Author Topic: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?  (Read 7221 times)

Bookworm

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Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« on: June 30, 2014, 09:04:55 PM »
Hubby and I discovered MMM last summer, and quickly decided to make some changes to our "fleet" of cars. He was driving a 2002 Saturn with ~220,000 miles on it, I was driving a nearly new Toyota Sienna with a $13,000 loan, and our 18 year old was driving a 1997 Lumina that broke down all the time and drank huge amounts of fuel (all of which he paid for himself). We considered trading the Sienna for a compact car of the same approximate age/mileage, just for the fuel savings and reduced insurance, but after much back-and-forth in our thinking, we decided that his Saturn had been such an amazingly reliable little car, we'd go ahead and scale way back and get more of those. He kept his car (it now has 262,000 miles on it and is still humming along), we sold the van for a couple thousand more than we owed, and then bought another 2002 Saturn, a smaller 2000 one as a backup for DH since his is up there in miles, and our son traded his Lumina for a 1999 Saturn SL2.

We put maybe $2,000 into the cars over the remainder of 2013, just working out a few minor bugs to get them really operating well, and also to put brand new tires on both of them. By the end of the year, we thought we were ready to start reaping the $$ benefits of our Mustachian changes.

And then the day after Christmas, all hell broke loose. Our son blew the engine in his car, and he and hubby spent about three months replacing the engine themselves. They made some rookie mistakes that caused the transmission to fail, and we ended up going to three different mechanics who diagnosed it with different problems and making expensive repairs. Then we started to have problems with the little backup car, and then hubby's car, and then my car. We had weeks where out of our four cars, only one was working. And then to add insult to injury, my car was destroyed by an uninsured motorist in March of this year. We replaced it with another one just like it, and it has started to cause problems, too...the mysterious kind that every mechanic diagnoses as something different, but that their repairs don't fix. We've done a lot of the recommended repairs ourselves (yes, I play grease monkey, too) to save money, but it's still been really expensive and REALLY, REALLY frustrating. We are still trying to figure out what is causing it to shudder when it accelerates.

We have spent more than $5,000 on car repairs in 2014 alone, and all the problems aren't gone! That doesn't count more than $2,000 that our son also put into his car.

I am starting to think we screwed up. Hubby had two hours to kill today between two medical appointments, and he spent it at a Hyundai dealership looking at Elantras (which is what I wanted last summer before we decided on these cars). He admitted that he was tempted by their 0% interest offer. The frustration is getting to us. If we had a reason to think we would finally have these issues figured out soon and we'd start to save big bucks by not making payments, I know we'd both stay on course. But I could have made 14 payments on my Sienna with the money we've spent on repairs in just the last six months. It's hard to look at that and think staying the course is making sense...
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 09:07:24 PM by Bookworm »

Emg03063

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2014, 09:51:06 PM »
I drove a '97 Saturn from new until it was totaled in '08.  Loved the car, and the only unscheduled maintenance I ever had on it was a voltage regulator (accidents notwithstanding).  If you could post the specifics of your issues, it would be helpful. 

CarDude

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2014, 10:25:16 PM »
I wouldn't look for too much reliability from a Saturn. My typical recommendations for car choices are Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys at the midsize level and Civics and Corollas at the small car level.

Khan

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2014, 02:34:13 AM »
Maybe you're shooting too low on the expense scale for your ride?

I mean, definitely -don't- buy a new car, but remember this about MMM: He's retired, and can take all the time in the world to do his car repairs himself. Also, he rides a bicycle religiously. You need transportation I assume?(if you live less than 10 miles from work, get a bicycle and start experimenting there). Paying money for reliability isn't a bad idea. Instead of paying for 15-20 year old vehicles(which depending on where you live could be a very bad idea[salt damage?]), try 5-15 years?

Also... I can't believe I'm going to do this here... but I'm going to link you to 4chan's /o/ car buying guide(<$5k vehicles)
http://boards.4chan.org/o/thread/10361919/need-advice-on-buying-a-good-cheap-used-car-look
http://i.4cdn.org/o/1400987322990.jpg

chasesfish

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2014, 04:25:49 AM »
I didn't have a ton of luck with my Saturn, gave up on it at 150k.  Lots of little stuff to fix, but the big issue was having to feed it a quart of oil at every other fillup.

Go get a 3-5 year old hatchback


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Jennifer in Ottawa

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 06:57:49 AM »
Long and not necessarily requested advice incoming.

I too drive used vehicles.  I've leased a new car when I was young and silly, but since then have bought second hand.

I don't buy older than 2 model years though, and I have a repair cap on vehicles.  Once things start to go, they usually continue, so I don't want to find myself at the bottom of a money pit.

I always purchase from a dealer.  Not a used car lot, but a new dealer that also sells used vehicles.  The benefit is that the vehicles are clean, in good repair, certified, have all the paperwork (in Ontario all used vehicles must be accompanied by extracts showing any and all accidents they have had), and generally still have warranty coverage.

Yes, I pay more the used vehicle this way, but I don't pay the depreciation and my vehicles have always lasted me 10 years or more.  Cry once is my motto.

I thoroughly research all vehicles within the class of vehicle I want with Consumer Reports.  This allows me to see how they all compare in the areas of gas mileage, reliability and comfort.  Only once I have selected the exact vehicle I want do start poking around the dealers.

Research each and every time is very important.  I owned a 2003 Pontiac Montana, and my brother owned a 2002.  Mine never gave me a moments worry up until the end [it failed emissions testing and I could sniff the beginning of the money-pit stage so I got rid of it].  My brother's Montana, on the other hand, was nothing but nightmares.  I think he spent as much repairing it as it cost him to buy.  He paid much less for the vehicle initially than I did, but spent far more by the time he gave up on it.  So, I could never recommend to anyone "Buy A Montana".  Just because one model or year was great, doesn't mean that they all are, and that applies evenly to all vehicles.

If I were you, I would get rid of any car that enters money pit land, and start fresh.  Don't get caught by the sunk-cost fallacy. 

Now, facepunch time.  Are you serious?  Four cars for three drivers?  Back Up Car?  Do you own a Back Up house?  This is overkill to the extreme.  I mean, hey, it's your money, burn it the way you want, but this is Average Joe Anti-Mustachian logic writ large.

And for your son's car (if I have read your post correctly-if not I apologize first and please disregard the following) just no.  Your son is a legal adult.  He can drive, vote, gamble, enter contracts, get sued by other people, get married, father children and be responsible for them,  go to adult jail and die for his country on foreign soil [were you Canadian, he could also drink].  You are doing him a disservice by extending his childhood.  Cut the apron strings and let me become a man.  If he needs to move his body from point A to point B, he needs to fund that entirely himself.




waltworks

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2014, 07:32:22 AM »
Is there a way to not use the cars so much? This IS MMM, after all - could you survive with 2 cars? 1 car? I mean, cars cost big $ even if they're cheap reliable used cars. And they break, even the reliable ones, sometimes. If you can just get away from them altogether as much as possible, that's your best solution.

Barring that I like Honda Accords from the mid-90s. :)

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purplepants

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 08:38:42 AM »
Between about 2000 and 2006, my family was on a Saturn kick like yours. 

It started around 1998 when my dad bought a '92 Saturn for a few grand.  It was very reliable for him and he drove it for years. 

Then he went out and bought a '94 Saturn, and passed the '92 down to my brother. 

Six months later, I bought myself a '95 Saturn. 

A year or two later, Dad passed the '94 down to my other brother, and bought a '96. 

Between us, we had 4 Saturns at one time.
All of them were extremely reliable cars, and when something did break they were fairly easy to work on ourselves.  As an extra bonus, because they were all from roughly the same model and generation, the parts were relatively interchangeable.  When someone replaced their brake rotors, we had the old ones turned and kept them in the garage until the next brake job.  When my brother ripped the AC out of his (to reduce weight) my dad installed the system in his car, in which the AC had broken. 

It was really a super mustachian way to own vehicles, especially because none of them cost us more than $3,000.  However, we were all in agreement that the quality and reliability of the Saturns started to decline sometime around '97 or '98 (whenever the next gen started, I can't recall).  We stopped driving Saturns when the '92 - '96 models were no longer easy to come by.

The other thing was that we all drove manual transmissions.  Manual transmission = a lot less things to break. 

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2014, 08:40:16 AM »
To answer your question, I think you are being dumb.

I don't understand why you sold a good van and bought 3 Saturn's. It sounds pretty dumb honestly.

Next time, follow the advice of the herd --- Toyota and/or Honda for reliability and longevity.

Buying 3 Saturns blows my mind.... So yeah, sorry to be so blunt and rude  but it's very dumb.

I think the best thing you can do is cut your losses, sell them for whatever change you can get, and then upgrade to vehicles worth driving and maintaining.

This a very helpful forum - even with "stupid" questions - so always feel free to post up and ask for advice or opinions if you are unsure....

« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 08:42:17 AM by HairyUpperLip »

Bookworm

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2014, 01:39:01 PM »
To answer your question, I think you are being dumb.

I don't understand why you sold a good van and bought 3 Saturn's. It sounds pretty dumb honestly.

Next time, follow the advice of the herd --- Toyota and/or Honda for reliability and longevity.

Buying 3 Saturns blows my mind.... So yeah, sorry to be so blunt and rude  but it's very dumb.

I think the best thing you can do is cut your losses, sell them for whatever change you can get, and then upgrade to vehicles worth driving and maintaining.

This a very helpful forum - even with "stupid" questions - so always feel free to post up and ask for advice or opinions if you are unsure....

Well, I did ask. :)

We got sucked in by "You have a car loan, your hair is on fire!" thinking, and also realized we were paying comprehensive insurance on a $17,000 vehicle, and only getting 22 mpg. We realized, too, that for the first time since 2000, we didn't actually need a minivan anymore. Our nest has emptied enough that we never travel as a family of 6, and only travel as a family of 5 a couple of times a month.

And...we were led astray by the amazing performance of hubby's Saturn. We bought it in 2007 with 82,000 miles on it, and in the seven years and 180,000 miles since then, we've made exactly three repairs - changing the fuel pump, the engine mounts, and the struts. We've even kind of neglected routine maintenance, and it just keeps going. NOW it's starting to burn oil, but...I mean...it's got 262,000 miles on it.

I appreciate everybody's replies, even the "Yes, you're dumb!" ones. We aren't Mustachian enough to go down to one car, due to where we live and work and the places we need to be. We're desperately working on getting hubby a job closer to home, but we've been working on it for a long time and it's proved to be very difficult. He had a third interview last Friday and we are waiting for the company's decision now, which they say should come by July 3. Fingers crossed!

Car-wise, I think we are leaning toward working back up to newer models again, although it might not happen right away because we need to save up cash to eliminate/minimize the need for a loan. I think we went too far in the cost-cutting direction and ended up losing too much reliability. And we NEED reliability at this point. CarSafetyGuy, we may very well go in the Honda/Toyota direction. How do the 2011+ Elantras and Sonatas stack up against them?

neo von retorch

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2014, 01:53:52 PM »
On consumer reports, both the Elantra and Sonata do very well from 2007 forward. 2011+ are almost all big red circles (well above average reliability.) One exception is "Electrical System" on the 2010/2011 Sonata is "well below average." (2009 Sonata also has "well below average Transmission Minor.")

okashira

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2014, 03:29:15 PM »
To answer your question, I think you are being dumb.

I don't understand why you sold a good van and bought 3 Saturn's. It sounds pretty dumb honestly.

Next time, follow the advice of the herd --- Toyota and/or Honda for reliability and longevity.

Buying 3 Saturns blows my mind.... So yeah, sorry to be so blunt and rude  but it's very dumb.

I think the best thing you can do is cut your losses, sell them for whatever change you can get, and then upgrade to vehicles worth driving and maintaining.

This a very helpful forum - even with "stupid" questions - so always feel free to post up and ask for advice or opinions if you are unsure....

Well, I did ask. :)

We got sucked in by "You have a car loan, your hair is on fire!" thinking, and also realized we were paying comprehensive insurance on a $17,000 vehicle, and only getting 22 mpg. We realized, too, that for the first time since 2000, we didn't actually need a minivan anymore. Our nest has emptied enough that we never travel as a family of 6, and only travel as a family of 5 a couple of times a month.

And...we were led astray by the amazing performance of hubby's Saturn. We bought it in 2007 with 82,000 miles on it, and in the seven years and 180,000 miles since then, we've made exactly three repairs - changing the fuel pump, the engine mounts, and the struts. We've even kind of neglected routine maintenance, and it just keeps going. NOW it's starting to burn oil, but...I mean...it's got 262,000 miles on it.

I appreciate everybody's replies, even the "Yes, you're dumb!" ones. We aren't Mustachian enough to go down to one car, due to where we live and work and the places we need to be. We're desperately working on getting hubby a job closer to home, but we've been working on it for a long time and it's proved to be very difficult. He had a third interview last Friday and we are waiting for the company's decision now, which they say should come by July 3. Fingers crossed!

Car-wise, I think we are leaning toward working back up to newer models again, although it might not happen right away because we need to save up cash to eliminate/minimize the need for a loan. I think we went too far in the cost-cutting direction and ended up losing too much reliability. And we NEED reliability at this point. CarSafetyGuy, we may very well go in the Honda/Toyota direction. How do the 2011+ Elantras and Sonatas stack up against them?

You can safely ignore that guy. You sold a $15k car with poor gas mileage and bought a $4k car with good gas mileage and in your experience, good reliability. That's fairly MMM.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2014, 04:12:41 PM »
To answer your question, I think you are being dumb.

I don't understand why you sold a good van and bought 3 Saturn's. It sounds pretty dumb honestly.

Next time, follow the advice of the herd --- Toyota and/or Honda for reliability and longevity.

Buying 3 Saturns blows my mind.... So yeah, sorry to be so blunt and rude  but it's very dumb.

I think the best thing you can do is cut your losses, sell them for whatever change you can get, and then upgrade to vehicles worth driving and maintaining.

This a very helpful forum - even with "stupid" questions - so always feel free to post up and ask for advice or opinions if you are unsure....

Well, I did ask. :)

We got sucked in by "You have a car loan, your hair is on fire!" thinking, and also realized we were paying comprehensive insurance on a $17,000 vehicle, and only getting 22 mpg. We realized, too, that for the first time since 2000, we didn't actually need a minivan anymore. Our nest has emptied enough that we never travel as a family of 6, and only travel as a family of 5 a couple of times a month.

And...we were led astray by the amazing performance of hubby's Saturn. We bought it in 2007 with 82,000 miles on it, and in the seven years and 180,000 miles since then, we've made exactly three repairs - changing the fuel pump, the engine mounts, and the struts. We've even kind of neglected routine maintenance, and it just keeps going. NOW it's starting to burn oil, but...I mean...it's got 262,000 miles on it.

I appreciate everybody's replies, even the "Yes, you're dumb!" ones. We aren't Mustachian enough to go down to one car, due to where we live and work and the places we need to be. We're desperately working on getting hubby a job closer to home, but we've been working on it for a long time and it's proved to be very difficult. He had a third interview last Friday and we are waiting for the company's decision now, which they say should come by July 3. Fingers crossed!

Car-wise, I think we are leaning toward working back up to newer models again, although it might not happen right away because we need to save up cash to eliminate/minimize the need for a loan. I think we went too far in the cost-cutting direction and ended up losing too much reliability. And we NEED reliability at this point. CarSafetyGuy, we may very well go in the Honda/Toyota direction. How do the 2011+ Elantras and Sonatas stack up against them?

You can safely ignore that guy. You sold a $15k car with poor gas mileage and bought a $4k car with good gas mileage and in your experience, good reliability. That's fairly MMM.


I fail to understand how 4 Saturn's for 3 Humans is MMM-style? Please do explain this to me. I know you're a regular poster, so maybe I missed something in my understandings of the MMM lifestlye. Not trying to e-argue with you or anything of that nature, seriously just curious.

I don't really think the op is a dumb person or anything, they did make the decision based on their own personal experiences which is extremely reasonable. Definitely not trying to insult her, that's why I made sure to let her know she can ask any question if she's unsure about her options.

okashira

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2014, 04:22:11 PM »
They currently have 4 running Saturn cars? I must have missed that part.
Their attempt was admirable (a $17000 car that gets 22mpg is not mustachian)
It seems like they had some bad luck.

SJS

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2014, 05:55:37 PM »
I wouldn't look for too much reliability from a Saturn. My typical recommendations for car choices are Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys at the midsize level and Civics and Corollas at the small car level.

Love your recommendations and agree!  I drove my Honda Accord for 15 years with not much other than the regularly scheduled maintenance.  Gave it to a friend at about 150K who needed a car, and bought a new Camry.  I like it, too - 5 years old this year and will keep at least another 5 years.  No issues at all to date.  Just regular maint/oil change.  Also bought a used 2010 Honda Civic  just last summer with 12K miles on it to leave at our winter vacation home.  Man, do I love that car!  Perfect size - 4 avg. size people, great on gas, easy to maneuver.     I think when it's time to get rid of the Camry, I'll definitely be looking at a Civic. 

If you can find your son a used Honda or Toyota from original owner (maybe an older person who had the $$ to maintain it!) you might find a really great deal on a dependable/reliable car with many more years/miles to go on it!! 

okashira

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2014, 06:01:36 PM »
I wouldn't look for too much reliability from a Saturn. My typical recommendations for car choices are Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys at the midsize level and Civics and Corollas at the small car level.

Love your recommendations and agree!  I drove my Honda Accord for 15 years with not much other than the regularly scheduled maintenance.  Gave it to a friend at about 150K who needed a car, and bought a new Camry.  I like it, too - 5 years old this year and will keep at least another 5 years.  No issues at all to date.  Just regular maint/oil change.  Also bought a used 2010 Honda Civic  just last summer with 12K miles on it to leave at our winter vacation home.  Man, do I love that car!  Perfect size - 4 avg. size people, great on gas, easy to maneuver.     I think when it's time to get rid of the Camry, I'll definitely be looking at a Civic. 

If you can find your son a used Honda or Toyota from original owner (maybe an older person who had the $$ to maintain it!) you might find a really great deal on a dependable/reliable car with many more years/miles to go on it!!

Ahh, you bought a 2010 car to let sit at your vacation home?

Methinks you have some blog readin' to do, too.

CarDude

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2014, 03:15:45 PM »
I wouldn't look for too much reliability from a Saturn. My typical recommendations for car choices are Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys at the midsize level and Civics and Corollas at the small car level.

Love your recommendations and agree!  I drove my Honda Accord for 15 years with not much other than the regularly scheduled maintenance.  Gave it to a friend at about 150K who needed a car, and bought a new Camry.  I like it, too - 5 years old this year and will keep at least another 5 years.  No issues at all to date.  Just regular maint/oil change.  Also bought a used 2010 Honda Civic  just last summer with 12K miles on it to leave at our winter vacation home.  Man, do I love that car!  Perfect size - 4 avg. size people, great on gas, easy to maneuver.     I think when it's time to get rid of the Camry, I'll definitely be looking at a Civic. 

If you can find your son a used Honda or Toyota from original owner (maybe an older person who had the $$ to maintain it!) you might find a really great deal on a dependable/reliable car with many more years/miles to go on it!!

Yup, what you just said. OP, take note...these are good cars. :D

Cassie

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Re: Are we being Mustachian or just dumb?
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2014, 06:04:32 PM »
We also have had 3 saturns and some were better then others. Now we never buy a car older then 4 years for our primary car & 10 years for the 2nd car.  WE actually have switched to Honda Accords after doing much reliability research.  My hubby is still driving his 14 yo saturn that only has 144,000 miles on it but will get another Honda when it dies.  I think if you want to take trips, etc, are still working that you need one reliable car.