I’ve been making another strong look at cars. I’ve been looking to get a new car for like… forever. I think I first started looking when I first left the military (late 2005ish). I dropped that because I really couldn’t afford it. I ended up paying off my current ride soon after. I wasn’t making much money and I had to move a few times, which really dicked up my finances. During a few touches of crazy-ass-shit, I was able to scrape together a little bit of savings. I was promoted and received a few annual, incremental raises (I’ll have some things to say about that in a future post). I put a down payment on my condo, which knocked me back down to “not getting a car this year”. However, it wasn’t long after that when I had saved up enough for a down payment on a car and enough monthly income to support that revolving debt. And then I really starting thinking about my budget.
The first revelation I had came when I saw that my bank account has stayed at or above four digits without even trying. I’ve even broken into that fifth digit without having credit card debt. If I buckled down for a month or dropped some of my stupider monthly payments, I could get to and stay above 10k on the regular. The only reason I haven’t is because of budget revelation two. I enjoy my lifestyle. For the most part, I don’t spend a lot of money. I have some silly revolving debt (the stupidest is that I haven’t gotten rid of cable), but I live well within my means. I don’t have a car payment and my insurance is pretty damned low (at least for a 20-something, single male in an urban area). Even including the condo fee, my mortgage right now for a two bedroom in a decent area is less than my rent for a one bedroom in a kinda-shady area. I’ve made some other good choices and don’t have any major, negative investments. I have a fair take home pay and a fair chunk of savings (again, relative for my age and stuff). In essence, I can spend a small grip of cash on a fuckin’ whim, and things are still just fine. I have done this. It maybe wasn’t super smart, but when my last Xbox died, I just went out and bought a new one. And a Kinect. And some games. And it was no big deal. My bank account recovered with extra in about a month.
When I do buy that new car, even if I put a bunch down and buy something really smart and conservative, I’m still stuck with about an Xbox a month. Think about that – a new car plus insurance is tantamount to a new Xbox 360 & Kinect every month. I don’t want that. If I could buy a decent car outright without any payments, that’s exactly what I would do.
So at the most base level, I’m looking for a car whose combined monthly payment and insurance is less than $500. This means that I’m looking at cars below $20,000 ($15k is my target) and nothing crazy. Oddly enough, the insurance on a 2008 Mustang GT is pretty affordable. Insurance and loan could be under $400 a month (that’s still an Xbox, but…), and I can pull that. But it’s all of the other stuff that goes with it.
When I really think this through, I come to realize that I am almost certain to buy a used Prius. I don’t like those things. Actually, I kinda do. I hate the way they look. Conceptually, ideologically and all that jazz, they are great. The interior is incredible, the ride is very nice, the gas mileage blows my dick off. If I get a Prius in this round of auto buying, the time between this and the next replacement is significantly reduced and the likelihood of getting something rad is significantly increased. Basically, I sort of have to get one. I’m not completely decided or anything, but yeah. Pretty likely. I just hope I can get a nice color and some decent options.