Vehicle Situation Update and Lesson Learned

by on October 19, 2009 · 5 comments

I must admit…I am driving around scared. Each time I come out of my car to go into a store, restaurant, work, or home, I wonder if I am going to be spotted by a Frugal Confessions reader. Why am I so scared? It’s because of what I am driving.

Yours truly now drives a 2007 red mustang. I know…the shame. My car officially bit the dust a week ago, or at least enough to not make me want to put more work into it. If you remember from my original article here, I only paid $1500 in cash for the vehicle six years ago. It would need a new transmission, and that is just too much for me to spend on a vehicle that has 225,000 miles and a few interesting noises.

For three weeks, we either got rides from coworkers (thank you if you are reading this!) or carpooled. Carpooling was not so bad, except I had to change my schedule to fit Paul’s, and so it was a temporary solution. Paul’s father works for a car dealership, and so he asked a mechanic that he uses to look around for us. The mechanic happened to have a Nissan Frontier Truck that he was looking to sell, and had put a little bit of work into it (new battery, new tires, oil change, etc.). One of our stipulations was that no matter what, we did not want to take out a loan for a second vehicle, and the truck happened to be in our price range to be able to pay cash from our emergency fund. We took it for a test drive, thought on it for a few hours, and decided to give it a try.

Paul is driving that now, and he has given me his mustang to use. So far, the truck has been very helpful in picking up our lawnmower from the shop, and bringing back a grill that my mother bought for us as a housewarming present while she was visiting this past week. Plus having the truck is going to make picking up free wood from craigslist a cinch (I am a huge proponent of never paying for wood, especially down South where you don’t need much of it. Craigslist always has someone who has just cleared land and is looking to get rid of wood under the free section)!

The lesson learned in all of this is to keep a savings account where we pay a car payment into each month so that when the time comes for us to get a new car (probably when the Nissan truck goes in a few years), we can pay cash and get a newer model that will last even longer. I am not sure of who first came up with this concept, but it’s a great idea—just pay a few hundred dollars (or start at $100 or even $50 if you have to) into a savings account each month as if you were paying a car loan where it will earn interest. Right now, we will be very happy if the Nissan lasts two years, and our goal is 5 years. There is no indication that it will not last for 5 years, it’s just we are trying to not get our hopes up entirely.

Also, we are very thankful and proud of ourselves that we left an emergency fund after buying our home last month and were able to cover these extra costs that have crept up. I think this is very important for people looking to buy a home: don’t spend everything you have for the downpayment. Wait until you have enough for a downpayment, as well as an emergency fund, because there is no guarantee that your car will not break down the following week!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal

I don’t think any of your readers will make a big deal out of it…lol. Does Paul like driving the truck? Is that why you inherited the Mustang? Anyway, nice wheels and good luck with the truck! :)

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Momma J

Good Morning Frugal peeps,

At 45 years old, I’ve always stuck by my dad’s theory on buying a new car versus repairing an old one: Is the old car costing you as much as a new car would? If you add up all the repairs and maintenance on your existing car, would it equal the monthly payment + the insurance increase of buying a new one.
So far…I’ve kept my ’97 Sable for an extra couple of years because of this formula and don’t ever expect it to cost as much as that beautiful 2010 Mustang I would LOVE to own! I’d look great in that car too…*sigh*

/J

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BluSky

Crystal is all wrong. I would totally tease you if I saw you in that ;) If that Nissan is anything like my last one, you’re not going to have any worries. The most expensive thing I ever changed on that was the tires. I was terrified when I bought it because it just seemed like way to good of a deal. At first, I kept expecting the transmission to fall out onto the road or something equally horrible. Knock on wood, it was like the Energizer bunny. Also, I haven’t met any other Nissan owners that didn’t gush about theirs and how they were never going to buy anything else.

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Amanda

BluSky: That is great to hear–we have heard the same about Nissan trucks. I’d love to beat my personal record of 225,000!!!!

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