I recently bought a car, and several of my friends were very surprised that I went new. I am, after all, the Queen of Used Things.
As you might remember, my beloved pickup truck recently died. She made a dramatic exit, coming to a stop on I-75 while I was heading to rehearsal. If you knew Emmy at all, that probably doesn't surprise you. After all, I did encounter a few other breakdowns. One, in college, left me stuck in the middle of the street - my starter died, and no one would help me push her to the side of the road. She was a good ol' girl - but she really was ol'. Quite ol'.
I adored my truck, and goodness knows she was a steal (I bought her from my grandpa for $900), but the odds of coming across another deal like that are very slim. Grandpa literally only drove the truck once every six months, just to keep everything in working order. Very occasionally, if something needed moving, he'd use the pickup. When I got the truck she was 15 years old and had 30,000 miles on her. That's bizarre.
I could easily have found another used car to purchase, but after years of vehicular uncertainty, I knew I needed something more reliable. While I never spent much energy worrying about a breakdown (what could be more useless than living in fear?) I always had quite a bit to worry about when she did stop moving. For a week at a time, my calendar would be interrupted as I lived a carless life. I work a LOT of jobs, and they're all over the city (and outside the perimeter). This gal needs her wheels, or she don't get paid.
Remember how I said I bought her for $900? That's true, except that my parents and I also paid over $6000 for repairs. That brings the total cost of the car to almost seven grand. Repair trips were (of course) unplanned, and I rarely had a few hundred dollars just lying around. I am, after all, a starving artist. So who footed the bill? Mommy and Daddy. Guys, I like getting help as much as the next person, but I'm a grown-ass lady - I don't want to cry to my parents for cash anymore. My new car was not inexpensive, but the way I'm paying for her is much less stressful. It fits my lifestyle better.
So I went new. Yes, I had to take out a loan; yes the added debt makes me shiver. But amazingly, I'm already saving money.
The biggest value in my new car is the gas mileage. So far, I'm saving a hundred dollars a month because I fill the tank half as often. Plus, since I bought a Toyota, all my vehicle maintenance (oil changes and tire rotation) is free for two years. Then there are the regular warranties (6 year, 60,000 miles!), and I bought an optional package that prepays for all my recommended maintenance (i.e., stuff that isn't covered by the regular warranty). The great thing about all of this is that it's included in my monthly payments. I know exactly how much I'll be paying each month, and I can budget accordingly. That's infinitely less stressful than dropping $400 on a repair that comes-up out of nowhere.
Being thrifty means that you don't waste your money. If you buy something cheap and it breaks, or you don't get satisfaction from it, then that purchase wasn't worth the money you "saved." For me, quality trumps quantity every time. I'll save money by buying used clothes so that I can spend my dough where it really counts.
Oh, and meet my new gal, Alice Childress.