1. Understand that a vehicle will always lose value, and don’t sink all your money into a status symbol.
2. As soon as you pay off the brand-new van you shouldn’t have purchased brand-new but didn’t know any better at the time, start putting the amount that would have been your van payment in savings. Do this for five years.
3. Save up $10K or so and hope your old 1997 Mercury Sable wagon doesn’t go kaput, but kind of wish it would go kaput because you hate it.
A van AND a wagon? Not cool.
4. Start looking for a low-mileage, gently-used vehicle when your car guy says your wagon’s transmission isn’t looking so hot.
5. Ask awesome church member who happens to be the general manager at an auto dealership to look out for a vehicle for you.
6. When said awesome church member/general manager calls a few weeks later with a fabulous deal on a low-mileage Mazda Tribute, go look at it. And then buy it on the spot, because there aren’t many good gently-used, low-mileage vehicles floating around right now with the economy the way it is.
7. Call your insurance company and get quotes on full coverage vs. liability, and crunch a bunch of numbers. (Dave says, if you can afford to replace the vehicle on the spot, just get liability. If you can’t, get full coverage. We’re going to do full coverage for a few years since the vehicle still has pretty good value, and will go down to liability after we’ve had a chance to build our savings back up.)
8. Enjoy the new car, and the lack of a car payment.
9. Start saving again, knowing the van will need replacement and/or repairs in the next 5-10 years.
10. Oh, who am I kidding? I love this vehicle. It’s twenty jillion times cooler than the wagon. But, remind self of #1. And then go for a drive.