Last year, I worked in sales at a car dealership. I was making sales and making great money for the first time in half a year. I’d been driving a 1999 Honda Civic that I’d had for about 10 months, and so far, it had been a largely fantastic experience. I picked it up on trade for services on a freelance job, essentially meaning I got it for free. I felt great for doing what all my guides had told me: “Live within your means.”
It was a manual transmission Civic EX coupe (like this one) with a little over 200,000 miles and an extra set of snow tires. This little car was my daily driver from when I first got it registered until I got rid of it. It was fuel efficient, fast enough to have fun, and was a monster in the snow. I loved that Civic a lot. It came through for me in a new way every week the winter that I had it.nd
Back to the dealership: I’d been dealing with problems with my little Civic for a few months. The issue was that it kept overheating while it was idling. Earlier, I’d driven for a food delivery company, which means that the overheating issue was coming up a lot. I’d swapped out the cooling fan, flushed the radiator, changed the thermostat and even flushed the coolant lines inside the engine; all of which I’d been able to do by myself with a basic ratchet set. One of the perks of driving an older model import: they’re super easy to work on, even if you have no mechanical skills.
Where I Screwed Up
Even despite the
BUT. I now wish I hadn’t bought it. Here are a few reasons why owning a newer car sucks:
Enough said. My insurance went from $90 a month for liability insurance on my Civic to just over $200 a month for full coverage. While it’s manageable, my priorities are just not where they were when I bought this car anymore. There are many more useful things I could be doing with that extra $110 a month.
Keep in mind when shopping for a car that the advertised fuel economy ratings are rarely accurate. Make sure you cruise some forums and ask some questions to existing owners so you can make an informed decision. My old Civic would get 40 miles per gallon on the highway. I don’t know why or even how this is possible, but I did the math. Older imports get great fuel economy, while my Focus gets about 28 miles per gallon on the highway, compared to the 32 mpg advertised by Ford. That 4 miles per gallon really adds up at the fuel pump.
3. Car Payments SUCK
I pay $300 a month for my car, and I’ve sold vehicles to people at significantly higher rates. $300 seems comparatively insignificant compared to the truck payments that run into the four figures that I’ve seen, but when you go from owning a vehicle free and clear to paying the bank hundreds of dollars for an “asset” that you don’t really own, you definitely start to see the appeal of older cars.
This is probably my greatest pain point on my new vehicle. It cost me over $300 to register it for my first year, which must be renewed every consecutive year until the vehicle reaches a certain age. Comparatively, my Civic gets permanent registration for under $200.
Live Within Your Means
Overall, I pay almost $6,500 a year towards my car. When I pay it off, which will be in four years if I maintain a normal payment schedule, that cost goes to about $1,500 a year. Obviously, a car is a necessity in this society, but goddamn. Unless you’re to the point where you can pay cash for a new car that you’ll keep for 10+ years, just do yourself a favor and stick with your older car, cough up a grand a year or so to keep it in decent repair, and spend your money on things that will actually improve your life. Take my advice: live within your means now so you can live within your means AND be comfortable later.