Over the holidays, my wife and I will spend a lot of time in the car. According to Google Maps over the next three weeks I’m driving 2,400 km which is basically a giant circle around Southwestern Ontario. I’m not sure what other people do on their trips, but for the most part our time is split equally between the following activities:
- Listening to podcasts: I am heavily attached to several, but I would highly highly recommend The Vinyl Cafe podcast (available through iTunes) – most of the other ones are not really family friendly. Many hours have passed by listening to these.
- Dance Parties: I do all of the driving on these trips (my spouse does not have a license) and the only way my passenger will stay awake is with the stereo cranked and singing/dancing along to some country (or at this time of year Christmas) songs – a lot of people like to “admire” these dance parties.*
- Talking: Over 20+ hours in a car allows for some fairly in-depth conversations on many topics (if you want to get caught up with your significant other, just start driving).
In a recent conversation we talked about what we were going to do with my car. I am currently driving a 2002 Nissan Sentra S-ER. I bought the car used five and a half years ago and have averaged 19,000 km per year in driving (it currently has about 155,000 km on it). There are a few obvious rust spots starting to show up that will need attention in the spring, as well as a few repairs that will probably total about $1,000 to $2,000 over the next year or so. We were planning on buying a car in the fall of 2011, but after a lengthy discussion came to the following conclusions:
We’d like a “new” (to us) car, but don’t need one: The current car just had a new engine installed 50,000 km ago (under warranty). The engine in this car is probably in just as good or better condition then anything we’d buy right now.
We’d rather pay off the house then have a new car: Provided there are no major repairs, it seems like it aligns better with our current financial goals to use any available money to pay down our mortgage then to have something that is not really needed.
In the end we decided that we are going to drive my poor Nissan into the ground. Financially I think this makes sense, to essentially bring the vehicle value to $0 and get all of the use we can while we are paying down our mortgage.
While we are paying down the mortgage we will still be saving money for a new car. There has to be a point where it isn’t worth fixing. We decided that $3,000 would be our cut-off where we would essentially call it quits, even if it happens next year. I’m hoping that because I have kept the vehicle maintained this will never happen, but sometimes this kind of thing is beyond a car-owner’s control (as I have found out with previous vehicles).
I’m sure this plan will get refined over time, but that’s what we are currently thinking.
I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. If you see a silver Nissan driving around with a girl dancing in the front seat, after you’re done pointing and laughing, give me a wave 🙂
What do you think of our plan for our car? Any Suggestions?
*According to my iTunes most played songs – the current favourite is “My Favorite Things” – as made famous in The Sound of Music.