Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 13, 2012
I’m a firm believer in the idea that if opportunity knocks at your door you should at least answer it. That doesn’t mean you have to take the opportunity, but you should at least explore the idea. So with that in mind a few months back I setup a $100,000 line of credit secured by the house. I figured that it might come in handy…oddly enough that happened last weekend.
I got call from from a family member who said “You know that 2007 Camry Hybrid that I got. You expressed some interest in it a while back and I’m selling it. Are you interested?”
It was rather like asking does the sun rise…I’m a eco nut at times so obviously I would be interested. Yes I know the math on hybrids that you really never get your money back on gas savings (unless you keep it a very long time or gas prices get much higher). Despite that fact I have toyed with the idea of buying a used hybrid for my next car, it was a complete ‘want’ item. Yet it had been on my ‘want list’ for years.
There was just one little problem: I wasn’t planning on buying a new car until like 2013 or perhaps 2014. Our plans for 2013 were the kitchen renovation and our trip to Newfoundland. Yet my current car is 11 years old and has about 160,000 km on it, so looking at a replacement now won’t hurt. So I agreed to stop over for a test drive the next evening.
Meanwhile the morning of the test drive I got up early and hit the internet in research mode. I checked used car sites and gathered some price data I saw a few 2009 models in my area going for $18,500 to $21,000 with around 75,000 km. I checked insurance costs for my car vs the Camry. Just over $80 a year more, but the in city gas mileage would likely more than compensate for that cost. Then I Googled my way to some reviews of the car and found all its weak points: a much smaller trunk than the regular Camry and apparently there was a subtle shift when the car went from electric to gas modes. I could likely deal with the shift in modes, but I would learn that on my test drive, but the trunk could be a deal breaker.
You see my wife and I had some previous conversations on what we would like in our next car. We decided we loved our really cheap fuel bill, so good gas mileage was essential. We needed a bigger back seat since as our boys grow up they will need more leg room. Then lastly our current car was occasionally a bit small in the trunk during a few situations: one was going camping (a few things ended up in the back seat) and the other was visiting my mother-in-law for Christmas (she has been known to fill it). Neither situations are common, but a bit more room would be useful.
So we decided to simulate our one situation: camping. I decided I would load up all the bulky gear in my car when we headed over to the test drive. If I could easily get all of that in the trunk with room to spare, it would likely be at least equal to my car, which it should because according to the manufacture specs the trunk in the Camry was almost the same size of my Echo (by the way, the Echo has a freakishly huge trunk given the size of the car).
As we setup the time for the test drive I remembered to confirm the mileage on the car, the answer was “38,000 km or so.” What?!? I thought to myself, he is asking $18,500 for a car with half the mileage I saw online. Mmm, my initial thoughts of wondering how much to negotiate on this deal started to vanish. Apparently I was already getting the family discount.
So my wife and I arrived for our test drive. I was given the grand tour of the car and was a little shell shocked since while the car is 6 years newer than mine I had forgotten that the Camry Hybrid was leading edge when it came out. It didn’t help matter much the Toyota had obviously loaded the crap out of the car to make it appealing: leather heated seats, keyless entry and push button start, an excellent stereo system and of course a slew of menus to tell you all about how good your mileage was. Yes, it was impressive, but I still had my truck test to preform.
So before even pulling out of the driveway we checked two things. One I sat in the back seat to check leg room for an adult. Yes it was much better than our car and even if my kids broke the 6 foot barrier they should be find back there. The second was the trunk test: it handled everything I loaded in. Yet there wasn’t a lot of room left over, overall it was about the same size of my current trunk so I wasn’t gaining anything there.
Then the next test was the drive. First off the ride was both very smooth and incredibility quiet. Yes a electric engine is quiet, but apparently Toyota also made the cab very well insulated for sound even when using the gas engine. I heard the plastic in the car shift a tiny bit and my breathing while going down a hill. Crazy. The car also handled very well and could still accelerate well for passing. Overall I was happy with the ride and would consider buying it. My wife also had a drive and agreed. Her only minor concern was getting used to parking a wider vehicle, but frankly that was likely to happen regardless of what we buy in our next car.
Overall it came down to the fact: can I live with not getting a bigger trunk? Given our current car is fine like 95% of the time I decided I could. So then I wrote a cheque for approximately double my current mortgage balance in less than 24 hours from when I first talked about the car. I was impulse buying in a big way.
So much for being completely debt free by the end of October. Yet I suppose that was the point of paying off the mortgage, being ready to handle opportunities as the came up. Below is a picture of the ‘new’ car. So what was your biggest impluse buy?