Ok, technically this post is only about automobiles.
music selection: “All Fired Up” — Pat Benatar
It is time for the obligatory personal finance article about owning a car. I’ve seen the advice to do without a car completely. It is mostly great advice. But not tenable in un-walkable north Houston where public transportation is not up to snuff. Uber might change that in time.
I have bought two new automobiles in my lifetime (and a few used beaters.) I have gotten better value out of the new cars. This flies in the face of the conventional early retirement wisdom that says you should minimize purchase price. Now don’t get me wrong. Both new vehicles were purchased for under 11,000 dollars (it would be mighty challenging to duplicate that today but there are new vehicles under 13k). I drove the first for over a decade until I wrapped it around a pole and needed a quick replacement. The second is a 2002 Chevy Cavalier [paid for!] with 150,000+ miles on the odometer. It is still running strong.
The benefit of a new car is you know it will be well maintained for the lifetime of the vehicle. Really, regularly changing oil, oil filter, and air filter is about all a modern car needs. Of course there are occasional batteries and tires. I’ve had two actual repairs: a bad pulley destroyed a serpentine belt, and rear struts needed replacement at 40k miles. Both repairs were completed for less than 200 dollars.
I’d like to say I paid cash but in 2003 I simply didn’t have the 10,385.17 for the drive out price. So I put 5,000 down and paid the rest off in about 18 months. This made my interest expense trivial. Even Kings start out with meager financial means.
In 2015 I have friends left over from my MBA and Corporate-slave days who think I should go back to work to buy a Mercedes or BMW! It would be bad form to rip them limb from limb and then eat their innards. So instead I point out the alternative is driving a Chevy Paid For and playing video games at 10 AM on a Tuesday while my peers are in a useless hour long meeting that really should have been a 3 minute email. The Raptor scores again! That is why they call me the Lizard King.
The need: basic transportation. The short version is I recommend buying an entry level vehicle new from the dealer (try to buy the ad car at the ad price, I’ve done it twice.) Maintain it impeccably. And shy away from paying for all the bells and whistles. The Cavalier has power brakes, steering, and airbags which were mandated by law at the time. It does not have seat warmers, power locks, or power windows. I’m delighted with it. It has the side benefit of causing gold digging lady lizards to avoid me (well played!) And now that it is forty three minutes after noon on a Friday, I’m going to go play a video game.
Devour your prey raptors!