How Trading In a Car Every Two Years Makes Good Financial Sense



Should I Trade In My Car After 2 Years?

Do you have a newer car that you don’t want any more?

You don’t need an excuse to trade in a car after 2 years.

Maybe you want to buy newer model, or perhaps you want to save money and downsize to a more affordable model.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t do it. Learn how to trade in a newer car the right way.

Matt Trades In His Car Every 2 Years

trade in a car every 2 years

I took our 10 year old Honda in for maintenance and was relaxing in the waiting room, minding my own business. Before I knew it, I was chatting with Matt, one of the auto shop workers. I mentioned that I read an article about how 200,000 miles was the new 100,000 mileage for a car.

I expected a car shop worker to agree with that comment and back up my enthusiasm for maintaining and keeping a high mileage car.

After all, if everyone kept older cars, the repair shops would prosper with hoards of customers repairing their old cars. And this would further secure Matt’s job.

Matt’s response completely floored me.

The worker at the auto shop mentioned that it didn’t really matter to him whether people kept their cars for a long time or not, and he traded his car in every 2 years. Matt continued by disclosing that he likes to drive new cars.

Matt’s reason for trading in a car after two years is that he likes to drive a newer car.

Next, I made a mistake!

I began lecturing Matt about how he could save more money if he kept his car longer.

Why Matt’s Decision to Trade In His Car Every 2 Years Is the Right Choice

He had the perfect response to my comment, “I like driving a new car. I don’t go on vacations, buy expensive electronics, or live extravagantly. As a matter of fact, my condo is totally paid off.”

That retort shut me up.

Matt made a conscious choice to spend money on what mattered to him and he had his financial life in order. He made a well thought out choice and he could afford to trade in his car after two years.

He wasn’t trading in his car every 2 years because he was financially ignorant, but because it was important to him to drive a new car and he was willing to spend less in other areas of his life to drive a new car!

Who am I to argue with that? Stay with me here.

What if your finances aren’t in the greatest shape and you still want to trade in your 2 year old car?

Trading in your new car may be a good decision for you.

If you need some financial hand holding, learn How to Get Rich by making smart money decisions in my vital money book. You don’t need to be a money genius or give up nice cars to build wealth.

How to Decide Whether to Trade in Your 2 Year Old Car?

Consider why you want to trade in your newer car? Are you looking to “save money” and buy an older model?

Even if you just want a newer car, it may not be a terrible financial decision to trade in your car after two years.

Let What Is Important To You Influence Your Spending Decisions

If it’s important to you to drive a newer car. Make it happen for yourself.

How to Trade in A 2 Year Old Car; The Right Way

Prioritize how you want to spend your money and allocate a portion for your car expenses.

Step 1: Sell your car yourself.

Kelly Blue Book, the car valuation site, back ups the fact that if you detail your car and list it on Craigslist and other online sites, you’ll likely receive more for your car than if you trade it in to a dealer. It usually takes a bit more time and effort, but you’ll walk away with more money.

The only time this strategy won’t work is if your car is worth less than the car loan. In that case you either pony up some extra cash to pay off the loan or trade it in at a dealer.

Note: If you expect to trade in a newer car, buy one that holds it’s value well. This will make selling the 2 year old car more profitable.

Step 2: Line up financing first.

Shop around to get the best car financing deal with the lowest interest rate possible. This way you can separate the financing decision from the purchasing choice.

Step 3: Take the emotion out of the equation.

Determine the type of car you want and be prepared to negotiate. Find the Best Car Price.com has some great tips for savvy car buying.

Step 4: Separate the financing from the purchasing decision and negotiate on line for the lowest price.

You’re better off having several models in mind, so that you can purchase the model with the best price.

Step 5: Compare the cost of leasing with buying.

You might save money leasing a car every few years.

The Dollars and Cents of Trading In a New Car Every 2 Years

Keep in mind that the specifications, condition, and your geographic area influence the analysis.

According to Kelly Blue book, you can sell a 2012 2 door Honda Coupe EX-L to a private party for $20,588 in the bay area of California.

Assume you buy the same car in the 2014 model, the list price is $28,270. Consider the possibility of negotiating to knock down the price a bit.

Simply, you’re paying three to four thousand per year to drive a new car {($28,270 – $20,588 = $7,682)/ 2 years)]. For many individuals, that cost is worth the money for the enjoyment of driving a newer car.

Look at your own personal situation, and factor in the cost of trading in a car every two years. If you don’t have money to buy  everything you want, then ask yourself, “In what areas are you willing to cut back in order to drive a newer model?”

The annual cost of a driving a newer car may not cost more than a  yearly luxury vacation with the family. It’s also not much more than annual football tickets or regular dining out at nice restaurants. Bring your lunch to work every day and you have the extra money for a newer car.

It’s your money, and if you like driving a new car every two years and it won’t sink your financial boat, why not?

Financial experts sometimes suggest there is one right way to spend your money. And that is not true. The right way to spend your money is to make a conscious decision and think about your financial choices.

If you want to learn money basics, tips to afford the things you really want, and save money on the rest, read How to Get Rich; Wealth Building Guide for the Financially Illiterate (you don’t need to be financially illiterate to benefit).

A similar article was published previously and the former comments remain.

How often do you get a new vehicle? How do you make the choice when to buy a new vehicle?

 

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36 Responses to How Trading In a Car Every Two Years Makes Good Financial Sense
  1. Single Mom Rich Mom
    June 18, 2010 | 8:51 am

    Totally agree with you on this Barb – oddly enough my father (who is a miser of the highest order), always had nice vehicles too. Nothing extremely flashy, but high quality and always brand new. That was his one indulgence.

    I wonder if the time when we make “value judgments” the most is when someone else is complaining about their finances. That’s the only time I feel like telling anyone to maybe cut their lifestyle down a bit. Otherwise, if you can afford it, knock yourself out. I certainly do in many areas. You’d have to pull my precious purses from my cold dead hands. :-)

  2. Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire
    June 18, 2010 | 9:10 am

    I love it. It’s funny how much we don’t work ON our lives. We work IN them and take things as they come, but it’s hard to stop and think about things like this without reading or someone else promping it!

    Thank for the link too :)

  3. Joe Plemon
    June 18, 2010 | 10:41 am

    Barb,
    I admit you hooked me with your title. And with good cause…I was pre-judging your financial senses before even reading what you had to say!

    Even though I plan to drive my vehicle 200,000 miles, I agree with what you are saying in this post. A new vehicle is at the bottom of my priority list, but I can understand how it could be at the top of someone else’s.

    The trouble is so many, unlike the auto shop worker, go ahead and buy what they can’t afford. And I still identify “afford” as what you can pay cash for.

  4. Barb
    June 18, 2010 | 12:02 pm

    @Jacq, Jaime, & Joe; Thank you all for your insightful comments, they really add a lot to the post. I love when I am proven WRONG- and it sure happened here. Of course, people probably look at our cars (the new one is a 2003 model and the old from 1998) and think we are just scrapping by. But the reality is, I DON’T LIKE TO SPEND MONEY ON A CAR. I don’t get my self worth from an expensive car. And, like Jacq mentioned, I definitely have my splurges (My husband & I travel abroad A LOT!!!!). GREAT COMMENTS, Barb

  5. Father’s Day Bragging / Weekly Roundup
    June 19, 2010 | 5:14 am

    [...] How Trading in a New Car Every 2 Years Makes Good Financial Sense at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance [...]

  6. Little House
    June 19, 2010 | 1:54 pm

    Great post! I think this is really important, aligning your values to what’s most important. If that auto mechanic really has all his finances in order, then purchasing a new car every two years sounds like he’s fulfilling his wants and his needs. I’m going to check out that prosperity game now. thanks for the link!

  7. Evan
    June 19, 2010 | 4:39 pm

    WOW! I would never had said anything, but just judged quietly (don’t think that is good either lol).

    This is just another GREAT example that there are NO hard and set rules when it comes to personal finance. As long as decisions are made with purpose and some sense of logic they tend to make sense.

  8. Financial Samurai
    June 20, 2010 | 1:03 am

    I really, REALLY believe there is much more money out there than you can imagine.

    The media makes us believe people aren’t frugal, and waste money, but I just don’t think that’s the case.

    Best, Sam

  9. Barb
    June 20, 2010 | 7:49 am

    @Evan-You are so right, there a certain premises like don’t spend more money than you earn that are universal, but beyond that, it’s tough to gauge other’s behavior!
    @Financial-Yes, the media frequently focuses on the troubled minority, not the successful majority. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Barb

  10. Barb
    June 20, 2010 | 7:52 am

    @LittleHouse-There are so many ways to allocate one’s resources, and who are we to jukge? Thanks for the comment. Barb

  11. Dan Gazarek
    June 20, 2010 | 11:57 pm

    So true, I used to have a client who was almost the same and I once criticized him (mistakenly) about monthly payments of ~$700 and asked why they were so high. His response, “It’s a Jaguar!”. I remember this, to this day – he had a very comfortable nest egg, his mortgage was paid off while he was still in his 40′s and had excess cash flow. I couldn’t knock him, since he had already achieved or was in the process of achieving his financial goals. Changed my perception on some things back then.

  12. [...] Friedberg presents HOW TRADING IN A CAR EVERY 2 YEARS MAKES GOOD FINANCIAL SENSE posted at Barbara Friedberg Personal [...]

  13. Barb
    June 21, 2010 | 6:34 pm

    @Dan & @ RealWorld- Thank you both for taking the time to comment. It just goes to show that there is NO ONE CORRECT WAY to manage money! Best regards, Barb

  14. Ed
    December 22, 2010 | 8:47 am

    Depreciation on a new car in the first year is HUGE and don’t forget the sales tax and higher insurance. If driving a new car is going to be your “must have,” better factor in some of these costs.

  15. Barb
    December 22, 2010 | 10:45 am

    Ed, You do not have to sell me on this concept. This guys values are an example of “what works for one, may not be the best for another.” Thanks for bringing attention to important new car costs.

  16. Fred@Foxy Finance
    January 21, 2013 | 11:24 am

    For the price I paid for a second hand car 3 years ago and the running costs over that time period a then for it to break and be worth scrap I could have leased a brand new BMW. Puts things in perspective, as I would have also had a lot more enjoyment in my life rather than worry about breakdown costs all the time.

  17. Credit union marketing ideas
    July 31, 2013 | 2:44 am

    A must read article for the new car buyers. One should be aware of each and every fact beforehand.

  18. Barbara Friedberg
    July 31, 2013 | 3:18 pm

    Thanks for chiming in. I really believe there is no “one size fits all” decision for personal finance issues.

  19. Financial Independence
    September 12, 2013 | 8:13 am

    This is an interesting point – I save my money for the purpose of one day being able to have the freedom to stop working, but if having a new car every few years was your number one goal then thats a personal choice, even if I don’t agree with it.

  20. Barbara Friedberg
    September 12, 2013 | 4:28 pm

    @Financial, I couldn’t agree more. The key to wealth building and personal finance is figuring out what matters to each individual, then making it happen. Cars aren’t important to me either, but I understand how that is not true for all.

  21. […] of the  most popular articles on this website is How Trading in a Car Every 2 Years Makes Good Financial Sense. It’s ironic that this is such a popular article, as my husband’s “new” car […]

  22. […] you are buying a used or new car, there is no doubt that the Internet is an efficient tool for your car quest. If you plan to buy a new car, you can search the type of car you want, the price of the car, the […]

  23. […] for each of us. I don’t care about cars and drive a very old car. There are others who prefer to drive a new car and save in other areas in order to afford one. You must decide on your own priorities and live […]

  24. […] it can backfire if you can’t make the payments or get stuck with an underwater car loan in the “new every two” cycle of buying new […]

  25. Jon @ Money Smart Guides
    March 20, 2014 | 8:11 am

    I hope everyone reads this post Barb. Personal finance is just that, PERSONAL. What works for Matt doesn’t work for me because I like to travel. But that is OK since he makes it work for him. As long as you are avoiding debt and are saving for your future, do whatever you want with your money!

  26. Paul @ The Frugal Toad
    March 20, 2014 | 12:31 pm

    Great Title Barb! You got me too! It’s all about priorities isn’t it? While I would never buy a new car and trade it in every two years, I wouldn’t presume to know what works best for someone else. My priorities are to provide for my children first, then I can splurge on myself!

  27. Barbara Friedberg
    March 20, 2014 | 4:33 pm

    @John, So true. I am not a car person, but I love home decor, art, and travel. Some may think my art is extravagant, and think I’m nuts for driving a 1998 car.
    @Paul, Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

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  29. Daisy
    March 25, 2014 | 9:59 pm

    Interesting concept. I think prioritizing where you spend your money is smart. We have a limited amount of money, after all, and we can’t do everything with it. If a new car is important, why not? To me, the car I drive is not important. I would rather spend money on travel, and my home (because I am a bit of a home body).

  30. Ralph
    April 10, 2014 | 5:19 pm

    “Simply, you’re paying three to four thousand per year to drive a new car {($28,270 – $20,588 = $7,682)/ 2 years)]. ”

    -> Lets not forget sales tax. Assuming the cars were both $28K when new. Add in 9% tax on both ($2,240 X 2 = $4,480) as an extra!

    This is a terrible thing to do (financially).

  31. Barbara Friedberg
    April 11, 2014 | 4:26 pm

    Hi Ralph, It is not a decision for someone that wants to minimize car expenses, as you so aptly stated. But….. if you love cars and driving newer models, and are willing to sacrifice in other areas of life, then you can make it work.

    This story is an example of the “personal” in personal finance.

  32. Ralph
    April 13, 2014 | 9:38 am

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for the reply.

    I understand your point, but my humble take is common sense has to come into play at some point.

    What this comes down to is assuming all your financial goals are being met is it ok to waste (or over spend) money on luxuries (things you don’t need)?

    Lets move a little more extreme here, and instead of a new Honda every 2 years lets make it …celebrity magic socks at $100,000 per pair. A new pair every year!

    The article is titled: “How Trading In a Car Every Two Years Makes Good FINANCIAL Sense”

    There is no financial sense presented in this article, but rather saying its ok to over spend because you think it is cool and it feeds your ego in some way.

    I would think that it would be more appropriate to say this makes 0 financial sense, and perhaps you should dig deeper to try to determine why you feel you need a new car (or magic celebrity socks) so often.

  33. Barbara Friedberg
    April 14, 2014 | 6:13 pm

    Hi Ralph,

    I completely understand you viewpoint. Personally, the type of car I drive is close to irrelevant. My car is a 1998 SUV with 116,000 miles on it (and I love it). Cars aren’t my thing. But, Matt is not going into debt buying a new Honda every couple of years. In fact, his condo is paid off and he doesn’t like to travel or take vacations.

    So for Matt, buying a new car every couple of years makes good sense for him. He loves cars, he gets pleasure from driving a new car, he can afford it, he’s not hurting anyone.
    Ralph, even though his choice doesn’t jive with your preferences, could this decision make “good financial sense” for Matt?

  34. Chris
    April 17, 2014 | 2:07 pm

    I think all too often financial blogs show too much of the ascetic lifestyle and ultra sacrifice for the pursuit of financial freedom. And I don’t think this is as obtainable for the “normal” person as a lot of people/bloggers like to think.

    So it’s nice to see a more “real” example of responsible indulgence.

    I’d like to consider myself pretty financially responsible, but I found myself in a (kind of) similar situation recently where I wanted to trade my 2012 car for a newer 2013. It was basically a lateral move, however even with a lower interest rate, lower gas and lower insurance on this newer (used) car, I won’t reach parity on this purchase…for a while. Financially I should have kept the car I bought, but I just wasn’t happy with it.

    But I’m happy now because I love cars and I love my current car. I couldn’t say that before. Plus I wanted a car that I wanted to keep around for a long time, and my previous car wasn’t it.

    Unfortunately, much like Matt in the story, (one of) my vice is cars. However, unlike Matt, I don’t think I’ll switching cars anytime soon; I plan on keeping this car for 6+ years.

    My current goal (along with my wife) is to own a home. We are strongly paying down debt, and will pay off one of our CCs before the 0% interest rate is up. At the same time we are saving for a house, and (When the time comes) hopefully plan to pay off that house in 15 years, (in SoCal no less).

    My recent car purchase in no way hinders those plans.

    So in the end, for me anyway, it’s all about balance/moderation. Being financially aware is half the battle, and knowing what choices to make is the other.

  35. Barbara Friedberg
    April 18, 2014 | 11:55 am

    @Chris, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your current and future financial perspectives. Your comment laid out a realistic and well thought out plan, looking at both the now and later. Although I’m not a car person, I’m an “art” person. I completely understand the concept of making financial decisions based on your own personal preferences. IMHO, that is what wealth is all about. It’s about creating the optimal life for “you” given your own financial and personal preferences.

    BTW, what type of car did you buy? I’m more of a “car looker from afar”. I like to look at all the models, without the real interest in having a new car. I’m happy to hear you did what was “right for you”.

  36. Marc Denoyer
    April 22, 2014 | 4:12 am

    Great post. Personally feel that this is a situation which is faced by almost each one of us once in a lifetime. Truly sensible. keep posting.

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