Save Money: Why We Drive Crappy Cars

save money when buying cars, Photo by Jake Young on Unsplash

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 spending 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 gets to a certain point, it’s best to let it go. This car was a 2003 and we’re in 2018. 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. This car had started dying, so we bought another van, 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 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 mileage picture above).

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?



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