Is buying a new car the ultimate personal finance sin?

So after jumping back on the personal finance bandwagon, I remembered that owning a car is basically perceived as the worst allocation of your money possible. We all hear it – a new car depreciates the second you drive it off the lot and continues to depreciate with time. Maintenance and gas cost a lot and not to mention insurance. BUT, what about those of us who are so lucky to have a job that requires a decent amount of driving? Is it always a bad thing to want something new and to drive it into the ground?

I have a car that is 7.5 years old and with 147k miles. Yeah you heard me, that’s roughly 20k a year. Between moving to the opposite end of my lovely state, making frequent visits to see my family, dating my then boyfriend/now husband 90 miles away from me, and driving a crap ton for work I’ve accumulated a fair share of miles on this baby. I paid it off 2 years ago and I love not having a car payment, but there are some reasons why I want a new car. Here are some of my reasons why:

  1. Maintenance is coming – Luckily, I haven’t put TOO much into maintenance (thank you Japanese-manufactured cars!) but it’s inevitable with this amount of miles on this car that it’s coming soon.. and if I have to get a new car I kind of figure why not put it towards a new car?
  2. My body hates me – Yeah you heard that right. Since my first car at 19, I’ve only owned cars that are manuals. I love driving a stick, but now that I live in LA and am stuck in traffic 75% of my work day… my body does not love driving a stick as much as I did in my younger day. I work out a decent amount doing sport-specific training, and I have some major imbalances on my left side which I’m sure are partly due to driving a manual for 13 years. This puts me more at risk for injury, and even if I was to STOP training the way I am.. I want to have a fully functioning hip well into my adult life. That being said, I think it’s time to trade in my love for the manual car.
  3. Better Mileage – My car doesn’t get terrible mileage, but any car in traffic is going to suck on gas so I’d really like to switch to a hybrid car.
  4. Comfort/Technology – This might not be such a big reason if I only had to drive from point A to point B and back to point A, but since I spend my days driving from point A to point B, C, maybe back to A, then D.. I think a car with increased comfort and technology (e.g., running iPhone maps on a screen for navigation) would be nice.
  5. Shared Driving – This goes back to #2, but since my car is a manual and my husband doesn’t know how to drive a manual, this means if we take a long road trip I am stuck driving the whole way which sucks. And yes, I’ve tried teaching him and it was mentally frustrating for both of us so needless to say the shared driving with my car doesn’t happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my car. I did purchase it brand new, but with 0% financing. I don’t regret the purchase – aside from not negotiating the price too much. I think #2 for me right now would be the biggest reason why I need a new car. I’m doing what I can to get my credit card debt as much as possible, increase my credit score to put me in a good place for borrowing and save for a down payment in case it comes sooner than later. I need a car so it’ll happen, I’m just trying to delay when.

What are your thoughts on purchasing a new car? Have you purchased a new car off the lot and had zero regrets?

 

Disclaimer: When I say “new” I don’t necessarily mean brand new/off the lot.. just a car that is brand new to me. I will look into used cars with low miles when the time comes and weigh out the options with rates on loans and pricing/features.