We are the
proud owners of a new-to-us mini van! I’m convinced I’ll love it once I get settled in and it feels like mine. But I’m still a bit “meh” about the whole deal. We found this van on craigslist after test driving two others. It fit all of our criteria–in decent shape, within our price range, not a million miles on the odometer. Plus, it has stow and go seating, which we’ve already taken advantage of and kind of love. We’re hoping that it will be a good, reliable vehicle for us!
One of the values that Bob and I have for our family is to live debt free (curious why and how? Here’s more info)—except for our mortgage. Not having any payments allows us to spend all of our income the way we want, rather than owing portions of it to other people each month to pay for the things we “own”.
In 2017, the average car loan in the US was $479 a month, with over half of all cars (new or used!) on the road having been purchased by a loan. For our family, that won’t work, and we’ve committed to paying cash for all of our vehicles. Doing so enables us to get a better deal-cash has more negotiating power-,as well as avoid paying any interest above the cost of the vehicle.
Curious how we do it?
- Save up and set a budget. One way to do it is to pay yourself a car payment for a while. If you paid yourself $479 a month for just a year, you could buy a $5748 vehicle with cash. Keep paying yourself that same car payment for yet another year, sell the first vehicle (probably for nearly what you bought it for!), and you could buy about a $10,000 vehicle. Keep going, and you could be driving a pretty great vehicle completely debt free in just a few years. Even if you aren’t able to save that much per month, saving up for your next vehicle purchase in advance of needing to buy it is the difference between paying cash for a vehicle or resorting to a loan, interest, and monthly payments.
- Stick to your budget! If you’ve saved $2000 or $5000 or $10,000, stick to your budget and find the best vehicle you can find within it, remembering you’ll have registration fees and taxes to pay, too.
- Do your research. Test drive a few different vehicles you think you might like, look up common maintenance problems, and know as much as possible about what you’re getting into. Ask good questions of the dealer or the seller, and be ready to walk away if they aren’t giving you sufficient answers or you don’t feel comfortable.
- Get the vehicle checked out by a mechanic. Many mechanics are willing to check out a prospective vehicle for you. Some are even willing to give it a safety once-over for free. Most will do a thorough examination for $50 or less and then share the results with you. Armed with this knowledge, you can negotiate with the seller and know what upcoming maintenance will be required should you choose to buy.
- Enjoy driving a vehicle knowing you own it outright and don’t owe anyone anything!
Do you pay cash for your vehicles? If you do, do you have any tips to add to my list? If you don’t, think about what you could do with the money you pay per month on you car payment(s).
P.S. If you want more tips on finances and debt free living, I highly recommend checking out a book like The Total Money Makeover or taking a class like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Whether or not you agree with the debt free living mindset, being aware of your money and having a plan for your future is so important!