Save Money: Why We Drive Crappy Cars

I’ve never owned a new car, neither do I ever intend on buying one. (Except maybe for a DeLorean time machine replica. That’d be worth spend money on. If I’m ever filthy rich).

I just don’t see the appeal of adding “car payment” to my pile of bills. I’d rather pay in cash, and when that’s not possible, pay it back as quickly as possible on my own terms. Which is why when we did borrow money to pay for a car, we did it on a low cost line of credit and paid it off within a few months.

We drive our cars into the ground and don’t particularly care about the way they look, because we’re not into cars. If you are into cars, then all the power to you—spend your money on that.

But me and hubby would rather spend the money on travel and other experiences. Which is why we drive “crappy” cars. I put “crappy” in quotation marks here, because truth be told, our cars look crappy, but they’re pretty darn awesome. We get our money’s worth out of the cars we buy. Even the wreckers were impressed with how far we were able to push our last van:

 

save money: buy crappy cars. Car dashboard showing over 400,000 well-travelled kilometers

 

This baby drove both me and my husband to work, my kids to several activities, and took our whole family from Kingston, ON, to London, ON, several times. It didn’t look half bad for how old it was and how much mileage it had, either:

 

 

I finally retired it and sold it to the wreckers for $475, because when a car this old (it was a 2003, and this is 2018) gets to a certain point, it’s best to let it go. The exhaust smelled foul and the whole car was covered in rust, in parts that actually mattered. Like the engine. So it was time. Plus, we had already decided to let this car go after we purchased another one since this one started dying, but this mean gray machine just kept on going. And then it finally came time to send it to the graveyard for cars. We shall miss you, gray beast.

We currently drive a car that looks like a taxi. Like the gray beast, we purchased it from a transportation company that was retiring a client vehicle, and this particular one had been branded with its fleet number. We never bothered to remove the number, because, well, what’s the point? So we currently drive a car that looks like a taxi. But it cost us $3,000 for a car that seats 7 people and does its job.

Our cars may not look amazing, but they take us from point A to point B safely, if not in style. And best of all, buying these “crappy cars” helps us to save money for what matters to us: family travel, adventure, and experiences with our kiddos.

If you don’t care about what your car looks like, and you also want to save money on your next purchase, let me share our secrets about saving money on car payments with you. Here’s how we’ve been able to have cars without car payments for the last 12 years:

We always buy used cars.

We don’t see the point of buying a new car—it starts losing its value as soon as you drive it off the lot, and some of them cost as much as multiple salaries. I have other things I’d like to save money for and spend money on. So if you want to save significant money when buying a car, used is the way to go.

We save money and pay for our cars in cash.

If you don’t want the hassle of car payments, it’s best to save money and pay for the car in cash. While you’re saving, invest in a used bicycle and get some exercise while you commute. If you’re hardcore enough, you can even ride your bicycle through the winter like my husband did for a couple of years.

We buy our cars from private sellers.

If you want to save money when buying a car, buying from a car lot is almost never the best option. The markups are huge. If you do some research and are willing to travel a little to get a good deal, eBay, Kijiji, and other sales sites can be great places to find used cars. Just be sure to get the car inspected by a mechanic before agreeing to buy, and ensure you do all the proper paperwork required by your province or state.

We buy our cars in unusual ways.

The last two cars we owned came from a local transportation company that does bus tours. They have vehicles that they use to transport clients from airports to their bus stations, and when these vehicles get to a certain mileage, they sell them dirt cheap. We know these cars have been excellently taken care of, because they were client vehicles, and they’ve mostly been driven on the highway. So although our last two cars were already at 200,000 kilometers when we got them, they passed their inspections with flying colours,  and we got our money’s worth (as you can see in the above picture).

Saving money when buying a car is important to us because we have other things that we prefer to spend our money on. As Paula Pant would say, “you can afford anything, but you can’t afford everything.” We know we can afford our family adventure travel, but we couldn’t do that and buy new, beautiful cars, too. And since we don’t really care what our cars look like, this works perfectly for us.

How do you save money?

 

 

Accountability in Practice: How I Stay Accountable with My Personal Goals

I’m not great with accountability. Let me rephrase that. I’m an accountable person when it comes to my work. But when it comes to personal goals, I often don’t do well with accountability strategies, such as checking in with an accountability buddy. But I think that’s just because I hadn’t found “my people” yet.

Continue reading “Accountability in Practice: How I Stay Accountable with My Personal Goals”

RVing with kids: Our First Weekend!

RVing with kids: our very first weekend!

So, after getting our hands on an awesome 32′ RV for an incredibly good price, we summerized it with the help of the previous owner, packed a few things, and headed out on our first micro-adventure. We decided to stay close to home for our first weekend out in the RV, and headed to the Mallorytown KOA, just under an hour away from Kingston, Ontario, where we currently live.

It was a very nice little campground, but it was cold! And of course we didn’t pack any winter gear (because it’s supposed to be spring… just a lil’ reminder, Mother Nature…) We did have lots of blankets with us, and a space heater in the RV, so we were warm enough. And it warmed right up the next day—enough for the girls to enjoy the heated outdoor pool. G-boy had an issue with his foot, so he couldn’t go in. He’s all better now, though 🙂

Mallorytown KOA heated outdoor pool; RVing with kids on www.marianamcdougall.com

The campground had a cute little playground, a pet playground, a nice small outdoor heated pool, which is new this year, an arcade, and a small restaurant/canteen.

The folks next to us had truly mastered the art of bringing their house on the road with them, and were all set up with an outdoor movie theatre, a couple of tall plants, and lots of comfort-making things. They were lovely enough to share their fire with us, so we didn’t build one the first night, and our kids and theirs made fast friends with one another.

We all had fun and slept well in our first couple of nights in the RV. I’m looking forward to the next micro-adventure (and a big one, too!)

We were planning several mini-trips with the RV this spring and summer, but unfortunately, a medical emergency put a wrench in our plans. I’ll be writing a post about that soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I want to know: have you ever RV’d before? What are the must-visit RV parks you’d recommend in Canada and/or the US? Let me know in the comments below!

Vegetarian Diets: Should You Be a Vegetarian?

Should you be a vegetarian?

Like everything else in nutrition, the answer isn’t simple. A lot of factors go into deciding on a lifestyle diet change: your beliefs around nutrition, scientific research, how your body reacts to foods, allergy considerations, and moral dilemmas. At the end of the day, only you can decide what to eat, and it’s no one else’s business what you put in your mouth (unless they’re feeding you, of course. Then they kind of need to know what you’ll eat). Here’s my story.

Continue reading “Vegetarian Diets: Should You Be a Vegetarian?”

Why I switched from iPhone to Android and How I’m liking it

iPhone or Android?

What kind of smartphone do you own? Are you a loyal iPhone follower, or are you a Google fan? I’ve recently switched from iPhone to Android, and wanted to share my experience.

It helps to know that I’m not overly tech-oriented and that I was the last one of my group of friends to ditch a flip phone for a smartphone—and the only reason I made the switch is that my 5-year-old flip phone was pretty much dead.

Continue reading “Why I switched from iPhone to Android and How I’m liking it”

Emotional Eating Is a Form of Self-Harm

Emotional eating. Behavioural Eating. Disordered Eating. Food Addiction. There are so many names for it, but no one ever calls it what it is.

Self-harm.

Emotional eating is a form of self-harm. And most people who engage in this behaviour, myself included, don’t see it. We see it as comforting ourselves. Even when it just makes us feel worse. It’s time we call our own selves out on it.

Continue reading “Emotional Eating Is a Form of Self-Harm”