Why Did I Sell My Paid-For Dream Car?

2012 Mustang GT

The previous weekend was a sad moment in the Money Buffalo as we said farewell to a figurative member of the family for the past 4 years and 10 months.  My dream car.  A 6-speed 2012 Mustang GT.  We didn’t need the money and the last loan payment was made 3.5 years ago.  It only cost us the monthly insurance payment of $55 and the annual license plate renewal of $70 each year.  So why did I (my wife removed herself from this decision) decide to sell my dream car?

For several reasons, that I will lay out below.  But first, let me tell you why this was my dream car.  As Ford had reintroduced the 5.0 engine the year before, let’s just say I had been watching the various dealer inventories and Craigslist postings consistenly for two years to find an offer I couldn’t refuse.  A local dealer finally served one up with a unique exterior color (Lava Red Metallic) with black leather interior.

The sticker price on this beauty was $35,000 new.  I didn’t buy one new, my price limit was $30,000 so that meant I needed to buy used.  So, after several hours of negotiation and a test drive, I found myself with a car loan for $27,500.  My dream car was owned by the first owner for maybe 5 months and he put about 12,000 miles on during that time, but it still had the new car smell.  It was so new, the dealership told me it was the first preowned car they had sold of the most current model year (the 2013 models were not released yet).

When I purchased this sweet ride, I was 25 years old and didn’t even know my future wife even existed.  I was married to my former job and had the golden ball and chain to prove it.   I had just paid off my student loans a few months before and I finally found a car I fell in love with for a price I could afford.  As I purchased it on December 21st, I called it a Christmas present/student loan free celebration to myself.

Priorities Change

When I first purchased this car, I was 25 years old and wanted a fun ride.  I previously had a 1998 Mustang V6 and was ready to upgrade to a faster & bigger engine.  As soon as I shifted the gears and stepped down on the gas pedal during the test drive, I knew I needed the car. At the right price.  During my free time, I liked going on country drives exploring the back roads and finding my own hidden restaurant gems, giving Guy Fieri on the Food Channel a run for his money.

2012 Mustang GT

I lived in an apartment when I first purchased the car.

Fast forward five years and I am married, have a 16-month old, another arriving in April, and I spend my free time building a raised garden bed and planting grass seed before winter arrives.  I also only drive 40 miles a week and do not need a fancy ride to get from home to work.  As rear-facing car seats are highly impractical in sports cars, our most expensive material possession (besides our house) was only practical for one person, me.   Owning a $20,000 machine was no longer as important to only drive 2 days per week than it used to be and we can used the money more productively like paying down our house loan & increasing our net worth through saving and investing.

As I only drove the car on vacation & the weekends before I became a dad, as I had a company car with my former employer, I sold the car with 36,100 miles on it.  Over five years of ownership, I averaged 4,800 miles a year.  And most of those miles came from the annual 2,000-mile cross-country trek I did to visit extended family in the midwest.

If I needed a car to commute to work each day, I would have kept the Mustang.  It was paid for and had low miles. Plus it was fun to drive.  I could have sold it and bought a Honda Accord or Ford Fusion that got better gas mileage & cheaper, but after paying sales tax, we would have only had a few thousand dollars left to spend on something other than a car.

As I sold the car to a 22-year old boy, I realized I was finally “old.”  Some of you will say that being 30 is still relatively young, but, I have realized I don’t have quite the same energy/zeal I did  8 years ago.  My final words to him was to enjoy it while he still could. 😉

Insurance

After our monthly house payment, insurance is our largest monthly household budget expense.  It’s a first world problem, but most families spend a small fortune in health insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, and car insurance.  We insure just about anything that sleeps or is housed under our roofs each night.

I can’t remember where I read this (bloggers can feel free to refresh my memory), but, I once read this smart observation on how insurance affects the family budget.  Poor people do not have insurance because they cannot afford to buy anything this requires insurance, middle class families can afford to buy things and spend the rest of their money on insurance protecting their possessions, while rich people can buy & pay insurance and still afford to buy more.

The monthly insurance premium for my Mustang was $55 per month.  We own two other vehicles, a 1998 Ford Expedition & a 2009 Ford Flex.  The insurance for both of these cars combined is $68 monthly.

We own all of these cars and do not have a car payment and we can afford a $68 monthly for owning our two older vehicles that can carry the entire family just as easily as we could afford the $123 monthly car insurance payment with the Mustang.

But, I decided $55 can be spent more effectively on just about anything else.  Whether it’s buying a dozen donuts each week (instant gratification) or putting the money in the bank for retirement or vacation.  I get a better return on investment than continuing to give it to the insurance company.

Depreciation

The buy new vs. used car argument is about as old as buying vs. renting a house.  The main argument to buy a used car is because somebody else paid full price for the car and sold it for thousands of dollars less.

I like to think I got the best of both worlds with this car.  The original sticker price was $35,000 and I sold it for just under $20,000 as it needed new tires ($20,000 was the Blue Book Value).  As most cars depreciate the most during their first five years of ownership, this is why people who get a new car every few years do not realize (or might not care) they lose so much money.

The first owner took the initial depreciation penalty, which allowed me to save $7,000 from the original sticker price.  When I sold it, the Mustang depreciated 30% during the 5 years I owned it, but, it would have depreciated approximately 43% had I purchased it brand-new from the assembly line.

For me, depreciation is the largest sting for selling it and the “buyer’s remorse” set in 5 years later.  Had I sold it a year ago, I could have easily gotten an extra $1,000 out of the deal.  But, it’s okay.  I originally planned to keep the car until the wheels fell off.  I didn’t expect to change careers, have a family (silly me), or own a house.

For the forseeable future, my wife & I plan to buy used the rest of our cars.  Mostly because of depreciation & the only way we can currently afford to buy a new family car is with a car payment.  Until we pay off our house, we do not want another loan.  Even after we pay off our house, we do not want another loan again.

I’m not against buying new or next-to-new, if you buy a new vehicle and keep it for a long time, it can be very beneficial.  You know the maintenance history and you avoid the hassle & stress of having to go on test drives and talk to the dealers or Craigslist sellers.

Less Stress & Maintenance

Other than the annual oil change, the Mustang didn’t require any maintenance.  But, it needed new tires at $150 each, plus there are small things that start to pop-up at the 5-year mark like replacing the battery and other small “nickel & dime” repairs that start to add up.  Plus, with two other cars to maintain, I didn’t want to pay these additional costs for a third vehicle that isn’t a daily driver, especially when we need to get a new transmission soon for the Expedition and new tires for the Flex.

Another benefit (for me) of owning cheaper cars is I don’t cringe over every scratch in the paint.  I looked over the Mustang with a microscope and could tell you every where a bird sat on the car or where a pebble scratched the paint.  On a dark-colored car, they all show up like pink highlighter on a piece of white paper.  I no longer have to worry about getting an aneurysm each time a new scratch appears.

I still don’t want our other vehicles to get dinged up, but, a scratch on a $2,000 or $8,000 vehicle is less painful than a scratch on a $20,000 or $35,000 vehicle.

My Advice

Cars are the modern equivalent of horses.  Most people need them to get to work, go grocery shopping, visit family, etc.  As a car is a depreciating asset, they lose value each day until they ultimately get scrapped.

A car can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.  There is typically less maintenance with a new car, but is the opportunity worth the monthly loan payment and depreciation?  Only you can decide.

I don’t have regrets for buying my dream car.  I was single and all my older co-workers told me to buy it while I still could.  If I saw them today, they would say, “I told you so.”

My Mustang was fun to drive & it’s one reason my wife married me.  If I still had my old Mustang with 200,000+ miles, cloudy paint, and a smelly exhaust, I think my “stinginess” would have trumped the sentimentality of keeping that car when I could have afforded a nicer vehicle.

Now that I’m married, we want vehicles that are safe yet cheap.  Now that “Cash for Clunkers” is ancient history, the used car market is more affordable again.  There are some lemons out there, but, there are some new lemons as well.

For all the single people, if you can afford it, buy your dream car and don’t look back.  If the time comes to sell it, just remember, cars can be replaced and people cannot.  Enjoy it while you have it and cherish the memories.

Now we are using some of that money to pay down our house & save for the future.

Did you have a dream car?  Did you buy it?  Do you still have it?

Thanks for reading,

Josh

 

 

 

 

36 Comments on "Why Did I Sell My Paid-For Dream Car?"

  1. The Green Swan | October 23, 2016 at 5:19 am | Reply

    Times have changed for you as have your circumstances. Not a bad choice at all to get rid of it now, but you’re right, that certainly doesn’t mean it was a regretful decision to buy on the front end. You got a great deal and a lot of enjoyment out of it. Sorry you lost your dream car, but you’ve upgraded to a dream family. Enjoy!

    • Thanks Swan. It’s just a car so I haven’t lost any sleep over it leaving, but, the tradeoff of a family is more valuable than a piece of high-performance metal that can go really fast in a hurry.

  2. Isn’t it amazing how our priorities change as we get older and life changes? It seems to me like you were ready to let that dream car go.

    We used to buy new cars and trade them off every few years, which has cost us thousands and thousands of dollars. I’m glad we’ve changed our ways and, like you, we don’t plan to ever have another car payment.

    We just noticed our neighbors are driving a Bentley…Wow!

    • If I had a Bentley or Mercedes, etc., I would be so paranoid of driving it and getting it scratched it would sit in the garage with a cover all the time. Yes, I was finally ready to sell the car. Six months ago I wasn’t despite knowing the writing was on the wall.

      It is funny how life changes, I am around high schoolers with my job & that has helped me realize how life changes. They watched some of the same movies I watched at their age and thought they were hilarious. Now I’m wondering how many brain cells I lost during those years.

      Congrats on not wanting a car payment again either. I will admit is fun driving a new car and being the first owner, but, it’s not financially practical. Especially as family vehicles cost at least $30k-$50k. I recently thought it was a joke when I saw a commercial advertising 0% for 84 months, but it’s real. Even with 0% I don’t want to pay on a car for almost a decade.

  3. Wow the parallels between you and a friend of mine are crazy. He purchased around the same time you did. He doesn’t have a kid right now, but has one on the way in a month. I can totally see him selling it within the next year.

    • Funny how the world can seem so small sometimes. Whether or not he keeps his car might also depend on his hobbies. I know a couple people that have kept their sports cars because it was their hobby. If you ever needed to find them, chances are they are in the garage with a wrench in hand.

      For me, it was just a toy that I enjoyed to drive & pay somebody to do the routine maintenance.

  4. Loved reading this, Josh. The Mustang has been my dream car for as long as I can remember, and that car up there is one beauty of a car. I owed an ’81 Mustang and an ’86 Mustang in my twenties (yeah, I know; I’m aging myself 🙂 ) and they were still my fave cars to this day. I often dream of owning a late sixties fastback in a royal blue or cherry red. Maybe someday, but for now I have more important things to do, like secure the financial future of our family.

    Dream cars are SO fun, but there are things in life that are much more fun, namely family. 🙂

    Good for you for making the smart choice to put your BIG dreams ahead of your smaller dreams.

    • Those were good models & ’86 was a good year ;-). I had looked at buying a restored late sixties model myself but decided against it. I didn’t have the tools or a garage to do the maintenance and store the car, as even restored cars usually require more TLC than a 5-year old vehicle. I decided to buy a new model primarily because of these reasons.

      Who knows, I might buy one again in the future. But, I have a feeling I might be buying a truck instead. They go just as quickly on the highway, plus they hold the family and can haul stuff like boats or campers. Meaning the whole family can have fun, instead of just having a nice ride for me & my wife to go out on date night.

  5. I’ve always wanted a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve never wanted the fastest car or the best looking car but from some reason the Jeep Wrangler has always appealed to me. Don’t ask me why but it’s something I’ve always dreamed about.

    I’ve never pulled the trigger though because I was afraid of the reliability and most importantly it was over my self imposed budget of not spending more than $10,000 on a used car.

    If I ever fit into the rich category where I can insure my stuff and buy more stuff I may consider but it may be one of those things that I never get and I’m ok with that.

    • The Wranglers are nice looking vehicles, but, they are somewhat pricy because of their “buzz.” They are fun, I’ve had several friends that have owned them.
      $10,000 is a good price limit to set, anything more and most people have to consider getting a small loan or spend a few thousand more to get a like new vehicle with the new car smell still.

  6. I loved reading this! We sold our dream car– a black, two door, beautiful jeep wrangler after our first little guy was born. Trying to fit a rear facing infant carrier in the backseat with only two doors and a huge lift/tires just wasn’t feasible. And if baby can’t go, momma can’t go. It made sense to have it when it was just the two of us, but with a baby on board it was impractical. We actually did need the extra money which made it less sad to see it go.

    • At least with the Mustang you have to hunker down instead. We could fit the rear facing seat behind the passenger seat, but you had to scoot it all the way forward and the backrest needed to be at 45 degree angle, meaning nobody could sit up front. My wife could behind me but I had to move almost all the way forward as well.

      We are putting a decent portion of the proceeds toward our house payment. My wife said we could keep the car if I really wanted to, it was the only big thing I have ever bought for myself. But I said the money was more useful than a pretty car at this stage of life.

  7. Good move, Josh! You won’t regret it. And by the way, 30 is VERY young!

    • Thanks. I guess age is all relative. It’s been two weekends now, and honestly, there has been a day or two I forgot it was even missing.

  8. Wow a $55 monthly insurance payment.. I wish I could get there.. The insurance companies see me as way too risky because I’m only 21 (about to turn 22 in 2 months!) and pay about $165 a month. Which I still don’t think is horrible or too bad, but still, that’s a lot of money that goes out of my account every month. I can’t wait to turn 25 when the insurance companies magically see me as way less risky and pay less than I do for insurance. Ah, 3 years left to go!

    I don’t think I will ever buy a dream car because I don’t really have a dream car in mind. I only use my car for transportation and that’s how I like it! I’m the weirdest 21 year old, aren’t I?

    • I almost bought a GT when I was 22 but I think it was going to cost every bit of $200 or $300 a month to insure, so I stuck with my V6. My rates did drop noticeable when I was 25 and that is one reason I waited a few years to buy the car. Surprisingly, the rates for the sports car were cheaper than if I had bought a pickup truck, which I was also considering at the time instead. I sprung for the Mustang, I enjoy driving stick and love the speed as well.

  9. Sounds like you did the right thing Josh. I have to say I’ve never had a dream car or wanted to particularly own one. I want a nice, comfortable car that does everything we want it to. That’s why the only car we own is a 2007 Mazda 3, which we bought in cash for $10,750. It works perfectly and I imagine we’ll hold onto it for many years. 🙂

    Tristan

    • Thanks Tristan. The Mazda 3 is a nice ride and the one I rode in once was surprisingly spacious. A few years ago I had also considered purchasign the Mazda 6, you get a good sized car but still with a zippy engine. Congrats on being able to pay in cash for the car, not many have $10k around and solely focus on getting a small monthly payment.

  10. Wow, I know that must have been hard, but its probably the right thing to do. Unfortunately with cars, depreciation is always working against you.

    • It was a difficult choice because of the sentimentality. But, the depreciation also played a part too. I would have been even more apprehensive to let it go had I purchased it for the originally price of $35k, but, I know it was only going to lose value more each day. And I wasn’t going to drive it anymore than before. So selling it was the better opportunity cost with our present circumstances.

  11. That’s pretty cool you adjusted your approach to car ownership, even selling your dream car, as your priorities and commitments changed. I think people get into a lot of trouble when they just keep up old habits and ways despite their lives dramatically changing.

    • It took me a good year to come to terms, I had started to sell it several times before but backed off because I wasn’t ready. Thankfully a car is a more “trivial” habit to change than others.

  12. I did buy my “dream car”….My story is a bit different. My “dream car” was the ’77 924 Porsche(the first year of the water-cooled). I was young, making good money, and even test drove a “brand new one” at the dealership. BUT I was dating a special gal and buying the car would have put off marriage plans. So I decided to pass, got married with no regrets. About 5 years later, a guy had that same model car for sale at a good price and needed money….BADLY… I bought it, made needed repairs and it sits in my garage to this day. It’ll be 40 years old next year!

    • That’s an awesome story and I am glad you were able to find your dream car. I might buy a sports car in the future, but, right now I am okay if I don’t. I still want a fun ride & I have no regrets for buying my Mustang, but, I’m glad I could help somebody enjoy it as well & actually use it.

  13. Francois Petit | October 9, 2017 at 7:39 am | Reply

    Hello mate,
    similar story to mine and great read. Letting go is one of the most beautiful things in life but often one of the hardest. I sold my dream car after nearly 9 years to a young guy for much less than it is worth. It’s someone of my family so I can live on with a good feeling. Cars used to be the most important thing in my life but things changed. I have new dreams and goals and letting that car go brought me a step closer to my new goal and someone else is living his dream. So in the end it is a win win situation. When I am old and dying in my bed I will still recall all those great moments I had with the car or the fast motorcycle I once crashed. At least we lived and it was great while it lasted:). Cheers

    • Very true. You can’t take a car with you once you “give up the ghost.” A 21-year-old bought my car and he got a better deal than buying a brand-new one like I did because I waited until I was older and could afford one.

      Like you, I still have the memories and still salivate when I see a nice car or hear the word “Ferrari.” But, there are more important things in life that I can pursue to leave a legacy and also immediately impact the lives of those I meet. Nobody needs a fancy car to do that.

  14. hey man im 28 and just traded in my Dream black 2015 special edition Roush mustang owned for a year bought suprisely on a great deal,then I paid off, modded it, upgraded body even more, never thought of selling it but.. in company things got slower so i decided to make extra income and traded in for new luxury black car. was one the toughest decisions of my life, lot of road trips, races, girls,was turning my head everytime i was parking that beauty. but got to the point when my future was more important than my dream car so i made the decision. the day i sold it man was emotional.. I plan lil later to go back to newer model, though i know it wont be the same like the ONE was.. excellent post man, wish u all the best!

    • I’d love to sit behind a Roush! I currently drive a 2004 V6 and still get some fun in. I only drive 60 miles a week on city roads where 65 is literally the fastest you can go in some spots, so the tradeoff of still having a Mustang and mountain of cash is better than keeping the old GT that I wasn’t enjoying to its full potential.

      Now another gearhead has it and is probably enjoying it more than I. Maybe one day I might consider getting one again in that body style, but we’ll see.

  15. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m in my late 30s, two kids and we are considering a 3rd. I won’t be able to fit three in my ’07 GT coupe. My wife has a small SUV, but we’ve settled on getting a bigger 3rd row SUV for me. I’m having a hard time letting my Mustang go. I want to just keep it in the garage and give it to one of my kids when they are older, but I realize that this wouldn’t be a good 1st car for anyone. So I’ll have to hold on to it for quite a while. It’s a tough call, but it’s nice to see others have been able to let go. I just might have to do the same. Great post, take care!

    • If it’s paid for and you don’t have to sell it to help buy your replacement vehicle I’d say don’t get in a hurry selling it. My car ’12 GT was still new enough that the opportunity cost was worth it.

      Since I first wrote this article, I have an ’04 V6 model that only cost $4,000 and it’s my town car. It costs about $25 a month to insure and is perfect for me. It’s not a GT but it’s still a Mustang so I’m happy for the 100 miles a week I drive it.

  16. Thanks for sharing this story. Like you I purchased my dream car – used – back in 2007 shortly after graduating with my Graduate degree and landing a job in my field. My dream car is a 2005 Subaru WRX STi. New was not in my budget like you.
    Fast forward to 2018 and the car has been paid off over 7 years ago. Again only the insurance, registration and yearly oil change to take care of. However since then I have got married, have a 3 year old son and about to close on a new house. Plus I’m much older but still drive a car with a giant wing! We already have 2 other cars that are also paid off. My commute to work is only 10 minutes but traffic is bad and not fun for a manual transmission so I drive my Civic while the STi sits garaged.
    I love the car but wondering if it is still worth it to keep it. Amazingly the car value has barely depreciated since I bought it. I have only driven 7k miles in the last 6 years. KBB Private party value is ~$24k which is just a few k less than the price I paid for it. Glad I found your post and may need to consider.

    • The WRX is an awesome car(I remember my classmates salivating over them) and it’s current KBB value reflects that. I’m glad it’s one car that’s maintained its value 13 years later. And, congrats on having the cars paid off, that gives you a lot of flexibility and you can afford not to sell.

      My personal opinion is to sell the car, but you have to be at peace with selling before you decide too. Since it’s paid off and not rapidly depreciating, you have two advantages that most car owners don’t have. You’re not forced to sell to make ends meet which is always peaceful.

      I still wish I had my car, but I’m glad I made the decision I did. Personally, I can think of many other things to spend $24,000 on. If you can use the money to pay off any other debt or something else productive, it might be better to sell. On the flip side, it’s still a machine that requires maintenance and costs money and takes up garage space. Plus, you have $24,000 sitting in an asset you rarely use.

      And, I don’t blame you for driving the Civic so you don’t have to drive stick in traffic (where I live it’s more hills than traffic that’s the nuisance).

      Since I wrote this post, I got a 2004 Mustang V6 that had a KBB of $4,000 when I bought it. I actually sold it two weeks ago after owning it for a year and a half. I only put 1,000 miles on it a year because I’ve switched jobs and it was getting to the point that it needed maintenance (clutch and tires). I expected to drive it more than I did and I still wanted a stick shift.

      P.S. Since the WRX still has a high blue book value with a specialty fan base, you should have an easier time selling if you choose to. Nobody wants to drive a manual transmission anymore and I sat on my 2004 Mustang for several months and had to sharply come down on the price because it was a low-end V6. If it was an automatic, it would have sold immediately and for a higher price. Plus, if it had the V8 it would have probably sold easier too since they can be souped up.

  17. The most expensive cars in the world are about so much more than transportation.

    • Fully agree; that’s why it was hard for me to sell mine. I could afford to keep it, but it was time for somebody else to enjoy it to its full potential. It’s just that most people buy the fancy the car first when it should instead be the last thing they buy.

  18. I remember buying an immaculate crotch rocket when I was getting out of the Army. I phoned my Dad, “The seller has a wife and a baby, another on the way.” My dad laughed, “Snip, Snip!” He jeered.

    Now… I have a wife and 2 LOs, no motorcycle. Funny how that happens.

    • Life is a big circle. I miss my car but wouldn’t trade-in my family to get it (and my bachelordom) back.

      Now we can live vicariously through others.

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