I just got a job that involves a fair amount of driving and I am looking to spend about 11-13k on a car that is fun to drive but at the same time practical and reliable.
I have a large dog, bicycle, and significant other that I transport on a regular basis (not all at the same time). I’d like to get a manual but the fact of the matter is that I am very likely to get stuck in a traffic jam one way or another so I am still debating on that. My job covers gas and a modest vehicle allowance that will cover wear and tear maintenance with a little pocket change left over. So gas mileage and little things going wrong are not a big deal. However it does need to be reliable in the sense that it will start everyday and get me where I need to go.
Some cars I have been thinking of are Mazda 3, GTI, Focus, E46 3 series(wagon if I can get it), and Mustang(thats a wildcard). I would prefer that any car I get be 2006 or newer so I can finance a modest amount but I do not want to get in the hole of financing a new car thus my budget. Help out a fellow car enthusiast and let me know what you think.
Your question reminds me of the all too scary fact that my own soon-to-be 11 year old son may someday be in your shoes.
I hope to hear this in, oh, about 15 years from now.
“Hey Dad! Guess what? I just got promoted to hedge fund manager at Milken, Milken & Dacau.”
“Great to hear it son. Remind me to retire soon.”
“I’m sure you’ll die first Dad (thanks son!). Oh, the bosses boss wants me to trade in the Camry and get something really nice. Like a Lamborghini Flatulencia.”
“Jeez! That will be quite a bit of bitcoins!. Are you sure you can afford it?”
“Sure! I’ll just get a loan with….”
… the uncomfortable thought of a loan on a car is enough to stop that happy daydream dead in it’s tracks. It may not be a good idea quite yet to arrange for a long-term divestiture of your wealth. Why?
You just got a job.
You haven’t made any money yet at this particular job.
You are now what we called in my native state of New Jersey, “working class”. Your financial security is exactly equal to your “new job” security. There is good news and bad news with that.
The good news is that you have work. The bad news is that if you’re smart, you are going to be in saving mode for the next several years and eventually buy those things that are worth keeping. Which means that when it comes to cars you may want to hold off on the late model throttle a bit.
I would go a little bit deeper down the model year range and consider an 03 to 05 model that has 100,000 miles or so and has been furiously depreciated. A stickshift on a medium sized coupe or sedan (Infiniti G35, Lexus IS300, Acura CL/TL) would be a worthwhile consideration. You can even go more into the affordable arena and wait for what we call the “rare birds” in the car business. A supposedly plain jane Solara that has a nice V6 and a 5-speed. Or the last of the Q45’s that often gets blurred out of the car shopping process.
If it were me, I would start nagging friends and associates for a well-kept older car and then tweak the suspension and upgrade the tires over time so that it rides the way you like it to. However I can hear my son in the 15 year distance revving up his Flatulencia and wondering how his Dad became so debt averse. The truth is I was raised that way. Debt to me is still a four letter word. So I’ll leave it up to the folks here to offer some more recent 11k to 13k alternatives with financing in tow.