Car Shopping Framework – 7 Principles That Guide Us

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We are in the car market again after two years with our current fleet. Our SUV has reached the point when it is starting to require quite a few repairs and as I have written before, vehicles are a budget item that I confess to being a guilty pleasure splurge.

The SUV we will sell is a 2011 model with 114K miles. We have really enjoyed owning it, but even if we end up buying a newer version of the same make & model that we have now – I will be excited to get the newest features and have everything look fresh & shiny.

Our principles for car shopping were written out in our FIRE financial framework, long before we retired. They have guided our fleet for a few purchases and seem to be working well. They are quite aligned with the findings outlined in the Thomas Stanley book The Millionaire Next Door

  1. – Do not lease or finance anything – pay cash only
  2. – We don’t buy new vehicles but look for ones a couple years old
  3. – Look for cars with less than ~20K (our last buy only had 4.4K!)
  4. – Prioritize cars with remaining bumper-to-bumper warranties
  5. – Look for makes/models that get good reliability marks
  6. – Avoid impulse buying – do research online ahead of time
  7. – Hang onto them for about 4-5 years, or ~100K miles

I called a couple car dealerships this week letting them know exactly what I am looking for: make, model, years, and specific options/colors that we want. I will also start searching and other sites to find it.

It’s important to me to get exactly what we want since we’ll be using it every day for the next few years. As long as we are reasonably patient, I am sure we will find exactly what we want in at least the next 45-60 days.  This won’t be as much fun to buy as the sports car we bought just as we were zipping into early retirement, but it is always fun for me to start the hunt.

What are some other approaches you use to shop for vehicles?

Image Credit: Pixabay

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