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Ya’ll are going to revoke my frugal card after this post. I bought a car last night.

Growing up, we had a really fat cat named Pudge.  Pudge was a part of our lives as long as I could remember.  Guiness World Records may need to look in to it because he seemed to live forever.  22 years to be exact.

In Pudge’s last few months/weeks, he wandered around the house and looked at everyone like “it’s time.  Please.  I’ve had a good life, but I’m ready to go”.

For the last six months, my car has been giving me the same look.  I drove a 10 year old Subaru Outback.  Everyone told me that Subaru’s lasted forever, but I think 2002 must have been the exception to that rule because I’ve had nothing but problems with that car.  I’ve put countless thousands in to it, and after the fifth check engine light came on in three weeks on Tuesday night, I was informed that it would probably be another $1,600 in the next 3-6 weeks.  This is of course right after I just put $900 in to in it February.

The car also got 21 mpg and my monthly gas bill was about $200.  Ouch.

After the final check engine light came on, my car looked at me and said “I’m just not that in to you”.  The huge hurdle for me to get past/over was that the car was paid for.  BUT, with the new $1,600 estimate, I would have officially put in more money than the car (in total in 3 years) was worth.  It also left us stranded on Sunday.  Out in the middle of no where.

I had estimated that repairs cost me at least $100 per month, and if I could double the mpg I was getting, I would save $100 a month.  That left me with a “break even” point of $200 a month.

Wednesday I found a used Honda Civic hybrid with 63,000 miles on it.  With my trade in and a cash out of SIX WEEKS worth of vacation pay (my designation at work has changed and my company was required to cash out my saved vacation.  Good timing) my payment came to $198 a month.  $2 under my “break even” point.

Could I have stuck out the Outback since it was paid for?  Sure.  Do I already desperately miss the cargo space?  Absolutely.  But, given the amount of miles I drive each day (42), I needed something that was dependable.  I needed something that wasn’t going to strand Jack and I out in the middle of BFE.  I don’t care about pretty cars.  I don’t care about fancy interior controls or gadgets.  But I do care about having something that isn’t going to cost me almost $2k every 9-10 months to fix, just when it breaks again shortly thereafter.

If you need to repo my frugal card, I totally understand.

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30 comments on “Ya’ll are going to revoke my frugal card after this post. I bought a car last night.”

  1. I agree with Delsie. Just think of how much money you can save from buying a car as compared to repairing the old Subaru again and again. Heck, it might even be enough to let you buy a new Subaru, since the problems keep coming back. It may look like it’s not a frugal decision because you are spending a lot of money in just an instant, but compare it to spending money every time you need to repair the Subaru – it’s not a bad decision at all!

  2. Well, if having the car means that you would no longer have to spend too much money going to different places everyday like the grocery store and the kids’ school, then I can say it is a frugal choice after all. Your 10-year-old Subaru can take a toll on your finances, since you’re likely to spend on repairs for it to keep running, given its age.

  3. Well, the Honda Civic is a frugal choice since it will help you a lot when it comes to the gas pump. You can still keep your frugal card! You did it in good time, too, because repairing your old Subaru Outback again and again would not have been a good financial investment in the long run. That hybrid engine in the Civic is perfect for the long miles you travel every day.

  4. I’m commenting for the sole purpose of thanking you for saying “BFE” lol… I haven’t heard that in years. I guess since I moved to the city – city people wouldn’t have a clue! 🙂 Thanks.

  5. It is the 2002 Subarus. My dear friend had an 02 Forester that was a death trap. Finally left them stranded an hour away from their vacation destination.(family home).
    I had an 09 Outback, but since I am in school, couldn’t afford the pricey maintenance. Hubby’s car was paid for, so I let him trade my Outback in for a 2012 Tucson and I took his 03 Cavalier. Now we have 2 cars that get 30 mph or better.

  6. Girl! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! Be proud and drive your NEW old car into the ground!!!!!!

  7. You can’t put a price on NOT getting stranded out in BFE, so don’t feel guilty. Also? Honda’s rock! You’ll love how long they last and their great gas milage.

  8. You can keep your frugal card. You did the math 🙂 You earned it!

  9. You made the right choice. Your safety and the safety of your little guy is more valuable than you can put a price on. Plus, it’s not like you ran out and purchased (or worse, leased) a brand new car. You are still frugal.

  10. Do you want to know about the class action lawsuit against Honda regarding Civic Hybrids? We bought a used Honda Civic Hybrid last August after doing thorough research. Apparently not thorough enough. DAMMIT! We only get about 31 mpg in the city and maybe on an hour drive 40. It’s a huge issue with these cars. Google it. Sorry to rain on your parade. Make sure to not let it accelerate more than 2000 rpms. That’s what the dealership will tell you. Have you EVER tried that on a hill??? That only allows me to go 17 mph up a hill. It’s bogus. We’re looking to get rid of the car this summer. My old 2001 Civic got better mileage. We’re pissed. Honda knows about the problem and is offering $1000 toward another car if you don’t sue them in small claims court. A corporate lawyer put together a case and won $7000. I think her information is for sale so that you, too, can sue Honda in small claims court.
    email me if you need to vent. Peace Chrissie

    • Thanks Chrissie, but I was aware of it before I bought the car (Consumer Reports). I’ve only had it 1 day, but I’ve been averaging 45 mpg. We live in a very very hilly area, and I haven’t had issues getting home last night or tonight.

  11. lol – just from the title alone. lol.

  12. You know, I also agree that there’s no need to repo your Frugal Card yet. If the car was costing you that much more for the inconvenience and the problems, you will actually be ahead by getting rid of it, AND walking away with a car that will hopefully be good for many, many more years to come. How much did the new car cost? Want to share some of those smaller details?

    • The asking price was $15,999, and I talked them down $500. I put down $4k and my POS Subaru was $2,500 for trade in.

      And then there are taxes, licensing, etc. I also bought a warranty because I had so much horrible luck with my last car. The warranty covers the fancy battery and everything else for 36k miles or 3 years. Also included 13 free oil changes, wiper blades, lost keys (they’re $300 each!), etc.

  13. I used to work for CarMax and Honda’s retain their value over time because they live up to their rep. It’s smart to not throw good money after bad when your car starts giving so many problems. It’s time to get rid of those problems. And buying used is very smart because you don’t pay for all of the depreciation.

  14. I think you bought this car frugally (if that’s a word). You will actually be saving money, I feel, in the long run. I hope it has a great stero so you can listen to some fun loud music while driving the 42 miles. 😉

    • The dealer was trying to show me how to work the bass and stuff last night. I said “I listen to NPR” and then he showed me the volume so that I “wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel”. LOL

  15. It’s completely frugal to upgrade your vehicle if your repairs on a car that will never increase in value is costing you the equivalent of a car payment. We have a financed car that we’ve dropped over $2000 into in 4 months. That dealership saw us coming a mile away. Our plan is to pay down some of the loan asap, then trade it in on a newer car- with a warranty. For the payment we make now, if we double payments and pay it off as quickly as possible, we could be driving a paid for 2011 something for what our pos 2005 death trap is costing us.

  16. I don’t know if you have ever owned a Honda prior, but I think you can keep your Frugal card 🙂 Honda’s are awesome cars and you did what you had to do. I had a Maxima with 190k on it and it was an ’02 as well …and PAID FOR! But I replaced it in October with a Honda that had 64k and more space since we added to our brooding family. I know the Honda will last me just as long as the Maxima and I did what I had to do, but I sure loved not having a car payment!

  17. I kicking your ass out of the club 🙂

    I kid. You know I think this was the right choice as I encouraged you to fake being sick to go and buy it.

    Even my super, DUPER cheap husband agreed you made the right car financially and emotionally.

    • right choice, not right car. Or maybe right choice in getting rid of the car that could have given you an ulcer.

  18. I find it funny that you told me you felt like you were jumping into getting a new car when you have been researching cars for months, calculated the repair vs. payment, etc. etc. etc. I told Brian last night, “I would have based my decision on sticker price, available interest rate & if I thought the car was pretty!” I think your frugal card has been upgraded to platinum!

  19. When my 96 Volvo (paid $3k, got 4 years and 70k miles out of) died, we upgraded to a Honda Insight, also a hybrid. We actually spreadsheeted cost, savings out to figure what initial outlay cost plus fuel savings made the hybrid upcharge worth the expense. For our purchase of a slightly used 2010, fully warranted Insight, it was less then four years, if, IF gas stays under $4 a gallon.

    In otherwords, a no brainer. We average 50 mpgs around town, and more like 60 when taking longer trips. We are very pleased.

    I will say, that most hybrids have a battery cost that you need to be prepared for should it go out. Price tags can be in the $4k- to $5k range. :(.

    Kris K

    • I bought a warranty that included the full cost of the battery replacement and labor, etc. if it happens in the next 3 years!

      Love your 60 MPG!

  20. I am very fortunate to have a hubby that is a mechanic, there is no way we could afford to drive if he couldn’t fix our cars. But buying a used honda is about the smartest car purchase you could make. And when a paid for car is costing a payment in repairs every month – its time to go!!

    • Ohhh you’re so lucky that your husband can do that! I felt like I was pretty much putting my mechanic’s kids through school.