Author Topic: Should we sell our Prius?  (Read 8292 times)

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Should we sell our Prius?
« on: December 13, 2012, 07:36:17 AM »
I just read the thread about whether to accelerate truck payments or not, and it's inspired to me finally ask the question I've been pondering. I need to know if we have a solid plan.

[This seems like an awful lot of detail, but you never know what information people will need to flesh out an opinion.]

The relevant points:

1. We have a 2009 Prius ($4.2K loan, 6%, $404/mo, 48mpg, 128K miles), a 2009 mini-van ($11K loan, 5.5%, $399/mo, 22mpg, 80K miles), and a small 1990 Dodge pick-up (bartered,  ~16mpg, odometer broken). The truck isn't in great shape, but can be made fairly reliable for about $1k. We've previously used it for fixing up our 1830s house and get firewood.

2. We have three kids, two dogs, and a hobby that requires cargo space. We're in a musical group that travels 20 weekends a year (mileage, about 3.5k, which we write off as in-service to a non-profit), and I play a large instrument. It won't fit in the Prius, so we take the van on these trips.

3. I work at home and have the kids after school. Until a month ago, my husband drove about 45K miles per year for our business. He now works at home four days a week. On that fifth day, he'll occasionally have to take the van, because of the distances involved, and I'll have to do some juggling to get all the kids to/from school and whatnot (two of them are too young to stay at home alone). Over the last two weeks, we've only used two cars at the same time on those days when DH has gone into the office. If he's home, we only use one car. I'll often run errands on foot during the day (the P.O. and both of our banks are on my jogging route).

4. We hope to move in 1.5 years to be closer to my aging parents, but it's more expensive there (from the Southeast to the Northeast) and are trying to tidy up our finances as much as possible, as quickly as possible. After the move, he'll work at home every day.

5. Within a year, our oldest will be driving his own car (a Mustang oh-so-thoughtfully provided by hubby's ex-wife without consulting us, even though he lives here full-time).

6. In case it's relevant: We bring in $80K. Our current mortgage balance is $60K. The only other debt we have is a business loan which will be discharged December of next year, bringing our income up to $100K. We live a pretty frugal life with the exception of 1) the musical group, which is a pretty expensive hobby, and 2) these car payments.

Our current plan is to fix up the truck a bit, sell the Prius, and apply any proceeds to the van. My husband will drive the truck most of the time, but if he needs to drive more than an hour or so, he'll take the van and the kids and I will muddle through with the truck.

It's giving me a little heartburn because it seems counterproductive to sell a high-mileage vehicle and then use a low-mileage truck, especially one that's not super reliable and that doesn't fit the whole family if needed. We'd have both the Prius and van paid off before we move no matter whether we sell the Prius or not, but we would have much more money saved if we do. We think it's the right thing to do, but are having trouble pulling the trigger.

Thanks for any input you might have.

Blackbomber

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 07:54:36 AM »
Where I live (the insurance capital of the nation/world, ironically) liability insurance is exorbitant, even for low risk drivers. So are property taxes on motor vehicles. Consider the total cost of ownership, against the fuel savings. For most people, going to two cars (even if all are paid off) would be a wise move. And you can always rent an efficient or spacious vehicle temporarily to fill in gaps. I've found that the cost to own my paid off Ram 2500 doesn't offset the utility to get free firewood. It's actually cheaper for me to pay for it already seasoned, split, and stacked in my pile. So when my current home renovations are done, it will be sold, and I'll buy a hitch and small trailer for my daily. I LOVE my big truck, and got it as a fixer-upper dirt cheap. But at $700/year (taxes and insurance) it's a drain. And that's before factoring in fuel and repairs (done by me). Depreciation isn't really an issue as it's a 2001 non-diesel with 170k on the clock.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 09:09:39 AM »
Sounds to me like the absolutely right thing to do right now.  That doesn't mean you are stuck with the old truck forever, I would make a goal to sell the truck and buy something more reliable and higher mpg when possible.  But that can wait until you have your debts paid off.  I can appreciate that it would be hard to pull the trigger on that, but I can't see a better option than getting those debts paid off.

Good luck!

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1797
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 10:11:27 AM »
I'm confused.  The way I read it, the truck and the van both serve the same purpose: they fit stuff the car can't.  So you need to keep one or the other...

(are you sure the musical instrument won't fit in the Prius?  The Prius has 21cu ft of cargo space with the seats up, and 40cu ft with them down, as much as many SUVs - thats big enough for not one, but TWO tubas!
With the seats down, it has more cargo room than most minivans have without removing a row of seats.)

Why isn't the van on the table to potentially sell?  You could drive the Prius most of the time, and use the truck for the times you need to travel with the band, or when DH is using the Prius to get to work (plus for the occasional firewood and such.)

If that's possible, then you just need to figure out if the higher cost of the Prius is worth the amount of fuel you would save (which depends on how many miles it would get driven each year)

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 10:27:15 AM »
Thanks for the responses.

Blackbomber, good points. Cost of ownership is significant for the three vehicles. The Prius has the highest insurance and property tax values.

James, OK, thanks. :)

Bakari, I should clarify. We can fit the equipment in the Prius, but we can't fit the equipment AND the kids, who come with us. We can fit the equipment in the truck as well, but, again, there's no seating for the kids. Once we've moved to New England, we may be able to do such trips in a much smaller car and leave the kids with my parents, but while we're toting at least two of three kids with us, the Prius won't do it. My husband jokes that I'm just going to need to learn to play a smaller instrument, which in this case would be a bagpipe, instead of a bass drum. :)

AJ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 906
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 01:11:46 PM »
Bass drums are big, but they don't weigh that much. Could you get a small enclosed trailer and tow the equipment with the Prius when needed (assuming, as Bakari pointed out, that the fuel savings is worth it in the first place)?

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1797
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 01:38:09 PM »
Bass drums are big, but they don't weigh that much. Could you get a small enclosed trailer and tow the equipment with the Prius when needed (assuming, as Bakari pointed out, that the fuel savings is worth it in the first place)?

or possibly on a roof rack?

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 02:35:48 PM »
Bass drums are big, but they don't weigh that much. Could you get a small enclosed trailer and tow the equipment with the Prius when needed (assuming, as Bakari pointed out, that the fuel savings is worth it in the first place)?

or possibly on a roof rack?

Those are both good options, I think. How much would such a trailer cost? We do have a roof rack for the Prius, but I worry that the drum will get wet. Or stolen. Or both. And then we'd have to pay for a replacement, and that's a couple of grand right there. We'd also talked at one point about getting a hitch-mounted carrier for the back, either for the drum (which will probably mean I'll get rear-ended immediately) or for our other luggage, leaving room inside for the drum.

For gas savings, the Prius uses half the gas of the van ($15, rather than $30, over our most frequent 200-mile trip). With a trailer or roof rack, those savings would diminish somewhat, but I don't know by how much. The van has 80K miles on it right now, we got it at 24K miles, and we've had it for three years, so call it 20K miles per year. It would be at least $1,500 a year difference, especially since we won't be evenly splitting miles between both cars anymore, then reduced a hair from additional drag. That's still significant.

[Is my math right? $15/200m=$.075/m savings. Then 20,000m*$.075/m=$1500? That might be too simple to be correct. ]

Thanks a bunch for helping me think through it! :)

Honest Abe

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 376
  • Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 02:50:59 PM »
i've packed my drumset in my prius on many occasions

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1797
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2012, 03:09:20 PM »
I didn't think of the hitch rack!
That's probably the best option of all (for extra cargo space in the Prius)

I used to own one of those, and it worked exactly as advertised.  It would affect mileage less than a roof rack or trailer, be less expensive than a trailer and easier to drive than either. 

Theft would only be an issue if you kept it on the rack when you weren't on our way to a show / rehearsal - someone running up to the car to grab a giant bass drum at a red light doesn't seem particularly likely, and a water proof cover should take care of rain.  If someone rear ends you, their insurance should pay for a replacement drum (and rack).

20k miles, at 20mpg (?), would be 1000 gallons, times 3.50/gal = $3,500
20k miles at 40mpg, 500 gallons = $1750,
So, your ballpark estimate sounds about right.

However, 20mpg for a minivan is average, but 40 for a Prius is below average.  If you are only getting 40mpg, you might consider changing your driving habits.
Start with: http://ecomodder.com/blog/slow
and then move on to: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/07/26/hypermiling-expert-driving-to-save-25-50-on-gas/

You should be getting at least 60mpg, which would bring the savings up to $2,300 a year.

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2012, 03:24:43 PM »
I've been thinking about how our driving affects the mileage, and trying to take some action there. We're actually getting 48 in the Prius and 23 in the van. Certainly both can be improved. I'll check out those links, thanks!

Excellent point about the other driver's insurance covering the cost of the drum. Maybe that's not such an issue... I'd just have to fend off my Pipe Major's rage about not having an instrument to play when we got to the gig. :D

Ok, research time.
1. Hitch
2. Rack
3. Waterproof cover
4. Hypermiling


Blackbomber

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 09:00:38 PM »
I like the way this is going!

HighOrderGuiltComplex

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2012, 09:32:25 AM »
don't forget MMM article on turning your smaller car into a larger one:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/08/turning-a-little-car-into-a-big-one/

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2012, 03:13:40 PM »
Certainly let us know what you end up deciding, it would really be awesome to make the Prius work!

matt_g

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2012, 06:35:08 AM »
I had an astro van that I used for my business, and I switched to a prius.  I was nervous I wouldn't be able to fit everything in there.  What a great move, the Prius has tons of room.  honestly... even if you had a custom built bass drum carrier made for you, you'd have the gas savings paid off in no time.   Also... assuming you continue to play in that band for a while... you could use the bass drum carrier for 50 years... the savings just goes on and on.

I also challenge your $15 vs $30 calculation, what mileage are you using for those assumptions?

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2012, 10:12:06 AM »
Thanks for continuing to give me input on this question. I had a heart-to-heart with my husband about it this morning. We discussed the various options you guys helped with, but kept bumping up against his concern that selling the van would impact our quality of life too much.

It turned into a conversation about our relationship with money. I've been viewing my quest to reduce our spending as a way I can contribute to our bottom line, since I'm only working a few hours per week--a big change from when I used to be the primary earner. Apparently he sees it as a statement about his ability to provide for our family, which I didn't know before, and I didn't intend.

With that in mind, I think we're going to go ahead and sell the Prius, minimize our driving as much as we can, and practice hypermiling techniques. We're also going to talk more about how we relate to money and to each other so that future actions can help us meet our shared goals.

Thanks again!

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3186
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2012, 08:38:19 PM »
We're also going to talk more about how we relate to money and to each other so that future actions can help us meet our shared goals.
Thanks again!
If you haven't already seen it, blogger Carrie Rocha has a new book out:  "Pocket Your Dollars", five attitude changes that will help:  http://www.pocketyourdollars.com/ .  What an eye-opener.

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2012, 07:11:31 AM »
We're also going to talk more about how we relate to money and to each other so that future actions can help us meet our shared goals.
Thanks again!
If you haven't already seen it, blogger Carrie Rocha has a new book out:  "Pocket Your Dollars", five attitude changes that will help:  http://www.pocketyourdollars.com/ .  What an eye-opener.

Thanks for the suggestion. I see on her website that the book is available at a lot of Christian bookstores. Does it have religious content at all?

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3186
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2012, 01:47:03 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion. I see on her website that the book is available at a lot of Christian bookstores. Does it have religious content at all?
Never noticed any, so it must not be very evident.  Maybe a mention of going to church on Sunday?  The financial advice is secular.

That Christian bookstore decision generally has more to do with the publisher than with the author.  If my publisher told me that he was putting my book in Christian bookstores then I'd let loose a hallelujah or two...

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Should we sell our Prius?
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2012, 03:12:20 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion. I see on her website that the book is available at a lot of Christian bookstores. Does it have religious content at all?
Never noticed any, so it must not be very evident.  Maybe a mention of going to church on Sunday?  The financial advice is secular.

That Christian bookstore decision generally has more to do with the publisher than with the author.  If my publisher told me that he was putting my book in Christian bookstores then I'd let loose a hallelujah or two...

I'm totally with you on that. :)  I'll take a look. Thanks!