My car broke down again last week.
This is starting to become a regular occurrence and while it is annoying, I never really stress about it. I have a great mechanic and the parts are inexpensive.
You see my car is old as hell. Seriously it’s a 1991 Acura Integra. With a car this old, you expect things to break here and there. I bought it for $1500 in the summer of 2012 with 165,000 miles on it. I’m about to break 200,000. By normal standards, I don’t drive that much. By personal finance blogger standards, I should only own a bicycle.
When I first bought it I was coming back to America after four years abroad. I had some money saved but no job lined up and very few professional connections. I thought splurging on a nicer car was dumb and at the time I was right.
But it’s been over four years since I bought that car and a lot has changed. I got a job. Then I got married. Then my wife got a job. And then we kept getting raises and saved a most of our pay. I’ve always liked Financial Samurai’s rule that your car should cost about 10% of your yearly salary. I’m significantly below this.
So lately I’ve been thinking, should I treat myself to an upgrade? I mean, even Mr. Money Mustache bought a new car. And while I’m nowhere near his level of wealth, we do save about 75% of our take income.
Also, I’m in tech sales. I can’t be rolling up to their office in an ancient car. The bar is much lower in engineering.
Last week a few coworkers were visiting from out of town. They didn’t get a rental car and we couldn’t all fit in mine so we had to Uber! Luckily I can expense the bill but it’s still a bit embarrassing. “Umm, yeah my car is too old and too small to hold four adults.”
So I’ve decided it’s time for my next car. I want it to be practical, economical while at the same time being respectable. If I have to take a customer out to lunch, my current shitbox just won’t cut it.
I narrowed my choices down to the Honda Fit, Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. I’ve always liked the Civic but not as much as I love hatchbacks. My first car was a Mercury Sable station wagon.
This narrowed me down to the Fit and Prius. The Fit is a great compact car but it was perhaps too little. Also, I didn’t like the older models (2013 and before) and the newer ones cost a bit more than I want to pay.
After a couple weeks of research I’ve determined the Toyota Prius is the ultimate car:
- Nobody knows if you’re a rich or just getting by. My old CEO drove a Prius and he’s a multimillionaire!
- Best bang for your buck. A respectable looking car will usually run $5-10,000 at a minimum. A used Prius with less than 100,000 miles can be found in this price range.
- One of the lowest priced cars you can take clients out to lunch in without being embarrassed.
- You can fold the seats down and sleep in the back. Great for road trips, car camping or if my wife kicks me out of the house!
- Excellent gas mileage. At 45-50 mpg you can drive 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City for under $150.
- People will think I care about the environment!
If all goes according to plan I’ll be buying up a five-year-old Prius in the next few months. This will be the most expensive depreciating asset I’ve ever purchased. Am I making a good decision?