Author Topic: Cars and living situation.  (Read 4254 times)

jmsouthe

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Cars and living situation.
« on: September 13, 2013, 10:07:40 AM »
Hello everyone,

I've been reading MMM for a few months now, and have made small changes in mine and my wife's life, but I think it might be time for some of the bigger ones that make a real difference. My wife and I both work, and both commute to work. She drives ~40mi a day and I drive 24. I've wanted to buy a bike for commuting/errands, but I've hesitated because of where our money is currently focused. You see, we were dumb when we went to college (graduated 2011 and 2012 - Master's for the wife), and as a result have a combined $94,000 in debt. Thankfully, we both got science degrees and now bring home $60,000 a year. Being frugal, we are living off of my take-home pay, and committing all of my wife's take-home pay +$400 of mine to our loans, and I'm proud that we're able to do that. We are renting and have no consumer debt (cash-back credit card is paid at the end of each month).

With all of that background out of the way, here's my dilemma. Our cars are a P.O.S. My wife's 2005 Taurus has 148,000mi on it and had $600 maintenance done on it in the last year. I've been driving my 1997 Ford Explorer since high school, and it now has 238,800 miles on it. It's had some expensive maintenance done on it in the past year, and is currently in need of a new catalytic converter ($500).  That last bit of maintenance is going the be the straw that breaks the camel's back (did I say that right?). In expressing my anger to my wife over Google chat (b/c that's how we Millennials roll), she suggested selling my car, buying me a bike and moving to an apartment complex 3mi from my work. If there were ever a Mustachian solution, that would be it. That would come at a cost of $800 to break the lease though, along with the increased rent. I would still need to fix my car before I sell it though, and I would be giving up some nice greenway access  (running's my hobby) just down the sidewalk from our current home.

The solution is probably really plain, but I just need some unbiased advice to help me off my scaredy-pants behind.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 11:00:41 AM by jmsouthe »

Jack

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 11:09:00 AM »
With all of that background out of the way, here's my dilemma. Our cars are a P.O.S. My wife's 2005 Taurus has 148,000mi on it and had $600 maintenance done on it in the last year.

$50/month is a heck of a lot cheaper than a car payment, so I'd say the Taurus is still good (give or take fuel economy).

I've been driving my 1997 Ford Explorer since high school, and it now has 238,800 miles on it. It's had some expensive maintenance done on it in the past year, and is currently in need of a new catalytic converter ($500).

Once you replace the catalytic converter do you foresee any other major repairs coming up, or have you already paid to fix everything? If the latter, than keeping the Explorer for a while could make sense too.

How many months are left on your lease, how much is your rent at the current and proposed places, and how much are each of your vehicles worth?

PindyStache

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 11:11:15 AM »
It would also be necessary to know what the potential move would do to your wife's commute. Hopefully it would be shorter for her too, even if she still drives.

Overall though sounds like you are thinking very rationally and with an open mind about your situation.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2013, 11:36:04 AM »
You say you drive 24 miles a day for work - is that roundtrip or each way?  If it's roundtrip (aka you live 12 miles from work), that's commutable by bike without breaking your lease.  Selling your car is a bit risky if you don't have public transportation to fall back on in case of bad weather, but you might be able to get by until your lease ends, and THEN move close to work.

I live 3 miles from work (although my bike route is closer to 6).  It's the best. 

bogart

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2013, 11:39:58 AM »
My wife's 2005 Taurus has 148,000mi on it and had $600 maintenance done on it in the last year.


Sounds like a nice car.  I did sell my 1997 Taurus ~2 years ago when it needed about $1,500 of repairs and even though it only had 180K on it, but unless there's some detail you omitted, I don't see the problem with that one.

How far apart are your workplace and your wife's workplace from one another?

jmsouthe

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2013, 12:39:03 PM »
My wife's 2005 Taurus has 148,000mi on it and had $600 maintenance done on it in the last year.


Sounds like a nice car.  I did sell my 1997 Taurus ~2 years ago when it needed about $1,500 of repairs and even though it only had 180K on it, but unless there's some detail you omitted, I don't see the problem with that one.

How far apart are your workplace and your wife's workplace from one another?

When we first got it, we took it in for a front end alignment, and they came back and told me it needed $1200 of work done on it. My dad and I did most of it for $150, and the $600 was for the ball joints. Our work is about 20mi apart, but the in between is a wasteland of sorts, with little to no option of apartments, and really no amenities close by.

You say you drive 24 miles a day for work - is that roundtrip or each way?  If it's roundtrip (aka you live 12 miles from work), that's commutable by bike without breaking your lease.  Selling your car is a bit risky if you don't have public transportation to fall back on in case of bad weather, but you might be able to get by until your lease ends, and THEN move close to work.

I live 3 miles from work (although my bike route is closer to 6).  It's the best. 

Yes that's round trip. If I were to bike, it'd actually be pretty great because part of it would be through a State Park, and there's a shower at work. The only downside is that the public transportation, especially in the evenings, is sparse, and I tend to work late hours and overnight most weeks. Our lease is up in July of 2014, and it'd be $800 to break it early.


Once you replace the catalytic converter do you foresee any other major repairs coming up, or have you already paid to fix everything? If the latter, than keeping the Explorer for a while could make sense too.

How many months are left on your lease, how much is your rent at the current and proposed places, and how much are each of your vehicles worth?

I think that the rear differential may be on its way out, so that's why I'm antsy to get rid of it, but I'm not 100% sure. Our lease is up July 2014, currently $707/mo + utilities and water/sewer, and the place we've looked at is about $850, with same extras. KBB estimated my Explorer at $1700, and my wife's at $5000.

Jack

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2013, 02:14:12 PM »
Buy a good set of lights for your bike and start biking to work.

Keep your Explorer as a backup vehicle (since insurance/taxes on it should be cheap). Fix the Taurus's ball joints and the Explorer's rear diff yourself (since you're biking now, you can afford to have a car down for maintenance).

Either wait until your lease is up to move, or maybe by July you will have decided that the 12 mile bike commute through the state park isn't so bad and it's reasonable to stay in the cheaper apartment.

chardog

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2013, 08:33:25 PM »
In expressing my anger to my wife over Google chat (b/c that's how we Millennials roll), she suggested selling my car, buying me a bike and moving to an apartment complex 3mi from my work. If there were ever a Mustachian solution, that would be it.

Before you do anything else, thank your wife for being badass!

Like the others said, seems like waiting for the current lease to end makes sense.  You can get the bike before then and start riding a portion of your commute or leap frog where you take the bike to work on the car and ride the bike home, reverse process next day.

chardog

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2013, 08:39:10 PM »
Either wait until your lease is up to move, or maybe by July you will have decided that the 12 mile bike commute through the state park isn't so bad and it's reasonable to stay in the cheaper apartment.

Missed that part about it being 24 miles total, 12 one way.  That's about an hour of valuable exercise each way.  You will realize awesome returns; financial, physical, mental.

jmsouthe

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Re: Cars and living situation.
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2013, 07:49:46 AM »
Thank you everyone for the advice! I believe that I will be replacing my catalytic converter with my dad's help, so there's some savings right there. Next steps will be to finally get a bike and get off my lazy butt and pedal to work (or maybe start leapfrogging -thanks Chardog) . I'm training for a half marathon now, so this can only help!