What Was I Thinking? To Buy a New Car…or Not?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 19, 2016

This blog is NOT about buying a new car…but it IS about the decision-making process I used this week in THINKING about buying a new car.

So my 12-year-old Cadillac CTS inexplicably rolled into the file cabinet at the back of my garage.  The file cabinet was relatively unharmed, however, my sweet little Cadi’s front bumper broke in two.  If the crunch had been three inches to the right or to the left, the bumper would have emerged unscathed.  But no.  The edge of the file cabinet struck a strut in the front bumper and it suffered a pretty significant crease.

So I went down to my local collision center to get it fixed and possibly spend a few bucks touching up the dings and the scratches while I had the car in the shop.

The damage?  $1,000-$1,500 to fix.

Since my CTS is only worth about 1.5-2k, the question is, “Do I really want to put that kind of money into my cream puff of a car that has been lovingly cared for over the years, but also has 120,000 miles?”

The question became even more poignant when the collision center manager looked at me and said, “I wouldn’t put one more dime into this car. The technology and gas mileage is so much better on the new models.”

So my brain went into hyperdrive.  Is it time to buy a new car?

So I called my bank to find out about the loan amount, rates etc. As a basis, I threw out $30k and got easily pre-approved for $45k.  Then I started looking online through the bank’s auto-buying service and looked at a few models that I have salivated over while working with my clients: The Kia K-900 and the Mercedes-Benz E350 Sport looked really nice.  A little over my 30k budget…but still doable.  I even went for a test drive.

Ahhh…the nappa leather, the smooth ride, air-cooled seats for the blistering hot Arizona summers.  The siren call was beckoning….

As a professional facilitator  who preaches about the importance of thinking things through, I could feel myself being sucked in to the glamour of buying a brand new (in this case slightly used, certified pre-owned) vehicle.  Sometimes, I get on a freight train and start LOOKING for reasons to support my decision. Ah!  I’ll have bluetooth!  Navigation!  Air-cooled seats AND steering wheel!  Sweet ride!  Safer too!  And here’s the most suspect: I’ll be able to show support for my client.

But then I paused and thought, I could fix my beloved Cadi and asked myself, “What else could I do with $40k?”

I bet you have a laundry list of things you’d like to do, but here’s my top five:

  • Remodel the kitchen in my 25 year old house
  • Remodel the two bathrooms in that same 25 year old house
  • Go on a really amazing vacation with my fabulous husband
  • Sock that money away in my retirement account
  • Don’t go into debt at all – stay debt-free.

Frankly, I kinda like that last one.  More than air-cooled seats.

So dear readers, my Cadi is in the shop getting fixed, and I’ll be happy to drive her around for a few more years.


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Kristin Arnold is a professional meeting facilitator and international speaker who is passionate about helping leaders and their teams think things through, make better decisions and achieve sustainable results. The Extraordinary Team’s approach to building high performance teams combines consulting, coaching, training and process facilitation within the context of working real issues.

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