotta love that man 🙂

  • Great post Crystal!

    We just purchased a used 1996 Honda Accord with 124,00 miles for only $1500 and paid cash. It’s a great feeling having no car payment. A car just rides differently when it’s paid off! 🙂

    Now only if the mortgage was paid off – work’in on it!

  • Carlene says:

    Hi, You need a liscense plate like my sons. He drives a 1984 Ford pickup which is older than he is. It says: “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for”. We were in a parking lot and somone yells in the window “like the liscense plate”. I didn’t know about the garage door opener in the car either.

  • Leah says:

    There are safety features in many cars that were not standard until 2008 (side impact air bags, for instance). If you look into crash test ratings, newer cars almost always fair better. When my 2000 Buick which had not been maintained was needing to be in the shop twice a month a while back and I was trying to decide what to do about cars, this was a big factor.
    I also do not know how to fix cars, nor do I have any nearby family/friends who know how to work on cars, so I had to take this into consideration. Car repairs were costing me ~$100/month, so, in my opinion, it was worth it to buy a newer car that would have all the safety features I want than to buy another, cheaper car that would require monthly repairs.
    When my car shopping was all said and done, I negotiated to get a 2008 (with “higher” miles than most 2008’s) for a monthly payment of $150 (for 4 years, I plan on paying it off early). This is COMPLETELY worth it to me. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but I also don’t think buying a clunker is necessarily always the best option for everyone.

    • Crystal says:

      Leah, be sure to read my note at the end of the post, as well as Amy’s post. Neither of us are advocating buying clunkers — if you can afford something better without a monthly payment!

      • Leah says:

        @Crystal, I didn’t necessarily think you were advocating buying a clunker, I just wanted to point out that sometimes a (small) car payment can be a frugal option. The ROI for me (safety and piece of mind in knowing I have all the available safety features and that I probably will have minimal repairs if I keep up on maintenance) is definitely worth $150/month!
        I guess my other point is that you can definitely get a “newer” car for a very low price! My car will be paid off in no time, and then I will drive it until I feel it is no longer safe or until I’ve saved up enough money to buy a bigger car (my car’s a compact) out of pocket!

        • Crystal says:

          I personally don’t think that a car payment is ever a “frugal” option. I think it’s always more frugal to save up and pay cash — whether that be for a $300 clunker or a $35,000 car. My philosophy is that if you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it.

          And I’d also say that it’s unsafe to have a car payment. What if something happens and your income decreases a great deal so you can no longer afford your car payment? If you don’t own the vehicle free and clear, you’re stuck with payments every month — or repossession and no car at all. Sure, $150 might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly if you don’t have an income — especially if you have a bunch of “little” $150 payments on other items, too.

  • Betsy says:

    When my husband unexpectedly lost the perk of a company car 2 years ago, we had to make a quick decision about buying him another car or going to a one-car family. Because he has an hour long commute, we chose to buy him a used car. It was going to be just for a “few months” until we got something newer. Two years later, he is still driving that 96, and he likes that car a little more each day. I think he especially likes being the weird one at work with the noticeable, older car.

    As a bonus, we have developed a friendship with a mechanic we knew through church. As with any older car, it’s needed a few repairs, and we’ve been able to support our friend’s business by going there, and by recommending him to everyone we know (he really is great).

    We’ll never buy another new car.

  • Amanda says:

    We had a 1995 Ford Explorer that was still chugging along, but had a few rust “issues.” When we moved to PA, we found out they do inspections every year and that our car would not pass due to the rust. Our car wasn’t unsafe, so we ended up having to get rid of a still-running paid-for vehicle just because the state said so. Needless to say, we were NOT happy.

  • Kate says:

    i’d be interested to see how much is spent on repairs though … you drive it until it dies, but there will be countless repairs along the way. i would rather drive a semi-new/decent car that is going to be 10 times more reliable than have to worry if my car is going to break down with my kiddies inside. to me the extra security is worth it. and my car payment is a little over $200 a month and for only several years. so, the $36,000 estimate is more than twice over what i really will be paying.

    • Crystal says:

      @Kate, My philosophy is that you should not do any repairs which cost more than the car is worth. So we always evaluate that before doing any repairs. Secondly, as Amy and I both stated in our posts and re-iterated in the comments, we’re not encouraging people to buy used cars which are money pits. That’s just plain unwise.

      We’ve actually spent significantly less on car repairs than the national average is for repairs on cars which were purchased new — and we’ve saved a LOT of money on insurance, too.

  • jan says:

    I will never buy a new car again (or lease) total waste of money. If you really want a “newer” car you can usually get a 1 or 2 yr old used car from a rental fleet like Enterprise and they are usually in really goood shape. That’s how we got our 2005 van 4 yrs ago and I love it!

  • Kassandra says:

    Crystal, I must say this post came at the perfect time for my family! My husband works and I am at home with our 2 children. We began our financial adventure a year ago and vowed to live on cash only and get out of debt. We have been successful in paying down our debts and living on cash only. We are, however, struggling to save much. We vowed to never again finance a vehicle, not even a great priced used one. Our 1999 Chrysler Town and Country is truly testing us. With 186,000 miles, a water leak, a non-working rear heater coil, no a/c (in Charleston, SC), and a brake system that soon needs repair. In the last 6 months we recently replaced the tires ($500) and replaced the transmission ($1,200). It has been difficult for us to stay focused and not consider financing considering, these days, we are spending equally as much money repairing an uncomfortable, used vehicle as we would financing a used, low-cost dependable vehicle. However, we remain focused and have decided that instead of repairing all of the things wrong with the van, we will take the money that we would use to repair it and purchase another used car…. Thanks for reminding me how overwhelming payments can be and how much we really do save in the long run! Hugs! Kassandra

  • Cathi says:

    I have a paid off 1996 Honda CRV, which I bought USED in 1996 with 2000 miles on it. 🙂 Due to working at home most of time, it doesnt even have 100,000 miles on it yet. I LOVE my car. And it came in very handy to have a paid off car when I was unemployed for just over a year. Since its a Honda, it also gets great gas mileage. I just got a new job and my husband asked me if I wanted a new car….HECK NO! I love NOT having a car payment!

  • Tami says:

    We own 3 used cars. We love all Three. My husband’s truck has over 200K on it but he keeps driving it. We have never had a car payment and we don’t plan to. We have very little problems with our car and I am blessed because my husband can usually fix the minor things that have gone wrong. I love my used cars and wouldn’t take a new one with a car payment for anything. We have much better things to do with our hard earned money.

  • Emily J says:

    If people really want a “new” car, I would recommend trying to find a demo car at a dealer. We got one with only 1300 miles on it for $7000 off the sticker price. The other used options we were looking at (same make and model) were only a couple thousand dollars more with 30,000 or more miles on them as well as being 1 or two years older. Seemed like a no brainer to us. We get the full warranty and less miles for just a bit more.

  • Cristina says:

    I was going to buy a used Honda Accord a few years ago and I discovered that the price difference between a used and a new model was tiny. Apparently Hondas keep their value very well. It made more sense for me to buy new (with cash) and get 1-2 years more out of the car because I plan on driving this until the day it dies. This may not be the case with all other cars, but I wanted to offer a different perspective.

  • Charity says:

    130,000???That’s all?? Our’s just rolled over to 250,000 and still running great! Hurray for used cars that last and last and last…;)

  • Sabrina says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. My husband and I also drive used, paid for cars. In fact he is still driving his first car (used and paid for) 14 years after he bought it. The thing just won’t die and I think I’ll cry when it does. Just out of fun, do you have any idea how much you have spent on repairs?

  • momto7 says:

    Well I guess I’m the odd one out here….we have always had really bad luck with used cars. Some were 4-5 yrs old when we bought them and one was a dealer demo model with less than 5000 miles on it (ended up being a lemon and the dealer had to buy it back). Neither my husband or I are handy at fixing cars, and we do not know of any mechanics around here that we trust enough not to rip us off. We have had our new-to-us used cars break down on very hot days (we live in Florida) and in the middle of dangerous highways. I have 7 kids and it is not fun to break down like that. After years of driving used cars, we finally just decided we are going to save cash for new cars and drive them for 10 yrs or however long they last. That is what works best for us. I remember when I read The Tightwad Gazette years ago that the author came to the same conclusion- new cars that you keep for a long time made sense for her family. BTW, I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan and I love the *idea* of used cars and understand the money part, just wish we’d had better experiences with them.

  • Michele says:

    Thanks for writing this post Crystal! My husband and I currently use our 1997 Volvo Station Wagon to commute to work in. The Volvo has 220,000 miles and is still running strong! We have 7 more payments on our other car and I can’t wait to be car payment free! We don’t ever plan on financing a car again. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    My 1996 Explorer finally died with 273,000plus on it! I loved that car, never used any oil or or anything:) Then we got other used car for an AWESOME price it’s the newest car we’ve ever been in 2001, with only 63,000 miles on it. I love not having a car payment, we wouldn’t make it if we had a car payment!! Thanks for this great post:)

  • Mey says:

    To me ladies the key question is and will always be. Am I making good use of God’s money in the way I select transportation? Stewardship is key.

    I have experienced His merciful hand sustaining my older cars at times in which I had no resources to fix them either because of the season of life or because I had allocated my car resources to His causes.

    I recall coming back from work in East LA in the worst of neighborhoods and having a timing belt break. Right behind me a hispanic gentleman stopped. Providence had it that he recognized me from a photo he had seen at his place of work. He called his brother and had my car towed to his shop with his towing truck. At his shop he had a car the same make and model as mine which he was about to junk. He pulled the part and fixed my car for a total cost of zero pennies for both towing and repairs.

    I do not have kids to keep safe, but my dad who is a medical doctor always drove an old VW bug. When people questioned our safety and comfort as kids he would remind us that millions of people live without running water or shoes. Once the car broke down on our way to assist a poor community with medical services. We sat on the side of the road singing songs and eating oranges while the local mechanic did magical things. In this case he made break pads from an old tire.

    God will take care of you. He will take care of your safety, your provision and your peace of mind. I am not an advocate of clunkers but I am an advocate of taking radical choices.

  • Laura says:

    We leased a new Lexus in 1995 sedan due to really low interest. At the end of the lease, we purchased the car. It’s still going strong and looks great – amazingly almost like new. It has over 200,000 miles and has had very few repairs. Although, when the air conditioner needed fixing, I did do that! Last year we purchased a 3 year old Lexus Crossover ( $26,000 total – no loan) because our other car that we bought used, a LandCruiser, was 15 years old, a gas guzzler, and needed several expensive repairs. We made a good deal and plan to drive that car for a very, very long time too. You’re right, getting the best price on a quality car that you can drive for years – I’m with you talking like 15-20 years – has been a great savings for us too. As always, I love, love, love your site. Thanks for all your tips! Happy 4th!

    Laura

  • Veronica says:

    We have 3 cars paid off. For dd I found a 1994 Toyota Camry with under 100,000 miles at an auto auction for $1700. Mechanically it was sound, but it needed the 90,000 maintenance which included a timing belt. We took care of that and it runs fine. The paint is far from perfect on it (chipped and scratched) but since it is a teen’s first car, we’re not worried about it. The other car and the van were bought used and paid off a while ago. I think next time we’ll just look for an older car with not too many miles like we found for dd.

  • My husband found my 2001 Camry when it was only 6 months old and had been leased. He got a great deal on it, since it wasn’t brand new and already had about 5,ooo miles on it. Plus, being 6 months old it still looked brand new!

    It now has 112,000 miles on it. We have hardly put any money into it. I’m hoping to drive it for at least another year or 2 and then purchase a larger car, maybe a van.

    My parents were looking for a car several months back and we looked at TONS of used cars. We could not find one that didn’t smell like dog or smoke. We looked all over. Lots of them were filthy too. These were cars at dealers, could they not at least try to clean them?! In the end, they went with a new Equinox, but got a deal since my BIL is a GM engineer. Yes, it cost more, however it smells and looks clean!

  • A.S. says:

    In 2004, I bought a used 2003 Acura TL. I paid for it in cash (I was living with my parents after college and had saved up the money). Six years and 130,000 miles later, aside from oil changes, new tires and brake pads (typical wear and tear), I’ve had to put absolutely no money into the car. I will only buy used cars in the future, but both my husband and I stand behind buying reliable cars, if possible. While our initial investment was a little high (our 2nd car is also a used Acura that we paid for in cash), the money that we feel we have saved in repairs, plus the comfort of driving in a reliable, safe, car, was worth it. It took us a long time to save up for our 2nd car, but paying for it in cash is a decision that we do not regret.

  • I forgot to mention that we have both of our cars paid off and it’s awesome! I don’t want a car payment ever again!!

  • emma says:

    we are so close to paying off our honda crv and I tell you i never want a car payment again! It will payed for in december and I am counting down the days. Our secondary car has always been payed for in cash, while it changes occasionally, it is nice to not have to worry about 2 car payments, can’t wait until there are no more payments left!

  • April says:

    I’m a big advocate of buying used cars as well, but a word of caution…be sure the car is/was properly inspected before buying! This sounds obvious, but some dealerships/owners are just out to make a buck, and are willing to sell a used car even if it is DANGEROUS to drive. My husband and I decided it was time to buy a car, in cash, when I was about 4 months pregnant. We made the mistake of only doing research on the cars we wanted, but did NOT do research on the dealership we went to. It ended up being a shady dealership with salesman that sweet talked us into buying a used Mazda 6. Anyway, long story short, after buying the car, I drove the car to work the next day and the car spun and lost control on the highway, and rammed head first onto incoming traffic at 60+ MPH. MIRACULOUSLY, we (baby and I) survived with little harm done, and insurance paid us back in full for the totaled car(s), but that was the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had in my life. We ended up paying in cash for a new car shortly after, not because we don’t like used cars, but after that experience, we were VERY cautious, and it was easier at that time in our lives to go with a brand new car from a trusted dealer.

  • I was talking to a friend the other day about how we’ve never had a car that could be unlocked from the key chain. She said that even though she can afford cars with that kind of luxury, she can’t get used to it, and still unlocks her car the old-fashioned way: turn the key in the door.

  • Our repairs and maintenance (which you have to do on any car) was no more than about $4-600 a year, about $50 a month on a high year. That included expensive repairs. I use synthetic oil in my old Buick, 1993 with almost 200k on it and yes, it costs more for oil changes, but we have had the car for several years and nothing major has gone wrong on it, because of regular maintaining and catching things before hand. i let one thing go on a van i owned because I did not have the money and ruined the whole engine….sometimes when you are trying to save money on cars, it pays to spend a little to save alot, especially with older cars.

  • Crissy S. says:

    I work at an inner city school. At one point, I had financed a Hyundai Santa Fe. When it stopped suddenly at a stop sign without any warning at 5 pm in the evening, I was quite upset. I can’t carry a gun because it is not allowed on school grounds even if it locked in my car and my stun gun just did not feel quite defensive enough. I was frustrated because I always took my vehicle in for its maintenance. Ever since then, my husband has insisted on keeping me in a new reliable vehicle so I have the bare minimum chance of break down. I dream of not having a car payment, but leasing is right for us to keep me in new vehicles. Maybe when I eventually switch schools, we will look into other options.

    On the flip side, we have no choice but to buy his truck because he puts 36,000 miles a year on a vehicle and is in construction where he has to have a truck. We have huge car payments because we were consistently upside down when the gas truck repairs were more expensive that the truck was worth. Finally, we decided to bite the bullet with large payments to purchase a diesel truck. Diesel trucks are not even “broken in” until 100,000 miles so we will actually still have value in this truck when we pay it off. No more upside down and a valuable trade-in means lower payments when we finally need to purchase another truck.

    Our situation is unique though. Few people put that many miles on a vehicle and few work in a low socioeconomic crime-ridden area.

  • Kristen says:

    I loved reading your post about Old Blue Van. My husband and I will not buy a brand new car. We will only buy used. There’s no reason to buy brand new (unless you have limitless funds) since they depreciate the minute they are driven off the lot. We have 2 vehicles that have been paid off for 3 years now. Both cars (Honda and GMC) are over 10 years old and each have well over 160,ooo miles on them. It’s been great not having a car payment. Of course newer cars may get better gas mileage, but it still isn’t worth having a monthly car payment. We both came from the mindset that you drive a car until it falls apart (not literally, of course). We are hoping the cars last another year or so and then we will start looking for something a little bigger that has better gas mileage. Of course, it will be previously owned!

  • Melissa says:

    I didn’t read ALL of the other comments so perhaps someone made this point already and if so I’m sorry to restate, but my husband and I bought our last two vehicles NEW. We bought cheaper gas efficient vehicles paying between $10000- $12000 total each and having payments under $300 a month….we pay them off fast and never took the loans to term. We actually have saved money monthly over the vehicles we owned before and all the repair bills. We enjoy our warranty repairs and just recently bought the very first set of tires for our 2004 cavalier. The only other NON-warranty thing we’ve done to the cav is a break job and one set of wheel bearings….tell me you’ve only spent $400 in repairs in the last 6 years? My 2007 Saturn ION has never had any work done to it, it doesn’t make noises and I’ve never had to yank my baby out from it fearing for his life. We buy new and keep until it’s earned it’s keep….Buying new doesn’t mean trading to stay new, it means less repair bills and knowing everything about your vehicle.

    • Elizabeth says:

      @Melissa, I agree! I think cars are like shoes– you buy the best you can! I don’t have a problem with used (we’ve done both new and used cars), but I think it is more important that you buy the safest, most environmentally responsible care you can afford and take care of it. Ultimately, keeping your car as long as you can is more important financially than whether you bought it used or new.

  • Isel says:

    I drive my car until the wheels fall off, then I put new tires on the car. My last car was 13 years old and had 316,000 miles when we gave it to a family member. It ran great, but we were expecting our first child and decided to buy a used SUV, cash. Our SUV is now 9 years old and has 160,000. Oh, and it has the three buttons for the garage door. 😉

  • jenny says:

    I love not haviing car payments! I’ve been driving the ittle car my parents got for me when I turned sixteen for years now, and we paid off the loan on my husband’s truck in February. That extra $400 a month is helping us build a very nice nest egg for the uncertain future as DH trasitions from Active Duty Army to the Reserves. Now we’re saving up for the replacement for my car because frankly… it’s not going to be very practical when we start having kids!

  • Ashlee says:

    My husband and I have never had a car payment. We were both lucky to have our parents purchase decent used cars for us when we were younger. For our wedding my grandma gave us $2,500 in matured savings bonds. We kept them for something special. Once baby came we knew my two door car was just not going to cut it. After selling my car and cashing in those bonds and upping the insurance on the new car we still had $500 left over! I wouldn’t buy a new car pretty much ever. My first car was still under warrenty, only 6 months old and half the price of a new one. It was a repossession, not a thing wrong with it.

  • dee says:

    I have bought new cars and used cars… always with cash. New cars can be had for thousands under sticker price at the end of the model year. I just passed down my 7-yr-old Buick to my kids. (We always keep one older car when we get a new car for our 5 college-age kids to use then they are home.) I bought that Buick new for $10K under the sticker price. I had looked for used, but couldn’t find a better deal than new.

    I put a lot of miles on my car because my family is scattered in a 500-mile radius. For that reason, I want a reliable car and not to break down in the mountains in Vermont in a snow storm. I just bought a 2-yr-old Toyota Rav4 w/ 7K miles for $6K under the sticker. I couldn’t get any Toyota dealers to budge enough from the sticker to buy new.

    Don’t eliminate new if you can get as good a deal or better than used. Love the car though because you will have it for a looooong time.

  • Tracy says:

    Plus you have to factor in when you have a new car with a payment you are required to carry full coverage on it! When you drive a paid for car you can choose how much insurance to carry. Talk about savings!

  • susie says:

    Great post! All the comments were interesting too. We love used cars. My parents gave us 95 Ford Explorer in 2006 that had 275,000 miles on it so we would have a 2nd car. None of us expected it to last much longer. We drove it for 2 1/2 years and sold it for $1000 when the repairs needed were more than we wanted to pay. Love Love Love used cars!!!!

  • Jessica says:

    @Margaret,

    I have to agree with you. When I read $400 for a car payment I kinda giggled…we have had car payments and they are never above 300 a month and most people we know don’t have car payments any higher than 300…now there are exceptions bc I do know of a couple that are paying 500 EACH for 2 seperate car payments which we think is just plain silly!

  • Mary in Ohio says:

    We have NEVER owned a new car and we NEVER will. My hubby is blessed to be able to fix anything and my dad made sure that I knew how to do just about everything on my own vehicle from gassing her up to changing out an engine and tranny (He never had boys so I was his helper and boy did we have fun working on cars and going to the race tracks together!)
    We recently bought hubby a Jeep Grand Cherokee to replace his S10 pickup (which we still have and do still use) for $450.00 it will soon need a new tranny but we can do the work ourselves and now we have two vehicles that are capable of hauling the whole family with what we saved buying the Jeep (We had budgeted $3000.00 for a vehicle) we recently purchased a good used boat that dh has wanted for awhile, we will use it for family fun and for food (we love to fish!)
    Our S10 has 175,000 miles on her, the Jeep has 213, 000 miles on her and My van has 239, 000 miles on her! Yeah we have to some parts into them once in awhile but because we do it ourselves that is actually rather frugally done (we do not have to pay LABOR charges and that is the biggest amount of any repair!) With 3 kids and a BIG dog we have to have big cars and SUVS and vans fit with our lifestyle so we buy them used and save the difference for other things!

  • Janna says:

    I had to laugh at something most people didn’t comment on – the built-in garage remote as a ‘new’ thing. My 2000 Avalon, with 189K+ miles on it, has a built in remote! We never used it though, as it wasn’t compatible with our opener. 🙁

    We are buy new, pay cash, drive until the wheels fall off people. We are also heavy mileage drivers (NC to AL or FL several times a year adds up) so we spend a LOT of time in our vehicles. (My new van is only 8 months old and has 15,000 miles on it already.)

  • Katie W. says:

    My husband and I always buy used cars, but only a certain amount of years old. We still have my car (ford escort) that I had gotten when I first got my license and about 1 1/2 yrs. ago we bought a used Honda Oddessey that we love! 🙂

    We love buying used! 🙂

  • JRA in CO says:

    We recently had hubby’s car die – as in the old faithful machanic called to report on what was wrong and only said “so, what color do you want the new car to be?” We towed that 20+ yr old clunker to the scrap yarn and got $300 for it, and started looking for a “new” one.
    we had some money saved up and high hopes/expectations for what we wanted – newer than 2000, under 100,000 miles, etc., and we were praying and trusting for our needs to be met. We contacted a used dealership and he practicaly laughed in our faces when we told him how much we had to spend. The very next day we found an ’05 with only 45,000 on it for EXACTLY what we had in cash!
    Now, since them, my car (01, with only 85,000 miles) died and we had to use the charge card to replace the engine. (pooh!) but now I have a 2001 with an engine with only 65,000 miles on it! The credit card will be paid off fairly quickly – with the help of blogs like this! (Thanks!!)
    I wouldn’t DREAM of buying new!! I feel like we DO have new cars!

  • Chrissy says:

    This was just what I needed at just the right time..oddly enough, I just had a “friend” admit to me that she felt sorry for me that my husband and I were driving an “unreliable car”.I won’t even waste my time explaining how ignorant and hurtful this person is! The car is older yes, but has never given us problems. She tore my heart out and I was beginning to question God and my choices in our car, money, etc.,,but then I read this post, and I couldn’t help but laugh! I just knew God would reassure me I was doing the right thing. Thanks again! You are amazing!

  • Bethany says:

    Love these posts and all these crazy-high-mileage stories! DH and I always pay cash for used cars too. Yeah, we pay a little bit here and there for maintenance, but not remotely near as much as we’d pay for a new car.

    DH’s first car was a ’86 Mazda 626 that he got for $800 and sold to a friend for $100 with 205K miles on it when we were able to be a one-car household. DH’s second car was a ’94 Nissan Sentra that we bought for $1,000, he drove it for 2 years, and then sold it for $850 with 165K miles – so basically we drove it for 2 years for $150! Then he treated himself to a 1993 Toyota Celica convertible (purchased by us in 2007) which now has 170K miles on it. The only major work we’ve had to do on it was have the master brake cylinder replaced (not too expensive) and he opted to have the A/C repaired since we live in Florida.

    My first car was a 1998 Toyota Corolla (purchased in 2002) with only 51K miles for $6,000. That will probably be the newest car I ever have. I intended to drive it into the ground, but instead drove it into another car at 118K miles. =o( Insurance gave us $3,200 after our deductible and we found a 1997 Toyota Corolla with 91K miles on that we got for – get this – $3200. My 2nd ‘Rolla now has 128K miles on it, runs great, and has had only routine maintenance work on it.

    Love me some old cars. =o)

  • sarah n says:

    I would have to say that this topic is the one thing I disagree with Dave Ramsey on. My husband and I have been married for 7 years and have bought only really old used cars. We have spent EASILY over $15,000 in fixing up these junkers, thinking that “a paid for car is the best kind”. Well, after our last bout of car repairs we started thinking that isn’t so true. We really regret fixing up our cars after seeing what went wrong next. So, after a lot of thinking we decided to not put any more money into our old van, and the day it died(we are a one car family and we literally had to borrow a car to go look at cars) we did a lot of research and purchased(with a loan) an ’07 Honda Oddysey that is a certified Honda. While they payments are high, we feel good about the fact that we can put money into this vehicle without thinking we are wasting our money on a junk heap. We have a four year loan which I am aggressively working Dave Ramsey style toward paying off in two and we plan on our kids(oldest is 5) driving it. According to my calculations, if we pay it off in even three years, save the $250 in cash we are paying, in 7 years(totaling ten years that we’ll have had it) we’ll have $21,000, plenty of money to pay cash for a nice car. I hope we made the right choice, but we have never had good luck with older cars. Everything else Dave Ramsey, I LOVE!

  • Andrea says:

    I have to chuckle every time I see someone comment about their high miles in the hundred-thousand range. My husband’s Honda is 15 years old and my Dodge mini-van is 10 years old and both are over 222,000 miles each. Still going, although we are going to be looking for a new (used) one for the family vehicle in the next year.

  • Laura Jane says:

    I currently drive a 1996 Maxima with 170,000+ miles on it. I bought it two years ago for $2500 (when it had about 145,000 miles), and have carefully tracked all the money I’ve spent in repairs. Even with some repairs, I’ve saved a LOT of money compared to buying a brand new car (or even compared to buying a much nicer, newer used car). Also it gets pretty good gas mileage (over 25mpg highway) and has never left me stranded or anything like that. Many people think that you really won’t save much money buying an older car because of all the repairs. It is true you will certainly have more repairs, but you would have to get a really, really bad car that needed an absurd number of repairs before you’d make up that savings. I have paid for the repairs with my insurance premium savings alone (no need for comprehensive coverage when the car isn’t worth much anyway). I also think it takes some stress out of owning a car. If it isn’t worth much anyway, you really don’t have to worry much about it.

  • Anitra says:

    My husband and I have always bought used cars (sometimes with a small loan, sometimes outright). I see our young friends buying new cars and making payments for 3-4 years or more – by the time they have the loan paid off, they are sick of the car, which is no longer “new”.

    After having our first child, we realized that car seats didn’t fit very well in our small sedan and smaller truck. We upgraded to a 4-year old crossover (wagon/minivan)… and then decided to keep both of our other paid-for vehicles, too! It feels luxurious to us to own 3 cars… never mind that the 11-year-old truck and the 9-year-old sedan each have 150,000 miles on them (and the “new” crossover has almost 90,000 now). The insurance on the truck is dirt-cheap, and it gives us an added measure of security that when something does break down, we don’t have to live the one-car lifestyle until we can fix it – which also allows us to do a lot of the repairs ourselves.

  • Alison says:

    I decided to buy a new car when my old car was totaled in 2008. It has paid off for me, however it was a prudent purchase. I have a 2007 Toyota Corolla, which I was able to purchase at an amazing price by researching the best deals online via local dealer’s websites. I ended up driving 90 miles to get the deal, but for such a huge purchase it was worth it (plus we visited friends).

    I just like the security of having a car that has years before I have some major problems. I drive a lot, unfortunately, so I think this was the best choice for me. However, I will probably drive this one until it dies!

  • Homestead says:

    I love reading these comments…. everyone has different situations and it is so interesting to read about….

    A few years ago we bought a brand-new Subaru Outback and it was actually cheaper to buy the 2007 than to get the 2006 model (still on the lot) or a used 2004-2005 model (which is what we were looking at)…. it was an odd year I guess…. something about the value of the yen. It was a huge luxury and I’d been saving my pennies for a few years to get the $2000 upgrade to leather seats and a sunroof etc. AND I LOVE IT. I think what I spent for the sunroof I’ve easily gotten out of it in joy. But that’s me. I also felt the splurge for the 2007 gave me side-curtain airbags all the way back and I do like that safety feature because this will be my son’s first car when he turns 15 (he’s 6 now) so I wanted safe but with some cool features but not so cool he thinks he’s a hotrod…. how’s that for thinking ahead?

    Then we got a newish Toyota Sienna last year and we were able to get the fancy one with all the new safety features because it was used…. love heated seats and 4wd in this climate.

    We travel a lot (we farm 3 hours from where we live) so it is worth it to have newer vehicles for safety and convenience and with so many hours in the car I like the additional “fun” factor. I also have AAA and I like it… I’m wondering what anyone else thinks of it value-wise?

    One thing we’ve done in the past is buy used vehicles from state auctions…. they have excellent maintenance records and are usually pretty cheap…. so that’s something to consider.

    The other thing to consider (besides insurance, license and registration etc) is the cost of TIRES. My van has 17″ tires and those things are EXPENSIVE. Just another thought…… I miss the days of driving my little pickup with 15″ tires that cost less than $60 each.

    We’ve always paid cash for cars but I have an automatic withdraw from my checking to a money market each month that I consider my “car payment” for the next car…. hopefully about 10 years from now…..

  • emily e says:

    My husband and I actually found that in our case, getting a new car was a better deal than a used car was for the car we wanted. We bought at the right time to get a killer deal. Used ones were about 5k more than a brand new one. Plus we paid it off in less than 6 months and have no car payment. I’m all for buying a used car but for us, a new car was a better deal. And trust me- we looked at plenty of used cars trying to find what we needed.

  • Kim says:

    I am 37 years old and I am on my 6th new car since I was 18 years old. In 2001 my husband and I both were laid off from the same company and lost our $150,000 incomes. We had car payments that totalled over $1000 per month, $600 excise bills, and $3200 auto insurance bills. I came home that day and cancelled our cable and traded in my car for a $300 car payment. Since that day my husband has kept his long paid off 1998 GMC truck with only 66,000 miles (I can not imagine that we would have replaced it twice in the old days already) and I did purchase another auto with a $12,000 loan(no car=no job) for a 2005 Kia minivan in 2006 with 22,000 miles. I am now driving that van with 104,000 miles (I do sales and rack up the miles but get a $800 expense check monthly) and it is the first car I have ever paid off and not bought a new one. It is absolutely liberating to have no car payments, very low excise, and lower insurance! I am taking that $800 expense check and saving it to replace my mini van when it dies. (I do need a reliable car for my sales job) Cross your fingers for me that my Kia lasts long enough to pay cash for a replacement! Love your blog.

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