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As an owner of a 1999 Honda Civic coupe with around 140,000 miles on it, I’m often asking myself the question, “Is it time?” As I rubberneck past new-car dealerships and help friends and family members choose the right car for them, the thought seeps in more and more until my synapses scream a resounding “YES, YES, LET’S DO IT!”
Eventually, I come back to reality, and as Suze Orman puts it, recognize my “financial truth”. As is the case with many Americans — and recent college grads in general — I’m not in a financial state to purchase a new car.
Not only that, but Baby Car (as it has been called by friends for years) is in fantastic shape! What ever happened to the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
Why does my brain, despite my financial limitations and adoration for my Baby, so often take the leap over the line between “keep it” and “leave it”?
L, B, G, T or otherwise, we humans L-O-V-E having the newest, the most technologically advanced and the shiniest…whatever really, be it TV, phone or car.
So when the right time to get a new Baby does arise, a new question crops up: buy or lease?
Buying gives the peace of mind that once a car is yours, it’s yours. Your money will literally take you places.
But leasing is appealing in that all-American quest for the best of the best of the best: multi-media touch screens, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, premium audio sound systems, voice recognition, and whatever comes with next year’s model (basically, everything Baby Car doesn’t possess).
But at the end of all the payments, overage in miles and cosmetic “damage” fees upon lease end, you’re left with nothing but to spend more hard-earned cash on your next set of wheels. Is that really the best?
The September issue of Consumer Reports magazine has an article advising drivers against investing in a new car every couple of years. Not only is doing so financially unsound, but also, today’s vehicles are built better than their predecessors. Keeping your current car reliable and running for 200,000 miles — and beyond — is more than possible . It also saves you big bucks. Period.
While Baby Car doesn’t necessarily keep up with the increasing speed of advancing auto technology, it will nonetheless keep humming along for some time to come. And ultimately, if I decide I really need a new stereo or navigation system, I can run down to my favorite electronics shop and have one installed for far, far less than the cost of a new ride. (Or I could just use my smartphone.)
Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to lease. Stitch up that hole in your wallet. Buy reliable and invest long-term.