A Change in Car Plans

Back in December, I wrote about how I was going to drive my car into the ground.  From that point on, I have barely spent any money on the vehicle outside of oil changes and a minor (~$200) brake repair, making this year one of the cheapest, ownership-wise, that I have had (so far) with this car.  It was my intention to get another 3 to 5 years out of this vehicle and basically roll it into the dealership or wrecking yard and get a bit of money for it (my last car barely made it to the used car dealership and they gave me $100).  So, what changed?

Over the summer, my 27-year old wife decided she wanted to learn how to drive.  The only hitch to this plan was that she did not want to learn how to drive my manual transmission, which is the reason why over the next 8 months (the time period that she will hold her G1 driver’s license in Ontario) we will be looking for a new car.  Realistically, she could probably learn to drive the 5-speed that we currently have (and is already paid for), but the thought of it stresses her out and I would prefer her to be comfortable driving.  One of the main reasons she has decided to get a driver’s license is there is a job she is interested in that is outside of any public transit route that will begin in late spring of 2011 and I am unwilling to drive her the 15-20 minutes to and from the location.

In response to this expense, over the past few months we have accelerated our car-savings plan, putting aside the rest of our savings goals.  We are still maintaining an accelerated payment schedule on our mortgage, and think (as long as there are no major expenses that come up) we should have the necessary amount of money to get a new (or new to us) car in April or May of next year.

In addition to the monetary side of the car purchase, I have intensified the research side of buying a car.  When I bought my last car, I was not that well-equipped at all.  I basically found a vehicle that I liked and paid what the used-car dealer asked me to, with very little research other than a quick test drive around the block.  This time, there will be significantly more examination of the purchase and more thought put into the care rather than buying the sportiest car I could find to match the amount of money I had in my bank account (I was 23 and slightly less mature at the time).

So, the bottom line is that I’m car-shopping over the fall and winter, which is both fun and expensive.  I was hoping to not have to do this for a few years, but the payback is that I don’t have to do all the driving for our household, which offers something positive for this large expense.

Have you had any significant changes in your spending plans lately?  How did you react?

10 thoughts on “A Change in Car Plans”

  1. Oh, too funny. My wife was also a ‘late to learn’ driver. I finally got here to get her license prior to having kids.

    So you plan to have two cars now? Just making sure I understand.

    As to spending plans I think I’ve hit a little change at least once a year. Something always comes up, but typically it is small enough that it doesn’t affect the long term goals all that much.


  2. We’re going to stay a one-car household, my work is within a reasonable bike ride / walk / bus commute. At this point it’s not worth the extra money for maintenence / parking / insurance etc. – I’d just like to share the driving responsibilities on long road-trips.

  3. I have had some challenges and changes in spending plans. My car has broken down many many times in the past few months and repairs are expensive. I’m thinking of selling it and purchasing a more reliable, and much newer one. that means i’ll have to shift things around and make a new plan for retirement income planning.

  4. If you do a lot of city driving you should look at a hybrid, or something like the Chevy Volt. If you do a lot of highway then pretty much any mid sized sedan would do. Do you have cars or car types in mind yet?

  5. Also, we’ve just had a major shift in finances as my spouse who had a failed attempt at starting a business about a year ago, went to work for someone else for a while and realized that no money will be made that way, and is just now making attempt number 2 at doing things on their own. Hopefully round 2 is better than the first attempt, or it’s going to be a bumpy road ahead 🙂

  6. @ Anne – If you’re like me and looking at used cars, you just have to hope you don’t end up with a lemon – good luck in your search!

    @ Traciatim – Right now our main criteria is it has to be an automatic, and we’d prefer a hatchback for storage purposes. I’m looking at cars like Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and the Toyota Yaris.

    Best of luck in your spouse’s new venture.

  7. I bought a new car a couple weeks ago (okay, a new used car 😉 ). Honestly, it was a very stressful experience to me!

    Although I do really enjoy negotiation (especially with car dealers!), it was the amount involved (near 15 000$) that was making me feel very nervous.

    But it was no choice… my old car died and we found a great deal (awesome to be honnest): a 4 years car that was only about 27 000km! No rust, A1 shape… so we bought it.

    Good luck for your shopping!

  8. For anyone buying a new car from a dealer, I recommend carcostcanada.com. It’s a great way to know you’re not being taken advantage of.

    With a used car, it’s a little more difficult because there are more variables: condition, mileage, warranty, etc. I recommend visiting http://www.vmrcanada.com/ to get a good idea of a fair price.

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