Bye Bye Frankencaddy, Hello Car Payments!

I just did something exhilarating, and I’m pretty sure half of you are going to unsubscribe from this blog as soon as you hear about it ;)

But before you do, please join me in saying goodbye to one of the best cars I’ve ever owned – Frankencaddy! Such a fun car to drive over these past 8+ years, and one I really wasn’t expecting to give up just a few weeks ago… (nor that she’d earn us over $2,000 through her ownership either!) But alas change waits for no one, and today we say our goodbyes and wish our dear friend good luck.

You will be missed, buddy!!

Thanks for all your service, and especially the NO CAR PAYMENTS!

You were the best $3,100 I ever spent!!!

And in true fashion she’ll continue to pay it forward as she moves on to the auction blocks to help benefit the National Veterans Services Fund – an organization close to my father as a proud Marine himself (OORAH!). (And it doesn’t hurt getting the charitable write off either ;))

Here’s a shot of them taking her away as I quivered inside my house, boo hoo….

bye bye frankencaddy

(I considered trading her in or selling her outright, but figured the money wouldn’t be that drastic so better to go towards the greater good, especially since we’re on time constraints)

So what will we drive now as we head on north for greener pastures? Well, to those of you who told me to “ruck up” and get a minivan, I’m afraid to say we did not go that route though we did consider a few, and for those who recommended a larger sedan car instead, we didn’t get one of those either.

After hours of research and test-driving, and just really looking for one that STOOD OUT to us, we ended up going with an SUV! Woo! Which I’ll admit I was pretty partial to when starting out this search ;)

We’ll see if this choice proves fruitful, but I’m hoping to be able to emulate this guy‘s words as the future unfolds!

“My life completely changed when I got an SUV. It was like a breath of fresh air, I got mine almost 3 years ago and I still smile almost every time I get in it and am so thankful to have the extra space. It just makes life so much more convenient with kids. 100% worth it.”

The minivan would have been a lot more convenient, of course, (and I promised my wife the next car WILL be a minivan – as soon as her car dies :)), but at the end of the day I just couldn’t get excited about it and anyone who knows me knows I prioritize happiness over practicality. If I didn’t, Frankencaddy would have never entered my life (do you know how much gas that thing sucked up?), nor would this blog have ever seen the light of day either.

And that would make you look pretty silly right now staring into a blank screen ;)

So true to other places I spend my money, I ended up putting it towards the car that brings me the most joy vs that which just “gets the job done.” Even if it makes me a bad $$$ blogger…

Here’s a list of all the cars I’ve owned over my lifetime actually. You’ll see it swaps back and forth from cheap to expensive and then cheap to expensive again – I’m an equal opportunity buyer!

  • ’93 Geo Tracker – $2,000 – A fun (convertible) car to drive around, esp. as your first!
  • ’88 Honda Prelude – $3,000(?) – A faster, sleeker car to drive
  • ’01 Ford Mustang – $10,000 – An even faster car, though it was obnoxiously yellow (hah)
  • ’93 Cadillac DeVille – $4,000 – When I wanted comfort and no payments, over speed
  • ’05 Toyota Highlander – $23,000 – When I inflated my lifestyle just a wee too much!
  • ’93 “Frankencaddy” DeVille – $3,100 – When I realized I’m just as happy with a hoopty as a nicer car

That last line sums up my feelings perfectly – I go for happiness over price (though of course it’s always a consideration). I only wish hoopties were better known for their safety and reliability as they make poor choices for driving kids around :( Which is the whole reason we’re needing to upgrade right now, harumph…

Anyways, enough rambling.

What did we end up getting? Well, a car that’s probably just as shocking to you as it was to us :)

Introducing, our new Lexus RX350!

lexus rx350

lexus rx350 inside

And by “new” I mean “2008” as there’s no way you’ll catch me spending $40,000 for one, haha… But it sure looks new doesn’t it? Before my kids get to it at least? ;)

Here’s the rundown of why we chose it:

  1. It felt damn good to be in!
  2. It’s super safe and reliable (Toyota makes them)
  3. My wife LOVED it, which she never does (a car is just a car, right?)
  4. They hold their re-sale value like a champ
  5. They’re highly rated across the industry
  6. It has relatively low mileage for an ’08 (77,000)
  7. Has only been owned by 1 person
  8. Has the extra space we were looking for, but not so much where it feels like we’re driving a beast
  9. Has some nice upgrades (heated seats, 6 CD changer, AWD, sunroof)
  10. And most importantly, was shockingly priced within our budget ($15,000-$20,000)

Before taxes, titling and the extended warranty we picked up (*gasp*), it came out to $17,998. With everything it was $21,079.10. We ended up putting $2,000 cash down for it, and then financed the remaining $19,079.10 @ 3.45% giving us monthly payments of around $340. Which we plan on paying off wayyyy before the 5 year mark, and possibly within two.

It’s definitely weird to have debt again, and especially car debt since it’s been a solid 8 years without it!, but it’s nothing we haven’t conquered before and will just motivate us to get rid of it that much faster… Though I am nervous about running our next net worth report :) That Brexit is already rilin’ it up! (How bad do you wish you had a pile of cash to throw at the markets right now?? Everything’s on sale!!)

We of course didn’t set out to pick up a luxury car, but after peeking at the Lexus in between test drives we realized that the right year/mileage combo was actually comparable in price to its non-luxury counterparts. Which were all going for $15,000-$23,000 with 40,000-50,000 miles on them. (We were only interested in used cars)

So it ended up becoming a decision of a newer more practical car with less miles, or a slightly older – more luxurious – one with extra miles. And you now know which one we picked ;)

There are some cons to it though, of course:

  • The gas mileage of the RX350 isn’t the greatest at 17 / 22 (we got the all wheel drive)
  • Our insurance went up by $30/mo, though as to be expected when upgrading from a 20 year old no coverage car to an SUV, haha… Interestingly enough it cost almost the same to insure our Corolla!
  • The model we picked didn’t have all the super upgrades as these cars typically do (no navigation, bluetooth, DVD, back-up camera), though it does have leather which I’m hoping is easier to clean with kids making messes vs cloth?
  • Because the mileage is higher we didn’t feel as comfortable without picking up an extended warranty, especially it being a luxury car. That ran us an extra $1,800 which we probably wouldn’t have gotten with a standard SUV (it’ll protect all major parts up to 125,000 or 4 years whichever comes first, with a $300 deductible).
  • It’s a little TOO shiny for my taste, but gonna have to get used to messes with the kids in ’em!
  • And lastly, the stereo isn’t as nice as you’d think it would be in a car like this… Though in comparison to having *no* radio like in my last car (it died 6 months ago), I can hardly complain ;) I will say that it was quite nice just listening to your own thoughts while rollin’ around town though! You should try it if you’re looking for a new experiment!

So some pros, and some cons… You can find a full professional review of the RX here if interested:

Oh! We also ended up going through Carmax which I’d never tried before!  I typically like going through private parties since you can get them cheaper, but with time not being on our side (and not initially knowing what we wanted to get yet) we decided to give Carmax a visit and were pleasantly surprised.

Here are a few notes on them, with one major factor to watch out for!

  • Their customer service was incredible
  • It was AWESOME being able to walk around and not be pressured by salesmen 24/7! (They all get paid the same whether you pick up a Kia or a Benz)
  • Their inventory was pretty expansive, especially since you can xfer over cars (for free) from neighboring lots (which is what we ended up doing once we settled on the model we wanted)
  • Everything is super easy and streamlined!
  • All cars have to pass a 125+ point quality inspection
  • They come with free vehicle history and safety recall reports, a 5-day money-back guarantee, and a 30-day limited warranty
  • There’s absolutely NO HAGGLING, which could be good or bad depending (see below)

The downside? The cars come with a premium. Worth it to those who don’t want the added stress in their lives, but you’ll typically pay on the higher end of the spectrum for them. The trick is watching out for those that are severely overpriced! The first RX we liked was a mind boggling $5,000 over, whereas some of the minivans were $2,000-$3,000 more than you’d expect. On average though, it seemed the mark up was anywhere from $0-$2,000 on them. So you can def. pay for those perks.

The point: just make sure to do your research before driving one off the lot! We used,, and then to look them up, and we searched all the nearest lots until we found one that was reasonable. It seemed Carmax followed True Car more than the others too fwiw (I’d never heard of them before until I noticed USAA partners with them).

Anyways, it’s only been a few days but so far we’re really enjoying it! And hopefully it’ll treat us well over the years as we plan on keeping it for the long haul…

So that’s that! Two major items down now (home and car), with two more left before the big move (childcare and packing). If I didn’t know we were about to inherit a $50,000 salary next month, I’d be freaking out a little with all these extra costs, ugh… I don’t know how people do it??

Hope stuff with your life/wallets are going well! Anyone else pick up a new car recently? What are you and your family driving??

It was fun seeing how much y’all pay for rent/mortgage last week (check the comments), so now let’s see how drastic or not your rides are! :)

PS: For all new people here, my life usually isn’t this crazy I swear… My wife just happened to get a job for the first time in 7 years (after earning her PHD), and we’re now scrambling to adjust as we pack up and move north to DC for it… Very exciting stuff, but also making our finances wonky!

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  1. Our Next Life June 27, 2016 at 5:13 AM

    A car payment?!?! Haha. Sounds like you did your homework and got a good deal. And Ibet it will feel amazing when you pay that loan off! But, seriously, safety features have gotten so much better — I don’t blame you at all for wanting to haul your family around in something safer!

  2. The Green Swan June 27, 2016 at 5:24 AM

    Congrats on the sweet ride! For having to buy quickly it seems like you did all the right research. We recently bought an SUV too and I wrote a post about our experience. We looked at everything new and used, luxury and not, and ended up getting a decent deal on a new Pathfinder. End result was a car payment as well. Not sure we necessarily care to pay it off early though since our rate is below 2%. Good luck on your next big items for the move, you’re doing good!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 6:25 AM

      A lot of people seem to like Pathfinders here! I did check out a couple of them, but the ones I liked were too far outside our budget :( Much more room in them though.

  3. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 27, 2016 at 5:31 AM

    Oof. I know all about how easy it is to say “only going to make all the best financial decisions” and then end up making one that fits your life a bit better. We did something similar when we bought our house. We only put 10% down and had PMI. We paid it off wayyy quicker. Even had to fight with the bank, threaten refinancing with another, and potential legal action before they caved. Either way, was it the best financial decision? No. Is it a great neighborhood that we love to be in? Hell yeah!

    Those Lexus SUVs are a nice ride.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 6:29 AM

      10% was a lot more than our 0% we put down on our house! Haha…

      Are you saying you paid off your house in full now, or just enough to lower the PMI? Either is great of course, but man – if you have no mortgage payments now you’re ballin’!

      1. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 27, 2016 at 12:43 PM

        Just the PMI. I wish we didn’t have a mortgage payment!

  4. Brian @DebtDiscipline June 27, 2016 at 6:17 AM

    Ouch! J$ has a car payment? I’m a big fan of the used car route, saves you a ton of money over new. Can’t be too safe when hauling around precious cargo like children. Good luck with the new ride and remember they call it personal finance for a reason.

  5. Emily June 27, 2016 at 7:08 AM

    I love that you publish financial advice based on where you are in life and what’s best for your family. While it’s great to have ‘rules’ for finances, life doesn’t always follow the rules and the best decision is sometimes spending money and taking on debt for a better financial future and long term happiness. Thanks for being real!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 7:43 AM

      I appreciate that Emily, truly.

      I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous publishing this as you typically don’t read about financial writers taking on car debt, and especially with a luxury vehicle! But it is what’s going on in my life right now, and I really try my best to leave it all on the table in hope it helps…

      So hopefully it doesn’t scare away too many people :)

      1. Ms. Montana June 27, 2016 at 3:33 PM

        Wait, wait!! Isn’t the goal to have the biggest pile of cash at the end, and the smallest amount of fun until then? =)

        I spend $20 feeding my kids large Dairy Queen Blizzards for dinner the other night. =) Best. Dinner. Ever! The kids all agreed. =)

        1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:25 PM

          Haha… def. Mom Award material, no doubt.

  6. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers June 27, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    I thought that this statement sums up all of our personal finances decisions pretty well: “We’ll see if this choice proves fruitful”. That’s all this is at times, one big experiment that we are hoping will work out in our favor. Since we can’t tell the future we just have to do the research then take that step into the dark and hope like hell that we made the right choice without trying to look back too much.

    I do have to say that I was a bit surprised to see J. Money taking out a car loan but it’s not my place to judge or even advise since we all know that you thought it all the way through and fully understood both sides of the equation and had your reasoning. Life rolls on.

    Our current cars? I drive a 2002 Buick Century that my father-in-law gave my wife. It has well over 180,000 miles but the mileage display went out a few months ago so I don’t know anymore. My wife drives a 2010 Mazda5 that we picked up for roughly $10,500 cash just over a year ago. Here’s the story of our Mazda:

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 7:51 AM

      Appreciate the comment, my man :) It would have been nice to pay all cash no doubt about it, but unfortunately our reserves are looking a little weak during this current phase so wasn’t even an option. Not that I probably would have dished it all out anyways as I don’t mind paying for a little debt convenience, but it would surely make for a better position to be in. You’ll have to take me for a spin in that Buick one of these days – I bet it’s a smooth ride!

      1. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers June 27, 2016 at 8:09 AM

        Hell Yeah! It feels like your kicked back on a plush couch. It felt strange at first but now stiff leather seats feel so uncomfortable to me. Makes me feel like a 28 yr. old old man but its worth it.

  7. Thias @It Pays Dividends June 27, 2016 at 7:17 AM

    Whoa! -> Unsubscribe…

    haha Jk! Nice job getting a good car for a good price! We picked up our second SUV (Rav4) for a little less than that a couple years ago but the Lexus definitely has some perks. And having a car payment for the first time in 8 years will also help motivate you to get it paid off that much quicker! Congrats on finding a new, family friendly car!

  8. jestjack June 27, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    MAN….First the Brits vote to leave the EU….and then J$ gets a car payment….What the !#%&…Boy you have certainly been thru some changes recently….Been a while since I have done serious car shopping so $20K for an 8 year old SUV is eye popping to me and the $340 a month car payment for 5 years….icing on the cake. But I have to applaud your generosity with the Caddy to a worthy cause. The rules on these donations have changed with the IRS so it is not the windfall it once was but generous just the same. And CarMax is THE place to go when you begin your search for a car. Their inventory is incredible but one does pay for the benefit. Best of luck with the new purchase.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 7:53 AM

      Hah! It’s a brave new world, my man…

  9. Apathy Ends June 27, 2016 at 7:35 AM

    We went with a CRV a few years ago and are still paying it off (.9% interest so I’m not in a rush). Not sure what we are going to do with our older car, we don’t drive that much as we take the bus to work everyday.

    That’s a pretty sweet ride – our radio went out in our old car, it sucks!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 7:59 AM

      Oh wow – I bet y’all save a ton riding that bus! Would be cool to go down to a one-family car and experiment… I came close to it three years ago, and actually thought THIS year might be the year we go for it, but turned out the world had other plans for us :) Having one less thing to maintain (and pay for) would be dope though.

  10. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor June 27, 2016 at 7:36 AM

    I know how sad it can be to say good-bye to a trusty old car! That’s great the Frankencaddy was such a good buy. One of vehicles is declining due to rust. We’ve been talking about sending Neil south with a one-way plane ticket one weekend for him to buy a used car without rust. The road salt up here is awful for cars.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 8:00 AM

      That sucks :( Would be cool to see what Neil came back with though! If you ever do it you should just give him a budget and then see what he surprises you with, haha…

  11. Kate @ Cashville Skyline June 27, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    Nice, Jay! I’ve been driving a 2006 Toyota Corolla for ten years. And it’s still going strong! Living in the city has reduced my daily commute to less than five miles. Now that I’m working home, I’m barely driving it at all. I’m hoping it lasts until self-driving cars or being mass transit become a reality in Nashville! :)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 8:01 AM

      Hah – awesome! i think I had put a total of 350 miles on my car in the past whole year, haha… I rarely drove it except for the past cple months, so def. should have tried the “no car” route for a bit while I had the chance… Just so hard to get rid of something you really enjoy!

  12. Daniel Zehner June 27, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    Slightly saddened that you didn’t go for a good deal on a Subaru. ;) But hey, congrats on the new (to you) wheels! Get a good head unit from Pioneer to get your DVD, Bluetooth, etc. features and you’ll have everything you want in a car!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 8:02 AM

      Oh really? Where do you even pick those up these days, I’m so far out of the loop!

      1. Christy July 10, 2016 at 6:01 AM

        I live in the Pacific Northwest where Subarus are the norm, and the used models actually cost more than brand new! Last year I traded in my 10-year-old Honda Accord I was gifted in college with a brand new 2015 Subaru Forester (got $3k in trade in which wasn’t bad considering the car had been in three severe accidents not caused by me). It was $21K after the trade in and had all the upgrades including leather seats. At a really low interest rate (2%) I decided not to put any money down. Paying $319/mo. Insurance went up $10/mo. First time paying car payments ever.

    2. Kate June 29, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      Note to self: find out about this magic. Hubby’s 1996 Civic could use a new radio, anyway, and it would be so much safer if he had Bluetooth.

  13. Mr. SSC June 27, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    We have a Mazda CX( and just paid off the last $3k on that loan last month, at 0% interest, there was no rush on our part. I just traded my Hyundai Gensis for a Jetta that fits the commuting lifestyle WAY better. I went from ~19-21 mpg to ~33-35 mpg curently, still no car payment, and the insurance dropped $140/yr. Yeah gas is cheap currently, but researching and experience lets me know that when I do start making repairs on my Jetta, it will cost WAY less than the pseudo luxury Hyundai. That car couldn’t get anything fixed/repaird for less than $200 or more… So glad to not have it anymore.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 8:06 AM

      I sat in one of those last week! So classy looking!! Esp for a Hyundai… Don’t know anything about them but sounds like you made a good swap :)

  14. Free to Pursue June 27, 2016 at 8:13 AM

    Ok…I NEVER thought I’d hear you were driving a Lexus…but damn, yes. It’s a nice car.

    We used to have a black Honda Pilot so I understand the allure of the black SUV. You’re certainly stylin’…not that you weren’t in your Frankencaddy ;).

    We now have a 2009 Toyota Rav4, which we, like you, bought used. It was the exact colour and model (Sport with sun roof) that I wanted so how could we refuse? (Though we negotiated our butts off for it, even walking out of the dealership only to get a call back a few days later.)

    Enjoy your new wheels…and soon your new digs.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:14 AM

      I do like that “walk away” trick – so hard to pull off, especially when you do actually want it!, but always have mad respect to those who do :)

  15. Kristen June 27, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    Awesome! I bought a 2009 RX350 a few years ago (used). I LOVE it! It’s completely paid off and I think I’ll be able to drive it for another 8 years (hopefully more!). Sometimes spending a little more up front saves you tons long term. One of the best ‘frugal’ decisions I’ve made!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      Nice!! We’re car twinsies!

      (I can’t believe I just said twinsies)

      1. Kristen June 27, 2016 at 11:33 AM

        I am pretty frugal so I know people are surprised that I drive a Lexus. I have a net worth of about $400,000 at 46 yrs old. I am newly divorced with four (nearly) grown kids. I work about 60 hrs a week to put extra money away (I didn’t ask for any alimony). I love having a reliable car that I should be able to drive for many years to come. You won’t regret this investment (not usually how people describe car purchases) but it will serve you well. Go twinsies!

        1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:27 PM

          Haha… You go girl.

          (I can’t stop!!)

  16. Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T. June 27, 2016 at 8:43 AM

    Sweet new ride! It is a bit too shiny, though, I agree. :)

    For all the big-vehicle bashers, hear this: I share an F150 with my husband, AND we live in the city. Ha! My hope is to eventually make it out into the country again someday, where trucks are more useful anyways, so it doesn’t make sense to sell it as it’s still working fine now. Plus, I go hunting, and dead animals just aren’t things you want inside of a vehicle with you. :)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      Haha.. AGREED.

  17. COD June 27, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    Since everybody else is telling you you how awesome you are I’ll point out that you probably paid $2000+ more than you needed to by buying at Carmax. Seriously, their no haggle pricing is marketing genius, but not particularly favorable to the consumer. They don’t rip you off, but they price everything at the high end of the normal range.

    And you call yourself a personal finance blogger :)

    Enjoy the new ride!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:17 AM

      Tell me something I don’t already know ;)

      If we had more time I’d have sat back and waited for a good deal from a private party, but unfort. nothing too great was showing up and this one seemed much better priced than the others there… None of it will matter once I’m rich ;)

  18. Laura June 27, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    After retiring and moving to the sierras, we found our 2000 truck and 2008 SUV cost us between $350 and $500 per month in gas alone. It became enough of an issue that it began to impact the quality of our lives, as we’d frequently weigh the pros and cons of impromptu excursions based upon the amount of fuel we’d spent so far that month. We decided on a hybrid (we thought about all electric but the cruising range didn’t work for us up here). We bought new instead of used for two reasons: full warranty and zero percent interest. We ended up with a $487 payment and we couldn’t be happier with the car! We’re one year into the loan and I’ve been rounding up the payments, but haven’t been doubling or tripling them due to some very expensive home repairs. However, starting in July we committed to simply making two $500 payments per month, which should free us from the loan in less than two years. Even if we’re not diligent, at zero percent interest I’m not super concerned. Congratulations on a beautiful new (to you) car! She looks gorgeous, and I’m sure she’ll be safe and reliable for years to come. As far as car loans go, it made more sense for us to finance a car and keep our assets working hard for us, and I don’t regret the decision or feel like a fraud having made it. Not all debt is bad debt!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:19 AM

      We’re in the same boat there :) Good job changing direction once you realized it was negatively effecting your life too – that’s def. no good :( I’ll only be driving a few miles a day w/ the kids so the mileage isn’t the worst thing in the world for us. Even with having to put premium in!

  19. Paul June 27, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    So in the luxury category Lexus is the most responsible (and only) brand worth buying. The reliability of Lexus is rated very high, and it really does have a low cost of ownership. That thing will probably last you 250K thousand miles. I’m all for spending money in the right places. Overall quality and value should be #1 not just price. It why I only buy Honda and Toyota. Id rather buy something that will last 10+ years than have to buy 2 somethings over that same period because I cheaped out initially. You end up spending more not going for quality.

    I did the same thing, I got a 2011 (newest body style) Honda Odyssey touring in 2014. Had 45K on it. MSRP new was something like $42K, I paid $28K for a vehicle that will last me at least 10 years. Did I need the touring model….no. But prioritizing happiness I got it anyway, this thing has every feature you could possibly imagine. The DVD player is like an instant mute button for kids. That and Im not sure I could live without auto up on my windows anymore…idk why but I love that feature.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:22 AM


      We’ll make sure to check out that model once it’s time again :) They were super comfy looking when we sat in some!

      Good to be reassured on the Lexus too. So far I haven’t heard any horror stories with them but the day’s still early :) Hoping we have it long enough where it rivals Frankencaddy!

      1. Paul June 27, 2016 at 2:21 PM

        Lexus was the #1 most reliable car brand for consumer reports in 2015 so I think you will be good.

        1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:27 PM


  20. Kathy June 27, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    That’s what we have! Ours is an 07 and I love it. It was 5 years old with only 15,000 miles when we bought it from a family member for cash under some very sad circumstances. We hope to keep it for many more years. We’ve had offers to buy it from a person who has 350s of his own; and he says we should be able to drive it to 200K miles. Currently it is at 50K. The only downside is that we don’t have a Lexus dealer in our town so when we have service done, they have to drive from 90 miles away to pick it up, take it in for service, and return it. BUT they leave us a car to drive. Usually a newer model so we get to try out other models without the hassle of a salesman bugging us. When this one dies, I’d like to get another. Time will tell.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:24 AM

      Oh woww – we’ve got lots of RX owners up in here! You’re the 3rd person so far this morning that’s mentioned they own one too! We should have a gathering or something, haha…

  21. Stephen Weyman June 27, 2016 at 8:57 AM

    Congrats on the new ride man – looks amazing!

    I think we get scared as PF bloggers sometimes about what others will think, but we really just have to be ourselves. Part of life is about making choices and spending money on what makes us happy. The important part is actually taking the time to think and focus in on those things that enrich our lives the most and spend our money there.

    As long as you can truly afford it, do it I say!

    Appreciate the link up too btw!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:27 AM

      Thanks man! I was def. nervous putting it all out there, that’s for sure… I used to not be so much when first starting the blog, but seems it effects me more as the years go by. I think because people keep stating that I’m an “expert” which I’m clearly not! :) Does feel good to get it all out there though and be real about stuff.

  22. Pia @ Mama Hustle June 27, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    I have a Hyundai Sonata, which I love. Bought it two years ago, used, with only 2k miles on it (and at a 50% discount over a new one) and still smile every time I drive it or see it in the lot.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:27 AM

      that’s when you know you made the right call :)

  23. Eric Bowlin June 27, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    I must say, I was a little surprised opening up this blog this morning! I didn’t expect you to finance a new car.

    A car does have a finite life, so you will have to spend on one from time to time.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:28 AM

      Gotta keep ya on your toes ;)

  24. Guy June 27, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    I was in the same predicament a few years ago needing to buy a “new” car on a short time frame. Went to Carmax told them what I wanted and how much I wanted to pay, and I shockingly got everything I wanted! I was pleasantly shocked as they were the 3rd or 4th car dealership I went to, the last having a guy who kept trying to get me to buy a 98/99 Jaguar XJ8 that was well out of my budget. Glad to know it just wasn’t the Carmax I went to as I’m up for another car in the next year. Congrats on the new purchase and trust me leather is so much easier to clean spills and mud shoe prints from children :)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:29 AM

      If I ever get insanely wealthy I’ll pick up an XJ8 for ya ;)

  25. Danell June 27, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    Okay, I admit, I was confused when I saw you took on a car payment when I’m guessing you probably could have paid cash. However, I appreciate that you were honest even though as a PF blogger that had to be a tough thing to share. This is good for me to see as a newbie PF blogger as I’ve thought about how much I want to share. While I have been able to pay cash for the last three cars I’ve bought, I’ve wondered about sharing that I get child support if I were to start doing an income/expense report. Not that it is a crazy amount or anything, by any means, just wonder if I’ll get the “Oh, well, you have that extra money every month.” responses. My last three cars-
    2001 Altima for $10,000 in 2008
    2011 Camry for $15,000 in 2013
    1998 Mustang for $2500 in 2015 (for my son)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:39 AM

      It’s def. a decision you have to think about, that’s for sure. Though people will come at you no matter what you share or don’t share – I get hate every week for stuff I didn’t see coming! :)

      I will say this though – people LOVE to see real life numbers from real life people no matter if they’re good ones or bad ones (and sometimes the bad ones make them feel even better!). So blog/growth/community wise, the more transparent the better.

      That being said, and ESPECIALLY if you’re using your real name/face online, it can def. effect your real life and once things are out there it’s much harder to take back. So my advice is always to start small and then slowly divulge more if you want to later vs going in the opposite direction.

      But with any hate you receive either now or later, just remember this: you’re putting yourself out there to HELP people and at the end of the day THOSE are the people who matter – not the ones trying to bring you down. It’ll still sting as there’s no way really around that, but at least you’re adding value to the world vs hiding behind a computer spilling hate :)

  26. Rachel @ The Latte Budget June 27, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Congrats on the new car! Thanks for being honest and sharing your experience getting a new car. Sometimes it is in our best interest to spend on ourselves.

    I totally had a Geo Storm for one of my first cars. Those door handles…I can still remember struggling to open :)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:39 AM

      HAH! I remember those!

  27. Bobby (M$M) June 27, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    Ha I feel like out of all the pf bloggers I know you’ll survive a new car post better than anyone. Doubt you’ll lose any readers J

    On a side note – we are looking for a car for my mother in-law that’s in the same price range. Considered the 350 but want something with about 30k less miles. Got about 20k to spend. Did you look at a RAV-4 or any of the other smaller SUV’s?

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:48 AM

      Oh yeah, we looked at all of them. Reliability wise the Rav4s and CRVs seemed the best, but we did have fun poking around the Nissan Rogues and Muranos and then even the VW Tiguans. If we didn’t want something more exiting though, we probably would have gone with the Chevy Equinox as it had a little more room and was def. priced better than some of the others. We would have also researched the GMC Terrain more too as it seemed to really pack a punch but couldn’t figure out why was so cheap compared to the others? Maybe cuz it was a GMC? Really liked the way they looked though…

      I guess it just depends on what your MIL is going for. Any of the foreign compact SUVs would do the trick if you can find one priced okay (they were more expensive) but if she’s looking for more jazz then some of the others offered better value :)

      We also checked out the Lincoln MKX too which was in the same class as the Lexus and looked BALLER (and cheaper!) but in comparison the RX was much more comfortable.. Still could be an option for her though if she’s going for luxury? And sex appeal? (Oohhh you said MIL not MILFS! ;))

      1. Bobby Hoyt (M$M) June 27, 2016 at 1:06 PM

        Good lord, totally ignoring the milf comment and wish I hadn’t seen it hahaha

        Thanks for the info – we are really leaning towards an import for reliability and safety, etc. I WILL check out the MKX though, forgot that was even a thing. Crazy how many different car options are out there!!!!

  28. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply June 27, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    I’ll be in the market for a new (to me) car as well. Quick question since you’re a dad to 2 kids…with 2 car seats in the back, can you fit a small adult there as well for the times you might want to drive another person besides your wife? I have a Sonata and considered an SUV but didn’t think it was much more room unless I get a 3rd row but I don’t want to drive a behemoth w/bad gas mileage since I have a long commute. Also, glad to hear about CarMax. I used Enterprise no haggle and looked into Hertz used cars recently. The prices seem better than used car lots when I compared (and that was after trying to negotiate it down at the used car lot)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:51 AM

      ACK! Forgot about Enterprise! Def. a good option too, though could never tell if getting a rental was smart or not? With how people can treat them?

      Anyways, yes – you can totally fit an adult next to the two car seats :) The bigger the SUV the better of course, but you’d still be fine w/out that 3rd row. Unless we’re talking a more massive person then it would get tight quick. There’s def. more room than a sedan though, especially in the legroom since you can move the whole row back and forward in some SUVs.

  29. Ray Ray June 27, 2016 at 9:39 AM

    Hey J.Money !
    Congrats on the new car! I am pretty sure that you are in the minority that knows how to handle money and pay debt off quickly. So I think a car loan for you is fine

  30. Liz June 27, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    I took a sharp intake of breath when you said ‘car paymetn’, but I think that’s because I’m desperately trying to get rid of mine! I actually do love my car (2012 Ford Edge), and spend a LOT of time in it (16-20 hrs per week), but even so car payments are a downer! I could do SO much more with that cash!

    Enjoy the ride, pay it off (I know you will!)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:53 AM

      You could, but then you wouldn’t have the nice ride ;) Always a trade off with this stuff though and you’ll go in phases where sometimes you’re okay with something and sometimes not. Life’s always changing!

  31. Millennial Moola June 27, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    At least you got it at carmax and it’s a 2008. I haven’t driven anything since I sold my 06 Chevy Equinox to a one eyed rapper before I used the money to travel around the world for the past year. True story actually. Got a great deal selling in cash on Craiglist

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 11:54 AM

      OMG how I want to hear that story one day, haha…. I’m always getting confused as a rapper, which I don’t mind as I love rap!

      Did you like your Equinox btw? That was 2nd on our list and probably what we would have gotten if not for the Lexus popping up.

  32. Joe June 27, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Dude, you sold out! Just kidding. That’s Lexus is a nice SUV. It’s on my short list if we ever get an SUV. Yeah, the car payment is a drag. Hope you pay it off soon. It’s all about enjoying life. There is no point getting a minivan if you don’t like it.
    The gas mileage is a little disappointing. Enjoy the ride!

  33. Hannah June 27, 2016 at 9:58 AM

    My husband recently said, “SUVs are man minivans!”

    We’ve been talking a lot about our car situation,and we’re trying to decide between a pickup, a minivan or an SUV. It’s not urgent, but we think our car will die in the next 3-4 years

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:02 PM

      Hah! Your husband and I would probably get along real well :)

      You’re actually in a fun position then if you’re not sure – you get to check out a whole bunch of cars and take your time with it until you find The Deal! And Carmax is actually PERFECT for that. You can literally jump into any type style you want there and then take some for a spin without being hassled 24/7.

      It’s amazing how fast you fall in love – and out of love – with some too once you’re inside of it or driving around. One of the first cars I saw on the lot was a Cadillac SRX (SUV) which I thought would be dope, but 3 seconds inside it I knew I didn’t like it… Same with some other cars, while others surprised me in the opposite direction!

      Anyways, all that to say that it’s nice to have time on your side where you can test them all out and then keep your eyes on the right deal as soon as it comes up. Def. a good position to be in (and so much can change within 3-4 years too so if you end up having kids or commuting more or less or something you’ll have already done some research a head of time too :)).

  34. Ty @ Get Rich Quickish June 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    That’s one fine looking automobile! I just got rid of my Mercedes GL450 that we used to haul our crew around in. Everything about that car was expensive from the cost of the vehicle itself, to the insurance, to the repairs ((shudders at the memory – even oil changes were ~$200)), to the premium gasoline it required. It was so good looking and really, really fun to drive. I assume your Lexus will be the same. Fingers crossed that you can at least use regular old fuel!

    Congrats on the new ride – it looks so nice!

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:04 PM

      That is a sexy car :)

      The maintenance does worry me a bit, but kinda already used to that with the Cadillac though of course it was much older. I had to use premium there too and it only got 13 mpg! Haha… Fortunately we’ll only be driving it a few miles a day in between daycare drop offs/pick ups so shouldn’t be putting too many miles on it.

  35. Armando Sauceda June 27, 2016 at 10:44 AM

    I’ve been following your posts for about a year now and this is my first time responding to one. I am an active duty Marine and I just wanted to say thank you for donating your car to something that helps my brothers and sisters. I have definitely applied some of the suggestions and gained a lot of knowledge with your help. Just wanted to say thanks for everything and I am glad I stumbled upon your site.

    ps. Its OORAH for Marines and hooah for Army ;)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:07 PM

      Hey! Very cool – thanks for taking the time out to say hello! :)

      Going right now to correct that horrendous mistake, haha… Interestingly enough when my father retired from the Marines he ended up being a civilian working for the army! It never gets old making fun of him for that.

  36. Linda@Frugal Turtle June 27, 2016 at 11:04 AM

    My sister in law drives a Lexus SUV and loves it. I’m not sure if it’s the same model as yours, though.

    I, on the other hand drive a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix that I bought on New Year’s Eve 2007. It now has 186,000 miles. The horn hasn’t worked in years and the vents barely work now, to. It’s made for some ridiculously cold car rides up here in MN the past couple of winters. But I keep driving it and saving money for a new car for the day it completely dies on me.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:09 PM

      Smart woman! I probably should have been putting some aside myself every month knowing the Caddy would need to be replaced at some point, but I guess I just didn’t see it happening sooner than later (and at least it all went into investments instead :)).

      Sending over some good vibes that the Prix keeps on ticking!

  37. Mike B June 27, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    Aha! Kudos on doing the research and going with something used. In my mind an SUV is something with 6+ seats. That thing is packing 4+ (5 including the middle “bitch” seat), and a trunk space, right? Yeah, that’s a fancy luxury van; like a Saturn Vue or something but Toyota. Either way, it goes to show that having your finances in order is an important facet of life.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:11 PM

      Hey! We actually checked out a VUE for a few minutes! It was SOOOOO cheap, like $13,000 or something?, but actually looked pretty luxurious! Super sleek, leather seats, Navigation I believe – I actually wanted to test drive it in case the Lexus didn’t work out but a) hadn’t heard a THING about that car ever? and b) someone had already requested to get it xferred to a different Carmax so never got the chance :( I was surprised how sexy it looked though – actually reminded me of a Cadillac!

      1. Mike B June 27, 2016 at 7:32 PM

        Woah — sounds SWEET. Still, no buyers remorse on your end I’m sure.

  38. Amanda @centsiblyrich June 27, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    Enjoy the new car! It sounds like you made an informed decision. You’ll have that debt knocked out before you know it!

    So, we own a 2013 Hyundai Sonata, which we love and gets pretty great gas mileage. Now, confession time – we also own a 2013 F-250 (ouch!), which doesn’t do so well on gas, as you can imagine (we have it to tow our camper), but both are paid off. In another year, we will be able to use just the car most of the time, so that’ll save us a ton.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      Pretty impressive though! Owning two pretty new cars like that outright… You’re beating me out pretty well right now ;)

  39. Justin June 27, 2016 at 11:44 AM

    I guess congrats on knocking out step 2 of 4 of your transition! :)

    And wow that’s an expensive car compared to what we went with a few months ago. 2009 Toyota Sienna minivan with a few more miles (110k) but it was $8200 out the door and in great condition for the most part (a few tiny dings that give it character on the outside :) ). I’m amazed at all the fancy features in a “modern” car compared to the complete lack of features in my old 2000 honda civic. Tire pressure monitoring system?! MP3 player jack?! 6 CD/MP3 disc changer?

    The other thing I thought when I saw RX350 was “oh crap”. My sister in law bought one about the same age (a 2000 but it this was back in 2008 or so) with a few more miles. The engine blew a piston rod through the cylinder wall within a few thousand miles of purchase. :( The repairs were going to be so expensive I think she basically sold it for scrap and had to get a new car. She didn’t pay that much for hers compared to yours, so it was probably in much worse condition.

    And I noticed the same carmax premium as you did when I was shopping. I ended up buying from an independent shop and taking it to my local independent Honda/Toyota shop for a very thorough $100 inspection. The prices were $3000-5000 less than carmax in general for the model and year combos we were looking for, so well worth the risk and inconvenience of haggling and searching. Though we had the freedom of time – no real deadline other than buying something within 6-8 months before our big summer road trip. So a few craigslist searches that email me when a new car is posted did the job, plus the occasional used car search at or similar.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:16 PM

      Totally! Much smarter way to go financially than hitting up a dealer (or Carmax). That was def. the hardest part to it all – our time frame.

      But I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear your piston blowing up comment there and just pretend she’s still riding off into the sunset with it, haha… THAT’S the exact reason we got that warranty! Ain’t nobody got money for that.

  40. The Professor June 27, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    Congrats on the new wheels. I’ve owned a Lexus RX300 for almost 16 years now. It’s one of the originals. I think they came out in 1999 and I bought mine in 2000. I only have 125,000 miles on it. Plan on seeing if I can push it to 20 years. It’s a smooth ride.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:17 PM

      Sweet!! We’re now a party of 5 here! We can form a gang! :)

  41. Steven June 27, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    I’m a believer in Financial Samurai on this with some added interpretation by me. If your car is 10% of your annual income, you are doing great and on your way to FI. 10-25% you are probably the above average American who pays attention to your budget and bought a nice used/new car that fits right in. (Bonus points for cash and/or talk of keeping the car until the wheels fall off) 25-50% now you fall into the average American with those big payments and so many add-ons you might not even know what half of them do, I might even ask you to give the car back. Over 50% (I did this once, oh the financial shame) SELL Immediately.

    Vehicle looks great, enjoy the ride;)

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:18 PM

      Not a bad set of rules :)

    2. Ellie June 28, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      I followed Financial Samurai’s rule for buying a car. When I first read it, I thought it was crazy, but then I used it and it’s not at all crazy. I actually spent about 8% of gross on a replacement vehicle, but will have to put in about 5% gross on updates and repairs (timing belt, a/c issues, etc.) It’s not a pretty vehicle, but it runs and I paid cash.

  42. The Professor June 27, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    By the way the Lexus forum sites (google) are really informative. I’ve replaced a few things and saved lots of $$$ than what I would have spent at the mechanic’s. My best replacement was when my door locks went out and one shop wanted over 2 grand for fixing it. Believe it or not the locks are controlled by those tiny little hobby motors. It took quite a few hours taking the doors apart one weekend but I replaced three out of the four locks for a cost under $50 and it’s been two years and they still work fine.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:19 PM

      Oh, nice! Thanks for the heads up man! Didn’t even think about online forums for them but it makes sense… It seems they really have some die hard fans, eh?

  43. Done by Forty June 27, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    My wife is going to be finishing her PhD sometime soon, and we’re also making some big and somewhat unusual moves in this time of transition. Like getting a mortgage again, and maybe moving to another house. Heck, maybe we’ll get a new car, too, for the future kiddos.

    I figure that’s just the way life is: steady as she goes most of the time but, yeah, every once in a while you change course.

    Anyway, sweet ride. I think dropping an extra couple thousand on a nicer car is a worthwhile expenditure.

    1. J. Money June 27, 2016 at 12:20 PM

      Exciting times for you guys! Hoping she finds a good job well before the year and a half it took my wife! It’s cray out there.

      1. Done by Forty June 30, 2016 at 12:25 PM

        We might be going the route of “Get PhD then decide being a stay at home mom was the best option after eight years of grad school”. :)

  44. JayP June 27, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    I love it that you are honest even though I cringed a little when I saw “car payment”. You have to do whats right for you right now, even if its not in the minimalism playbook! Especially this is true when you have a family and others to consider. I do it ALL THE TIME, kicking myself a little all the while…..:) Great job of putting your family first.

  45. Abigail @ipickuppennies June 27, 2016 at 1:26 PM

    Very purty! It sounds like you put a lot of thought into which features you were willing to pay for and which ones you weren’t — and how much you wanted to pay overall. In the end, that’s what really matters in car buying.

  46. Kati June 27, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    Aww, this is not a sexy new blog post. Car debt is so bad. Am I unsubscribing? Noooo… not yeeeeet. But yeesh! I was so thrilled to find a money blogger who was wisely eschewing payments… and love your optimism and family-mindedness and heart (thumbs up for donating to the NVSF) but all that doesn’t justify bad math and increased risk. Take your payment and invest them for 5 years at the rate you’re giving to the finance department and your money would be worth 25217.23. Or invest it in the market at the average 7% and your money would be worth $27910.52 in 5 years, or inevst for the five years in you boys college funds and averaging 7%, don’t touch it for 10 years after that and you’ll have $54904.21. I just ran the Kelly Blue Book value of a 2003 Lexus RX – which si not comparable to today’s model, but it was the closest I could think of – and by the time you pay off 25K of yours, it could be valued at what that 2003 Lexus is valued at today- $5665. Not financially savvy in my book. And let’s be honest – cars do not keep their re-sale value on the whole. They are liabilities, not investments. Investments make us money, liabilities cost. And this one just cost you between 20 and 50 grand depending on how you consider opportunity cost. Sorry dude. Not sexy.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:36 PM

      I’m actually with you 100% on the opportunity cost but you’re forgetting the fact that we needed a new car :) If I ran the opp cost for all the food that we eat and house costs and everything else in life we’d be a trilionaire in 30 years!

      So sure – we could have picked up a cheaper car and been just as fine, but you can’t get a car AND keep the money at the same time. Either way we lose the compounded goodness, even if we paid all cash.

      I do appreciate the kind words though and glad you’re kinda sorta enjoying the blog ;) I’m actually surprised there’s not more hate being thrown my way in the comments…

  47. Paul June 27, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    After driving my “hoopty” is a liked to call it for 6 years (a 2004 BASE model NIssan Sentra) I purchased in 2010…..I finally upgraded in March.

    As a driving enthusiast I cared about two things greatly. Manual transmission and rear wheel drive. I found my dream car on Craigslist after 6 months of searching. The seller had it priced at KBB blue book at first, but after a week lowered the price by $1k, and another week or so later another $1k.

    Called, everything seemed legit but he had another prospective buyer coming to look at it that night. I convinced a mechanic friend to go look at it with me right after work that day….glad I did!!

    A day later I was the proud new owner of my new baby :)

    2008 Infiniti G37s w/ Sport Package, Premium Package, 6MT, and only 21,450 miles (not a typo)

    Talked the guy down to $16.5k by offering cash on the spot. We fudged the bill of sale to reflect a selling price equal to half of that (thanks to NYS sales tax *grumble grumble*)

    After paying tax, title, reg I ended up at ~$17,250 otd for a car that stickered ~$44,000 in 2008.

    Poor fellow ate almost $30k in depreciation and only drove the thing~2,500 miles/year.

    Me? I’m in love with the car. So much fun to drive and I plan on keeping it till I reach my FIRE $#.

    1. Ken June 27, 2016 at 7:43 PM

      Congrats Paul! I have a 2007 G35S, Premium, auto now at 144k miles. Got her in 2012.

      Solid as a rock. Still has a 0-60 in the low 5 sec range.

    2. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:38 PM

      NICE!!! Though now everyone’s going to think you won the lottery or inherited the money instead of earning FIRE on your way, haha… What frugal people splurge on fancy rides?? ;)

  48. Pengepugeren June 27, 2016 at 2:44 PM

    Daddy is not angry, daddy is disappointed.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:39 PM

      Daddy needs a beer!

      1. Pengepugeren June 29, 2016 at 9:54 AM

        I’ll celebrate my two debt free cars with a glass of homemade wine :)

        1. J. Money June 29, 2016 at 10:35 AM

          Haha…. tre beautiful.

  49. DoubleZed June 27, 2016 at 3:00 PM

    I can totally relate to this. Even though I had a 2011 “eco” diesel green-this green-that diesel sedan (VW dieselgate engine, very unreliable), I went with a 2007 3.0 H6 Subaru Outback (very reliable). The car just suits me A LOT better. Yes, the yearly tax is twice as much, petrol cost will be twice as much, but I now have a lot more car for the same price as that 2011 boring thing. And no bank was involved.

    I can also confirm that these exact Lexus RX SUVs are very reliable – keep the gearbox oiled and you will roll a lot of happy miles in that thing.

  50. Keith "Shin" Schindler June 27, 2016 at 4:07 PM

    Congrats on the new ride, J. Bucks!!!

    She’s a beaut!

    Hoopty! :-) I haven’t heard that term in years! Cracked me up. Yeah, the payments aren’t what I would want either. We’re gonna drive our 2004 Saturn Wagon and 2004 Ford F250 into the ground. A young car salesman said to me a while back, “Why don’t you bring your old truck in and let me get you into a new one?” I replied, “No Way in Hell. Me and that truck are gonna die together.” Should have seen the look on his face. :-)

    You’re right about the market. My NW has plunged because of the decline. That’s okay, history shows that it will come back up. I ain’t Skeered!

    Oh well, we’re in it for the long haul.

    BTW- You, Paula, and Me; on the tractor this morning, while I moved more brush. Damn that’s hot work in South Central Texas, in June. I was re-learning about Digit, and other great stuff, today. Gonna have to check it out. Oh, I told a former student about SmartyPig, she signed up! I need to see what she thinks of it.

    Well, my Blogging Friend, all the Best to you and Yours!

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:41 PM

      Thanks for stopping by, good sir!

      The markets up almost 300 points today so hopefully all those people who got scurred didn’t pull out and forget to go back in ;)

  51. ANDREA June 27, 2016 at 4:34 PM

    Congrats on your new Sweeet Luxe Ride! :-) I wish I could have gotten a nice deal like that. I needed a new ride because mine was gonna bail soon…so I purchased a 2012 Nissan Versa Hatch Back. I have had it about 2 years now. It’s got some great features…and there is a big But with that ! I didn’t realize it was not rated so good in the safety dept..

    Happy Monday J :-)

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:42 PM

      Dang, sorry to hear :( As long as you don’t ever get hit you’ll be fine though! :) Kinda sorta reassuring, yeah?

  52. Scott @ Couple of Sense June 27, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    Congrats on the new wheels! When I first read that you were financing the car my heart dropped a bit for you – but that is a much more reasonable rate than I would have guessed for a used car. I know a lot of used car loans can run 7-8% which is much harder to swallow.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:45 PM

      Ouch! We have really good credit so that probably helped a lot… gonna see if we can get it lowered though once I’m all settled in and back to normal again :)

  53. Carol June 27, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    We have 2 vehicles, Chevy Equinox 2005 and a 2008 Chevy Impala. Both are paid off and then friends of ours were getting rid of their 1986 Corvette. Since it was priced within our budget, meaning we had enough in savings to buy it, we did. Of course, now we have put about $850. of repairs in it but it is a fun car to drive. We still have one more item to take care of and that one is $550 for the part and then whatever the labor is to put it in. But like my husband said, it is 30 years old. We plan on driving it at least 3 times a week until winter comes, then it will go in storage until spring. My nephew, a mechanic for Porche (sp?) said they need to be driven not parked in a garage.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:46 PM

      Hah – true that. And having no car payments on any of the 3 puts you in a nice spot too! That equinox was at the top of our list btw…

  54. Jaymee June 27, 2016 at 9:53 PM

    Yes, I had a feeling you might go with an SUV over van!! XD

    And I agree with your choice of SUV as well. Toyota reliability is hard to beat.

    I’m already thinking ahead and keeping up with the newer cars coming up now. In a few years, maybe a decade, our RAV4 and/or Civic hatchback will need to be replaced and we’re planning on hitting up the used market again. Lexus and Acura are on our radar – something more luxurious but still practical.

    Anyways, I’m glad you’re knocking down your list of “to do’s” in your short timeline!!

  55. Matt Spillar June 27, 2016 at 10:18 PM


    Props for doing extensive research and ultimately making the best decision for your family at this stage in life! As always, it’s really great to read about where you’re at in your journey and that you put yourself out there like this. It’s rare rare to see a financial blogger writing a post about choosing to take on a car payment, but it goes to show that it’s called “personal finance” for a reason. I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a post about why I ended up deciding to buy a new car, but haven’t been brave enough yet due to the potential criticism it may incur :P

    My wife and I bought a 2015 Honda Civic for a deal around $18K, put $3K down and financed $15K at 1.9%. There’s a variety of reasons we chose to do this including, time crunch, not having strong cash reserves, wanting something safe/reliable/holds value well. Could we have bought used? Sure, but when all was said and done it wouldn’t have gained us a whole lot. We weighed the pros and cons, and made the decision we felt was best at the time. We were better equipped to make monthly payments and pay off the loan quickly, than buying a $3K car and risking the engine blowing up in the first few months. Time will tell if we made the right decision, but we’re happy and don’t regret it so far. We plan to drive this car until it falls apart, hopefully 200K miles.

    About 6 months later we needed to get my wife a new vehicle, and we got a 2008 Dodge Avenger for $5K paid fully in cash, with savings we had been able to build up.

    Overall, I fully think debt is bad, but I also think there are times that it can be necessary/used to your advantage, like how you did in your case. We both could have easily dropped $50K on a vehicle and financed the whole thing like many people do, but instead we researched thoroughly and made the best decision we could.”

    Thanks J!
    -Matt Spillar

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:52 PM

      Appreciate the kind words man – def. nervous to publish this no doubt about it so I totally get where you’re coming from :) ESP with a new car! (Didn’t you know bloggers are never allowed to do that??)

      The comments online have been enormously nice and supportive, but getting some hate in the emails for sure. Probably because it’s easier to bash in private… What are you supposed to do though, prioritize their lives over our own?

      Good job doing what was best for you. And let me know if you ever publish it and I’ll be sure to stop by and add some encouragement :)

  56. Crystal June 28, 2016 at 1:31 AM

    Congrats on a new-to-you ride you love! Don’t worry about being a sucky money blogger – yay for the “personal” part of personal finance. :-D Besides, I beat you at bad-money-blogger-to-pay-attention-to. I was 6 months away from paying off our first house, had two paid off cars, and we ended up moving to a $260,000 house and getting my new Honda Fit (new-new for $16,300…it was just $2500 more than the used ones). So…yeah…some decisions are made based on our specific lives, not on the best financial advice ever…

  57. Ellie June 28, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    I purchased an ’05 minivan as a backup vehicle to my ’95 car. I am about to start a job that’s less than a mile from my home and is on public transit. I’m actually thinking about selling my older vehicle, that I’ve owned for 17yrs. Logically, it’s a smart move. It still runs well and should sell easily, but I’m so attached. I’m not for sure if I can part with it, but this post has helped me realize that maybe I can. If J Money can, maybe I can too. Maybe.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:55 PM

      Awww haha…

      There’s def. pros and cons to keeping our babies around, that’s for sure :) But at least each option is a decent one! I’ll send some positive vibes over that you pick the right one!

  58. Alex June 28, 2016 at 11:08 AM

    Congrats on the new car. We’re about to have a car for the first time in over a decade as we move to the suburbs.

    Test drove a CRV, Edge, Rav 4, Rogue and Tuscson and liked the CRV the best. Chose to lease rather than buy. I know many say buying is the better bet in the long term but crunching the numbers we calculated:
    A breakeven point of 8 years ($325/mo to lease vs $490 for 60 months to buy)
    Car would sell for $8k after 8 years.
    In 8 years you’ve probably $4k into the car for repairs. Maybe more, maybe less.
    So you save $4k over 8 years or $500/year or $42 a month.

    $42 a month is a tangible difference, but we felt it was worth it to always have a new, reliable car that is under warranty. No worrying about things breaking, upcoming repairs, parts needing replacement. Further, as our income/expenses change over the years we can adjust our car accordingly. Get an influx of cash we can get a nicer CRV or a fancier car, have another child or lose a job and we can downgrade to a smaller or cheaper car.


    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:58 PM

      I haven’t looked into it personally, but in theory I def see the appeal :) Esp if you like changing up cars a lot! (Not that you do, but I know others who do and go this route).

      Actually, a pretty popular $$ blogger, Financial Samurai just leased a car. Let me dig up the article…

      And then here’s one on things you should know about insuring a leased car:

      And now one about people gossiping about him, haha…

      hope this helps!

  59. Gg June 28, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    Loved reading this. I currently drive a 97 Toyota Camry that has 365K and still gets 27/32. I know at some point, I will get a new car, but 12 years of no payment (I bought it after one owner) is pretty addicting. I am looking around and preparing finances for another car in the next two years. This Camry has had no major repairs tho, so right now it is just fine. The repairs that she has had are very reasonable I can stuff an amazing amount of stuff in her too…I am an artist so that helps. Congrats on your new ride and kudos to everyone who doesn’t get too caught up in new cars!

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 4:59 PM

      WHAT??? 365,000?? I have never heard of a car going that far wowww.. You must be GOOD at maintaining them, haha… Can I borrow you?? :)

  60. Syed June 28, 2016 at 1:17 PM

    *Furiously looks for unsubscribe button*

    Just playing. Nothing wrong with getting a car if you can afford it. And you plan to pay off the loan quickly so not a huge deal. It’s funny we recently got a Rav4 and it was less to insure than our Camry! I guess insurance companies feel SUV’s really are safer.

    1. J. Money June 28, 2016 at 5:01 PM

      Seriously! It’s a nice surprise! I remember when they used to carry a premium for “rolling over”, man… Wonder if that is still a problem these days for some SUVs?

  61. Chris @ MindfulExplorer June 28, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    Car payment ! Your a wild part animal !
    I think you did it just to create some crazy writing content and a cool story to chat on how to pay down debt….sneaky blogger JMoney

    Just knifing brother….or am I :)
    Enjoy it and pay that sh*t off

    1. J. Money June 29, 2016 at 6:50 AM

      Haha… you caught me!

      1. Chris @ MindfulExplorer July 1, 2016 at 12:00 PM

        Ok… so I noticed the wonderful spelling autocorrect changes my fabulous Macbook made to my comment. I look like a grammar wizard huh :) Hopefully you translated fine

  62. Dividend Diplomats June 28, 2016 at 8:23 PM

    I didn’t start following along until recently, so I missed all the great Frankencaddy episodes and stories. I’ll say this, that car looked like a classic and I’m sure it was unbelievably comfortable. Sad day to see your car getting towed away, I’ve been there before with my first car. Sure it sucks you had to take out debt, but it seems like you did it in the most frugal way possible and turned over every stone. So congrats on the new purchase and adding another new vehicle to the list.


    1. J. Money June 29, 2016 at 6:52 AM

      Thanks man! She was comfy… I could have slept on those seats if there was enough room (or moved them to the trunk to sleep – that thing was huge! no wonder why mobsters always had them! :))

  63. ZJ Thorne June 28, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    I am glad you found a vehicle that adds to your joy! Safe and reliable and parkable on the mean-streets.

    I think it is great when PF/FIRE bloggers use money for the tool that it is.

  64. NZ Muse June 29, 2016 at 1:23 AM

    Getting a car loan was the best car decision I ever made. Seriously. I wrote about it here:

    After a series of crappy cars paid for in cash that kept dying and stressing us out, I borrowed for the newest car I’d ever owned (it was 4 or 5 years old) and then paid off that $16k as fast as I could.

    Debt is never ideal but sometimes it’s the best of the options. I actually have a post brewing about how being super debt averse has hurt me in the past and how debt has actually helped me get ahead.

    1. J. Money June 29, 2016 at 6:55 AM

      Oooooh I would love to read that post when it’s out! Will you ping me when it is? People seem to either fanatically love or hate debt (mostly hate on these blogs, haha…) but I’ve always felt there was a place for both if responsibly done. And you rarely hear how not taking out debt has negatively affected you so sounds like a fascinating read!

  65. Liggle June 29, 2016 at 2:33 AM

    Wow, the USA car market is so different to over here in the UK. Your used prices seem a lot higher yet new prices lower, the biggest overall cost for motoring over here is always depreciation.

    My car is a 2008 BMW 325d Coupe, it cost about £36k new. I picked it up at 8 years old with 101k miles on the clock for £5800 BUT given the mileage I do it has thrown regular bills at me in the short time I’ve had it so I’ve had to start considering alternatives already :(

    I have a mental battle constantly with cars being an enthusiast, it does give me comfort seeing someone financially savvy arriving at the same conclusion that debt aversion (for cars anyway) isn’t necessarily right for everyone on the quest to FI.

    1. J. Money June 29, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      You know it! There’s taking on debt irresponsibly and then there’s doing it responsibly… You still pay for the privilege of it of course, but much better to know the score than take it on blindly!

  66. Pat June 29, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    A Lexus SUV will be my next car. They are a good value, drive forever, and are gorgeous! Happy driving!!!

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 9:51 PM

      oh, nice! seems to be a lot of Lexus lovers up in here – makes me feel even better about the purchase :)

  67. weenie June 29, 2016 at 10:44 AM

    Some in the FI/PF blogging community harp on about people being ‘stupid’ for getting car loans.

    It’s stupid only when you can’t afford the payments and don’t have any savings rate to speak of or any kind of net worth.

    Clearly, you’re not in that camp! :-)

    Enjoy your new ride.

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 9:53 PM

      Thanks, friend :)

  68. Kim June 29, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    One life, J$. One life. If you love it and can afford it, go for it! That’s what money is for. Congrats!!! BTW-that model is my dream car as well.

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 9:52 PM

      You can take it for a spin if we ever meet up in real life! :)

  69. Financial Samurai June 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    Baller! And NOT BAD for only $340/month! The safety thing really has to be the biggest thing yeah? I used to have a 1989 BMW 635 that I called THE CHAIRMAN, b/c it was huge and only had two doors. The thing’s brakes stopped working one day! Bought also for about $3,100.

    Enjoy your pimp ride!


    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 9:54 PM

      Hah! that’s awesome man… was REALLY hoping you were gonna come home w/ that Range Rover from the other day! THAT is a baller car… and even more so when paid up in all cash :)

  70. Kathy June 29, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    Congrats on the new ride!

    I HAD to buy a vehicle 1 1/2 years ago as my 17 1/2 yr old Saturn (I was it’s only owner) was literally a car ride away from blowing up (engine).

    So…I went out car shopping with dear old dad (who used to work for GM & Ford and got me a Friends & Family discount)…so, off we went to the Chevy dealer (dad’s choice as he drives an Equinox) & I bought the first car I test drove; 2015 Chevy Trax.

    After all my discounts & rebates, I financed just over $20k & my payments are $264/mo. I was pre-approved with my Credit Union & after setting up auto payments with them & applying for and getting approved for a Visa, my interest rate was a whopping 1.99%!

    And, can I tell you that I LOVE my car! No really, I LOVE MY CAR! It’s just so me! JUST what I was looking for; a small SUV.

    Enjoy your clean car for the next couple of minutes until your kids get in it! lol

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 9:57 PM

      Interesting! I’ve actually never heard of that car and I thought I knew all of them! Just googled – very cool looking :) Kinda like a mini Equinox, eh?

  71. Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries June 29, 2016 at 7:12 PM

    You are a straight baller now!! Pimpin that Lexus SUV man. Who do you think you are??!!

    haha j/k. Congrats man. All in all it seems you got a decent deal. At least you didnt buy brand new so kuddos to you.

    Enjoy it!

  72. Tonya June 30, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    We are fortunate to be a one car family as we live in Chicago and public transit is readily available. But even better than public transit, my husband rides his bike to work which is almost free. At least you have a car payment on a nice car. We made the stupidest of all car decisions a little over three years ago-the dreaded lease. I know, I know. I was pregnant, we didn’t have a car at all, and we were trying to pay off debt before baby came. When our lease finally ended a few months ago, we financed the purchase of that same car which is pretty much like buying it all over again. So it’s like paying for a Scion xB twice. Ugly car but also made by Toyota and safe. Now we are paying if off and saving to buy our next (cooler) car with cash. But life keeps happening so we will see how this all works out.

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 10:01 PM

      Yeah, leases def. get a bad rep for sure. Sam from rocks one though and is pretty happy with it! Guess it depends on what you’re trying to get out of it. I used to know someone who’d literally trade in a brand new car every 1-2 years so for him it would have been MUCH better to lease than keep buying and getting rid of shortly thereafter… Of course the better solution would be to just hang onto the cars, haha, but there was no stopping him so might as well have been doing it in a smarter way!

  73. Missy G. June 30, 2016 at 11:45 AM

    I’m late to the party, but our stories have some similarities, so I had to share! I had a 2003 RX 300 that was totaled in late 2014, and I was forced to go car shopping as well. We went the Carmax route, too, just to be able to see such a wide variety of vehicles at one time and with no pressure. Safety and stress-free driving were my main concerns after the accident, and I quickly learned that I wanted another RX. Actually, while driving to Carmax to purchase a 2010 model, I did one last search to see if anything else popped up. (It was end of the year, so we were hoping for someone to want to upgrade their old one.) My search found an 08 RX 350 with 82k miles for about $16,000. And then my husband got them to knock down another thousand… SOLD.

    We had the ability to pay all cash (from the car settlement and personal savings), but our credit union offered such a low APR, that we split the final payment. I think I paid $10k down and financed the rest. Worked for us!

    1. J. Money July 4, 2016 at 10:03 PM

      Woahh!! Exact same car and almost same mileage! But a MUCH better price haha… well done :) My only regret was not having enough time to wait for a good deal to come up… I would have preferred to buy from a private person for sure to save a few thousands :(

  74. Investment Hunting July 7, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    Man not the Caddy. The new car is nice buy pimping is much easier in a Caddy ;-). Seriously though, Lexus makes great cars, you very well may have this baby for life. Nice purchase.

    1. J. Money July 9, 2016 at 7:15 AM

      Not gonna argue with that one! Haha…

      She’s already been missed, believe me.

  75. Lulu July 10, 2016 at 9:47 PM

    This is my dream car…how *dare* you sexy-budgeters buy MY car. :-) Congrats on Mrs. Sexy getting her PhD (I am in the process of getting mine so I know the pain) and congrats on the sexy ‘new’ car.

    1. J. Money July 20, 2016 at 7:02 AM

      Haha I didn’t know that! You’re welcome to come borrow it anytime you want :)

  76. Nathan August 8, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    J, I gotta hate on this purchase. But cars and education are two of my hotpoints. In 2011 my wife and I bought a brand new Honda Pilot for right at 40K. 0.9% APR made it ok right? NO. $550 / month car payments made it very wrong. What made it worse is that we paid it off early on our anniversary in 2015 and by that time our beautifully maintained car with only 65K miles on it was worth approximately 20K. So we’d paid 40K for it and lost another 20K in depreciation in FOUR years. That works out to $12,000 per YEAR in true cost of ownership.

    I swore then that we’d never again do two things – 1. Buy a new car, and 2. Have car debt.

    Props to you for buying used as the depreciation curve has smoothed out big time, but the debt….man…the debt! Don’t owe money on something that goes down in value.

    1. J. Money August 8, 2016 at 3:20 PM

      Def. agree on buying used! And for not taking on debt when you don’t have to, of course, however sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do when you don’t have the cash :)

  77. Jewels November 8, 2017 at 10:18 PM

    Just read this post after seeing your exciting “baby dime” post today! (Congrats by the way!) It was timely because our family is in the midst of vehicle shopping right now. We drive a 2007 Lincoln MKZ which is nearing 160,000 KM. We have two kids and are hoping to add another next year. Currently, we drive my folks around with us a lot whenever we go out, but we don’t have enough room for everyone, which means someone gets left at home (my poor husband usually, because leaving our three or one year old would be illegal ;)) Long story short, we need a vehicle that seats more than 5. But I just cannot get on the minivan train. And your statement “I prioritize happiness over practicality” just really hit home for me. So that’s why we are going with a 7-seater SUV (GMC Acadia). Thank you for sharing this with us, and for keeping it real. I really appreciate authenticity and someone I can relate to!

    1. J. Money November 13, 2017 at 9:44 AM

      Good for you!! You gotta be happy at the end of the day regardless of the costs/logicalness, so I applaud you :) And those Acadias are sexy!! (I was going to mention that Toyota Highlanders are also pretty good w/ the seating, if you’re ever looking again down the road (or anyone else here reading this is))