When I was making my decision to buy my 1999 Volvo V70 wagon 15 years ago, safety was the most important consideration. I keep driving it today because it is the ultimate in durability, utility, and most importantly, cheapness. In this post I’m going to tell you how this has helped me to achieve financial freedom.
Keeping a car for a long time and doing regular maintenance and repairs when necessary is usually much cheaper in the long run. Even if you are frugal and only buy a used car every few years, there are still fees and sales tax to pay each time you trade one car for another. I prefer to avoid the unnecessary sales tax and transfer fees by keeping the same car for a long time.
My annual California registration is now about as low as it can go. In fact, this car is so old now that according to the DMV, it has essentially stopped depreciating and the registration fee has remained the same for the last 10 years.
The insurance is also cheap. No one is going to steal a 17-year-old Volvo wagon to go joyriding, and statistically, drivers of this car are involved in very few accidents. The cosmetic damage has also already been done. I don’t worry about parking lot scratches, the car getting stolen, or the paint being damaged from being crapped on by birds.
The car doesn’t have a lot of “tech”, and I like that. There is no computer touch screen, Bluetooth, or other fancy options to malfunction. The only options are power windows and a CD player. Climate control is manual. Lower complexity means fewer mechanical and electrical breakdowns. It’s also possible to do a lot of the simple repairs yourself using YouTube DIY repair videos and the parts are readily available. Anything that I can’t do is still relatively inexpensive at my reliable “Volvo Only” independent garage. I never go to the dealer because I hate being overcharged.
Because I’m sticking with the same old car, I don’t spend any of my time on the car buying process every few years. I spend zero time and effort going to dealerships, researching prices and options, and dealing with paperwork.
The last reason that I keep hanging onto this car is because it can hold a lot of stuff. This has saved me time and money when moving, and I have been able to save even more money by buying used furniture and other things on Craigslist and at garage sales since large items can easily fit in the wagon.
All of these things add up, and together help me to live below my means. I have the freedom and peace of mind to spend my money and time on more important things. So if you drive an older car like me, go ahead and take a spirited victory lap in your old car the next time you’re on your way home from the shop. You deserve it.
[Related Reading: Why You Need Real Financial Planning