I Finally Broke Down and Bought a New Car. Yes, New.

OK, I did it.

After commuting to and from work in my 1997 Honda Civic for the past 13 years, and with my son on the verge of getting his driver’s license, I finally relented and bought myself a new car.

That’s right. I’m now the proud owner of a brand-new factory-fresh 2013 Honda Accord.

Frankly, I feel like I died and went to heaven. This is the first new car I’ve ever owned that I got to drive from day one; both my Civic and our 2001 Honda Odyssey were both bought for the Honeybee.

I spared almost no expense this time too, as I purchased the model’s penultimate trim.

For a modest family sedan, my new car has all the feel and accoutrements of, dare I say it, an expensive luxury car. Thanks to her V-6 engine with 278 horses under the hood, the Accord can get from 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds — not that I typically drive that way. It’s also got leather seats, a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition, a Bluetooth hands-free link and streaming audio, and dual-zone climate control.

Since I live in Southern California, I suspect I’ll rarely, if ever, use the Accord’s heated front seats — although I will use the moon roof. I’m also going to make good use of the 360-Watt audio system and its seven speakers (including a sub-woofer).

There’s also a rear camera that shows what’s directly behind my car when I put the car in reverse. I’m loving that. It’s too bad I didn’t have that feature on my old pick-up truck; if I did I wouldn’t have accidentally made mincemeat out of one of those low-profile “drive-thru” signs while backing out of a parking space at my local Taco Bell 20 years ago.

Perhaps my favorite new feature is the driver seat’s 10-way power adjustment option that makes driving a real joy. Ten ways! That’s a big improvement over my Civic; its driver’s seat seemingly has only three preset positions: uncomfortable, awkward, and incommodious. (Contrary to popular belief, the “pestiferous” setting was only offered on the Civic’s luxury model.)

My new car warns me when I’m drifting out of my lane (rarely), or getting too close to the car in front of me (more than I care to admit).

Sometimes it even speaks to me.

The other day, while backing out of a parking space I heard an anonymous chime in the cabin. I had no idea what it meant, so I continued to work my way out of the parking lot. A few seconds later, a very pleasant female voice came through the audio system speakers, politely asking me to disengage the parking break. I couldn’t believe it! After all, I’m used to relying on the Honeybee when I make mistakes like that — but instead of a gentle reminder, she usually hits me over the head with a rhetorical question, followed by the obligatory insult. You know, something like this: “Why do you still have the hand brake on? Knucklehead.”

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, Len! Why didn’t you let somebody else take the depreciation hit by buying a used car that was only a few years old? Knucklehead.

Well, that would have been financially smarter considering that most new cars lose upwards of 50% of their value within three years, but I have lots of good reasons for buying new instead of used. Here were three of the biggest:

I’ve paid my dues. After more than 170,000 miles and many years commuting in my cramped little Civic, I was ready for something a bit more comfortable. Besides, by driving that car for so long, I’ve saved more than $40,000 in car payments over the years.

I can afford it. Frankly, maximum value wasn’t a top priority for me this time around. That’s because after many years of scrimping and saving — and lots of hard work — I’m at a sweet spot in my life now, financially speaking. In fact, I could have paid the dealer cash for the vehicle, but I decided to take advantage of my good credit score and take out an auto loan at 1.9% interest over five years instead.

I’ll be keeping the car for at least a decade. Holding my car for at least ten years will help temper those painful depreciation costs I’ll be incurring over the next several years in exchange for the pleasure of driving my very own brand new car.

For the first time in my life, I’m enjoying my commute to work, driving in a brand-new automobile with that terrific new-car smell.

Yes, I realize the vehicular honeymoon won’t last forever — but at this stage of my life, trust me, it’s well worth it.

Photo Credit: zibe

82 comments to I Finally Broke Down and Bought a New Car. Yes, New.

  • Ashley

    Good for you. You use a vehicle extensively and will get a lot of life out of it. Splurging (within reason) on something you use so frequently is one of the best ways to spend money.

  • Heated seats are amazing in Canadian winters. I don’t have them but I love to ride in cars that do. You had better plan a driving vacation somewhere very cold to truly appreciate having a warm rear end after dealing with wind chill.

    I am saving to pay cash for a newer used car because that is what I can afford.

  • If you can REALLY afford something, then what you do with your money within those limits is about tastes and priorities, not about doing the right or wrong thing. The problem is that many people make choices they can’t actually afford. :)

  • I know you can afford it and you obviously made the right decision for you. I also bought a brand new car in 2010 (a Civic, and one of the lower end models) but I too plan to drive it for 10+ years and drive it into the ground. At least this way we know the total maintenance history of our cars and know that no one has abused them.

  • David C

    Congrats on the new ride! I am about to crack 214,000 miles on my 1997 Toyota. I have a habit of buying new or barely used and then driving them until they are just plain worn out. I am thinking it is about time for a new one. Just have to pry open that wallet.

    • Len Penzo

      I’ve been seriously thinking about getting a replacement vehicle for the past year or so, David. Of course, buying a car — new or otherwise — has never been a decision I make lightly. I owned my first car (a used Datsun 510) for more a dozen years and put 200,000 miles on it. My second car was a used pick-up truck that I kept for another ten years. We’ve had our Honda Odyssey since 2001 and the Civic since 1997.

      I originally started off looking to buy a two- or three-year-old car, but the more I got into the process — and the more I evaluated my financial position and realized I was going to drive it into the ground anyway — the more I realized that buying new was the most logical choice for me.

  • Mike M

    I am so confused by this post. It is not what I come here for at all.
    The first part is basically a car commercial. And you make it very clear that you spent more than was necessary for some comforts and a bigger engine. And you chose interest payments over paying in cash.
    Then you come out with the siren song of marketers and bad influences: I deserve it. It is that kind of thinking that I, and many of your readers, struggle against daily.
    I know that in my life there are times when I chose to pay more for something that is not necessary, but the benefits are important enough to me that I chose the expense anyway. (Usually not on one of the biggest purchases of my life, but ok.) I understand that you earned the money and can justify a splurge if you desire. But the tone of this post is just very surprising to me. Maybe our values are not so alike after all.

    • Len Penzo

      Trust me, Mike; our values are very much alike.

      I have to confess, I struggled mightily before finally deciding to write this post for the very reason you mention: I knew it would raise the eyebrows of more than a few of my readers.

      In the end, I decided to write it anyway. The lesson I hope all my readers will take away from this post is that there are circumstances that exist where a financially responsible person can get away with buying a new car — even if it isn’t the most financially advantageous option.

      That being said, there are plenty of financially responsible people who would be crazy to do what I did — the biggest reason being they don’t have the income to support such a move. But there are others.

      I could have run off a bunch of additional reasons why it made sense for me — financially speaking and otherwise — but I wanted to keep this post under 800 words.

      I’m going to go in to them in more detail on my next post. Hopefully, it will put your worries at ease. I promise I haven’t gone to the dark side … I weighed everything very carefully before making my decision.

      • Mike M

        Len,
        I can accept that you made a buying decision that you can afford and that you thought through the choices you made, I will not beat you up about that.
        My problem with the post is that I come to your blog for advice and support in making good decisions for me. Every day I am faced with marketing, peer pressure and my own weaker thoughts saying it’s ok to spend and splurge and buy it all. I come to you to help balance that out.
        Half of this post was about how good it feels to splurge. And when I got to the reason “I paid my dues”, that set me off. I think that is a message I want to avoid and is why you are getting some blow-back in the comments.

      • LadyLeo

        Len,
        I believe I am financially responsible, but I did the exact same thing you did. I haven’t purchased a brand new car since my 1996 Toyota Corolla. Then I bought a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, that I could have paid cash. Instead i put $6000 down on my $17500 vehicle with a 2.59% interest rate and made a promise to myself, to pay the car off in 2 years instead of 5 years. After budgeting for my expenses, I applied any leftover money to my $205 a month car note and my tax refund where I was able to pay my car off in 1 year, 4 months and only paid the bank $233. I made it a game to see how quick I could pay off my car and not give the bank a penny over $250. I even played with loan calculators to help devise a plan.

  • Len, I’m confused too. Are you suggesting that readers should reward themselves for years of sound financial decisions with a big, fat poor financial decision? Hmmm…

    • Len Penzo

      Not at all, Kurt. Give me a little credit here, my brother! :-)

      I noted in the post that buying a new car is a “knucklehead” move financially. In my case, the decision process came down to more than just saving as many dollars and cents as I could.

    • Billy

      Sure the new car costs more than something a few years old of the same class. But we are talking about an Accord here. It is a pretty sensible car and not expensive for what you get.

      I would say the only things you could have done without are the V-6 engine and the lane departure warning. Otherwise, it is not like you bought a Porsche or BMW. It is a Honda! Like my Camry it is safe, reliable, cheap to maintain and a good deal.

      You also weighed the decision to pay cash or finance which is nice to see and about maximizing what your money can do for you. I think at 1.9% I would also finance. Congrats on your new car.

  • Jen

    My husband and I are senior citizens and our Corolla is too (11 years old and 215,000 miles). It has crisscrossed the country many times, and we are ready to get an update too if it develops any kind of problem.Thinking Prius at this time if we can afford to pay cash for it. We have never bought a new car on installment, it just would make us feel weird.

  • We have two new cars (a Wrangler and a Camaro), and I’m sure a lot of people who read my blog were shocked. We got great deals on them and we like having fun cars. Everyone has a splurge, and this is ours!

  • Dan

    Good for you! This is why we work! The most important point you make is you can afford it. It’s not as if you are living on a tight budget!

    Assuming you can afford it, why NOT buy yourself a new car that you plan on keeping for a long long time anyway? What else are you going to spend your money on? There’s only so much money you can save before it becomes almost counterproductive. In the end, money is meant to be spent.

  • pen

    A large point of being frugal is to be mindful of spending. Save in some areas to afford what really matters to you. Sounds like you decided this was an important area, and are willing to prioritize this purchase. Have fun with the new car.

  • PK

    Turn in your Personal Finance Blogger ID Card, thanks!

    (Just not to me. I won’t throw stones from my glass house, my friend!)

  • Looks like a great car, and like you have the right reasons! Great considerations.

  • Congratulations! I always buy new and run the car into the ground. My last car (Honda), I had for 17 years. My wife’s car (Honda)is approaching the same number this fall. My new car (last year) was a Toyota Prius C. I bought it at dealer cost and love it although it is a little underpowered ont he free way. I drive 99% of the time on surface streets.

  • garrett

    did you offer to pay cash and see if the dealer would give you a better price?

  • Jason

    Len, as someone who drove a ’93 Accord for 8 years (until 3 weeks ago), I commiserate with your “pain” and understand your joy. I bit the bullet and purchased a new car, too. At 1.9% it’s almost free money…

  • Renee

    I have to agree with a few others on this board…your decision doesn’t seem to follow what you are all about. Or what I THOUGHT you were all about? You are certainly entitled to make your own decisions, but I would not consider buying a brand new car and financing that car a smart money move. Anyone can justify a purchase like this. Believe me, I’ve tried SO many times as I love a nice car! Do you really think you’re not paying for that low interest loan? I GUARANTEE you that’s built into the price of a car to get people to “justify” taking out a loan. And I’m not saying that I will never have a brand new car. But I assure you my house will be paid for and the new car will get paid for with cash. I am not inviting “Murphy” into my life. I absolutely love the feeling of not having car payments….no matter how much I like that new car smell!

    • Len Penzo

      Renee, I understand how you feel. And I am going to HATE making car payments after a dozen years of not having them.

      But trust me, there’s a method to my madness. After taking into account my 1.9% finance rate, real inflation, the time value of money, and the Fed’s continuing efforts to devalue the dollar, getting a loan was a smart money move. There is absolutely no reason to buy the car with cash now; I’ll be paying my car off with increasingly worthless dollars over the next five years.

      I went to plenty of dealers, did my homework, knew the invoice price — and most importantly — bypassed the salesmen and dealt directly with the fleet managers. In the end, I got the best deal I possibly could.

      • Lee

        I hate to tell you this, but no you didn’t get the best deal you possibly could have. You admitted yourself. “I went to plenty of dealers…” YOU NEVER SET ONE FOOT IN DEALERSHIP! Yes, car companies ARE going to make you a deal that leave them loosing money….ON THAT ONE DEAL. Yes, they are obviously in the business to make money. When I’ve negotiated the purchase of a new car for friend’s, I solicit bids from several dealerships within a certain radius. This creates a ‘blind bid’ for the dealerships to compete for my business. The process is also designed to ferret out ‘below the radar’ incentives made to dealerships by auto manufacturers that the general public is unaware even exist. As an example, lets say dealership “A” is participating in a program whereby if they sell 200 units that month, receives an additional $250K from the manufacturer. Towards the end of the month, Dealership “A” is 3 cars shy from hitting its sales goal, thereby getting the 250K. Dealership “A”, more than likely will be willing to take a LOSS (minimally) on the last three cars, rather than risk loosing the 250K sales incentive. (I’ve been successful in getting cars 3x prior for LESS than what the dealer paid for that individual unit. Granted they made it up with their sales bonus. )

        • Len Penzo

          I agree with you for the most part, Lee. Maybe I should have said, I got the best deal that I was willing to work for, although I’m not sure what you meant by I never set foot in a dealership — I set foot in a half-dozen dealerships. In my case, there came a point where I had negotiated down to the exact same price point from multiple dealers; those dealers knew I was working with rival dealerships but still refused to drop their price any lower (at the time), confirming their price point, and so any potential additional money I may have saved via additional negotiations became no longer worth my time or interest in pursuing.

          Could I have waited until the end of the month and maybe — maybe — saved an additional $500 bucks somewhere, assuming I found a dealer who needed to meet his monthly quota? Yes. Was I willing to do the additional work and postpone buying the car, even though there was no guarantee I’d get the additional savings? No.

          But your point is well-taken.

  • Travis

    As long as you enjoy the smell on the way from Point A to Point B – knock yourself out, Len. You wouldn’t catch me dead in a brand new car. I’d rather save the cash and buy a slightly used car – let some other sucker take the 50% drop in value. I agree with others that the tone of your post sounds like you’ve encountered one heck of a salesman.

    • Len Penzo

      Yes, I can see how someone might think the post reads a bit like a commercial. However, I was simply trying to convey my excitement at having a new car after all these years, and my wonderment at all the technological changes that cars have undergone since then.

      Remember, I just transitioned from driving a cramped bare-bones 1997 Honda Civic with manual everything to a spacious 2013 Honda Accord. I know it sounds silly, but I’m still amazed by all of it.

  • You can easily drive your Honda Accord for at least 15 years with no headaches whatsoever of repair.

  • Ken

    Good buy, I have a 05 Accord with 141k miles sporting factory brakes (gotta love stick shift) and no issues whatsoever.

  • Auntjenny7

    Congrats on the new car!!! You chose a good one. I think it’s fine to buy a new car. I chose to do the same thing this time around too. It replaced a car that I had been driving for 12 years), so we had plenty of time to save for it :) . I plan to drive it for many years to come, like I have done with my Toyota Solara, which is now on its 14th year.

  • As someone who also lives in SoCal AND owns an ’05 Honda Accord (with most of the bells and whistles), I use those heated seats all the time and almost never use the heater itself. I LOVE them.

    While your decision probably isn’t the most textbook “correct” financial decision, if you have the money and want it, that’s why we work so hard to save our money.

    I’m usually a “buy a Honda when it’s 3 years old/36K miles” type of gal, but to each his/her own.

    Hondas are the b-e-s-t!

  • Len Penzo

    Thank you to everyone for your kind words and expressions of concern. I appreciate the feedback and kudos!

  • Buy a new car is smart thing to do. Congrats for your decision.
    In my experience I drive them until they start giving me problems. This is around 100k miles, though it could be more or less depending on the vehicle. Anyway, when I hit the “$1,500 for this” and “$2,000 for that” stage, it’s time for a new car. (BTW, it’s not only the cost that’s an issue, it’s the time and hassle factor — dropping off the cars, picking them up, making due with one car, etc.) FYI, 100k miles for my car is about seven years.

  • Kate

    Len, we always have bought new cars and taken excellent care of them. We got 186K miles out of a Dodge K-car, 184K miles from an Olds Cutlass station wagon, and are now on our 3rd car, a 2005 Ford that has over 100K miles on it. (We’ve been married 29 years.) So if you can handle the payments, get a decent deal on price and loan terms, and are committed to keeping the car till the wheels fall off of it, go ahead and buy new. And everyone stop picking on Lenny!

    • Len Penzo

      “everyone stop picking on Lenny!”

      ha ha! It’s OK, Kate. I don’t feel like anybody is picking on me. Well, except for maybe Travis (see below). ;-)

      They’re just expressing their concerns.

  • Travis

    “my next car will probably be almost new. Maybe a year or two old, tops. That should result in some significant savings since, as Bret alluded to, cars depreciate a good chunk of their initial value when they are driven off the lot.”

    • Len Penzo

      OK. And your point is … what, exactly? Three years ago I made a prediction about my next car; I was wrong. If I wanted the correct answer, rather than shooting from the hip, I would have consulted my Magic 8-ball. ;-)

      prob·a·bly
      adverb \ˈprä-bə-blē, ˈprä(b)-blē\

      Definition of PROBABLY
      : insofar as seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected

      Strategic and tactical management of our personal finances sometimes requires changes to our original plans — for lots of reasons. Don’t you agree?

  • Betsy22

    When I do the math, I’m just not seeing huge savings on buying slightly used cars. People always talk about losing 50% of the value when you walk out the door…but I don’t think that’s true anymore. Just for kicks, I’ve searched for my make/model/year of car on Craigslist/newspaper listings – cars that are 5 years old with ~60k+ mileage seem to be selling for 50% (or more) of my original purchase price – the dealers are listing those cars for about 75-80% of my original purchase price. In my opinion, it’s generally a better deal to pay $25k for a brand new car than pay $13k+ for a 5 year old car with 60-70k in mileage and an unknown maintenance history.

  • Travis

    Sorry for picking on you Len! (To be honest, I was convinced you were testing your readers to see what feedback you received). You certainly don’t have to justify your expenditures to anyone. My only concern is others who continually fight this urge (myself included) often justify unhealthy financial decisions using the same arguments that you made.

  • Jim R

    Len, I asked about reparing a transmission on a 93 Accord and we agreed it was worth it. And I STILL HAVE IT (257k & counting.

    When my wife’s Pacifica (dealer demo)began ‘telling’ us it was going to be a money pit to fix, we opted to replace it.

    AFTER trying to find a reasonably priced good used car (RDU, NC area)we had no option but to buy new. The math just added up to support buying used. ’13 Sonata and very happy to be making the payments on essentially free money.

    PEOPLE, it’s ALL about being educated and making the best BUSINESS decision on you consumer purchases. Giggling like a school girl, um, Len on the emotionality of it all is post-script.

  • Jim R

    …oopsie, ‘The math just DIDN’T add up to support buying used’.

  • Len, The key to what you said was that you’ll be keeping this new ride for at least 10 years. I haven’t ever purchased a new car from the dealership but can’t promise that I won’t in the future after I’ve saved a great deal more (like you have). Enjoy your new ride my friend.

    I also agree with you on taking out that loan at 1.9%. You can easily put your cash to work for you and earn much higher returns. If I had the lump sum I would have done the same thing.

  • Gr8 – a new car is very nice to drive as we know!

    But don’t forget also that you will find it a lot more economical than the old car. Things have moved on a lot in the last 16 years! So it will probably be a lot cheaper to run as well as more comfortable etc.

  • Remy

    OMG…Leave the guy alone… He deserved it….

  • Nicole

    Congrats! I’ve bought 2 new Hondas (one recent, one 9 years ago that I put +250K miles on) and found with both that I actually got a better price than the 1-3 year old models because of the extended “certified” warranty on the used models. For various reasons I didn’t want to go private party for the purchase, and I never considered the extended warranty necessary with a Honda.

    I drive a lot of miles most years, and it’s definitely worth having a car that you enjoy, can afford, and know is taken care of when you spend that much time in it.

    I also financed at a 0.9% rate for the same reasons you listed in the comments, although I didn’t need to.

    Anyway, I’m happy for you!

  • Annie

    Congrats! You deserve it and I am glad you got a good financing deal.

  • MaryAnn

    I relate! My husband finally gave up his 1996 Toyota Camry with 240,000 miles. Put it on Craigs list and got an overwhelming response to buy it for $800- sold it within 1 hour! And- it needed an oil pan. We had only just recently put about 1200.00 into it and decided we would do no more. I am driving a 1991 Toyota Corolla with 84,000 miles on it and will continue to do so back and forth to work and FOR work (100 miles per day)as I am in sales. And, we have a 2004 Toyota Rav 4 with well over 100,000 miles on it that my husband is driving to work- over 100 miles per day also.

    Here’s the funny part-
    I came into a small inheritance in Jan. 2013 and decided to buy (cash)a 2013 Honda CRV (base model)to use as a “pleasure” car on weekends or when we drive to our vacation spot. We didn’t want to beat it up with our commutes. Being we hardly ever go out on weekends, the car has been sitting in our garage since Jan. and only has 54 miles on it! And- my husband misses his 1996 Camry!

    • Mary Ann

      So now, after writing my post on here, my 2001 Toyota Corolla’s engine blew on June 18th! Somehow the oil filter fell out of the car and me who knows nothing about cars tried to drive it home from work with the oil light on, as I could not get a hold of hubby!Replacing the engine with a refurbished one and putting on the new tires and doing the wheel alignment it also needed would have been at least $4000 and I just couldn’t justify it in a 12 year old car, even though it only had 88,000 miles on it and was worth about the same. And, the refurbished engine wouldn’t be guaranteed. Because I need to use my car to commute AND for the job itself, I began to look for a 2-3 year old used car that gets decent mileage. The prices were just about the same as for a new car, so, low and behold, I purchased ANOTHER new car- the Honda Fit- with $5000 down and .9% financing for 3 years. I haven’t had a car loan in years, and I could have paid cash with money I have targeted for other things (like a badly needed kitchen renovation),but this is what I decided to do. I will not do the kitchen renovation until the car is paid off, just in case of a job loss or other unforeseen thing, since this wasn’t planned to buy a second car! Meanwhile- our brand new Honda CRV is still sitting in the garage waiting to go on vacation and some weekend excursions very soon this summer!

      • Len Penzo

        Thanks for sharing your stories, Mary Ann.

        I think I would have done the same thing as you.

        I hope you enjoy your new car!

  • A

    You sound so CUTE! I, too, have my first new car in 10 years. If that’s not enough for goosebumps: I moved from a 2003 Acura RSX (best car of my life so far!), to a 2013 Lexus ES300h HYBRID (okay, now there’s NO comparison!!). I, too, am just TICKLED PINK at the bells and whistles that I always eschewed in my (still-ongoing) Frugality. And the RIDE, oh the RIDE! Congratulations, sweetie!

  • Hi Len. I just found your blog through a few others. I think this post is great, and it’s something younger personal finance bloggers like myself can look up to. I know not everyone is going to agree with me on that, but I think it’s true. Your post is evidence that if you do work hard and manage your money then one day you can do something nice for yourself. I don’t pinch pennies now and kill myself working 40 hours a week and another 30 hours staff writing online just to do it forever. I kill myself now working hard so that one day, down the road, when my retirement accounts are overflowing, I have no debt, and I have enough money for my kids, etc. I can go and walk onto a car lot and buy a new car if I want to. And if I don’t want to, that’s fine too. But, in my opinion, that’s why I do what I do. I don’t plan on living like this and working like this my whole life. One day, I hope to be like you.

    • Len Penzo

      Hi Cat, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. And thank you for the very kind words! (By the way, it sounds like you already are a lot like me.) ;-)

  • Enjoy the new car Len! These days a used car isn’t the same deal it was some years ago. We also went with new cars for our last two. Our Odyssey is paid off while we have a couple of years on our low-interest Corolla.

  • debbie z

    I bought a brand new car back in 2001. It was a mazda tribute with 4 wheel drive and factory tow package. 263, 000 miles later I still am driving it. The suv built on a car chassis works great for me. Good ride, still gets 20-22mpg (which is almost the same as the new models get), and has been driven from Key West to Bangor and from Boston to Chicago and out west as far as Kansas and Texas as a work vehicle. Keep up the basic maintaince and be willing to handle a large amount of parts replacement at 100k thru 225 and you will get another period of trouble free driving.. I spent almost 4k in about 8 months but can now look forward to another couple of years of driving with just normal expenses.

  • If you can’t pay for it in cash, you can’t afford it…

  • Congrats on the car, you definitely held out longer than the average person. ITs all about percentages, if the purchase price is less than 15% your annual income then you have nothing to worry about. I personally would look to pay it off in 2-3 years to pay less interest. Ride Safe my friend.

  • Mike M

    I often agree with your blog/suggestions and also recently needed to replace a car I drove for 12 years. Like you, I was in a similar place with my financial situation (rainy day and emergency funds in good shape, etc). I also chose to go with a new car for mostly the same reasons as you. There were two reasons you didn’t mention that pushed me over the edge to go new:

    1. The new SUV I was looking at was often the same price or even less than a similarly equipped 1 or even 2 year old model. Maybe with aggressive haggling or negotiating, I could have saved a few thousand dollars, but I liked the idea of a brand new car that I knew the history of.

    2. The manufactured of the SUV I was looking at provided a 5 years warranty and free routine maintenance for 4 years (I bought a 5th year for $500). That’s 5 years of not having to worry about anything except tires. I’ve had the car for a little over a year and will be bringing it in soon for the 4th maintenance appointment. From what I hear, those appointments can get expensive (the maintenance wasn’t transferrable from on a used car).

    I chose to pay cash though – I like knowing it’s mine and is paid off. Banks provide next to no interest now, and pay not paying 1.9% (or more), just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess with inflation as it is, it’s not a huge deal either way though.

    Thanks for the blog, keep it up, I enjoy reading it.

    Mike

  • 60 comments and counting. Your new car is a hot-button topic, Len! How many pageviews would it take to pay for itself … ? :-)

  • Doug Blasco

    Ahh Yes, the Rear View Camera. I am away to training now and they got me a Honda Civic for my rental. It has the Rear View Camera also. What I found was that I was using it and ignoring the basic safety act of actually looking over my shoulders to see, not what I was going to hit behind me, but what was going to hit me from the sides. I stopped using it.

  • I don’t think there is a need to justify your purchase to anyone. I bought my car brand new and have had it for 7 years now. I plan to keep it for as long as it runs.

    A Honda Accord is a practical, yet good looking car. It has great gas mileage and is very reliable. Great purchase. Enjoy!

  • Yikes, Len! An out of body experience for you. I get it and I know my wife gets it. We are older and we have paid our dues so she wants a new car so she gets a new car. Me, I could care less. But you have earned this new baby and it looks and sounds like a great set of wheels. Best of luck to you on your new car!

  • I am all for rewarding yourself with a good meal or something small but you could of picked up an older Accord with all the bells and whistles for much cheaper.

    • Len Penzo

      Yes, but in this case, I would have had to settle for an Accord that was a previous-generation model. There were substantial changes between the previous generation Accord, which ended with the 2012 model-year (and run for six-years between models) and the newest gen that started with the 2013 model — especially with the engine and its performance. For me the premium was worth it.

      Then again, if I was buying in, say, 2015 or 2016, probably not; I suspect the premium wouldn’t be worth it to me. I would probably buy a “newer” 2013 or 2014 model.

  • JoAnn

    Len, we did the exact same thing in December when our 1999 Accord died and the repairs were too costly to justify. We didn’t want to empty our emergency fund to pay in cash, so we took advantage of the amazing interest rate. The 2013 Accord is awesome. :-) Sounds like my husband and I have the same car as you, minus the navigation system. I too am amazed at all the bells and whistles. (And being in Ohio, I quickly came to love those heated seats!) My geeky favorite? Uploading the Cincinnati Bengals logo to use as my on-screen clock.

    Hate the car payment, but we recently refinanced and are saving about $200/month on the mortgage payment, so it dulls the pain somewhat.

  • Monte Carlo

    I wish I could have money to buy a new car too.

  • Good grief people, give it a rest. It’s not like he bought a $95,000 BMW M5 !!! He got great value and a cheap loan. I buy a new car every three years … because it’s what I like and I can afford it, not because it’s a smart money move. I do that other places.

  • I don’t get it. You are obviously an intelligent person and your blog says it is for “responsible people.” Why didn’t you purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle? Not only does the car you bought contribute to global warming, it facilitates air-born particulates helping the next generation to have a higher incidence of lung disease (do you have children that breath the air?)
    By the way, I am not some eco nut-job. I am a retired financial advisor (series 7 and then RIA), CPA(inactive), Harvard MBA and maintain a number of financial blogs.
    I reached the million dollar net worth level at age 34 and have started successful businesses from scratch. But I do realize that the problems on the planet (and the solutions) start with me. Would very much like to understand how intelligent people continue to ignore the little steps each can take to make a difference (and then complain about what OTHERS should be doing).

    • Len Penzo

      Intelligent people, Bob, understand that anthropomorphic global warming is a sham. The world has been warming and cooling for millennia — without any contribution from man. In fact, there have been periods in the past, long before man existed, when the Earth’s temp was even hotter than it is today. In the grand scheme of things, worrying about man’s insignificant contribution to global warming is akin to worrying about fly poop in pepper.

      Look … I’m an electrical engineer and a scientist; I understand what’s going on here. As for hybrid and electric vehicles … they have plenty of bugaboos and are not the panacea you want to believe they are.

      And another thing: Why are you afraid of global warming? It’s definitely the preferred alternative to global cooling. A warmer planet will result in more rainfall and additional arable land, greater food production, and open up larger swaths of land for habitation.

      Global warming is a good thing, Bob. Ice ages … not so much.

      Frankly, all of this talk about global warming is merely a backdoor attempt to push a socialist political agenda. I’m surprised someone supposedly as successful as yourself can’t see that.

      • Adrian

        Len,

        I just found your blog today and like all the advice that you have to offer. As far as the new car is concerned, I think that a new car is a good decision if you plan to drive it for a long time and you are standing on a good financial foundation. If you save your whole life and died with millions that you never got to spend, it was a wasted it effort.

        As a fellow engineer/scientist, I don’t necessarily agree with you that that global warming is a scam to push a socialist agenda as much as it a reality that opportunists are using to push an agenda with “solutions” that have no hope of solving the problem.

        The main point I think to take from this as an eco-friendly decision is that you bought a fuel efficient vehicle and a hybrid wouldn’t really provide much less consumption of fuel than what you already are driving. Even though you didn’t intend the purchase to be an eco-friendly decision you could argue that it is.

  • Moses

    My goodness, all this negativity on this board! I see a whole neighborhood of glass houses, but people seem to have warmed up their arms prior to this Len character assassination.

    What is the point of being financially responsible and free, if you’re trapped in a cage of yourself? Happy mediums people, happy mediums..

  • hannah

    I don’t get why people are slamming you so much over this. After all, you can afford it. Where’s the harm? It’s not like you’re being financially irresponsible here. Enjoy the new car

  • [...] I Finally Broke Down and Bought a New Car. Yes, New. by Len Penzo at LenPenzo.com [...]

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