Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Vehicle Purchase Turned Frugal

It was a bone chilling night, as only the dark depths of December can deliver here in Wisconsin. Upon leaving a cultural event, I approached my aged and dwindling car, situated in a parking ramp in downtown Madison.  Chilled to the bone I hopped in, turned the key, and ..... nothing.  Dead, the reality set in after a few moments.  The tow truck arrived and the driver jumped down to take a look, meter running for the service.  Guess what, the fickle thing started.  Just like that -- at the turn of the tow-truck driver's hand.  A service call charge was paid, and I made the decision to say good-bye to this highly unreliable vehicle.  Four years out of law school, it was 2005, and a new year was approaching; I was sick and tired of driving a run down student-esque vehicle.

When I walked into my office an informed co-workers I was buying a new vehicle, they laughed at what they thought was a joke.  Known to walk 2 miles home from work to save the $1.50 bus fare, they never thought I was serious, but I was.  Over the weekend I walked into the local Honda Dealership, told them what I'd found on-line and they brought around a silver 2005 Honda Civic. Brand new, less than 25 miles on the car.  I signed some paperwork, they handed me the keys and I drove off in my highly-unfrugal purchase.  Speechless described my co-workers Monday upon hearing about my purchase.

Weeks later, as Wisconsin began to pull itself out of the harsh winter and work towards longer, milder days, I met another frugal soul on a March evening -- one that nine months later would propose we join our frugal ways in marriage.  He was puzzled beyond words to learn that this highly frugal young attorney would do something so un-fruga-like and buy a new, a brand new, vehicle. Made even more bizarre was that I was raised on a used car lot and knew without question that the moment I drove the vehicle off the lot its value nosed dived, and would continue its rapid descent in value for another two years.

Yes, I admit, purchasing a new car was not keeping with my frugal ways.  However, here is how I turned that purchase around into what I consider quite frugal:
  1. The loan was paid off in 2.5 years, not 5;
  2. It was rarely driven, resulting in low mileage and reduced wear and tear; and
  3. Regular maintenance to keep it in shape.
As December peeks around the corner at us, here I am with the same vehicle.  With a 10 year anniversary approaching one might think it was time to replace the vehicle.  But no, I love that car. With 89,000 miles on the engine, I know it has another 100,000 miles left, if not more.  So instead of trading in for something newer, one with an MP3 player for example, we recently bought four new tires and had the timing-belt, water pump, and other parts you change when the engine is removed, updated.

Pushing to save even more, our locally owned repair shop gave us a discount for years of loyal service, and the fact we pay in cash.  Those credit cards cost the company 3% for every dollar charged.  They were happy to receive nine one-hundred dollar bills in return for parts and labor, and I was happy to receive a discount.

And that is how I converted an on-its-face unfrugal purchase into a frugal one.  At the rate we are going that 2005 Honda Civic will be driven by our now seven year old -- it's going to be around for awhile!

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