Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Much Does It Cost?

I'll buy it!

I mentioned yesterday that Cathy and I bought a car this week. The story is -- I think -- worth telling. I'm going to give price details here, because I think it adds to the example of how we made our decision. It's a little awkward giving out that much info, but I decided to risk it.

It begins with the fact that we needed a car. Over the 36-plus years of our marriage, we haven't needed every car we bought. Cathy will tell you that I'm quite skilled at coming up with reasons we need something we don't really need. In times past, it's amazing how often I had great "reasons" for purchasing a vehicle, but those same features no longer meant anything when I wanted something newer.

This time we did need one. It's not because the wheels had fallen off the one we are selling. It's because the highway distances we must travel to see family -- it's 800 miles to Cathy's parents' home -- require something reliable. The car we have driven on those trips for the past six years (and which had 50,000 miles on it when we bought it) has become increasingly questionable. We had significant repairs done before we took it on a long Christmas trip and realized that this was the last time we were comfortable with it that far from home.

The combination of personal preference and reliability led us to choose a Toyota Camry. We had a couple of secondary choices if the Camry didn't work out. Either of those might have been the preference except the higher cost made them less likely.

We set our budget for what we could pay in cash. We haven't had any debt for a long time, which was the result of many years of careful money management (I thank Cathy for that!). Our hope was to buy a late-model used car with low miles.

Over the weekend, I discovered just the type of car and deal which sounded promising. As you probably know, buying a used car means you might get some of what you want, but you probably won't get all of it. I made a mental list of the equipment that I would like to have and one or two "deal-breakers". For instance, a dark color meant "no deal" for us. Why? Think 115 degrees in the summer. In the shade. (What shade?) Over 50,000 miles was a deal-breaker -- I hoped for significantly less. Finally, it had to fit in our budget.

I had been watching the local marketplace for possibilities and to get an idea on current pricing. I researched price and reliability on sites like Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book. Finally, I started a serious search in the local paper, Craig's List and AutoTrader.

To my surprise, the best deal I found on a car that met most of my equipment list was available -- at a good price -- at a dealer. This particular new-car dealer has been in business here for many years and has a good reputation in the community. I was shocked to find a 3-year-old Camry, very well-equipped, with less than 15,000 miles for less than $15,000. My research on Carfax indicated a one-owner car, meticulously maintained and never in an accident. It's beautiful! We're grateful! Bought it yesterday.

I commented on the irony of the 15,000 number for both the miles and the price.

My father-in-law said it's good the car didn't have 80,000 miles!

If his logic were sound, I'd have looked for one with less than 100.


Liz said...

Congrats on the new car- sounds like a good deal!!

C. Beth said...

Papa's funny!

That sounds like a fantastic deal! How exciting!

Isabella said...

Wow...sounds like a great buy! I hope you get many, many miles out of it.

Cathy will tell you that I'm quite skilled at coming up with reasons we need something we don't really need. husband has this skill as well. Only he has never done this with vehicles - just with everything else. :)

Rachel Cotterill said...

I like your father-in-law's logic: all new cars should be free!

Paul Thompson said...

If I knew you were looking for a Camry, I would have called you sooner. I have had one sitting in my drive way for the past 6 months with nearly 300,000 miles on it. It only needed a new engine. I sold it for $300.00. Applying Bob's logic to this deal... WOW! I only hear people talk good about their Camry. Enjoy!

Sam said...

Thanks, Liz and Beth.

Isabella, today I wrote about cars. I just haven't confessed the other stuff yet!

Rachel, I accept your offer. Ixnay on yours, Paul!

Thanks, one and all, for smiles at the end of my day!