The other day, I posted a photo on Facebook. I had been cleaning out my car for the first time in forever and found my parking pass for the garage by my law school. This was for the 2006-2007 school year. Yes, I’d say I need to clean out my car more often. In my defense, it was buried in the glove compartment, not just laying on the floor or thrown onto the dashboard.
So I posted a photo of it and joked that I should clean my car out more often.
I got the standard responses, and one person suggested that my car was just a giant scrapbook.
Another person said “You’ve had the same car since 2007?” The rest of the comment made it clear that it was meant in a condescending tone.
Why yes, I’ve had the same car since 2007. In fact, I bought it in 2004. That’s right, this summer will mark the 11th year that I’ve owned my car. And I have no plans to buy a new one.
Now admittedly, I have really low mileage on my car right now. I’m still under 90,000 miles. I drove it a ton for the first few years I owned it, then moved to the DC area and mostly took public transportation on a daily basis. Now that I own my house, I’m back to driving to work, but that’s only a 15 mile round trip. Yes, I do go other places in the evenings or on the weekends, but in general, I’m not putting that many miles on my car. Maybe 600-700 miles a month, if I estimate based on the gas I put into the car.
Is my car perfect? Nope. It’s a little beat up. The motor on one of the rear windows is dying, so I just refuse to ever open that window, for fear the motor will die when it’s open. Plus I hear those are very expensive to replace. Clearly my car has no bells and whistles, because those didn’t exist in 2004. It has power steering and power locks and those are very important things. Would I love a backup camera and heated seats? Yes. But my poor old car has neither of those things.
The best part about my car though? It is mine. Full stop. I have no car payment. I own it outright. Sure, it’s not worth much, but I’m not complaining.
I think about getting a new car every so often. Not in the “Oh man, I want to buy a car” way but in the “You know, my car is 11 years old and anything can happen” sort of way. If I get into a minor accident, it’s possible the insurance company will want to total the car, based on its low value right now.
But I don’t see why owning an old car is shameful. My car is nice. It drives. All its parts work (except for that dodgy window motor). I take good care of it, or as much as I can for a car that sits outside exposed to the elements all year round. I would like to definitely drive it to 100,000 miles, and maybe well past that. Ideally, I would also be putting money away on a regular basis so that when it is time to buy a new car, I won’t have to finance it. Unfortunately, it’s not something I’m doing right now and I hope I don’t come to regret that.
It’s easy to always lust after new and different. I have plenty of friends who lease cars and get something new every three years. That’s just not the route I want to take. I have always said that I plan to drive my car into the ground, and that plan hasn’t changed.
Besides, if I get rid of my car, then I’ll really have to clean it out, and who knows what I might find then.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.