real money growth

vehicle rants: is there a right decision?

PROFITABLE DECISIONSGComment

About the author

Hello, I’m the author of realmoneygrowth.com, an engineer, and Mint enthusiast. I grew my savings to $93K in a little over 4 years by using simple life-hacks, living frugally, and optimizing daily life tasks. You can call me G.

“Before pursuing a side-hustle to increase your income, let’s optimize your expenses first.” - G


Beware, read at your own risk! Below are 3 random vehicle rants on personal auto leases and purchases. Some rants may save you a couple of bucks and some may not fit for your savings needs. It is up to you to determine if you can integrate the rants into your lifestyle.

buying a 20-year-old truck: took a small hit

Growing up in Northern California, in a very small town with population around 3,500, surrounded by farmland, I knew from an early age that I had to buy a lifted truck. I also knew that this dream would not come true for a while.

My aunt gave me my first vehicle. It was an old sedan with transmission issues. My father and I fixed the issues for cheap, and I drove the car while attending high school. A few years, and a few vehicles later, I had graduated from CSU Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Probability and Statistics.

I landed a job in Aliso Viejo California and began searching for my dream truck. Once I found the truck, on a Craigslist ad, I started to make very poor financial decisions. First, I needed an additional $5,000 USD cash to buy the truck from the owner. I researched online and applied for a personal loan. I don’t remember the interest of the loan - probably very excessive due to my age and lack of credit history.

So, I took the loan and the $3,000 USD cash I had saved and went to go buy my truck. As soon as I bought it, it became the biggest money-pit I had ever seen. I went to fill up the gas tank, and what do you know, the fuel gauge didn’t work. At the gas station, I noticed that the brake-lines on the front of the truck were too short for the lift. The list goes on and on. I must have dumped another $3,000 USD into the truck to make it safe to drive.

I was at the gas station every week filling up both tanks.  I ended up cutting my losses and selling the truck for $7,000 USD - taking a hit of $4,000 USD.  I’m not proud of this story, but these poor financial decisions did lead me to where I am today.  Financial mistakes happen to all of us.  If we learn from them, we are headed in the right direction. 

Here’s what I learned:

1) If you are not mechanical, bring someone who is.

2) Make sure to take your time and inspect everything.

3) Run the vin number to make sure that the mileage is as advertised, and that the vehicle is paid-off.

4) Research to make sure that you can pay for the fuel bill, insurance, and maintenance.

5) Sleep on it and really make sure that you want the vehicle.

6) When you perform any cash transaction, do it at the bank so that they can check the bills for legitimacy.

 

leasing vs buying: what should you do?

When it comes to transportation, there is more than a one-size-fits-all approach. When I decided to lease my first vehicle, a brand new 2016 Subaru WRX, I had become very frustrated with auto repairs. I owned my dream truck and an old S10 that I used to commute to CSU Fullerton with. Owning the two trucks, at the same time, was draining my savings and consumed all my time. I was constantly taking both trucks in to the shop to have them repaired.

I did this for a year and had had enough! It was time to sell both vehicles and purchase something more reliable. But, what do I do? I had never purchased a vehicle before and really did not want to commit to a $500 a month car payment. I began to research. I told my father about my predicament, and he recommended purchasing a WRX. I told him, right away, “no way,” those cars are way too expensive for me.

A couple weeks had passed, and I slowly started Googling “WRX.” I found that the factory Subaru honored lease for a WRX, at the time, was under $400 per month. I could swing this; but how much is the down payment? I saw that the down was a little over $1,200. “Hmm, okay, this is doable,” I thought to myself. I need to sell both trucks, first.

Some more time passed, and I was able to sell my dream truck and pay back the personal loan that I took to purchase it. I then sold my S10. I was ready to go to the dealership and test drive a new WRX. My fiancée and I went to Irvine Subaru, in Southern California, on a Saturday to look at the car. I was greeted quickly and before I knew it, I was starting the test drive. The test drive was rough - I hadn’t driven a turbo stick-shift car in my life, and the WRX was a challenge at first. We survived, and I decided to pursue the three-year 36,000-mile lease.

I told the salesperson that I saw a factory Subaru under $400 per month lease that the dealerships must honor. The salesperson told me, “you are going to need excellent credit to qualify for this offer.” I told him, “run my score.” He went to go run the score and came back with a smile. He told me that I qualified - sweet! I drove the car home that same day.

Road-side assistance, oil changes and maintenance, drivetrain and engine warranties, were all covered for the life of the lease. I did not have to worry about maintenance anymore. I turn the car in next month, and did not lose a second of sleep, over the past three years, worrying about if my WRX would start or not. I also did not put a dime into the car over the entire three years, even when the battery died. It was replaced for free by Irvine Subaru.

My overall leasing experience has been amazing. Yes, in the end, I am out the money I paid per month for the lease; but, not having to worry about maintenance freed up so much of my time. I invested this free time into my career, personal relationships, and even hobbies such as blogging.

 

what happens after the lease?

After making two attempts to turn in my leased Subaru, it wasn’t until attempt three that I was successful. The first attempt, I took the car in to the dealership a few weeks early. I was debating on turning it in and renting a car or just taking Uber until I got my used truck I purchased. At the dealership I was told that the lease pre-check needed to be completed by Subaru; this was a little confusing to me, because I thought that I was at Subaru? The gentleman at the dealership told me that I should have received a postcard in the mail from Subaru that had a number on it to call in order to get the lease return pre-inspection. I drove home to start digging for the piece of mail.

I found the postcard and waited until Monday to call the number. When I called, I was told by the machine that they were experiencing a high number of calls and that if I left a voice message, I would be called back in order to set up the pre-inspection. I left a message and waited, waited, and waited some more. A day passed and no call. Two days passed and still no call. I called again and left a second message. Over 20 days passed, and my calls were not returned.

I then decided just to take the car in and hand it off. I woke up early on a Monday and drove to the dealership. A gentleman in the office told me that the lease-return guy would not be in till 12. Attempt #2, failure. I drove to work and then back to the dealership a little after 12. Oh, and the people at the dealership would not let me leave the car there for three hours until the lease-guy started work. I needed to hand him the keys and sign some paperwork. The third attempt was a success. The hand-off was easy and fast - 10 minutes tops. I asked how much I would owe on the car, and the gentleman told me that Subaru would contact me and let me know. It’s been a couple of weeks; I’m still waiting.

The overall leasing experience was good; however, I decided to purchase a used vehicle with cash. The vehicle is not as old as my 20-year-old truck, but it’s not brand-new. So far, the purchased used vehicle has been great, but I am setting some money aside for future repairs.