Home > The second biggest purchase of my life

The second biggest purchase of my life

August 4th, 2012 at 04:32 am

I ordered a birthday present for myself today--a new car! The only more costly thing I've purchased is my house. (Well, my education cost more, in toto, but I was basically a scholarship student, so most of the money for my education didn't come out of my own pocket.)

I never really expected to buy a brand-new car, and certainly have never done so before. Each car that I've owned I've bought used, and and coincidentally, each has had a 14-year lifespan: the 1978 Volvo, purchased with nearly 100K at age 10 that I got rid of in 1992 due to too much rust; the 1988 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Station Wagon that I bought at about 4 years old with 70K that the insurance company totaled for me in 2002 after I was hit by a soccer mom who was paying more attention to her son in the back seat than the highway she was pulling out onto; and now the 1998 Subaru Forester, also bought at age 4 with 47K, that I am getting rid of because it has already cost me twice its remaining value in repairs this year, and I know of at least $1000 more worth of repairs that need to be done. I love the car, and would keep it, but it also so happens that we are beginning to close out my mom's estate and I have enough of a windfall to pay for it in full.

If all my cars last 14 years, this time I'll take the first four relatively repair-free years for myself, and try to make the car last 14 years--which will bring me about to retirement age by the time this one expires. Of course, I lose more on the depreciation--but that's just accounting lingo for spreading the cost over time to match with use, and if I keep the car, the greater bite on depreciation really doesn't make any difference--it would only matter if I were leasing it or planning to sell in just a couple of years.

I thought about replacing the old Forester with a new used one--I could get a 2010 used Forester for the same price as a new 2012 Impreza--but after thoroughly investing not only the cost of purchase but the cost of ownership, I found that the Impreza is about 20% cheaper all around--fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs as well as initial cost, so that swayed my decision.

My Forester has had so many repairs since the beginning of the year that I've reserved it purely for going to work and doing the weekly grocery shopping. With a new car, I'll look forward to taking a road trip sometime this fall. A friend owns a cabin in the Adirondacks that she is always inviting me to, and this year, after all the stresses of the past few years (the career change with long bouts of unemployment, and losing my mom and two of my three pets), I'd really love to take another weekend away (I went to a family wedding near Boston last September, and that was my first vacation in years...I'd so love another short one this year).

My birthday comes in 3 weeks, and the car should be here between the 15th and the 28th, so hopefully by my birthday, and if not, very shortly thereafter!

7 Responses to “The second biggest purchase of my life”

  1. jUST mE Says:


  2. patientsaver Says:

    Congratulations!!! Very exciting!

    My old Civic is still going strong with about 128K on it now. I've been interested in the Hyundai Elantras but if I could keep the Civic going for a few more years yet, that would be the ideal. I think the book value is only about $3,200 now.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds like the right plan for you and your situation! Enjoy.

  4. Dido Says:

    Thanks, everyone!

    Good luck, PS, with keeping the Civic going. That had been my plan with the Forester, too. I'd still keep throwing money at it for another year except for the windfall factor.

  5. snafu Says:

    Best wishes on your new Subaru. I hope the security you feel from a new car will let you take holidays. Did you order the 2013? What color did you choose?

  6. Dido Says:

    I got a 2012--last time to get one, it turns out. They aren't accepting orders for new 2012s any more, and being accepting orders for 2013s later this month--which will probably arrive close to November. They had one already ordered coming in, in the silver, as pictured. My favorite Subie color is the sage green, but to get that, I would have had to go up a trim level to the Sport Premium, and it wasn't worth the cost to me. Yes, the other things that come with that trim level--like heated seats and a windshield wiper de-icer--would be nice, but not worth the cost to me.

  7. Jerry Says:

    Oh, nice! Congrats on the new wheels, they look terrific. And I like that you compared the fuel efficiency, insurance costs, and other details before making your final decision... there is a lot more to the purchase of a vehicle than just aesthetics!
    I hope the new car leads to 14+ more years of great and reliable driving.

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