I get as much use out of things as I can. I cut Brillo pads in half, mend holes my socks and salvage rolls of paper towels that fall into the sink. My husband just laughs at me. And if I actually DO throw something out, you’d better believe it’s been used until it’s so worn out, even *I* think it’s time for it to go.
When I mention all of the car repairs I’ve been needing the past few months, invariably I get the same response: “It’s time for a new car!”
Um, no, it’s really not.
In order to keep something in good-enough condition that it lasts for years (or decades), you need to take care of it. For a car, this means maintenance and repairs.
It took me 3 1/2 years to pay it off after buying it new in January 2004 (it was a 2003 model year leftover, so I got a great price on it to begin with), and for the past 3 1/2 years, I haven’t had a car payment. I’ve only had basic maintenance done on it — oil changes, brakes, tires. My brother replaced a knob on the heater controls. I get new wiper blades every year. These are the same things you do with a newer car.
So while I’ve spent $1650 on repairs since August ($600 fuel pump; $750 wheel sensor/bearings; $300 brakes), in perspective, it’s nowhere near what I would have spent on a new car. The engine and transmission are sound (knock wood), and I’m comfortable and happy driving my Pontiac Grand Am GT.
A new car requires a decent down payment, monthly payments and a new loan — unless you have the cash on hand to pay it in full. Either way, you’re talking upwards of $16,000, easily, for a basic new car. That doesn’t include the taxes, title and registration fees, either.
Additionally, we have another car, which IS new. We’ll be paying for that one, a 2009 Ford Escape, for another 3 1/2 years, but at least we got a 0% interest rate on the loan. One car payment is plenty.
So no — it’s not time for a new car, dear friends. This one works just fine!
Our ‘Throw-away Society” & Consumerism
Most of our society is an example of consumerism at its best. This is especially true when it comes to electronics, because the minute you buy a product, the technology is already out-of-date. You know there’s a newer, faster computer processor coming down the pike, or a bigger TV with a sharper, crisper display.
All of these items that get tossed are winding up in landfills, further cluttering the Earth. While I don’t consider myself to be a “tree-hugger,” I am concerned about my impact upon the world. I would no more throw away my car just because it needed some reasonable repairs than throw out a pair of shoes after five wearings.
I’ll admit that I don’t keep everything. But what I no longer need or can’t use, I donate, give away or sell on eBay. And I definitely don’t upgrade my cell phone every time the newest fad model comes out, nor do I have to get the latest iPod — my old-generation 30GB video iPod works just fine. I did get a smaller digital camera last year, but sold my 5-year-old, chunky Canon on eBay to recoup some of the cost and recycle. I didn’t want it ending up in a landfill.
Having been in the personal finance blogging business for a few years now, I know I’m not the only one out there who hates to just throw things away — right?