Month: February 2019

How to Create Reality

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So a funny thing happened on Twitter this week, which almost changed the world a little bit.

Someone sent me a beautiful 3-D mockup of a fictional, car-free city of 50,000 people, set in the scenic nook of land* between Boulder, Colorado and Longmont, where I live. It came complete with street plans, detailed descriptions and dozens of cool photos, both real and computer-generated, showing how it would feel to live there. They called it Cyclocroft, in honor of the generally pro-bike stance of Mustachian culture.

This was not out of the blue: these plans came from some long-time readers, who have heard me muse about better cities in the past. Over the last few years, I have come to realize that the fastest way to get my fellow Americans into healthier, wealthier lives is probably just to change the way we lay out our living spaces. Instead of wasting trillions of dollars on separating and isolating ourselves just to accommodate giant racetracks for our gas-powered wheelchairs, we could make everything about 75% less expensive (and many times more fun) by making cities that work without cars.

So anyway, these architects sent me the plans, and I put them up on Twitter with a comment about how they’re fictional but boy wouldn’t this be a nice way to use a single square mile compared to what we do right now.

One square mile of suburban Detroit. Note the amount of space wasted on accommodating cars. Without the cars, you could house AND employ about 50,000 people with this much land.

I thought that would complete my social media indulgence for the day, but NO, things were just about to get interesting.

That night, an MMM reader who also happens to write for Forbes, wrote to me asking if he could do a story about Cyclocroft. He also pulled in the designers Tara and John from B4Place. And the next day, this rather racy article showed up in the news:

Whoa there, Forbes!

While the story was technically accurate, calling me a “Wealth Guru” instead of an “Early Retirement Blogger” definitely amped the intensity. And words like “Plans” and “has teamed up with” made it sound like things were very imminent and real, rather the just a set of pretty pictures I was happy to share.

But the world started to react as if Cyclocroft really were real. Twitter responses and emails started coming in from people who would buy properties and move there, if we really built it.

Even more notably, my email inbox and even the voice mail of my supposedly private mobile phone, started filling up with notes from news agencies and big players in finance and real estate, asking if they could do news stories and/or help get involved in building Cyclocroft.

Forbes – Wealth Guru Plans Dutch-Style Car-Free Bicycle-Friendly City Near Boulder, Colorado

Curbed – Could a car-free, Dutch-style city work in Colorado?

The Real Deal – Imagine a city with no cars, free bikes — and 50,000 people in one square mile

Boulder Daily Camera – Mr. Money Mustache has no formal plans to build dense, ‘car-lite’ city between Boulder, Longmont

The Chief Marketing Officer of the nation’s largest mortgage providers (who I was surprised to learn is also a longtime Mustachian) came to my coworking space and we talked for two hours about whether we could make it a reality. Because, aside from the potential to improve world through better design, residential housing is the world’s largest market, worth trillions of dollars.

Now, just in case you have any illusions about Mr. Money Mustache’s superpowers, it is important to remember the real story. I am a retired, stay-at-home Dad who occasionally types shit into the computer, and that’s the end of it. On the average week my biggest “business” meeting is a Tuesday morning workout in the back yard of the HQ for some squats or deadlifts with a friend or two.

Actual day of work. Does this look like a City Developing Wealth Guru to you?

Now, this Cyclocroft bonanza is still cause for celebration – all this attention and energy will definitely not go to waste. I really do plan to nudge this country towards its rightful status as a Badass Utopia – it’s a lifelong project for me, and we are only about eight years in. It’s just that Starting a City right now does not play well with my other project of Raising a Boy, a contract which still has about five years left on it. I’m not a great multitasker so anything outside of that job has to be low-stakes and with complete flexibility.

But there’s still is a heck of a life lesson in this story, that can help all of us change our lives. It’s on par with the lessons of the Optimism Gun, and the Circle of Control.

The lesson is to Begin with the End in Mind – and Start by Painting a Beautiful Picture of that end  destination.

It’s the technique at the core of the world’s best marketing and negotiation strategies, and it works so well because it short circuits the human brain into making everyone – including you – see things in the desired way.

I’ve known this for a long time, and applying it is the reason for most of the successes I’ve had in life so far. Yet I still sometimes get sloppy and fail to use it, and sure enough many of my failures can be tracked back to that sloppiness. Let’s check out a few examples of Painting the Picture in real life so you can see exactly how this works and how powerful it is.

When I started this blog in April of 2011, I didn’t just start rambling about interest rates or student loan debt. And I definitely didn’t mention carbon footprints or get into environmental guilt-tripping. The first sentence of the first post is “What do you mean you retired at 30?”

Retired. At. 30.

It was a simple picture of a very clear end destination that automatically got people’s imagination running and filling in their own details.

Everyone knows that a 30-year-old is a fairly young adult with lots of promising life ahead of them. And everyone knows that “Retired” must mean some unusual financial accomplishment was involved, which makes them imagine what their life would be like with that sort of money.

In retrospect, that marketing decision was the main thing that has made the MMM blog catch the attention of newspapers, which in turn brought in the readers, which in turn kept me motivated to keep writing it. So painting that initial picture was an amazingly big leverage point.

And Cyclocroft worked in exactly the same way. You’ve heard me harping almost daily about “live close to work and ride a bike”, but this produces only small changes in the world. You are still fighting the car-based design of your city, your car-loving spouse, and all of the excuses that pop up from looking at the small day-to-day picture.

But Tara and John bypassed all of those arguments by sharing a simple, beautiful picture of the end lifestyle, with just enough detail to provide a framework that got everyone’s imagination running.

Car-free city. Next to Boulder. 50,000 people.

People read these key points and see the pictures, and in their minds they are already nestled into this bucolic town in the Sunny Western US at the base of the Rocky Mountains. For most people, the sale is already made and now they are ready to hear the details – most importantly “How can I get you my money?!”

Once you go looking for this pattern, you see it everywhere, especially in the most successful bits of persuasion in the world.

Tesla almost completely took over the coveted luxury car market with no paid advertising, even while its competitors fought tooth and nail with their old ads, by painting a clean-slate picture: clean, beautiful, prestigious cars that are the fastest in the world. They were introduced to the world as if they were movie stars, rather than squeezed out through the crusty sphincter of an old corporate marketing department as most cars are. They can even make a commercial hauling appliance into a rockstar that has everyone waiting breathlessly for its world-changing arrival.

So How Can You Use This Amazing Power on Your Own Life?

We can see how this works by painting a few pictures of our own:

You want less money stress in your life:

Describe the picture of your ideal financial life. Your house is paid off, the kids are well cared-for, and you think about money no more than you think about tap water. It’s just there, so instead you spend your time figuring out how to get more fulfillment out of each day.

Then to get there, you suddenly feel the motivation to streamline your spending (and perhaps optimize your earning) today. It’s no sacrifice to skip over a car upgrade, if it rockets you towards this clear picture of your future life, right? And conversely, making the car upgrade is suddenly less appealing if it means you will be extending your time on Cubicle Lockdown by three more years and pushing off the beautiful picture you have painted for yourself.

You wish your spouse was on board with more frugal living:

You won’t get anywhere by nagging your partner that she needs to take shorter showers or telling him to give up his Porsche convertible. The only hope of teamwork is to agree on the end goal: do you want financial freedom more than you want the Porsche, or not?

Well then, what does financial freedom look like? Perhaps it includes being able to stay home to raise children, or to have more time to travel together, or to pursue part-time meaningful work instead of full-time-just-because-I-need-the-money careers. Or something else you can both agree on. This article on Selling the Dream describes a case study where this method worked beautifully for a couple.

Once the dream is there, the daily steps that move you towards it become easy and obvious.

You want to earn your dream job 

Rather than sucking up to the company or stepping through your individual qualifications and acronyms of all the programming languages you know, begin your campaign as though you’ve already won.

Describe (with beautiful pictures of your past work and future proposals if appropriate), the way that things will work, once you are working with the company. The ways you are excited to build the culture of the group you will be joining and managing, and why that is destined to influence the entire company over time. This vision of you excelling in this job needs to become a crystal clear anchor in the company manager’s mind, that lodges itself in as the way things are going to be. From there, it becomes difficult to dislodge.

These same principles work in both large and small situations, for persuading any range of people from just you up to the entire Human population. From getting into better physical shape to winning an election.

My own Failures to Paint the Picture

When I look at my own areas of less-than-satisfactory performance in recent years, they all carry the hallmark of scraping along from one daily hardship to the next, while neglecting the big picture.

My former wife and I did not keep our own marriage alive, and it may be partly because we didn’t think of what we wanted a good marriage to look like. We just reacted to the ongoing realities of daily life, doing more damage as time went on.

My son copes with some anxiety and can tend to be an extreme homebody, avoiding all new situations if not challenged to do otherwise. But if you work at it, you can get him out for adventures, and he always has a great time. And his Mom has shown much greater skill than me in making these things happen.

But far too often during our days together, I will make a few offers to go out and do things together, then give up and feel deflated when he rejects them. And I come back the next day and try the same thing, and I usually get the same result.

But if I paint the bigger picture well in advance – for example of a two-night camping trip with his favorite friends and their dads and kayaks and sand dunes – the chance of a breakthrough greatly increases.

The recipe for change is right here in front of all of our faces. It’s up to us if we are bold enough to paint the picture, and then do the work that will become obvious once that picture is hanging on the wall in front of us.

Okay, but When Do We Get To Move to Cyclocroft?

I am happy that this big, beautiful picture of the future of North American city planning is now out there, creating an anchor in the public mind that is bound to stick. That alone is an amazing accomplishment.

For my part, I’d love to help out in many ways. But at the same time, the picture I have painted for my own life does not involve being a property developer. I’ve done that on a small scale in the past and learned there are other people that thrive on the phone calls and meetings and contractor cat-herding much more than I do. So as much as I’d love the results, I’m not willing to do the workAnd this is a great thing to know about myself, because chasing accomplishment and prestige and things that seem “important” is not necessarily the path to a happy life, if you don’t enjoy the work along the way.

But with the right group of people working together on the aspects they truly enjoy, it really could happen. Tara and John like designing spaces. I like describing things to the world, but also solving physical and engineering problems. You might like running a restaurant or a bike shop, or playing in a jazz trio. It takes all sorts of people to build a new city and change a culture, but as long as we are all working on the same end goal in mind, we will definitely get there.

——

 

* Never mind that this particular chunk of beautiful land is currently a NOAA facility! The real point is that when you only need one square mile, you can fit a world-changing city almost anywhere, including into the corner of an existing large family farm.

PayDrill Review – Smart Data Analytics for Paypal Sellers to Make More Sales

Are you paying to an account firm to keep track of your PayPal transactions? Let’s end that. Here let me show you! There are over 179 million PayPal users in world nowdays, and we are one of them including you. Selllers and Resellers are using it to send and receive money for their products and …

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How To Slow Down Time and Live Longer

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“They sure grow up fast, don’t they?”

“The older you get, the faster time flies.”

“You can’t slow down time, so treasure your days because they’ll be gone before you know it.”

We’ve all heard these thoughts, often from the parents of grown children. If you’re part of the older and wiser population, you may have even spoken similar words yourself. And if you’re younger, you may have felt fear well up in your heart as your elders dropped this bit of Bummer Wisdom upon you. The Inevitability of Life Racing By.

But your fear is unfounded.

Related imageBecause somehow, I seem to have stumbled upon a workaround to the problem of life being too short, and instead I find myself existing in a different universe of Vampire-like perpetual renewal and the feeling of youth. While other parents of almost-thirteen-year-olds claim the time has gone by in a flash, I feel I’ve had my own son for at least 30 years.

And those same thirteen years since I retired from real work have also been packed with an almost inconceivable variety of experience. Adventures in business, travel, relationships, weddings, funerals, adventures, injuries, growth, definitely at least the recommended minimum dose of pain, but a much bigger amount of joy.

Reflecting back on it all always leaves me shaking my head in a smiling disbelief and muttering at least one involuntary “Holy Shit.” I feel like I have lived an entire human lifetime, or maybe even more than one, in just the years since I hung up the keyboard and walked out of that cubicle.

I look at this strange development with great gratitude. After all, if we are going to assign any purpose to our lives, it’s probably something like “Make the most of the time you are here, and try to do some good while you’re at it.”

So if I feel like I’ve already had a spectacular amount of time and Made the Most of It, you can imagine how lucky I feel to still have so many more decades worth of it potentially still in the tank!

What do you think could be going on here?

As it turns out, I am not the first one to wonder this. And there is some real science that connects a Mustachian Early Retirement to a life that feels much longer and more full, even before we get into the reasons you will probably literally live quite a bit longer as well. The key to this is in the way we perceive the passage of time.

Figure 1: Some of Eagleman’s Intriguing Books I’ve read (click for more.)

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the work of the modern-day Indiana Jones neuroscientist/author/adventurer David Eagleman, immediately developed a Man Crush and started working my way through his books and interviews. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time: a bigger picture on why our brains behave the way they do in many different realms of being alive: emotions, decision making, happiness, and of course our perception of time.

Like many people who were born with an engineering side to their brains, I sometimes feel like I’m standing with half my body outside of the human species, observing with Vulcan-like amusement how crazy we all are, and the other half firmly inside it, being whipped around by all the same joyful and tumultuous and passionate and irrational emotions as everyone else. So it can be very satisfying to try to put it all together, by embracing all that humanity but also understanding it from a bigger perspective.  Books like Eagleman’s are a lot of fun and useful in that regard.

So by reading books like Incognito and The Brain (along with this interesting profile on him in the New Yorker), I was able to learn a lot more about the nuts and bolts of my own existence as a creature, which I find is a very useful antidote to prevent me from taking myself and my moods too seriously as a person. And it also helps me get the most of the gigantic arc of a human lifespan with all of its details, without getting too hung up on whether I’m “doing it right” or fussing about our inevitable mortality.

Image result for brain

This is your brain on MMM

That compact but powerful brain of yours is more than just your thinking appliance. It’s your entire world, because it controls every bit of your interaction with the world, plus the way you feel about it. And one of its trickiest roles is in sucking up and storing every experience you ever have, and filing those experiences away so that you can recall the most important ones, all while leaving you able to focus on immediate tasks without becoming completely batty from this ever-growing pool of past experiences.

So the brain uses a few tricks in order to keep you sane. And the best way to sum up its approach to things is this:

To focus on the novel and important-seeming things, and mostly ignore everything else.

We’ve already covered the remarkable subject of human habits, where we learned that our brains tend to click us into little autopilot routines whenever possible to avoid the strain of puzzling consciously through every single moment, of every single day.

So an average person might go through routines like …

  • “get out of bed” 
  • “make some coffee and breakfast” 
  • “get dressed up and drive to work”

… in an almost unconscious fashion.

Habits like these are convenient, but they can also compromise your full enjoyment of life. Because when you are running on autopilot, you are not forming nearly as many meaningful memories. And if you do it long enough, your brain will also start clumping entire phases of your life into individual thoughts:

  • “my childhood”
  • “high school”
  • “the college years”
  • “those years I worked in Des Moines as a fertilizer salesman”
  • “the baby-raising years”
  • “my 25 year career as a Middle Manager in Megacorp”
  • “my golf-and-TV retirement to a Florida condo”

If you look back at your own phases so far, which ones do you remember being the longest and most vibrant?

For most of us, it ends up being the ages from about 6 through 21, because these were the times of greatest change, learning, and new firsts in life. Then as we get older, we lock ourselves into family and work routines, including the most time-compressing of all: a multi-decade period of having the same house and the same career. The years go by, but significant new experiences become more and more rare.

Mustachianism (even if you are a long way from early retirement) is thus the perfect antidote to this, because I am always encouraging you to try new things and maintain an eye towards constant optimization.

With practice, you will let go of your natural fear of failure, and start thinking of everything as an opportunity for an experiment. Or as the great Bob Ross would put it, “There are no mistakes in life, just happy accidents.”

Although you will be fighting the very core of your Human nature with this activity, it’s a fight worth picking, because you are immediately rewarded with a life that is wealthier, more satisfying, more interesting, and one that feels much longer.

To put this philosophy into practice immediately, all you need to do is start throwing some changes into your daily routine. A few ideas ranging from beginner to expert:

  • Take a different route to work than you usually do, and a different route home. Pay attention to the new experiences you have on this journey.
  • Shop at a different grocery store and get ingredients that you don’t usually get, in order to eat different meals than usual.
  • Try breaking your usual morning routine by going out for a short walk before you have your breakfast and sit down for work. (I happened to do this today, and it led to me feeling great, and my walk turned into a run, and the added energy from that led me to sit down with inspiration to write this very article for you.)
  • Find a way to meet a new person every week, or at least every month. People are the most powerful gateway to new memories and a longer, richer life.
  • Switch roles in your company, or switch to a new job.
  • Remove TV, news and social media from your daily routine or limit them each to five minutes per day. Then when you feel the inevitable pull to check in, use this as a “keystone habit” to grab your paper to-do list and start working on something from the list – even if it’s just ten push-ups, or picking up an old-fashioned paper book you are working through.
  • Move to a new apartment or house that is closer to work and to worthwhile amenities like public parks and waterfronts.
  • Start your own small business and begin building it up, embracing change and setbacks until you find something that is truly rewarding.

All of these things will shake up your life for the better, and they will restart the flow of new memories, waking your brain back up and extending your time of really being alive.

For my part, life keeps getting more varied with each passing year, and time keeps getting slower and slower. Here’s to you and I clinking our glasses together in the distant future, after several more centuries of the joyful Vampire-style youth that is early retirement.

 

In the Comments: what have your experiences been, with periods of your life where time has flown by, and others where your memories are particularly rich and detailed? And if you’re an early retiree, what has your experience been with the flow of time since you pulled the plug?

 


Selected quotes from the NY article that I liked: 

“Clocks offer at best a convenient fiction, he says. They imply that time ticks steadily, predictably forward, when our experience shows that it often does the opposite: it stretches and compresses, skips a beat and doubles back.”

“When something is new or more emotional, the amygdala seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Four Ways We Can Hang Out

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A recent campfire at in the back yard of MMM-HQ coworking space.

Hi there.

Don’t get too excited, this isn’t a real blog post. But there were enough things worth sharing that I thought it would be worth sending a little mid-month Hello.

Life has been busy around here, drunkenly walking that fine line between the zones of

“Exciting and stimulating and action packed!”

and

“Way too much overflowing action, how do we turn off this firehose?!”

It’s one of the core Tenets of Mustachianism that too much of a good thing can become a not-so-good thing, so I have been working on stepping back and focusing on the smaller and more personal things with the people who are close to me, even if it means turning down bigger, “important” sounding things out there in the world.

If you are an overdriven and success-oriented career person, you can take the same lesson: your PERFORMANCE out there on the business stage is a lot less important to the world than you imagine it is, so now is a great time to lean back and take a few breaths and turn down that extra work assignment so you can spend Saturday just digging in the sand at the playground with your kids.

Okay, so with that take-it-easy warning aside, here are a few things that have been keeping my local gang and I busy recently:

1: We have expanded the MMM HQ

MMM watches as Alan Donegan’s Charisma steals the show at September’s Pop up Business School

Some adventurous friends decided to dive in with me and team up to buy out the other side* of the building that houses my little coworking space in downtown Longmont. As a result, we have now quadrupled our interior space and are looking for new members!

In the spirit of adventure and growing the community from the current 50-ish to a new goal of two hundred, we are no longer limiting it to people who live right in Longmont – you can be the judge if it’s worth $52 per month to be part of our growing entrepreneurial gang.

You can join here immediately if you are super confident,

or read more about it at mrmoneymustache.com/hq/ or even stalk us by following the new MMM-HQ Twitter and Instagram feeds.

2: I started a YouTube channel with my son!

Over the long holiday season, my 12-year-old son and I were spending a lot of time together. He has become a prolific music composer and video editor and posts something to his own channel almost every day. So he often ribs me about my own neglected MMM YouTube channel, with just a few halfhearted construction videos I had thrown up to illustrate certain things as part of blog posts.

Long story short, we just turned on the camera and started recording some Question and Answer shit and putting it up there, learning as we go. So far, it’s a “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” situation, but I hope to get him to come out from behind the camera one of these days too, at least for a cameo.

The result, our first six figuring-it-out-episodes, is here and we definitely plan to do more:

The MMM Channel on YouTube

It has been a lot of fun so far, and an incredible bonding experience for the two of us, to be working on something difficult together. I’m even paying him for his work and we will also split any resulting revenue from YouTube (currently a not-too-bad thirty bucks in the first month!), as I think this is a great way for a kid to learn more about money.

3: I’m part of The FI Summit

One of the members of my coworking space is an enterprising dude named Sean Merron, who also runs a podcast called 2 Frugal Dudes. Over the past year I’ve come to respect his work, so when he invited me along with some other very genuine financial independence writers to join a little online course they are running in March, I was happy to accept. I am going in as a newcomer to such an experience, so it’s an experiment.

The event takes place live on March 5-7, with course material and replays available afterwards.

You can join us (and read all about it) at https://fisummit.2frugaldudes.com/ and get 10% off with their coupon code MMM.

4: Mustachians are Uniting

This isn’t just a website or even a ‘movement’ anymore. There are real-life friends, and potlucks, hikes, local and international trips, and even romances going on out there and I have had great fun watching them all develop over the past few years. A few ways you can get involved in real life:

Camp Mustache was the original meetup – About sixty people in a beautiful rented lodge in the rainforest outsid of Seattle. Five years running now, it is small and well established, so it always sells out much quicker than any resonable person could be expected to buy tickets. It is the only event I’ve attended every year. But it set the stage for its international cousin …

Camp Mustache Toronto is a similar but more Maple-flavored event, also in a lakeside natural area far enough from the concrete jungle that it feels like a genuine camp. This year’s event is in September. But Camp Mustaches are just the start of it all.

Camp Fi is a more ambitious string of events, spawned by an unstoppably friendly and optimistic guy named Stephen who liked Camp Mustache so much that he decided to adopt the principles and take it from coast to coast. They have run something like a dozen already, and there are more coming up on the calendar.

The NoCo Mustachians Meetup Group is a 400-strong club of fun and FI seekers in my own area. There is a nice, sociable overlap between members of MMM-HQ and this larger group, so they often use our building to host their larger events.

The ChooseFI Meetups: if my hobby of “Financial Independence Guru” were an actual business, I would never tell you about this, because these guys would be my toughest competition. Growing from nothing to hundreds of thousands of followers in just the last few years, I have heard about more Choose FI meetups than Mustachian ones in recent times, and some existing MMM groups have even been so bold as to rename themselves from my silly (but more fun) terminology to adopt some version of the more bland and sensible “FI” branding.

Fine, have it your way, FI people – your ability to get together and have fun in the real world is way more important than appeasing Mr. Money Mustache’s ego, so I encourage you to get out there and enjoy it all.

And with that batch of suggestions, the clouds have suddenly cleared up outside my own window, so I am going to fold up this laptop and head out on the town myself.

Have a great week!


*People familiar with the project may be asking “What about the Mud and Madder soap and handcrafted shop that was there before this?”

The answer is that the ladies who owned that side decided to close up their retail experiment and return to the more efficient model of online Etsy-style sales. They offered to sell me their side, so I gladly brought in three new friends to become partners in the newly expanded coworking venture.

Best Motivational Speech Compilation EVER #14 – DISCIPLINE | 30-Minutes of the Best Motivation

The thing about Self-Discipline is that it is necessary for every thing you do in your life you have to be self-disciplined. Working out, working out you gotta work out every day you gotta stay in shape, if you wanna… I mean, if you don’t stay in shape you die. When I’m working out I …

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The end of the road: Preparing to buy a new car

sourced from: https://www.getrichslowly.org/preparing-to-buy-a-new-car/

Yesterday, Kim and I joined my cousins for an afternoon trip to the Oregon Coast. Our aim was to harvest a bounty of clams. We came home with zero. We managed, however, to harvest a bounty of mussels. Plus, the dog had fun.

Duane, Kim, and Tally at Cannon Beach

My cousin Duane carpooled with us to and from the beach. We rode in Kim’s car: a 1997 Honda Accord that’s showing signs of its age.

“It’s a little warm in here,” Duane said about ten minutes into our drive. “Would you mind turning down the heat?”

“Well, I can’t turn down the air,” Kim said. “It’s stuck on high. But I can turn down the temperature.” She laughed as she demonstrated that the knob for the air volume has broken off at the post. The vents now permanently blow at full force.

“This car is falling to pieces,” I said. “Literally.” As if to prove my point, a bit of molding fell from a roof handle. I picked it up and wedged it back into place.

“I like my car,” Kim said. “I have an emotional attachment to it. But I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to start searching for something else.”

More and more, it looks like our vehicles have reached the end of the road.

The End of the Road

Kim bought her car 22 years ago at a model-year closeout sale. It’s lived with her in Minnesota, Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. In that time, the Accord has logged nearly 250,000 miles and never given her any major problems.

Kim's Honda Accord

For a decade, I’ve been driving the 2004 Mini Cooper I bought as my first exercise in saving after I paid off my debt. In the ten years I’ve had it, I’ve put 90,000 miles on my Mini (bringing its total mileage to 150,000). We even took the Mini with us on our 15-month cross-country RV adventure!

My Mini Cooper in Monument Valley

Until the past couple of years, the Mini was trouble-free. During the RV trip, however, the fuel pump died. Then, when we got home, I funneled about $4000 into several repairs over a twelve-month span.

This winter, the Mini developed another problem: The sunroof began to leak (and in a big way). This isn’t good during rainy Oregon winters. In fact, it basically means my little yellow friend is unusable until things dry out.

Meanwhile, the old reliable Accord has developed an oil leak. The leak is dripping onto the fan belt. Our mechanic says Kim’s car needs about $1500 in repairs. That’s not too bad, but it’s more than the car is worth. Plus, we suspect that’s just a small taste of what’s to come.

Because I could see the writing on the wall — and because we need something to haul Big Stuff at our country cottage — I picked up a 1993 Toyota pickup at the end of 2018. I love it. (Seriously, I do. I just bought Taylor Swift’s latest album on cassette so that I can make use of the tape deck, which makes it even more fun.)

My 1993 Toyota Pickup

The tape deck in my Toyota truck

But the truck is a stop-gap measure. Kim and I feel like it’s time to pick up a newer, more reliable vehicle. Neither of us relishes this idea, but that’s where we are. Last August, I asked you folks which new car I should buy. You offered a lot of great suggestions. But by purchasing a used pickup, I’ve put my own car dilemma on hold — for a time, at least. Kim’s situation, however, seems pressing.

Fuzzy Math
I found it surprisingly difficult to decide whether or not I should buy a 1993 pickup with 211,000 miles on it. The previous owner is a friend and colleague. I trust him. He says the truck runs great. And, so far, it does. But it’s 25 years old! I worry.

I paid $1900 for the truck. How many miles and/or how much time do I want to get out of it before I consider I got my money’s worth? I’m not sure. I paid $15,000 for the Mini and have driven it for ten years (and 90,000 miles). That’s roughly $1500 per year and 17 cents per mile. Using these numbers as guidelines, I guess I hope that the truck will last a year or two, or that it’ll get me 10,000 to 12,000 miles.

On the other hand, I just bought brand-new 45,000-mile tires for the truck, so maybe I’m hoping it’ll last me for several years!

Kim’s Car-Buying Priorities

Before the Accord started showing its age, Kim’s plan had been to sell the car to a couple of young women we know. They’re in the process of getting their driver licenses and will soon be looking for a cheap car. We thought the Accord was perfect! Now, though, we’re not so sure. Is it really fair to sell them a car knowing it needs $1500+ in repairs? (Maybe we should just give them the car and tell them about its issues?)

Regardless what happens with her current car, we both agree that it’s time to accelerate her timeline for buying a new vehicle.

“What are your priorities for a new car,” I asked last week.

“Well, I want something that fits our lifestyle,” she said. “Apparently, we take the dog everywhere, although I doubt they make dog-specific cars. I want something that lets us haul the kayaks and the bikes. I want to be able to make long road trips comfortably. Ideally, I’d buy an electric car or a hybrid.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“I want heated seats,” she said. “And a place to put my sunglasses and chapstick.” (If Kim could only take one thing with her to a desert island, it’d be chapstick.)

“Because our cars are so old, any reasonably new vehicle is going to seem like a massive upgrade,” I said. I’ve spent approximately thirty days in rental cars over the past year. They all seem like they’re from the future. (And my friend’s $150,000 Mercedes S550 I rode in last spring? Totally the Enterprise 1701-D!)

“What’s your budget?” I asked.

“I have $16,000 in a targeted saving account specifically for a new car. If I sell my motorcycle, that would probably give me about $5000 more. So, I guess I’m looking at somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000.”

Preparing to Buy a New Car

Between us, Kim and I own three vehicles. Their average age is 21 years and their average value is maybe $1750 each. Obviously, we’re not car people. We place no value in having the latest, greatest vehicle. Neither one of us is looking forward to the car-buying process. It sounds like an ordeal, not something fun.

Fortunately, we know better than to visit dealers until we’re absolutely ready to purchase. (And truthfully, Kim is more inclined to buy a used vehicle from a private party.)

Kim had planned to put off buying a new car until sometime this summer. Now we suspect we’ll have to make the move sooner rather than later.

To that end, she’s started doing research. She asked her Facebook friends for their recommendations. I polled the people who subscribe to the weekly GRS newsletter (and received some terrific response!). Kim has been reading about different cars online. And soon — maybe next week — the annual Consumer Reports car-buying issue will land in our mailbox.

Over the past thirteen years here at Get Rich Slowly, I’ve shared many articles about the car-buying process. Here are some of the most useful:

It’ll be interesting to see which car Kim chooses and how we end up buying it. Deep down, I know she longs for a Tesla Model 3 but at $35,000+, they’re far outside her budget. I suspect she’ll end up with a Subaru Outback or something similar.

Maybe the next time we take Duane to the coast to dig clams, we’ll ride in comfort…and actually catch some clams.

Ironic Footnote
As I was writing this article, Duane phoned me. “Can you pick me up and take me to my oncologist appointment?” he asked. “My car just died.” I spent the next three hours helping him get things sorted.

My post about our dying cars was delayed by Duane’s own dying car.

“Maybe I should buy Bob a new car,” Duane said as we waited for the tow truck to arrive. It was a morbid joke. Duane has terminal cancer. Bob is his brother. If Duane were to buy a new car, he wouldn’t have it long. It’d soon get passed along to his Bob. This adds wrinkles to his own vehicle dilemma.

The post The end of the road: Preparing to buy a new car appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

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