I would appreciate everybody's input on something that's been keeping me awake for the last 3 days. I will keep it nice and short:
Me: the frugal type. Frequent these pages and swear by the advise and wisdom offered here. Could not care less about cars at this point in my life. Marketing doesn't work on me. I just want something CHEAP, reliable, CHEAP, good on gas, and, yes, CHEAP. NEVER had a car payment in my life. Always bought used and paid cash. Never regretted the decision.
My wife: not as frugal, but not the average shopaholic, either. Irrational when it comes to car decisions. Not mechanically inclined at all (neither am I, for that reason). Her decision making, thought-process when it comes to choosing transportation goes something like this "I just want a red Mini Cooper".
Folks, I've tried. No point in arguing nor telling me why the Mini Cooper is such a bad idea. Trust me, I tried.
In fact, we both KNOW.
We currently own two cars. Again, both fully paid for and purchased used. Cash only.
• 1999 Acura TL. Purchased used almost 10 years ago. Has been a great, reliable, affordable and overall great purchase that I do not regret. If I do the math (purchase price, repairs and expenses throughout the year), the monthly total comes down to less than $130 (not counting whatever amount I could get if I sell it, also not counting insurance). Still runs.
• 2009 Mini Cooper (hardtop): This is why I said "I know" that the Mini is not a good idea. In short: we got a lemon. Purchased from first owner, and it's been problematic ever since. Last couple of repair bills totaled almost $1K, and that's just for this month. GREAT mileage, but other than that I do not like the car. Crap built-quality, ergonomically a nightmare, and a terrible, bumpy ride.
Here's where things get more interesting:
I work from home, and my wife now takes the train to work (distance from home to train station: 5 miles) so we have been toying with the idea of switching to a single-car. I take her to the train station every day. I keep the car during the day, but I would probably never need it. We are both on board there. I can't wait to make it happen. We would save at least $1100/year in insurance cost alone, not to mention fees, gas, potential repairs, etc. We are in South FL, so insurance here is VERY expensive. My Acura mostly sits outside nowadays. I barely drive it. In fact, I do keep a record of the mileage, and I barely drove 4K miles in the last 2 years!
We are selling the Mini Cooper to Carmax for $9K.
We are loosing money on it, but it's the best offer we could get and at this point we just want to get rid of it.
We would then need a new car. Problem being: my wife REALLY wants a Mini Cooper. But I am not touching an used one ever again. However, they have a lease deal where the total amount ends up coming to $11K for 3 years, with maintenance included. I discussed, researched and obsessed over the fine print. Basically, we spend $11K and we are worry-free for 3 years and my wife gets her dream car. I stress: WORRY-FREE. Even oil changes are included. Keep in mind: an oil change for a Mini varies from $85 to $130 locally, and that is NOT at the dealer. Trust me, I know.
BUT I never leased in my life, and, of course, once the 3 years are up we lost $11K (more than what I paid for my Acura, which is still running and mine after almost 10 years!) and we are left with nothing. One benefit of the lease: I could write off part of it as a business expense, since I am self-employed.
However, my Acura TL is old. 150K miles, but, as anybody who has a Honda will tell you, these cars can go to 200K miles easily. It runs fine, though, and I have been using it more and more lately just to test the waters, so to speak, but it needs work (regular maintenance: new tires, new brakes, tune-up, maybe a new timing belt, etc.) I estimate $2K in repairs/maintenance, and we should have a car for another 2 years.
1) Lease a Mini Cooper. I been negotiating the terms all week, and I got them down to where I think they would make sense for us. Bottom line: $300 down (that's three HUNDRED), $299/month for 36 months. Total out-of-pocket with the kitchen sink included: $10,674 worry-free dollars. Maintenance included.
2) Keep the $9K from the Mini we are selling and use $2K towards fixing up the Acura. Should run fine for another 2 years. HUGE CON: unhappy wife. I think you know what that means. I also do not think saving $11K is worth an unhappy wife.
3) Get the $9K, keep the Acura, wait a few months, maybe one year, save some more money (I am not touching our savings nor investments for a car, nor will I sacrifice money from the amount that goes towards savings monthly), and then buy a USED car, probably Japanese, for about $15K, and drive that for another 10 years. Sell the Acura. SEMI-HUGE CON: Wife still unhappy. No Mini Cooper.
What would you do?
This wasn't that short after all!