Author Topic: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.  (Read 14826 times)

lifeinhd

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Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« on: July 08, 2015, 09:00:21 PM »
Maybe the plan isn't as ridiculous as it sounds, or then again maybe it is. Lately I've found myself wanting to buy an old Jeep, strictly for off road use and wrenching on (I like a project). I would get a late 80s/early 90s 4WD Cherokee with the 4.0 I6 and preferably a manual transmission. Still, this combination gets 17 MPG on a good day, and off roading with oversized tires will likely get a lot less than that. I would spend no more than $1k for this truck, plus whatever it costs to insure and register it, and the occasional mod/repair for it (skid plates, brush guard, etc). It would be driven <3k mi/yr.

About me: I'm a 22 yo recent graduate making $47k and saving 53% of my income. I save over $1200/mo after tax so this purchase would be <1 month of savings for me. I bike to work, rent a room in a house, pay no utilities, rarely eat out, and have a 40 MPG car I use when I don't bike so my life is fairly efficient. I have ~$27k NW, so I'm a lot better off than most of my peers, but obviously could be doing better still. I've noticed that most of my recent purchases are *needs,* not *wants,* so I don't feel I splurge on myself too often. But I can keep tenuously justifying this all day. Mustachians, what are your thoughts?

Forcus

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 09:54:02 PM »
Well here's some food for thought.

I am more pragmatic than anything so if it's relatively cheap and makes you happy, why not? The 97-01's are pretty expensive still. Hard to find a clean one with less than 150k miles for $5k, around here. So finding one that needs a few things won't necessarily be a terrible investment, you might be able to get our money out later if you change your mind. I got a steal a few years ago on a 98 Cherokee 2 door with only 96k miles and no rust. Engine was blown. Popped in a new engine for cheap and had roughly a $4k vehicle for an investment of $1250.

But the opposite side of it is a free (or cheap) vehicle is usually the most expensive vehicle you can own. I bought a Merkur XR4Ti for $750 about 10 years ago. I spent $4k (parts, my labor) getting it up to snuff. Ended up losing interest and selling it for $1250. My current DD I bought for $6k. I have about $14k in it now. It's worth about $7k. I love those Cherokees and parts are cheap but if you are the type that can't stand stuff being broken or hacked together to make it down the road (my personality) there is no way that it will be as cheap as you expect (I still don't seem to grasp this concept when I am shopping for a new project).

« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 09:57:30 PM by Forcus »

CoffeeDrinkingThrow

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 10:11:58 PM »
I think Forcus made a great post here. On the surface this seems to make OK financial sense compared to the expected utility (happiness) you will get - but like he points out it could end up being more costly than you realize. If you're prepared for that and you would still be happy if your project triples in cost then why not.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 04:35:16 AM »
Reminds me of a favorite saying: The two happiest days in a man's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat.  (Substitute Jeep or other man-toy for boat).

MandyM

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 06:02:43 AM »
I love a Jeep and had a Wrangler for a few years. I sold it not long after finding MMM (had been considering selling, MMM was the push over the hump). Honestly, I miss it. But it was a big fat $12K in my pocket when I sold it. I toy with getting another some day, but will definitely wait until I am FI. My point being, I get the desire to do this.

I say put the purchase off for a while. Maybe a few years. I feel like right now you have a bit of money in the bank and you are itching to spend some. It is easy to justify purchases when they only put you back one month in savings, but you are barely started. I think you should get a more solid foundation of saving. You are doing so great - don't slip right now!

CmFtns

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 06:30:01 AM »
You're still very early in your journey simmilar to me and I love cool stuff but every time I get the urge to go out and spend a chunk of change I remind myself that the money you save in the beginning is the most important money. It has the most time to grow.

I would put off a purchase that big till you have a couple years under your belt and a couple hundred thousand dollars of net worth and then if you still want it go for it.

My dad has an 88' wrangler in beautiful condition, and it's great fun, but we never get around to driving it off roads where it belongs.

chasesfish

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 06:54:36 AM »
Yeah, you posted this question on a board full of people interested in Financial Independence.  A jeep now is a stupid decision.

After you're financially independent, I'd opt for the 8-10 year old Wrangler.  They've taken the full depreciation hit at that point and you can buy them with the cost of a new top embedded in the price.  There is still the cost to keep it up and you need to find a good jeep mechanic.

Bob W

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 07:01:46 AM »
Do it!  MMM is about smart money and.living your dreams.   This is a very cool hobby that should keep you busy and happy.   In 6/years you can sell it at a profit.

Midwest

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 07:03:57 AM »
Yeah, you posted this question on a board full of people interested in Financial Independence.  A jeep now is a stupid decision.

After you're financially independent, I'd opt for the 8-10 year old Wrangler.  They've taken the full depreciation hit at that point and you can buy them with the cost of a new top embedded in the price.  There is still the cost to keep it up and you need to find a good jeep mechanic.

8 - 10 year old wranglers are way more than old Cherokee's.  I bought a 2001 wrangler with 98k , bad tires and needed a new top and it was $7k.  Fun car that I could get my money out of, but Cherokee's are cheaper and don't have rusty frame issues.

If the cherokee is running and driving at $1000, I don't think you'll lose too much money on it.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 07:10:35 AM by Midwest »

incamustache

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2015, 08:06:37 AM »
 I had a Jeep, will never do it again. The ride is awful and the fuel economy is worst. I went offroading one time and it was the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. I get no sense of enjoyment going slower then a snail just to get over some boulders and steep hills. I could just park my vehicle and walk to my destination faster. I was happy when I sold my jeep.

  Anyhow, if you purchase a jeep for around 1-2 grand the be ready to be throwing your money into the jeep because it will be a money pit.  If you find one for this cheap (unless it's your friend and he gives you an awesome deal) then there is a reason it is so cheap, its because it has reached the point of needing a lot of repairs to keep it going. Now if you want to drop a lot more money for a newer, better maintained jeep then you can do this, but all in all you will spend the same amount of money. With the old one you will be blowing money on repairs, with the new one you will blow the money up front. Jeeps are a no win situation unless you already are super wealthy and this is the one thing you want to enjoy in your retirement.

MissStache

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2015, 08:27:24 AM »
My BF is a car guy also, and has always had a car that he was working on.  We recently moved in together and went down to my one car.  He substituted wrenching on a car with wrenching on bicycles.  He's been lucky enough to stumble across a few in bad-but-savable condition that he got for free, and he's had a great time fixing them back up.  He kept one for himself and is going to sell the second one.

He gets to play, has a project, is learning about bicycle mechanics, and is actually making a little money in the end!  Since you're already biking, would that be an option for you?


frugaliknowit

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2015, 08:41:11 AM »
Don't do it because it will be a "money pit".  There's always just "one more thing that needs fixing".  Your auto parts store will be your best friend...

You will earn lot of points on your credit card(s) with all of the parts you buy!!

Cole

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2015, 08:57:12 AM »
I did this about 2 months ago. I thankfully sold it two weeks ago. I was given a 98 grand Cherokee I6 np242 automatic for free. It was actually in mediocre condition but all these older jeeps always need so much work it is ridiculous. I'll just list the issues I discovered on my seemingly good jeep.
-BCM circuit parasitic draw (never nailed down this one)
-bad constant velocity ujoint on tcase
-bald tires
-shocks were gone
-front axles were shot
-radio stopped working
-windows slipped its track 1 day before I sold it
-broken windshield
-no alignment to speak of
-rear main was leaking
-valve cover was leaking
-battery was totally shot
-alternator wouldn't produce charging voltage

All this was from a mint condition jeep with 120k miles and a nearly perfect interior.

The moral of this story is buy a toyota DONT DO IT
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 09:03:19 AM by Cole »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2015, 09:00:40 AM »
But I can keep tenuously justifying this all day. Mustachians, what are your thoughts?

Wait 6 months. Keep thinking about it and if you still want to do it go for it.

I have a motorcycle. I love it. It costs more than just having 1 vehicle since I pay insurance twice plus the cost of buying it and maintaining it. So there some FI impact - my estimate is about 1yr.

To me that's worth it because I really enjoy having it, riding it and wrenching on it. If I could retire/hit FI 1yr or even 2yrs earlier if I didn't have it and never owned a moto going forward that would not seem like a good deal to me.

The key is how much do you love the thing you are considering? Is it a true passion or just a consumer itch?

Every May folks I work with start pulling out their motos for the summer and get excited. I find that funny because I ride 12 months of the year.

If it's not a true passion of yours it's a waste of time/money. If it is something you deeply love than it's a great way to spend some of your money if the rest of your finances are in order.

Cole

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2015, 09:01:46 AM »
But seriously if you have decided to go full force into this at least buy something reliable that holds its resale value. A Toyota forerunner is a prime example. If it were me I would sell my other car too given the option.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2015, 09:22:13 AM »
Well here's some food for thought.

I am more pragmatic than anything so if it's relatively cheap and makes you happy, why not? The 97-01's are pretty expensive still. Hard to find a clean one with less than 150k miles for $5k, around here. So finding one that needs a few things won't necessarily be a terrible investment, you might be able to get our money out later if you change your mind. I got a steal a few years ago on a 98 Cherokee 2 door with only 96k miles and no rust. Engine was blown. Popped in a new engine for cheap and had roughly a $4k vehicle for an investment of $1250.

But the opposite side of it is a free (or cheap) vehicle is usually the most expensive vehicle you can own. I bought a Merkur XR4Ti for $750 about 10 years ago. I spent $4k (parts, my labor) getting it up to snuff. Ended up losing interest and selling it for $1250. My current DD I bought for $6k. I have about $14k in it now. It's worth about $7k. I love those Cherokees and parts are cheap but if you are the type that can't stand stuff being broken or hacked together to make it down the road (my personality) there is no way that it will be as cheap as you expect (I still don't seem to grasp this concept when I am shopping for a new project).

Yeah, the newer ones are out of my price range, despite being better in every way. That's why I'd stick to late 80s/early 90s high mileage rust buckets that I can beat up on trails and not worry too much about.

I too have plenty of experience with the cheapest car ending up being the most expensive. And I can indeed be pretty picky about seemingly minor stuff, like I was with the strut covers missing on my current DD. But I expect a trail rig to get beaten up a bit, and hopefully I can find it in myself to not worry about it too much.

snogirl

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2015, 09:26:07 AM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

jba302

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2015, 09:26:24 AM »
strictly for off road use and wrenching on (I like a project)

 the occasional mod/repair for it (skid plates, brush guard, etc)

You should be aware of the conflict between these two sentences. I had a TJ, got rid of it a few years ago. After the skid plates, you need bigger tires, which means less wheel well clearance, so then you lift it. Then you need a lift kit. And probably a motor mount lift. And a radiator fan cowl lift. And a new track bar. And then either a slip yolk eliminator or a transfer case drop, or you can do a belly up and get the extreme angle SYE's. And then your spare carrier is garbage because the spare is too heavy or tall so you need a whole new bumper design. Then the back rides low, and you get a new front bumper to balance the weight and put a winch on it because you get stuck when you go wheeling. Then you replace the winch cable with nylon because metal line snaps violently when it fails. And then you need a CB so you can wheel with other people, along with one of those stupid tall antennas since they are line of sight. Then you have to install a better roll cage since wheeling on low-key stuff is not as fun as watching the custom buggies walk over everything like a mechanical spider. Then you have to get an atlas transfer case because you feathered the gas wrong and blew up an axle, so you replace the axles with regeared D44/D60 and chromoly axle shafts.

I quit about 1/3 of the way through that paragraph, one of my friends has gone through it twice.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2015, 09:29:39 AM »
Great job on the savings! Don't buy the Jeep.

You're 22 and already own a part-time car. Now you want to add a purely recreational car so you can race around on the beach? Granted, I had to look up offroading and don't get the appeal, but what's wrong with getting a mountain bike and finding a smaller, cheaper, maybe even profitable project to work on?

It's easy to justify a lot of purchases. It's harder, but more rewarding, to deliberately seek out less expensive, creative alternatives.

Not so much the beach as backwoods trails. It's pretty amazing to see the things a relatively stock Jeep can get through/over, and it's pretty fun if you go with some friends and make a day out of it. I've considered a mountain bike, but honestly I don't really enjoy biking; I bike around town only because I know it's what I should be doing. I do enjoy cars and driving though, so I looked into track days (with a dedicated Miata) and offroading (with a dedicated rig) to see which was cheaper and offroading won.

Quote
Consider what kind of mindset your decision here will reinforce.

I'm curious what you mean by that. I don't think this will start a chain reaction of driving the 3.5 miles to work every day or to the grocery store a 3 minute walk from my house, if that's what you mean. Or driving the less efficient offroader when I go visit family 20 miles away instead of my 40 MPG Scion.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2015, 09:34:58 AM »
I love a Jeep and had a Wrangler for a few years. I sold it not long after finding MMM (had been considering selling, MMM was the push over the hump). Honestly, I miss it. But it was a big fat $12K in my pocket when I sold it. I toy with getting another some day, but will definitely wait until I am FI. My point being, I get the desire to do this.

I say put the purchase off for a while. Maybe a few years. I feel like right now you have a bit of money in the bank and you are itching to spend some. It is easy to justify purchases when they only put you back one month in savings, but you are barely started. I think you should get a more solid foundation of saving. You are doing so great - don't slip right now!

I agree I should delay, and put a reminder in my phone: "Do I still want a Jeep?" that will show up a month from now. The desire may very well fade; I remember I wanted a Glock 19 for the longest time, but now I have no desire to own a gun of any sort.

I agree I have barely started. I've also considered delaying until I reach a certain NW-- maybe $40k or $50k. But that could be a year from now, or longer if the market tanks.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2015, 09:42:11 AM »
You're still very early in your journey simmilar to me and I love cool stuff but every time I get the urge to go out and spend a chunk of change I remind myself that the money you save in the beginning is the most important money. It has the most time to grow.

I would put off a purchase that big till you have a couple years under your belt and a couple hundred thousand dollars of net worth and then if you still want it go for it.

My dad has an 88' wrangler in beautiful condition, and it's great fun, but we never get around to driving it off roads where it belongs.

This is a $1k purchase that's less than a month's savings for me-- do I really need to be a hundred-thousand-aire to justify it? Let's say I buy it, dump another $500 into it, drive it a few times a year, realize it mostly sits around, and decide to sell it. I can probably get that same $1k I originally paid for it, and I don't think $500 is a lot to spend on a hobby. But there I go, trying to justify it again....

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2015, 09:51:26 AM »
I had a Jeep, will never do it again. The ride is awful and the fuel economy is worst. I went offroading one time and it was the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. I get no sense of enjoyment going slower then a snail just to get over some boulders and steep hills.

As someone who has never actually driven offroad, I'm afraid this could be my experience as well, in which case I'll sell it. But I imagine I'd take it through more than just dirt-- mud pits, creeks, maybe even rock crawling if I decide suspension part $ > FI $. And that should be pretty fun.

Quote
Anyhow, if you purchase a jeep for around 1-2 grand the be ready to be throwing your money into the jeep because it will be a money pit.  If you find one for this cheap (unless it's your friend and he gives you an awesome deal) then there is a reason it is so cheap, its because it has reached the point of needing a lot of repairs to keep it going. Now if you want to drop a lot more money for a newer, better maintained jeep then you can do this, but all in all you will spend the same amount of money. With the old one you will be blowing money on repairs, with the new one you will blow the money up front. Jeeps are a no win situation unless you already are super wealthy and this is the one thing you want to enjoy in your retirement.

I do agree with this, I'm sure it will need some repairs. The 4.0 is supposed to be a pretty durable engine though, and the chassis is very capable as well, so I would hope most repairs are smaller things like electrical issues or worn parts. But worst case scenario, I sell it for $300 as scrap, which is a decent loss but for a hobby that hopefully gave me many hours of enjoyment hopefully the cost/hour isn't bad.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2015, 09:55:20 AM »
My BF is a car guy also, and has always had a car that he was working on.  We recently moved in together and went down to my one car.  He substituted wrenching on a car with wrenching on bicycles.  He's been lucky enough to stumble across a few in bad-but-savable condition that he got for free, and he's had a great time fixing them back up.  He kept one for himself and is going to sell the second one.

He gets to play, has a project, is learning about bicycle mechanics, and is actually making a little money in the end!  Since you're already biking, would that be an option for you?

I do bike, but I don't really enjoy it. I hate working on them even more. I do enjoy cars, driving, and wrenching on cars a lot though, hence my inclination to buy a Jeep. Plus odd as it sounds, the Jeep would be easier to store. I rent a room right now, where I keep my bike, but there's unlimited street parking.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2015, 09:59:40 AM »
I did this about 2 months ago. I thankfully sold it two weeks ago. I was given a 98 grand Cherokee I6 np242 automatic for free. It was actually in mediocre condition but all these older jeeps always need so much work it is ridiculous. I'll just list the issues I discovered on my seemingly good jeep.
-BCM circuit parasitic draw (never nailed down this one)
-bad constant velocity ujoint on tcase
-bald tires
-shocks were gone
-front axles were shot
-radio stopped working
-windows slipped its track 1 day before I sold it
-broken windshield
-no alignment to speak of
-rear main was leaking
-valve cover was leaking
-battery was totally shot
-alternator wouldn't produce charging voltage

All this was from a mint condition jeep with 120k miles and a nearly perfect interior.

The moral of this story is buy a toyota DONT DO IT

I had a similar experience two years ago with a similar cosmetic condition Volvo. 940. Volvos are supposed to be incredibly reliable, right? Wrong. I was at the junk yard almost every weekend for the single summer I owned it, always replacing some stupid part that had failed. So I know how this can go, and maybe it is indeed another big mistake. That's why I posted here :)

Midwest

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2015, 10:01:42 AM »
I had a Jeep, will never do it again. The ride is awful and the fuel economy is worst. I went offroading one time and it was the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. I get no sense of enjoyment going slower then a snail just to get over some boulders and steep hills.

As someone who has never actually driven offroad, I'm afraid this could be my experience as well, in which case I'll sell it. But I imagine I'd take it through more than just dirt-- mud pits, creeks, maybe even rock crawling if I decide suspension part $ > FI $. And that should be pretty fun.

Quote
Anyhow, if you purchase a jeep for around 1-2 grand the be ready to be throwing your money into the jeep because it will be a money pit.  If you find one for this cheap (unless it's your friend and he gives you an awesome deal) then there is a reason it is so cheap, its because it has reached the point of needing a lot of repairs to keep it going. Now if you want to drop a lot more money for a newer, better maintained jeep then you can do this, but all in all you will spend the same amount of money. With the old one you will be blowing money on repairs, with the new one you will blow the money up front. Jeeps are a no win situation unless you already are super wealthy and this is the one thing you want to enjoy in your retirement.

I do agree with this, I'm sure it will need some repairs. The 4.0 is supposed to be a pretty durable engine though, and the chassis is very capable as well, so I would hope most repairs are smaller things like electrical issues or worn parts. But worst case scenario, I sell it for $300 as scrap, which is a decent loss but for a hobby that hopefully gave me many hours of enjoyment hopefully the cost/hour isn't bad.

I've had a cherokee as a daily driver since college.  I'm on the 2nd one that we purchased used in 2003 for $11k.  I've put 145,000 miles on it and probably $3000 into repairs/maintenance including a different engine @ $1700.  The 4.0 is robust but they had a bad run of heads in 2000-2001.  Other than the head issue (which lead to the different engine), it's been cheap and dependable.

As far as off road capability, we regularly use it to pull a 4000 pound boat up a steep rutted gravel ramp.  The only thing that beats it in this capacity is an old toyota landcruiser.  Cherokee is stock w/p225 75 r15 tires.

If you want cheap off road fun, I think the cherokee is a good choice.  I would probably spend a little more and get a newer one for $3k.  I think that woudl help you avoid the rust issues and I've found the 2001 to be more reliable than the 92 we previously owned.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2015, 10:04:21 AM »
The key is how much do you love the thing you are considering? Is it a true passion or just a consumer itch?

If it's not a true passion of yours it's a waste of time/money. If it is something you deeply love than it's a great way to spend some of your money if the rest of your finances are in order.

This is very true. And that's the thing: I'm actually not sure if this is a passion, or just an itch. I haven't experienced enough of the world yet to know what I truly enjoy, and how do you find that out without trying different things? The same way you likely would never have found you enjoy motorcycles until you purchased one. The only real "sign" I have to go by is I would never purchase a motorcycle, because I don't think I would enjoy it; but I'm leaning towards purchasing a Jeep because I think I would. But I have no idea if this is a strong enough sign or not.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2015, 10:06:15 AM »
If it were me I would sell my other car too given the option.

Why's that? I do still drive on the weekends, to visit family and such 20-30 miles away. It doesn't seem like a good idea to drive a wasteful Jeep around full time.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2015, 10:13:15 AM »
strictly for off road use and wrenching on (I like a project)

 the occasional mod/repair for it (skid plates, brush guard, etc)

You should be aware of the conflict between these two sentences. I had a TJ, got rid of it a few years ago. After the skid plates, you need bigger tires, which means less wheel well clearance, so then you lift it. Then you need a lift kit. And probably a motor mount lift. And a radiator fan cowl lift. And a new track bar. And then either a slip yolk eliminator or a transfer case drop, or you can do a belly up and get the extreme angle SYE's. And then your spare carrier is garbage because the spare is too heavy or tall so you need a whole new bumper design. Then the back rides low, and you get a new front bumper to balance the weight and put a winch on it because you get stuck when you go wheeling. Then you replace the winch cable with nylon because metal line snaps violently when it fails. And then you need a CB so you can wheel with other people, along with one of those stupid tall antennas since they are line of sight. Then you have to install a better roll cage since wheeling on low-key stuff is not as fun as watching the custom buggies walk over everything like a mechanical spider. Then you have to get an atlas transfer case because you feathered the gas wrong and blew up an axle, so you replace the axles with regeared D44/D60 and chromoly axle shafts.

I quit about 1/3 of the way through that paragraph, one of my friends has gone through it twice.

Yeah, I'm aware how it can get. Maybe I'll just try to max out its capability in stock form. I would like some skid plates though, just to ensure I don't ruin the undercarriage. If I'm getting a lift at all, it'd have to be done by the previous owner. (And yes, I'm aware of the pitfalls of a cheap, improperly done lift.)

trailrated

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2015, 10:17:50 AM »
I think you could tell from the name what my advice is going to be.

I had wanted one for about 4 years and I finally pulled the trigger on an 83 cj-7. Honestly it is my most cherished possession, and the only regret I have is not getting it sooner. I say do it as long as you can keep your savings rate up.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2015, 10:19:21 AM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

Only problem is 4runners are NOT CHEAP. Neither are most Toyota trucks or Land Cruisers or... Toyota anything for that matter. Jeeps are cheap and parts are cheap, plus they're very capable off roaders even in stock form, which is why I'm leaning that direction.

Forcus

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2015, 10:40:43 AM »
If you haven't offroaded before, you might try going with someone who will let you drive their rig. May be fun the first few times but then lose its luster.

I used to be heavily in to offroading, but where I live it is a minimum 3 hour drive to get somewhere that is not just mud (I hate mud). That 3 hour drive kills it for me. When I was a kid and dad was driving, no big deal. Now that I have to do it.... Growing up sucks.

If I literally lived on a trail or in the woods (or beach?) it would be much different. I'd love to offroad every day and could easily justify the happiness to cost ratio.

Track days / autocross have their own pros and cons. I have not done a track day. In theory I'd probably love it but the risk and not really having a disposable or purpose built car (and the travel) keeps me away. I used to love autocrossing but getting ~15 minutes of drive time for a 10 hour committment is not really something I want to do anymore (part of the problem is again travel, minimum 2 hours generally to get to sites).

I think what others have suggested is perfect. If you still feel the same after a couple months and you never waiver, it might be worth it.

2ndTimer

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2015, 10:44:21 AM »
I can't speak to the old Jeep part because cars are not my thing.  I can speak to the "passion or itch" question because I am going through something similar with old stereo equipment.  I feel about electronics  and music the way you do about working on cars and off-roading.  Nothing is more fun than taking something about and putting it back together better except maybe finding another musician that I never heard of before on a fifty cent CD and trying them out.  Like you, when I started I wasn't sure how long this would last so I started very slowly and made myself wait months after each expenditure to make sure I was really enjoying it as much as I thought I would.   

Based on my experience, I suggest you ask yourself if it is the wrenching or the off-roading that has you the more excited. Each of these will suggest different paths.  How do you see the future?  Are you riding around in the Jeep or are you returning your torc wrench to it's drawer in your suburban garage?   

jda1984

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #32 on: July 09, 2015, 10:50:10 AM »
I had a friend who had a Wrangler he built up.  He was always spending money on that thing.  He said JEEP stands for Just Empty Every Pocket.

Any hobby can become a money pit though.  The trick is finding the sweet spot where you do the parts you enjoy for the lowest outlay.  For offroading, that probably means something old and close to stock with a winch to get you out in a pinch.  Sure this will limit what trails/obstacles you can clear, but you probably get 90% of the value for less than 20% of the cost of going whole hog.

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #33 on: July 09, 2015, 10:53:08 AM »
But seriously if you have decided to go full force into this at least buy something reliable that holds its resale value. A Toyota forerunner is a prime example. If it were me I would sell my other car too given the option.

Older model Jeeps retain their value pretty well and usually stagnate at about 5k as long as they are well maintained. Jeepers are usually willing to pay a good price for a well maintained machine.

Don't do it because it will be a "money pit".  There's always just "one more thing that needs fixing".  Your auto parts store will be your best friend...

You will earn lot of points on your credit card(s) with all of the parts you buy!!

Just Empty Every Pocket

I had a Jeep, will never do it again. The ride is awful and the fuel economy is worst. I went offroading one time and it was the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. I get no sense of enjoyment going slower then a snail just to get over some boulders and steep hills. I could just park my vehicle and walk to my destination faster. I was happy when I sold my jeep.

It should be a crime and a sin to buy a Jeep as a daily driver. Shame on you. These are functional recreational machines designed to take people off the asphalt and out of your comfortable air conditioning to something more magnificent. I laugh and cry at all the suckers driving their stock (and even worse "EXTREMELY" modified) street vehicles that were designed for anything but the streets.

Do it!  MMM is about smart money and.living your dreams.   This is a very cool hobby that should keep you busy and happy.   In 6/years you can sell it at a profit.

Yeah, you posted this question on a board full of people interested in Financial Independence.  A jeep now is a stupid decision.

Exactly. If it's something you will love then do it. Let's compare this against buying a dog. Someone asks how much a dog costs or how to buy a Mustachian pet; you will get two replies It's expensive it will drain you or it's the best thing I've ever had it makes me so happy.

Evaluate what you want and never regret it, if you change your mind you are now that much wiser on knowing your wants.


Now that I've gotten that out of my system... here's my bias and the facts...

My dad got our first Jeep when I was 15. Our relationship before this was something stereotypical of an old-school father-son deal, never talked much. We spent a lot of time as kids camping and road tripping during the summers. Got the Jeep and this all came back, we'd spend weekends camping or Saturdays off roading. I'm not talking about camping in camp grounds where kids are running around, people are playing music, and some douche with a satellite dish towing his truck behind his jumbo bus RV... this is camping in the middle of nowhere, quiet, untouched off the side of whatever back country scenic trail was created during the western migration. There are places to see you cannot get to in a standard vehicle, or even an SUV. There is a wilderness out there and adventure you can only achieve with a proper vehicle. We still do these trips, I wouldn't trade them for anything, nor would my wife, this is just part of our COL. Happiness vs financial decision.

I've had a Jeep for 12 years. It has been one of the best and most enjoyable things in my life. We take it off-roading, camping, day trips, weekend trips and we take care of it so it gets us there and back home. That said it is not a cheap hobby. I own a '92 Jeep Wrangler, it was in great condition when I bought it. Still, it's an older model and we drive in some pretty rough places, and things break. Even with mild use and easier trails, when things don't break and you've budgeted for repairs, you'll find yourself upgrading and accessorizing. I'll leave a list of upgrades and repairs I've done over the years at the bottom. I spend about 1-2K a year upgrading, repairing, and otherwise increasing the functionality of our Jeep.

If you're going to buy one, don't buy it cause it seams cheap. When my dad bought his it had a body lift, cause some street-ego thought it looked cool.
A body lift is completely useless, he spend 2K repairing the tub and putting in a suspension lift after a few trips of off-road jarring and torquing destroyed the tub. You need a suspension lift and good 33" tires to do great off-roading, everything else is optional.

Jeep $7K for 79k Miles
- Off-roaded it 3 days after purchase found out tires on the back were 31" and the front had 33". Broke the rear U-Joint.
-- New U Joint and repaired transfer case. Bought 2 more 33" tires.
- New exhaust manifold
- New suspension lift and shocks
- Engine rebuild, bored out, few more HP.
- 2 steering box replacements
- Radiator
- Added Power Steering (maneuvering through and around large rocks is terribly exhausting with manual steering)
- Spare 33" tire and rear bumper w/ tire carrier
- Gas Cans
- Replaced front bumper and 15000lb winch with onboard air
- Hi-lift Jack
- Removed inside carpet, spray in bed liner, water proofing securing dash and inside cables.
- Master cylinder replaced
- Another set of shocks
- Yearly welding/fabrication for repairs and preventative care


Spent over 20k on mods, repairs, parts, accessories and labor. Wouldn't trade it for anything, not even getting to FI a year earlier. We make jokes about selling it, and that thought gets the same ridiculous laugh as us say we are saving too much money we should probably go buy a boat or a BMW.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 11:05:44 AM by zdravé »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #34 on: July 09, 2015, 11:29:15 AM »

This is very true. And that's the thing: I'm actually not sure if this is a passion, or just an itch. I haven't experienced enough of the world yet to know what I truly enjoy, and how do you find that out without trying different things? The same way you likely would never have found you enjoy motorcycles until you purchased one. The only real "sign" I have to go by is I would never purchase a motorcycle, because I don't think I would enjoy it; but I'm leaning towards purchasing a Jeep because I think I would. But I have no idea if this is a strong enough sign or not.

That's why you need to give yourself 6 months to think about it.

If you look into all the details, costs and what you are going to do with the Jeep for 6 months and you still feel it's a good idea I think it's reasonable to go for it.


lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #35 on: July 09, 2015, 01:56:32 PM »
Based on my experience, I suggest you ask yourself if it is the wrenching or the off-roading that has you the more excited.

Both, actually. I've owned a few project cars, the most recent being an AW11 MR2, and I like working on them but I also like driving them. Thing is, my previous project cars I've (mostly) resold for profit, but the Jeep I don't expect that to happen. I expect to use it, break things, wrench on it, and use it some more, and if I tire of it I'll sell it for likely a little less than I paid upfront and eventually go back to choosing profitable project cars. The prospect of a Jeep specifically has me excited because it can do things I've never been able to do in any other car I've owned thus far.

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2015, 02:08:52 PM »
Based on my experience, I suggest you ask yourself if it is the wrenching or the off-roading that has you the more excited.

Both, actually. I've owned a few project cars, the most recent being an AW11 MR2, and I like working on them but I also like driving them. Thing is, my previous project cars I've (mostly) resold for profit, but the Jeep I don't expect that to happen. I expect to use it, break things, wrench on it, and use it some more, and if I tire of it I'll sell it for likely a little less than I paid upfront and eventually go back to choosing profitable project cars. The prospect of a Jeep specifically has me excited because it can do things I've never been able to do in any other car I've owned thus far.


I bet if you asked this question but instead of Jeep... used I want to buy some tools, and build a wood shop in my garage you'd get a different response from most of these people. Mustachian mentality forces people to immediately assume cars are worthless, even if they are part of a hobby that brings you happiness. So ask yourself this question. If you were FI right now, would you buy project cars and work on them? If you would, then you should continue your hobby til your FI while being mindful of the expenses. I wouldn't put off buying brushes, water colors and paper to save for FI all the while dreaming of FI so I can paint with water colors. Do what makes you happy and enjoy the journey.


Quote
You might be thinking to yourself, “Damn MF, why are you talking me out of pursuing financial independence?”

I’m definitely not! Pursuing FI has been an incredible journey and I would recommend it to everyone.

I would just caution you to avoid the FI tunnel vision that can occur and instead focus on the journey. That’s where the magic is.

I’ll explain…
http://www.madfientist.com/happiness-through-subtraction/
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 02:17:09 PM by zdravé »

snogirl

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #37 on: July 09, 2015, 02:20:08 PM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

Only problem is 4runners are NOT CHEAP. Neither are most Toyota trucks or Land Cruisers or... Toyota anything for that matter. Jeeps are cheap and parts are cheap, plus they're very capable off roaders even in stock form, which is why I'm leaning that direction.

Yeah I understand that.  I've driven a Toyota truck since 1987 & actually have one now as my DD (yes very non-mustachian).
In my other life, I did, at one time, have a Jeep Cherokee.  To the best of my recollection, it required a ton of work.
I pretty much gave it away & the new owner (a coworker) told me it caught fire.  They made out with an insurance claim.
I wrench myself and off road a bit, nothing major for my passion is mtn biking, kayaking, skiing & snowmobiling (yup)
I do what I love for sure.
Good luck with what you decide on the Jeep. :)

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #38 on: July 09, 2015, 03:24:00 PM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

Only problem is 4runners are NOT CHEAP. Neither are most Toyota trucks or Land Cruisers or... Toyota anything for that matter. Jeeps are cheap and parts are cheap, plus they're very capable off roaders even in stock form, which is why I'm leaning that direction.

Yeah I understand that.  I've driven a Toyota truck since 1987 & actually have one now as my DD (yes very non-mustachian).
In my other life, I did, at one time, have a Jeep Cherokee.  To the best of my recollection, it required a ton of work.
I pretty much gave it away & the new owner (a coworker) told me it caught fire.  They made out with an insurance claim.
I wrench myself and off road a bit, nothing major for my passion is mtn biking, kayaking, skiing & snowmobiling (yup)
I do what I love for sure.
Good luck with what you decide on the Jeep. :)

I also own a Toyota Tundra, which is great for camping but there are plenty of places I could never take it for clearance and length reasons that a Jeep can go easily. Same with a 4Runner, my parents had one, and my dad was forced to use it for a back country trip around Death Valley once, it did pretty well, but its not a Jeep. And as far as tinkering/wrenching... there's not much you can do to a standard vehicle, but the possibilities, available parts and knowledge are endless for Jeeps.

DollarBill

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #39 on: July 09, 2015, 03:30:19 PM »
YOLO...ahhahaha!

snogirl

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #40 on: July 09, 2015, 03:51:03 PM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

Only problem is 4runners are NOT CHEAP. Neither are most Toyota trucks or Land Cruisers or... Toyota anything for that matter. Jeeps are cheap and parts are cheap, plus they're very capable off roaders even in stock form, which is why I'm leaning that direction.

Yeah I understand that.  I've driven a Toyota truck since 1987 & actually have one now as my DD (yes very non-mustachian).
In my other life, I did, at one time, have a Jeep Cherokee.  To the best of my recollection, it required a ton of work.
I pretty much gave it away & the new owner (a coworker) told me it caught fire.  They made out with an insurance claim.
I wrench myself and off road a bit, nothing major for my passion is mtn biking, kayaking, skiing & snowmobiling (yup)
I do what I love for sure.
Good luck with what you decide on the Jeep. :)

I also own a Toyota Tundra, which is great for camping but there are plenty of places I could never take it for clearance and length reasons that a Jeep can go easily. Same with a 4Runner, my parents had one, and my dad was forced to use it for a back country trip around Death Valley once, it did pretty well, but its not a Jeep. And as far as tinkering/wrenching... there's not much you can do to a standard vehicle, but the possibilities, available parts and knowledge are endless for Jeeps.
Yeah I'm should clarify I'm not talking tundra or T100. But a pre 95 Toyota pickup or 1GEN Tacoma trail rides & mods nicely & has plentiful parts. My 94 Toyota 4x4 extra cab pickup literally went everywhere 4 seasons in the mtns, fire roads & national forests throughout NE. 250k+ with nothing but normal maintenance seeing extreme cold & heat. It did eat idler arms but that's it. The person I sold it to kids still drive it.
But I get it, its a Jeep thing been around forever. Heck I drove them in the early 80s in my first military assignment. They are tough & have a huge following.
YOLO...ahhahaha!
Exactly

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #41 on: July 09, 2015, 04:10:24 PM »
Another vote for doing it with the exception of buying a Toyota truck or 4runner, not the Jeep.
Life is too short & you already seem to be saving/have a good job. 
If you love tinkering make a long travel trail rig w/ lots of armor.  Go for it.

Only problem is 4runners are NOT CHEAP. Neither are most Toyota trucks or Land Cruisers or... Toyota anything for that matter. Jeeps are cheap and parts are cheap, plus they're very capable off roaders even in stock form, which is why I'm leaning that direction.

Yeah I understand that.  I've driven a Toyota truck since 1987 & actually have one now as my DD (yes very non-mustachian).
In my other life, I did, at one time, have a Jeep Cherokee.  To the best of my recollection, it required a ton of work.
I pretty much gave it away & the new owner (a coworker) told me it caught fire.  They made out with an insurance claim.
I wrench myself and off road a bit, nothing major for my passion is mtn biking, kayaking, skiing & snowmobiling (yup)
I do what I love for sure.
Good luck with what you decide on the Jeep. :)

I also own a Toyota Tundra, which is great for camping but there are plenty of places I could never take it for clearance and length reasons that a Jeep can go easily. Same with a 4Runner, my parents had one, and my dad was forced to use it for a back country trip around Death Valley once, it did pretty well, but its not a Jeep. And as far as tinkering/wrenching... there's not much you can do to a standard vehicle, but the possibilities, available parts and knowledge are endless for Jeeps.
Yeah I'm should clarify I'm not talking tundra or T100. But a pre 95 Toyota pickup or 1GEN Tacoma trail rides & mods nicely & has plentiful parts. My 94 Toyota 4x4 extra cab pickup literally went everywhere 4 seasons in the mtns, fire roads & national forests throughout NE. 250k+ with nothing but normal maintenance seeing extreme cold & heat. It did eat idler arms but that's it. The person I sold it to kids still drive it.
But I get it, its a Jeep thing been around forever. Heck I drove them in the early 80s in my first military assignment. They are tough & have a huge following.
YOLO...ahhahaha!
Exactly

I have no doubt an older model Toyota 4x4 can do amazing things. I've taken the Tundra through fire roads and back country trails including around the Grand Tetons and Mammoth Lakes in the snow, it has performed magnificently. There are still some places I would be scared to take it. I'm not afraid to scratch, dent, cut into, or even break the Jeep. For some reason I feel that if the truck became damaged or disabled in the wilderness it would be a terrible experience. On the other hand, we've had broken engine mounts, bad clutches, broken steering rod, broken steering column, bad sensors, broken shocks, broken U joints, and a drive shaft... we always seem to be able to get back to the asphalt with some careful driving or Jerry Rigging.

newton

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2015, 04:18:34 PM »
My quick answer is no.  I have a friend who I have known for 13 years.  During that time he has owned 2 different jeeps.  He sold both at a loss.  He is now considering buying a jeep again.  There is something about a jeep for men that is similar to crack cocaine.  You gotta have have it but it isn't really good for you.

abiteveryday

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #43 on: July 09, 2015, 04:25:05 PM »
Reading through here is a great reminder of why I shouldn't proceed with my pie in the sky project of fitting a Cummins 6cyl diesel into a 93-97 Landcruiser.     

...it would be so sweet though.

lifeinhd

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #44 on: July 09, 2015, 04:38:01 PM »
Based on my experience, I suggest you ask yourself if it is the wrenching or the off-roading that has you the more excited.

Both, actually. I've owned a few project cars, the most recent being an AW11 MR2, and I like working on them but I also like driving them. Thing is, my previous project cars I've (mostly) resold for profit, but the Jeep I don't expect that to happen. I expect to use it, break things, wrench on it, and use it some more, and if I tire of it I'll sell it for likely a little less than I paid upfront and eventually go back to choosing profitable project cars. The prospect of a Jeep specifically has me excited because it can do things I've never been able to do in any other car I've owned thus far.


I bet if you asked this question but instead of Jeep... used I want to buy some tools, and build a wood shop in my garage you'd get a different response from most of these people. Mustachian mentality forces people to immediately assume cars are worthless, even if they are part of a hobby that brings you happiness. So ask yourself this question. If you were FI right now, would you buy project cars and work on them? If you would, then you should continue your hobby til your FI while being mindful of the expenses. I wouldn't put off buying brushes, water colors and paper to save for FI all the while dreaming of FI so I can paint with water colors. Do what makes you happy and enjoy the journey.

Quote
You might be thinking to yourself, “Damn MF, why are you talking me out of pursuing financial independence?”

I’m definitely not! Pursuing FI has been an incredible journey and I would recommend it to everyone.

I would just caution you to avoid the FI tunnel vision that can occur and instead focus on the journey. That’s where the magic is.

I’ll explain…
http://www.madfientist.com/happiness-through-subtraction/

This is an interesting perspective. And you're right; wrenching is definitely on my retirement list. I realized a few weeks ago that with school out of the picture and a job I can largely leave at the office, I have a shit ton more free time, and I can use this time to get a second job and become FI faster... or I can use it to give myself an early taste of the FI lifestyle. That's why a few days ago I reached out to Habitat for Humanity, something else I want to do in retirement, and told them I'd like to build fairly regularly. But it's a lot easier mentally to agree to do something of little cost as opposed to something with a significantly higher cost, especially in the accumulation phase, which is why I'm so hesitant about this.

Great article BTW, though it can sometimes be difficult to not get caught up in expensive (but genuine) "happiness boosters." Like I could move closer to family and friends, but then I'd be commuting nearly 1.4 hours every day, and while I don't mind commuting, it's too costly, so I'll keep renting this room close to work so I can bike. I settle for seeing them on the weekends only, and that's a decision based purely on cost, not happiness. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind in the future.

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #45 on: July 09, 2015, 05:30:23 PM »
You just have to make the choice for yourself.

Rural

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #46 on: July 10, 2015, 12:47:59 PM »
I've said elsewhere on these boards that a Jeep is a tool. If you need the tool, you should buy it, but since you've gotten by without it so far, you don't need the tool.


By the way, Jeep trails and forestry roads are far more fun than "off-roading" just for the sake of it. You actually get to go somewhere on those. Just make sure they're public roads/trails please.

Kevin S.

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #47 on: July 10, 2015, 01:44:23 PM »
Reminds me of a favorite saying: The two happiest days in a man's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat.  (Substitute Jeep or other man-toy for boat).

This ! X infinity !!!

A jeep is cool, but IMHO it's much much cooler not to have a burden like an xj that while fun will just be another burden eventually. I guess it's all how you look at it. I struggle with getting a motorcycle just about every day lol. I also struggle with buying my friends sas Toyota with 42's, locked and all the goodies ! Then I remember how nice it is not having to wrench on something all the time - pay for registration, insurance, gas, maintenance, worry about people stealing it or what have you.

I really like to go off road. So I used to have a cheap dirt bike! Look into that possibly as an alternative to an expensive jeep / off road toy


Yonco

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #48 on: July 10, 2015, 04:43:56 PM »
Ive owned over 25 different cars in my ten years of car life(16+) I have lost and made money on cars. I would buy from repo auctions with cash then sell for profit a few times a year.  The moral of my story, if there was one car i would buy again, it would be a jeep JK. Its been the only vehicle i have sold and actually bought another and was so happy with it.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 04:49:46 PM by Yonco »

Cole

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Re: Considering buying a Jeep. I need a sanity check.
« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2015, 09:20:56 PM »
This is a $1k purchase that's less than a month's savings for me-- do I really need to be a hundred-thousand-aire to justify it? Let's say I buy it, dump another $500 into it, drive it a few times a year, realize it mostly sits around, and decide to sell it. I can probably get that same $1k I originally paid for it, and I don't think $500 is a lot to spend on a hobby. But there I go, trying to justify it again....

You never "dump... $500 into it" and drive off into the sunset. It is never just $500 to fix up a $1000 car into a offroad capable machine that won't leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.