The Beloved Beater: The Paid Off Car

When we first came in for financial coaching in 2013, we had one last remaining debt – our 2007 Honda Odyssey (named Homer) that we had purchased used but with low mileage in 2010.  We’d done some things right when we bought it – researched and came up with a model that had a great track record, traded in our old Suburban for more than it was worth, paid under $25k (well, with that extended warranty, it was more).   But we made a big mistake in that we focused on the monthly payment amount instead of the total price.  In fact, almost the entirety of our purchase was based on a monthly number.  And secure with that, we thought we were doing right.  But we would have ended up paying over $2000 in interest. We longed for a paid off car.

I write “would have” because, fortunately for us, we decided to hire a financial coach, Mark Pickle.  We began coaching sessions in March 2013, and by November of that same year, we’d paid off the remainder of our car debt, which at that time was still almost $15k!  It’s amazing what you can do when you actually budget!

Since 2013, we’ve always paid cash for a car, paying ourselves the car payment in advance.  Currently, we are saving for the replacement for this van which we lovingly call Homer.  But we will run this guy until it won’t run anymore before we get another one. 

Here are three ways we’ve kept Homer (aka our paid off car) on the road:

  1.  Regular maintenance – fortunately, my husband is very good at all this.  Thanks to this car (and our other beaters), he’s learned A LOT about how to fix cars.  I can depend on him to change the oil and other fluids, change the brakes, and other repairs.  He’s followed many YouTube tutorials for how to repair nearly everything.  If you do not have a hubby who enjoys that sort of thing…..
  2. …..Find a mechanic you trust.  This is a big one.  And our guy has saved us THOUSANDS of dollars through the years.  We know our car needs  the repair that our mechanic tells us it needs.  And nothing more.  And if we need to estimate what something might cost (even maintenance), we use Repair Pal
  3. Discount Tire.  For all our tires on all our cars, we go here.  From free tire rotations and balancing, to free flat repairs and replacement tires when they cannot be repaired, Discount Tire is definitely a key player in the keep-car-costs-low game.  You can research tires on their site, save time by making an appointment, and pay for the tires in advance. 

In my next post in the Beloved Beater series, we’ll be discussing the process for buying a cash car.