Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Perspectively Buying a Car

Presently, I am at Junior's Coin Laundry and Tanning on Mayfield Road near Coventry. As I was transferring my dirty clothes into a quadruple load washer, I couldn't help but overhear a couple of guys behind me. Both of them, most likely Case Western students, were paging through those free Auto Mart catalogs one finds in the entryway of grocery stores. The kid in the white Under Armour top remarked of how he is going to buy a "nice" car.
His buddy made sure that this hypothetical car would arrive after he graduates and lands a job (probably in engineering).
White Under Armour confirmed this, said that once he gets himself started out (60K a year?), he's not dropping his money on a fancy TV or furniture or a family. His money is going to a car. He estimated $30 grand on his first car. A bit extravagant for me, but who am I to judge? He went on to say that this "nice" car would more than likely be a luxury model, like a Mercedes or a Volvo.
I have to admit that over the past few weeks, I have strongly considered buying a car. In particular, I am interested in the new Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon TDI. Since my bike was stolen a couple months ago, I have been spending a lot more time on the RTA, which is not a bad thing, mind you, but is taxing after a while. My rationale lies in the belief that I've earned a nice car (example: new clean diesel car) in not really driving the past two years.
It is interesting the duality in the theft of my car in '07 causing me to bike more, while the theft of my bike has me considering buying a car. Now, I still plan on buying a new bike -- in particular the Surly Long Haul Trucker, but I'm thinking that a vehicle could also suit me well. Especially the classy VW Jetta SportWagon TDI.
I asked some advice of my father, who really enjoyed the opportunity to sound off on his new car buying experiences. The two of us are apples of the same tree, and are likewise spendthrifts -- not necessarily misers, but not wont to throw our money (what little of it) around. We are financial scrutinizers, first and foremost, and not prone to action unless cornered or having made an informed decision after a long process of deliberation.

This morning, I had breakfast with Alex and she offered to take me to some dealerships this weekend. I could not help but feel that I was somehow selling out, that I was violating some set of ideals to which I had subscribed myself. When people ask me (and they tend to ask a lot) why I choose not to have a vehicle, I offer a three-part answer:

  1. My last car never, ever worked right, then was stolen, which cost more money to bail of the impound than it was actually worth. With that in mind, I'm looking to save money. Honestly, with my last car, life was harder with it than without. (see: Shelia-5)
  2. I wish to live green.
  3. A car is not necessary in my day-to-day life, as I can take public transit to work and live in a neighborhood that has amenities such as the grocery within walking distance.

At this stage in my life, though, a vehicle is a luxury I can probably afford. Whether or not the vehicle I select is the VW Jetta TDI remains to be seen (40+ mpg is tempting, though). My old man suggested a Kia, as that would be more affordable than VW and offer comparable gas mileage. He also suggested for me to take my time, which was the highlight of our 40 minute conversation. Why would I rush into buying a car? Three out of the last four years, I have been vehicle-less, and a few more months without will not kill me.

So right now, I play a waiting game, as I come to terms with ending a very definitive stage of my live: those years when I did not have a car.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Don't do it. Wait till after grad school, if then. Don't do it.