It's true. Not all financial decisions I make are thrifty, but I do try to make sure that the ones that aren't are at least smart. I do think it is very important to be smart about how we spend our money, especially when it comes to the big things.
As you may recall, in November I purchased a brand new automobile. I did not set out with the intent to purchase a brand new car, but to be honest, I was hopeful. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I was willing and able to pay. I took my time. I did my research. I shopped and shopped and shopped for this car. For nearly nine months I worked on this "project" of mine. I stuck to it and I didn't waiver on what I considered acceptable.
I had found a 2013 Nissan Altima that was a lease return. Two years old, basic model with AT, AC, power windows and locks, cruise control, 38,000 miles on it and a limited powertrain warranty. I was seriously considering this car. The loan was for 72 months at 3.65% interest. Not too bad. I would put a good amount down and plan to pay it off early. It was a good car. Practical, suitable, pretty. The only thing was I wasn't in love with this car. I don't know why, but it just wasn’t "the one". And for that kind of money, I should love it. Shouldn't I?
So I looked at the Versa. Less money, very basic. I don't need power windows and locks. I can roll my own windows down, afterall. It does have cruise and AC. Better gas mileage than the Altima. And it's cute. And the girls could use it in college. And then I can get something else later. Maybe?
No, that whole line of thinking just seemed dumb to me. You see, I was thinking thrifty, which is what I tend to do, but I knew I wouldn't be happy because I was going to have to settle.
So I decided instead to think smart.
What I really wanted was a Sentra. Even though this would make it the fourth one I've owned, that is what I really wanted. I love them. However, unless I wanted something really old I couldn't find a nice used one. So I started looking at new ones. And at a different dealership a couple of towns away I found her. And I fell in love. J
In the color I wanted. Brand spanking, shiny new, beautiful, smells so good. Yep. I was in love alright.
It had 28 miles on it. It came with a full warranty. It is not the base model. She's loaded. It came with a $300 package of custom floor mats and a trunk liner. It has a fancy stereo (that is important to me). And it is the nicest car I've ever had. Yep, I'm in love.
Here’s the best part.
I looked at it and less than two days later they contacted me. They had lowered the price down to where it was only $300 more than the two year old lease return Altima. The dealership was in serious clearance mode. They also told me I had qualified for Nissan's latest promotion 0% interest financing for up to 72 months. I didn't need a calculator to figure out this was a smarter option than the used Altima. And I didn't have to settle.
There is seriously nothing thrifty about owning cars. They cost money. Money to run, insure, license, maintain and they depreciate. Their value always goes down. Unless you own a well sought after classic, they go down. It’s just how it is. You can pretty much say that about anything with an engine.
But you do need to be smart.
Take your time, weigh your options, do the math, and then purchase what you can easily afford. And don't settle. In my opinion, there is nothing thrifty or smart about spending your hard earned money on something you really don't want or aren't completely happy with.
Perhaps another time we'll talk housing. J