Friday, January 16, 2009

Breaking News

I may just have to start a new series here, to go along with my Parenting for Dummies there in the sidebar. I could name it Wealth Makes You Stupid. Exhibit A would be this post from last summer; Exhibit B could be this article I found in the Wall Street Journal just this week. It has the intriguing title The Hot New Car Is Your Old Car.

It seems that people in the upper echelons (economically speaking) of our society are rediscovering the joys of driving cars with more than 50,000 miles on them (or, in WSJ parlance, "old" cars). Apparently, it is all the rage in these penny-pinching times to hang on to your vehicle for more than 3 years. Here's my favorite line from this piece of informative, hard-hitting journalism:

An extended warranty...along with the cost of more-frequent oil changes and replacement parts, still usually costs less than the monthly expense of financing or leasing a new car.

Imagine that! Really? Costs less, did you say? You mean, I can save money by maintaining my old car properly rather than trading it in for a brand-new model? Gee! Is that what one learns in business school? I've got to go get me an MBA.

The article goes on to report that some of these frugal masters of commerce are going so far as to hold onto their cars until that old speedometer hits 100,000 miles. You read that right, 100K. In other words, 30,000 miles less than what is currently on my 12-year-old minivan....

And the other van, the one we call "new"? It's at the 50,000-mile mark now. We consider it just about broken in. And now, thanks to WSJ, Larry and I feel like rich folk simply by virtue of not driving it down to the nearest dealership and trading it in for a newer model. We're trendy, that's what we are.

Stay tuned for more breaking news from this country's leading financial newspaper. I'm sure there will be future articles with titles such as Eating In - The New Way To Lower Food Bills and Public School Costs Considerably Less Than Private School.

As part of our ongoing No Executive Left Behind initiative, are there any other subjects we can suggest to the WSJ editors?


  1. Well, I read this in one of those same type of articles. Now I'm not saying this is true, but it said something like,

    "Buying clothes at a discount store such as Target or Ross is cheaper than going to the mall or a large department store."

    Like I said, this is unconfirmed, but there you go. I guess it would be futile to point out to the LEB's (Left Behind Executives) that jeans from a store such as Goodwill or Savers are already nice and broken in. I wouldn't want to cause anyone's head to explode.

  2. brown bagging it. The new way to save money.
    McDonald's coffee vs Starbucks. Save 3.00 a cup!
    The washing machine, it washes clothes just like the dry cleaner.
    Make the kids play outside! No Cable!

  3. Dammit. This is all information I could have used, like, YESTERDAY. Next thing you're going to be telling me is that brushing your teeth is cheaper than buying dentures, etc. Ha!

  4. How about the surprise of shopping for your teens at Old Navy instead of Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle or Hollister? Who would imagine the savings when not paying for a big brand name!

  5. I wonder what these suddenly frugal folks would think of my husband's 15 year old 250k plus miles car? They'd probably think we were financial geniuses!

  6. Hold on--so they're saying that it would cost less AND be trendy for my snotty 15 year-old daughter to drive the "crappy" 5-year old car she doesn't want, instead of buying her a new one that she does want? Hmmm...I guess the decision's been made!

  7. Yes. Every time I read another NY Times feature on the plight of the wealthy who are suddenly LESS wealthy, I am completely overcome with grief and pity. Just like when I see pictures of the 1 in 4 people on the planet without electricity or adequate food. Sorta the same, huh?

  8. Wow. I guess my 12 year old van is special too. Go figure. The next hot tip could be "How to go without that $400 handbag, and buy groceries instead."

  9. Glad to know my Honda is hip. Finally I am cool!

  10. Laugh OUt Loud- that is all i have to say... our cars are paid for and the cost is WAT less than when we financed them.... DUH! one of our cars has 130,000 and the other 212,000... THey are still ticking and my husband even changes the oil himself... Immagine that..? Thanks for sharing.

  11. I had a journalism prof. who used to call stories like this "blinding glimpes of the obvious!"
    Wowser! Who knew that by being frugal, we be so far out that we are actually in!!
    This is a hoot!

  12. Somewhat off topic but still relevant:

    Don't Buy a House You Can't Afford.

    See what I just did there? I solved the subprime mortgage crisis!

  13. Oh, I love this post! How about this...hand-me-downs! My 4 sons wear their older brothers' clothes, plus some other friends'/nephews' hand me downs. I almost never buy clothes. And we drive 2 'old' (read: paid off) cars. I am suddenly feeling totally hip and with it. Now if we can just figure out how to explain that 7,000 square feet is, well, too many square feet for a house. Unless you're the Duggers. (Sorry if I offend anyone out there with a big house...)

    (P.S. thanks for the advice!)

  14. Wait, you mean we are considered cool for hanging onto our minivans until they reach 100,000+ miles? Whodathunkit.
    Next thing you know, it will be cool to drive a Kia or a Daewoo. Well, okay, not the Daewoo -- they went bankrupt the year after dh bought his 9yo used car (which still runs nicely, thank you very much).

  15. They call it cutting back, I call it a way of life. Tomato, tomato!

  16. Hm, to think all that "Depression Era Survival Skills" my father earned the hard way, and passed on to his 6 kids...could be a means of income for MOI? Because you know, some people are just smart enough to pay someone to tell them how they can save money.

  17. Is this the point where you bitch slap Warren Buffett?

  18. I wonder how long it'll be before the SSLW (Suddenly Slightly Less Wealthy) notice that "You Already Have a Car" could be extended to other things, like shoes and handbags.

    And I don't recommend MBA-school for you, because they obviously do not teach this sort of thing there. I'm envisioning classes like "Entitlement 101."

  19. It pisses me off that all these rich folk are now plundering MY favorite thrift store, where I have been shopping for YEARS.

    how about:
    "Ironing your own shirts is cheap! Or, Where did I put the spray starch?"
    "Imagine all the rain forest you can save by not jetting off to the Bahamas for Christmas break."

    OK, so my headline writing skills suck....

  20. Hubby is hip, with his 1997 oldsmobile? It has 90,000 miles on it, as his mom did not drive much before we got it last year.

    I guess I'm not very frugal. The other 2 cars are both 2006's. The 15 passenger van we bought used almost 2 years ago and now has 36,000 miles on it. My Camry we bought new with less than 100 miles on it. It has 98,000 miles on it now, after 3 years. That darn 150 miles round trip commute per day adds up miles fast. :)

  21. Let's see...

    "Home improvement can be fun, and it can save a lot of money, too! The same is true for gardening and baking!"

    You're pretty bright -- I bet you can figure out how to fix the leak in the faucet! And the nice folks at Lowe's will even show you how to do it for free!

  22. It is so amazing how truly decadant the other half..... I mean 1% is.

  23. I really did like the line about keeping the car until 70k or maybe even 100k. Oh what the heck?! Why not go crazy?! Why not keep it until (110k)....either way, it's still less then the "new" cars we buy.

    I swear, the media people (Oprah, WSJ and everyone else who makes the news, excluding witness #2) are so out of touch with real life. I think you should add some kind of grocery shopping column: if you don't buy pate from the brand that massages their gooses daily, but instead buy liver and make your own, you could save hundreds! Thousands!

  24. The next article could be:

    How to cut your own child's hair : The joy of buying a good pair of scisors.

    My kids have never been to the hair dresser. OK, I admit to a every-3 months-get-a-new-colour-to-cover-the-grey, er... to-look-hip. I mean, a girl's gotta have some standards right? Plus, I figure it's the least I could buy, considering all these kids gave me that grey, right?:)

  25. See, we desperately needed this crisis to help ground people. There would have to be an article on clothing too.

  26. Groundbreaking economic research, no doubt. I bet going to the library is cheaper than buying books, too, right?

  27. I'm afraid I have to put in a word for MBAs...really, it's not the degree, it's upbringing and consumer culture- people who don't understand the difference between 'want' and 'need'. And it's ironic that you single out MBAs, because they're explicitly taught the skills to *not* do this- but too many people don't seem to apply things like cost-benefit analyses to their daily life.

    I am an MBA. And I drive a '99 compact station wagon (laughing all the way to the gas pump) with 160,000 miles- I'm planning on 200,000 *at least*, 300k would be better. I just put a new zipper in a bag instead of getting a new one (the bag was fine, it was just the zipper that was broken). I don't go to Starbucks, brown-bag my lunches, fix most everything I can around the house, am wearing boots I've had since 1980 and secondhand clothes, don't have cable TV, and bought a house I could afford.

    When my husband's ten-year old Chevy Cavalier started leaking coolant and randomly overheating, he bought a bottle of coolant and a prepaid cellphone (in case he was stranded), and drove it until it pretty much fell apart.

    When people ask us why we don't get pricier vehicles or live up to our means, we explain that this is how we *got* means to begin with...

    And for my suggested Executive How about "No, neither you nor your children will die without an iPod." Or, "A Vehicle for Your Teen? Bicycles are in!"

  28. Try driving a car with OVER 200K. That's fun :)