How long do you want to keep your current car?
If you said: As long as possible, you get an A+. Any other answer earns an F.
I think plenty of you just failed my quiz.
A recent report said that on average, drivers are holding onto their cars for just four years, compared to about seven years a few years ago. And the expectation is that by 2021 that might drop to just three years.
The main driver of this ridiculous trend is mistaking a car for a want, not a need.
There is no question that many of you need a car but a car is a lousy investment. It only loses value. That should compel you to want to spend the least amount of money possible to fulfil your need. And one of the best ways to spend less is to drive a car as long as it is safe and reliable.
Yet what is going on is that many people view their car as wish fulfilment. You talk yourself into the notion that you “deserve” to drive a newer, nicer car. Or you fall for the leasing offers, where you are all but hand-held into trading in a car every three years.
That is financially stupid. Yes stupid.
One of the best ways to build financial security is to spend the least amount possible on a car that meets your needs. Forget about the bells and whistles you want. Paying less helps you pay off the car faster. The best advice is that if you need a loan, buy a car you can pay off within three years. Even if you buy a used car—and by the way, I think that is very smart—you will then likely have a few years more after the loan is paid off, when you can keep driving the car. In the meantime, all the money you used to pay for the car loan can be redirected toward other financial goals, such as retirement, or saving up for a home or building a down payment fund for when you do need to get another car.
Thanks Suze Orman for this opinion.