I sold my car.
It was 3 years old, with just under 9,000 miles, sitting around gathering bird poop and cut grass from the landscapers and mysterious scratches that also probably came from the landscapers. Aaaand that time my kids tried to clean the snow off my car with sticks.
This was an amazing moment for me, because it mean that I had escaped. I escaped the two-car family lifestyle. I escaped the drive-to-work lifestyle. I escaped the suburban sprawl lifestyle. I escaped the first-world-country-privilege lifestyle.
My new mode of transportation? My bicycle. And the commuter rail train, on rainy and icy days.
Stress Free Transit
I love public transit. There’s something about being downtown in a city and not stressing about how much time you have left on the meter or what the parking cost is going to be which is absolutely liberating.
I’ve loved bikes since I was a kid. I spent hours outside taking my bike apart, fixing things, breaking things, and making repairs while lacking the necessary tools. I would go online and read Sheldon Brown’s bike repair tutorials for my direct pull cantilever brakes, then go outside and try to fix mine.
My First Car
My parents bought me my first car in 2005, while I was in college. It was a red 2001 Honda Accord EX, with leather seats and a 6-CD changer. A guy in my building named Phil had gotten his car through a guy named Devin who went to auto auctions.
I purchased the car sight unseen, and the first thing I did was walk around it. It was in worse condition than I expected. I wouldn’t have purchased it if I had seen it first. It wasn’t even the right shade of the color I asked for. And thus, my 11-year relationship with that car got off on the wrong foot.
Not long after I purchased it, the paint started to peel. Apparently it was a bad year for paint on Honda cars, and to make matters worse, this one had been in a minor accident and taken to the cheapest paint shop in town.
The amazing thing about that car is that it ran perfectly. Aside from replacing tires and brakes and rotors and shocks and struts, nothing ever broke down. Ever. It was as reliable as a brand new car.
I loved it and I hated it. The frugal side of me loved that it was reliable and low maintenance. The critical side of me despised the peeling clear coat.
Finally, in 2016, when the clear coat on the hood was completely gone and the leather seat was beginning to split, the car failed its annual inspection. Worth only about $500, I was told that I needed to put in at least $1,200 to pass. The mechanic offered to buy it from me on the spot.
Brand New Car?
I read The Millionaire Next Door in High School, and I was convinced that I would never buy a new car. Financially, it doesn’t ever make sense. Logically, I started searching for a used car. I went to every kind of dealership. I sat in dozens of car. I’m 6’5″ and need good head room. I was commuting 50 miles per day round trip, and wanted good gas mileage. And I wanted a car that made me happy, since for the past 11 years I had dealt with a car that I had mixed feelings about.
I wanted an orange Subaru Crosstrek, but it was too small for me. I opted for the Subaru Legacy, with a sporty redesigned body and a beautiful blue color. No sunroof, so I could get the extra headroom. Leather seats for durability. It turns out that leather with no sunroof is an odd combination only ever ordered by fleets of cars. I looked at 10 used ones, and all were covered in scratches, dents, and other damage. Too much like my Honda.
After months of looking, I realized that a new car was the only way to get what I wanted. I went out and bought one.
Shortly thereafter, I went on sabbatical.
I resumed my commute again on the worst project ever for 5 months.
Then I took a role working from home.
Then I started working from our office in Boston, taking the train or biking in.
The result was a 3-year-old car with 9,000 miles on it.
It was the right decision at the time, but didn’t turn out to be a smart decision in the long run due to unexpected (yet extremely positive) career changes. Past performance is not indicative of future results.