Tomorrow I will pick up my new car! Ok so it isn't new, but it is new to me. I have driven a 01 Dodge Neon since I turned 16 and despite the fact that it is still under 100,000 miles, it is definitely time for a new one. Suzie Q, as she has been affectionately named, has had her share of bumps and bruises over the years. Some have scared the heck out of me, but I've learned something from each and every issue we've gone through over our 8 years together.
First in 2002, I was involved in a pretty bad car accident with her on my way to school. I learned to slow down because being late is certainly better than being dead. She took me to Bellarmine University in the fall of 2004 and I learned that home was never more than a car ride away. She was driven over a median by a young man who offered to be our DD in college and I learned that I will likely take better care of the things I work hard for than other people will. My car radio broke my freshman year of college, so I replaced it with a CD player, which then proceeded to stop working as well my senior year of college. It tends to work once the car is warmed up (sometimes after about an hour of driving) which confirmed to me that the Neon is indeed a woman with a bit of an attitude. It also taught me that sometimes silence and a little bit of fresh air is the best way to get your brain working. My driver side door lock was broken while trying to be opened during the 2008 Louisville ice storm causing me to unlock my passenger side door and reach across to the driver side for the past 2 years. It taught me that sometimes problem solving isn't as good as just fixing something that bothers you. This past winter I slid on the ice going about 15 MPH in my neighborhood and hit a truck destroying the back passenger side door. I was ridiculously sick and had taken a half day. I only went to work because I had a case conference that afternoon that had already been rescheduled about 3 times. I learned that in the end, I need to take care of myself first and foremost. I've cried or talked my way out of numerous speeding tickets in this car. She took me to high school, soccer practices, graduation, college, my first derby, college graduation, job interviews, house hunting, my first day of teaching, and to my first home. It will be difficult to give her up tomorrow, but I know its time for me to get a big girl car that is more reliable and safer.
In searching for a new car, I knew there were 3 things I could not live without and 3 things I could not live with.
1. Power locks/windows
2. Cruise control
3. Working radio
1. Leather seats
3. Any model other than a 4 door sedan
I ended up with a 2006 VW Jetta 2.5 that has less than 40,000. The car is in great shape and I could not be more excited! Buying used is definitely the way to go for me. Paying cash and driving a car til it's dead is certainly better than making car payments in my book. I figure I can put that extra $200 a month into savings to buy another car free and clear down the road. If you figure that SuzieQ has been around for 8 years, I have saved $2,400 a year to not have a car payment. Over the lifetime of the car that adds up to a whopping $19,200!
So my plan is to save $100 a month for a car down the road. If I save $1,200 a year for 9 years I will have another $10,600 to spend for another car. I can always save more than that if needed, but I figure my plan works for the time being.
What is your opinion....new or used cars? What are some features you can't live without? Do you have a financial plan to make big purchases like a car? Comment away.