Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why we buy used cars

Jon was in an accident last month that ended up totaling our minivan.  Luckily no one in our family was hurt as Jon and three of the kids were in the van at the time.  But having our family vehicle out of commission was a difficult time, as our second vehicle is a pick up truck.  It definitely added to the chaos of life.

So we spent a lot of time looking for a new van.  Once it was decided that they were not fixing the van the search was on for a new vehicle.  One question people constantly asked me was if we had a loan on the previous van.  The answer is no which surprised many.  What surprised some more was that we have no wish to take out a loan this time either, we planned to spend as close to the insurance payout for our previous van as possible.  And we did just that, spending about $400 out of pocket thankfully.

We could have taken out a loan and gotten a brand new van with all the bells and whistles.  But why?  It would have been one more monthly payment to factor into our budget which we'd rather not do.  Currently our only debt is our mortgage and the loan we took out to convert from oil to gas heat.  While I'd prefer to have no loans aside from mortgage (that one is not going anywhere) we couldn't pass up the 0% interest for the heat conversion as well as the rebates that came along with it last summer.  And our savings account thanked us for not clearing it out. 

When the question about a new van came up it was easy to say that we would go used.  Our qualifications were the same or less mileage than our previous van, close to the same year, the same make and AWD.  In New England AWD is a must have for me.  It isn't easy to find the van with those qualities.  When we first searched two years ago we found a few but all were about 2 hours away from us.  And while we bought one that was at the other end of the state that time we weren't looking forward to the process again.  But it was worth it.  We found our new (to us) van in New Hampshire, about 2 and 1/2 hours from our house. 

If we bought new we would have found something in the next town.  If a loan was something we were willing to take out then we could have found something within 30 minutes even if it wasn't brand new.   It's a choice we made. Because if we took out a loan that would be less money each month to save for the truck Jon will need in a few years (to replace the one he has been driving for 8 years and has tons of miles on it after he drives it into the ground).  Less money to put aside for our Disney Vacation next year (two years to save for this trip!).  Less money going into savings.  Or it would mean less family time as I worked more hours or Jon picked up another job.  So we bought used.  And our savings account (its good to expect and plan for the unexpected and unplanned for) took only a minor hit that will be rebuilt sooner rather than later. 

I know very few people who pay for vehicles outright and without taking a loan.  I feel in the minority at times because of it.  But for now it is the choice we will continue to make. 

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