If you haven’t read Purchasing a Vehicle with Financial Independence in Mind- Part I AND Purchasing a Vehicle with Financial Independence in Mind- Part II then I recommend you read those before reading this. Unless you’re one of those people who likes to skip to the last page of the book and find out why it’s called Where the Red Fern Grows.
I will from this point forward assume you have read Part I and Part II or are fine with spoilers.
Without further adieu here is what we decided to buy…
Ok some a little more adieu…
Coming in hot to take second place in our car search was a 2014 VW Jetta Sportswagen TDI. This car came in out of left field for us. It was a real dark horse. A real underdog story if you will. In the previous post I talked about the possibility of getting a VW Golf Sportswagen TDI but we found the older Jetta TDI’s to be much less expensive and a little bit larger. At different times in our lives a smaller vehicle would have been preferable but the Jetta gave a few more inches in the backseat for whatever you want. Like, I dunno, carrying a rear-facing car seat.
If you’re unfamiliar with VW vernacular the TDI means it’s a diesel. The reason we almost bought this car was because the TDI’s are selling for much cheaper than the Kelly Blue Book price. This is because a few years ago VW got in massive trouble for lying about the emissions their diesel cars were putting out. The bad press has made buyers wary and has driven the price down.
We actually owned the sedan version of the Jetta TDI at the time. The scandal itself was perfect for us because we really regretted buying such an expensive car. Volkswagen got their hand slapped and had to buy back or fix all current TDI vehicles that had the emissions problem. Ours was one of those so we were able to sell our car back to them for almost what we paid for it.
Fast-forward a few years and you can now get a used 2014 Sportswagen Jetta TDI with low miles for around $15,000. We happen to not be in the camp of folk that feel like spending $15,000 for any vehicle so we weren’t interested…until
We found (we being my wife. I did no scouring of the internet. I played Candy Crush while she looked over Craigslist and compared prices around the Northwest for countless hours) a 2014 Jetta TDI with under 60,000 miles for $12,900. Panoramic sunroof, check. Navigation, check. Backup camera, check. It was a white automatic with leather beige interior. It checked all the boxes.
When you buy a certified VW from a VW dealership you also get a 2-year unlimited mile bumper to bumper warranty. This peace of mind is a huge benefit when buying a used car because you never know what you’re going to get.
Ironically, the bumper to bumper warranty doesn’t cover the actual bumper which had a small amount of body damage that we saw in person that was not evident online. We wondered why the car was $3,000 below the other similar models around. It had a few other dings and scrapes. Whoever was the previous owner was not great at avoiding objects despite the backup camera. Still, it was a pretty good deal.
I did my best to negotiate down on account of the body damage and inside we went. We sat there wide-eyed but wiser than we were a few years ago. Back in a familiar VW dealership. Everything about the car felt like a good deal comparatively. As we talked with the sales guy he started getting my personal information. My wife sat there as the memories of buying her new Jetta several years ago, and the regret she felt, started to pour in.
“I think we should go talk about this for a while,” she said.
We got up and went for a walk, talking about the pros and cons. It should be a great car for a screaming deal. We don’t really car about the body damage, we care about function. In fact the body damage probably saved us several thousand dollars. It would be a work vehicle for my business so we would be able to write it off on our taxes. That doesn’t make it free but it certainly helps.
We had every reason to buy it. It was nice. Woooo that gas pedal was responsive. Those features. That leather. That PANORAMIC SUNROOF! Think of all the stars we could see under that thing. It was a deal. It was more than a deal, it was THE deal. We had the cash to buy it. No car payment. We work so hard. I mean, we work kind of hard. We deserve it!
But, it was still $12,900. It was a more luxurious car than we were accustomed to by several notches, but it wasn’t the most practical car we could get for pursuing financial independence.
We told them we’d think about it and left. We said to give us a call if they would be willing to go down to $11,500. We knew they wouldn’t.
We drove the long road back to Portland.
The sun was setting as we cruised the freeway north. We were a little sad to let that car go but we were happy to not have to deal with DMV, insurance and all the other headaches and monthly expenses that go along with a second vehicle. The extra $12,900 still in our pockets didn’t hurt either.
“I’m just worried about making a bad decision,” she said with her usual amount of concern.
“This car isn’t so bad,” I said looking around at our dilapidated Honda Fit complete with stains, dust, construction tools and debris.
“You think it can fit a rear-facing car seat?” she asked.
“It’s called a Honda Fit, not a Honda does-not-Fit,” I replied.
“Yeah, baby. I’m glad you’re so smart and brave and articulate and funny. Let’s get some ice cream,” she may have said. It’s hard to remember conversations word for word. Point is after months of car shopping and research we are keeping our Honda Fit.
It just FITS into our pursuit of financial independence the best…get, get it? It FITS into our plans? Huh? Honda Fit. Ok I’m done.
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