I’m in love with Moose, my 12 year old SUV. There, I said it! When you are in love with something, no matter how old, out of shape, slow, or dumb, you will love it unconditionally until the day it dies. Moose is like my overweight son, who eats too much, but still gets me to point B without any problems.
And lest you think that Moose is a big polluter, not so, as he passed our stringent Smog Test every year without fail. Besides, I bought him used, which means I’m more environmentally friendly than new car buyers who failed to destroy their old cars. I did not add to the car population!
In “Fighting My Car Buying Addiction,” I highlight three things everybody must do to quit splurging on things that lose value and destroy their personal finances. After all, the act of buying too much car has significantly damaged many people’s financial livelihoods. Always remember the 1/10th rule of car buying where you should consider spending no more than 1/10th your annual gross income on a car.
1) Name your car. Anthropomorphism is a powerful, powerful thing. As soon as you name your car, you give it a personality and a soul. With a personality and a soul, you can no longer just abuse it like a ragged doll. My truck’s name is Moose. I love Moose. He’s handsome, reliable, and very loyal. Given he’s part of the family now, I’ve decided to keep him for as long as it makes sense. At some point, I’ll realize I should sell or donate Moose since he is turning 12 years old. However, at this point, I’m happy to buy him new brakes, rotors, batteries and change his fluids.
2) Go to the dealer and intoxicate yourself. Moose’s private party retail value is about $3,600 from $8,500 five years ago. When you go to a dealer, you start appreciating what you have. Just the other day, I stopped by the Mercedes Benz dealer for fun on the way home from golf. I test drove a well-equipped $47,000 out the door 2012 C250 coupe. I loved the new car smell and the drive was exhilarating. This wasn’t even the highest end version as the C350 coupe had 100 more horsepower and cost $5,000 more. When it was time to negotiate, the salesman insulted Moose by giving him a trade in value of only $1,114! There was no way this C250 coupe was worth 45X more than my beloved Moose! I declined his pitch and left smiling.
If you aren’t convinced how silly it is buying a new car when a used car can do perfectly fine, take a look at this picture carefully. Analyze it and soak all the data in. Look at the monthly payments after a $4,000 down payment. Observe the Trade Allowance of $1,114 for Moose and the Net Sales Price of $46,497.98 after taxes. Ridiculous and insulting!
3) Visit a garage sale or throw your own. One of the most humbling experiences is de-cluttering and minimizing your things through a garage sale. That golf club you spent $120 on might only get $10 now. That purse you were dying to have for $350 now is worth only $20 bucks. The list goes on and on of things you spent way more than you should. Once you start going to garage sales or to Goodwill, you will find so many bargains that you will seldom ever spend full or sale price ever again!
In the seven years I’ve owned Moose, I’ve been pulled over by the cops three times. One was going perhaps 50 in a 35 mph zone, another was not coming to a complete stop when taking a right at the stop sign, and another was driving too fast through a yellow light (but the cop said it was a red light).
In every single case I was let go with just a friendly warning. I might attribute my good fortune to my courteous speech, or good looks, but somehow I doubt it. The reason why I was let go without hundreds of dollars in tickets is because of Moose. Moose just looks slow. Not only that, he looks honest and safe.
When a police offers sees Moose, even if he’s speeding, he doesn’t look like he’s speeding. His eyes will glance over at the black on black 911 Porsche Carrera S that’s going the same 10-15 mph over the speed limit instead and give him a ticket! Police officers look at 12 year old Moose and think, You ain’t worth too much old boy. No need for you to get slapped a ticket when there are cars on the road that cost 25X your price!
It’s way more satisfying for cops to catch and ticket the rich. When you drive an old car, they want to show mercy. The only way rich folks can get out of traffic tickets is by paying thousands of dollars to sponsor the 11-99 foundation for fallen officers and get the license plate border. A good cause if you have the money.
I’ve come to realize that I’m not lucky when it comes to tickets. I just have Moose. Even a hot movie star like Jessica Alba probably wouldn’t be able to get away with three warnings in a row. Nope. But, Moose can. As a result, I will never sell Moose for another car. I refuse to cheat on him given how loyal he’s been to me.
Only if Moose suffers some irreparable damage, or needs to be fixed at a price that costs more than his entire value shall I put him to rest and donate him to charity. I owe you that much Moose!
* Car sharing. The rise of car sharing companies like ZipCar and GetAround helps clients borrow cars on an as needed basis, lowering the cost of ownership.
* Health. I try and bike or walk or bus before driving. It’s easy to stop exercising as much once you have a day job. Exercising to work is a great way to stay active.
* Tickets. With budget problems all throughout the country, the ticket cops are out in force! Ticket prices have risen by over 100% here in San Francisco past 10 years and won’t stop. Nothing is worse than getting a $70 ticket when you could have taken the bus for $2.
* Avoiding hell. DMV is one of the worst places on Earth to visit. From the long lines to the fees to the crazy deadlines. Each time you buy a new used car, you’ve got to register your vehicle and pay taxes to the DMV.
* Freedom. When you can take public transportation, you can keep going. You never have to worry about going back to retrieve your car. There is something extremely liberating about my monthly bus pass, even though it won’t impress the ladies.
Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs: Check out Esurance online. They have some of the best plans with the lowest rates around due to their lower overhead costs. It’s worth spending a moment filling out a quote to see if you can save some money. Car insurance is one of the largest ongoing expenses for car owners. Esurance has good driver discounts, and multi-product discounts as well.
Related post: The 1/10th Rule For Car Buying Everyone Should Follow
Updated for 2021 and beyond