Saturday, July 2, 2011
Frugality and Car Selection
The standard vehicle advice on personal finance blogs is either don't purchase one at all or purchase a used inexpensive Japanese model (many of which are now made in the US). Either advice is sound, but let me introduce you to the Rodent's twist: purchase a nice semi-luxury or even luxury vehicle, keep it for 15 to 20 years, and most importantly learn to maintain or repair it. In my case this was a brand new VW Golf bought in May of 2001. Ten years later with a 193 thousand miles it still feels just as luxurious as when it was new. If I had to do it all over again I would have purchased a slightly used Golf. Over it's lifetime I have never taken it to a mechanic with the exception of some recalls and tire mounting/balancing. I don't have the equipment to mount and balance my own tires and I don't think it makes sense but I'd love to be proven wrong by a reader. In our society there is tremendous pressure to consume, but not all is lost yet: Driving a 1970s or 1980s diesel Mercedes is still considered "cool". I am convinced that in 2020 when many cars will be electric and autonomous the VW Golf will be a slight head turner - look at this old timer and how cool the smelly exhaust is. I am strongly convinced gasoline vehicles will have similar appeal as steam engines have currently. In a future article I will talk about what basic tools I have used over the years.