I promise this is the last post about cars for many, many years to come I hope. But I did find the post of JL collins about the cost of a car really interesting. JL Collins is much better at keeping track of his expenses than I am (I am lazy after all). And he has been doing it for a lot longer than most of us have.
I already knew cars are expensive. There is a reason I didn’t own one till I was 35 and a big part of me being able to build up a stash can be attributed to me not owning a car. But I still found it quite a shock to see his number at 5,000+ USD per year. Gulp!
I then ran my own number for the last 2 years we had our old car and I arrive at an annual cost of around 3,000 euro. And these are the numbers for a second hand car bought for 8,000 euro when it was 4 years old. JL Collins numbers also show the last years are the cheapest and I also know I had a big maintenance bill before I started tracking our numbers. So realisticaly speaking we should be more around 3,500 euro to 4,000 euro cost per year with the 1,000 euro difference with JL Collins being explained by our lower amortizing costs because our car was cheaper than his.
Damn, cars are expensive!
For me and my girlfriend this is almost one full month each year we need to work just to pay for the car we mainly use to get to work! I know it’s crazy but we all do it!
I am curious if other people have other numbers? If so, please post them!
Now, taxes do play a big part in these expenses: 20 biljoen euro of our money flows to the government via our cars each and every year. But even taking those into account we do pay a lot of money for being comfortable while moving.
A small reminder of a simple fact
Mr Money mustache already knew it back in 2011: you can get rich by using your bike more often.
But sometimes we need to remind ourself of these simple facts. The rise in electric bicycles means that you now can cover greater distances faster. And car sharing services are popping up in more places, even our countryside!
Or perhaps we should all just switch to a velomobile?
So back in December of last year I did mention that our car broke down. And with broke down, I really mean completely kaput! The radiator was leaking even after pouring 2 bottles of Wynn’s radiator stop-leak in it. On top of that it was leaking oil from 5 different places.
The old car
The car (an opel combo) was also around 13 years old and we had driven it for 230,000 km. Spending several thousand euro’s fixing it was definitely not worth it.
Although we did get somewhat attached to it over the years, it had served us well. We bought it second hand for 8,000 euro when it was 3 years old and only had 30,000 km so all in all we good good value for our money with that car. With the big storage capacity it offered we have really moved a lot of stuff with it over the years.
Needing a rental
The moment it broke down was less fortunate. It was just before the end of year holidays. Christmas and New year mean visiting our family all over the country which means driving a lot of km’s. So we rented a car for almost two weeks. In a way it was somewhat of a waste of money but we really needed a replacement car in short notice. We did chose the cheapest possible model. When we showed up at the car rental place that car was not available. Which got us a free upgrade to a brand new Opel Mokka: the fanciest car either us have ever driven!
The car rental got us over the end of year festivities but since our new car was not available in stock we had to wait till early March for the delivery. Lucky for us family had a not often used second car which we could borrow.
Buying a new car
Conventional wisdom among the FIRE community is to not buy a new car.
The reason for this is that a new car loses immediately 20% of it s
value the moment you drive it from the car lot. Depreciation for a
car is the highest the first couple of years. Conventional wisdom is
to have somebody else absord that depreciation, buy the car when it
is around 4 years old and then drive it until it falls apart. We did
this with the Opel Combo and a purchase price of 8 000 euro + 2 000
exceptional maintenance costs for 10 years of use came around 1,000
euro depreciation per year.
Which brings us to the Dacia brand. Dacia is the budget brand of Renault. The cars are build with older technology (the passenger windows are not electric for example, there is no touchscreen to be found anywhere in the car) and they offer only a handfull of options in colour scheme and extra’s. The upside of al of this is that their cars are cheap. On their site they even advertise a starting Logan model (which is what we got) of 7 590 euro!
Do not get suckerd in by this! They are sneaky little bastards at Renault and I honestely doubt they ever sell the basic load out. It doesn’t even have a radio or fog lichts for that price! So ignoring the very basic set-up which only exists for advertising purposes you could still get a brand new car for less than 10,000 euro.
Except if you want a somewhat stronger engine like we wanted. Our family lives 100+ km from us which means using the highways to visit them which means we preferred a somewhat stronger engine. But Renault, being the sneaky little bastards they are decided that if you want the stronger engine you also have to take the full option package. So yes, we bought a new car with all the bells and whistles which even includes airco (first ever car with airco!).
The price for all of this: 11 226 euro. It does include free paint because promo conditions and a 500 euro reduction for are old car (which we were glad to get rid off) but also a 500 euro extra cost to install a towbar to pull our remorque (having a big garden and animals does mean we us our remorque frequent enough to justifiy this expense).
Amortization cost, or revisiting conventional wisdom
If we have use the car for 10 years and 200,000 km’s the amortisation per year will be slightely higher than our old car: 1,200 euro/year instead of the previous 1,000 euro/year. If we can use it 12 years and 240,000 km like our previous car we will be right back at the 1000 euro/year amortizing cost.
still apllies, even to Dacia. If you have the time to look around you
can find Dacia cars of only a few years old and not to much milage
which would push that amortisation below the 1,000 euro/year. But
then you need to find a good second hand car! And there isn’t all
that much on offer because Dacia seems to attracted buyers like us
who buy the car with the full intention of driving it until it falls
apart. Because of the low starting price of the car new that bigger
amortisation in the beginning doesn’t even matter all that much. If
I would have to stick a number on it I would guess you can save
around 2,000 euro over 10 years by buying a good secondhand Dacia
Logan as opposed to a new one. The extra 2,000 euro negates the luck
you need in finding a good second hand car + gets us at the very
least 4 years of completely worry free driving a brand new car.
Now, 2,000 euro is still a decend amount. Especially if you take into account a person will at least buy 6 cars during his life. If we had more time we would have probably took our time and looked around for a decent second hand car. But we didn’t have all that much time. Our old car was not safe anymore to drive and we had so much breaking down in December that we just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of looking for a decent second hand car. Honestely, those 4 years of worry free driving without a need to even go to the annual car inspection was really appealing back in December. And also, 11 226 euro for a brand new car, with airco and pull bar really isn’t expensive! So I am going to file this under frugal habits, even if it goes against the conventional FIRE wisdom and might cost 200 euro/year more than going second hand.
I am not a certified financial advisor and do not hold a license from the FSMA. Everything written on this blog expresses my own personal journey and opinion and is pure entertainment. It is never an advice on what how and where you need to invest. If you need this advice, then please reach out to a financial service expert
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