How I Saved $11,000 on My New Car (And You Can, Too)

Dollars & Sense on 03.22.11
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Photo credit: Malias/Creative Commons

Used, new, or leased?  That was the question my husband and I wrangled with when we moved from New York City, where we had zero cars, to upstate New York, where we needed two.

Even though we had bought used before, I was dazzled by shimmery new crossovers like the Chevy Traverse.  Hubby was tempted by the idea of a new car every few years by leasing. 

However, with a growing family and a shaky emergency fund, I was wary of all things shiny and wanted some hard facts before we made our decision. The clincher was when we found out, according to Edmunds, buying used would save us 36% over a new car and 50% over a leased car.

So we bought a seven-year-old Honda Pilot. I admit, it was a little yucky buying a car with crumbs that weren't mine wedged between the seats. But soon enough we were making too many of our own crumbs to even notice.

And I realized that, besides the savings, driving used cars is freeing. I don't have to worry about:

1. Giving the door its first scratch.

2. Getting all huffy if it needs a major repair. (The old girl has seen 100,000 miles, after all.)

3. Fretting that my floor mat is dirty and torn (it was like that already), or if the kids put their boots on the seatbacks.

4. Forking over a fat car payment every month (a reminder of how important and precious my car is).

Surprisingly, I'm not the kind of person who is super laid-back about her house and appearance. In fact I'm kind of a neat freak. I like beautifully set tables, color-coordinated files, and glittery rhinestone jewelry.

I just can't afford to be persnickety about my car. Just like I can't afford to be attached to my children's clothing. We get what we get in terms of hand-me-downs and rummage sale finds. And it's not painful to give them away when the time comes, because I never really invested much emotion or money in them in the first place.

Even though I'm sure owning a perfect, expensive object would be exciting in its own ways, for now I'm enjoying the thrill of dull, dented and carefree.

Have you ever bought a used car? Do you love it too? Tell us in the comments.

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