I make frequent trips up to the Detroit area in my trusty 1995 Hyundai Accent, a car I purchased last year for the inexpensive price of a mere $700.00. The vehicle, which had only 79,000 original owner miles when I purchased it, turned out to be the best value-per-mile vehicle I ever owned, and I am now into my fifteenth month of driving this high-mileage automobile.
I recently noticed a bit of a vibration in the front end, and I decided that the 15,000 miles I put on the set of used tires that came with the vehicle was long enough time to roll the dice. I took the car to Belle Tire on Secor, and I was also prepared to hear bad news about the front end, as I considered the possibility that the slight shudder might have its origins in a worn tie rod end or some other suspension/steering related issue.
Alas, the new tires and a wheel balancing did the trick, and the mechanic reported the the front end was in "excellent shape." It is always rewarding to leave an auto repair facility spending much less than you planned, and $281 for a full set of 50,000-mile tires turned my car into a smooth-gliding, vibration-free piece of mechanical bliss.
I no longer spin my wheels in wet weather, and I was surprised at how much better the car handles on the open road. I also suspect that the 30 MPG I receive on the highway might creep upward a smidgen, given the balancing and proper inflation. Still, this is a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind, and this fruitful vehicular investment seems poised to provide three or more years of service.
There is a metaphor here in prudent investments and taking care of possessions in a world of financial uncertainty, and I cannot under-emphasize the value that previously-owned vehicles represent to cash-strapped consumers. Instead of dashing out and saddling yourself with a 5-year, $400-per-month loan on a flashy new vehicle, consider instead the money you can save in with a vehicle in the $700-$1000 range that has higher fuel efficiency. Sure, you will not impress supermodels, but they were not going to date you, anyways, dude.
Since going consciously deciding to embrace a more frugal lifestyle at the beginning of the decade, my wife and I have saved a great deal more money than when we made twice as much per year. Moreover, our ability to save also allowed us to take a 17-day vacation to Spain and Portugal this summer that might otherwise have been beyond our ability to afford.
So, chuckle at my 13-year-old purple subcompact when you see me at the stoplight, but remember this: I am saving thousands of dollars per year in this machine, and that I can weather even the worst financial cataclysm by staying frugal.