I called a girlfriend of mine yesterday to get the name of a contractor she recommended. She told me, and then said, “Mom, I just did something and you’re not going to be happy about it.” Oh God. When someone says that you just cringe. She goes on to tell me that she took her husband’s 5 year old F-150 to get detailed and put in a new stereo to surprise him for his birthday. Instead, she went to the dealership and decided it was a good idea to buy a brand new $600 per month 2011 F-150 in red (his favorite color!) and put one of those big bows on it (he’ll be so happy!). Plus it gets better gas mileage than the old truck AND it’ll be better for the baby we’re planning on having next year! AND my brother in law is staying at our house and paying $400 a month in rent, plus buying the old truck and paying $300 a month for it so it’s really like I’m earning $100 a month, right? Right?
No my darling. Wrong. Thing is, she knew I would disapprove. I know her finances. She’s doing pretty well, but she’s also a real estate agent and her income isn’t stable. She was saving to buy her first rental. Just last week she was so excited that she was going to be able to “catch up” with me and own a couple houses too. This bothers me more because I admire her and think she’s a fantastic agent, and also the best friend someone could ask for.
All I know is, Dad would be PISSED if I came home with a shiny new car for him. Not only do we live in a transitional neighborhood where it would immediately get scratched and vandalized, but it would be a betrayal of the financial plans we made together. The only time I will ever get to surprise him with a car is when we have millions in cash in the bank. If that never happens, I’ll just never experience the joy of giving him a new car. But that’s ok, because to me long term financial well-being is better than getting that jolt of happiness from something shiny and new.
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t ever buy a new car unless you can really afford it. I mean, go to the dealership and pay cash without batting an eyelid. Go for half-priced 3 year old 50k mile used. You’ll thank yourself later.