WAS IT BY FIAT OR STRATEGIC PLANNING?
IN ALL HONESTY A BIT OF BOTH
Success Path Sherpa followers will recall a blog entitled “A Step Toward Financial Stability, How To Ditch Your Car Payment.” This was a two part blog, and in part two I stated:
This Success Path Sherpa drives a 10 year old Toyota with 135,000 miles on the odometer, still in excellent shape, no rust, 2 air bags – a 4-door sedan with an average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon. This vehicle is still very reliable and in fact has never broken down. This vehicle has a Kelley Blue Book value of only $3,400.
I shared this piece of personal information with my readers to demonstrate the point that reliable transportation doesn’t have to be expensive transportation, so if you are trying to achieve financial stability, driving a vehicle that you can truly afford (to pay cash for) is a necessary starting point.
It might surprise Success Path Sherpa readers to learn that I recently parted with my reliable Toyota Echo of 10 years, despite the fact that it was still running flawlessly. I thought it important to share the ‘strategy’ behind the decision so readers know that Success Path Sherpa follows his own advice. It has been my experience that setting a good example is worth at least twice as much as peddling good advice.
As you may know, BMW reintroduced the Mini Cooper to the US market around 2001. 2001 was the year that I purchased a Consumer Reports rated best-buy of 2001, his Toyota Echo. As a huge anglophile, I quickly took notice of the Mini Coopers that began to hit the road, but couldn’t rationalize changing vehicles when what I was driving fully met my needs and pocket book.
As the years have rolled by I have continued to think that “maybe someday I’ll own a Mini,” but the sticker price with options was always higher than I was willing to spend, so the thought never reached the seriousness of “my next car will be a Mini.” Then one day I went with a friend to a Fiat dealer. My friend was considering purchasing a Fiat 500c, the first Fiat for sale in the US since the 1980’s. Fiat chose to pilot its US sales with just this one model, so the entire car lot and showroom were populated with different colors and trim levels of Fiat 500. After two tedious hours of test drives and deliberations over which options to select, my friend finally agreed to buy one. It was past closing time before the purchase documents were spit out from the printer, and I was going a little stir crazy. I therefore chose to leave the auto salesman’s office and began pacing the lot… and only then did my eyes lite upon the only non-Fiat 500 on the lot – a 2006 laser blue Mini Cooper S with leather interior, an impressive list of options, AND JUST 9,400 MILES ON THE ODOMETER. Due to the low mileage the car was almost like new, and due to it being a 2006 the asking price was just 55% of its original price. Not only did I have enough cash saved to buy it, but I had recently received a purchase offer for my Toyota Echo from an acquaintance who had just moved to the US and was looking for affordable (he paid cash), reliable transportation. Best yet, this offer was for the full Kelley Blue Book value, so I suddenly had $3,400 more cash in my pocket.
Long story short, although it was very hard to part with a reliable friend of 10 years, an exceptional deal on a Mini Cooper with 126,000 less miles was just too good a deal to pass up! Was it fiat or strategy you ask? The cost benefit analysis definitely equates to strategy, though I must acknowledge Fiat for making it all possible!