Sunday, March 4, 2012

My car situation

Last post I wrote about my bike situation. This is the other side of the coin.

The car I drive is a 2008 Landrover LR2. Swanky, I know. It's not mine though. It's actually a former business vehicle that belongs to my girlfriend's dad. Last year, when she and I were starting out, he lent it to us with the understanding that it wasn't for keeps. It was a very generous in-kind transfer that meant we didn't have to worry about getting a car for a while — and actually, it postponed my own car buying decision long enough for me to discover Mustachianism, so that is a huge win right there. Just think, I could have bought a new Ford Fusion on credit. The horror!

The time has almost come to give back the LR2. Since he has no need for another vehicle, what he would ordinarily do is trade it in. But, as you may know, there is a margin between the dealership trade-in price and the for-sale-by-owner price. Her dad doesn't want to deal with the hassle of selling the car himself, but he offered us a deal: we can sell it ourselves, pay him the dealership trade-in value, and pocket the extra money.

This is pretty cool, I think. By nature I'm pretty willing to pay a premium not to deal with hassles, but hey, Mustachianism and all. It's a big long process re-training myself to actually do hard work, because that's where value comes from. So to the extent that having to sell the car myself is considered hard work, this will be good for me.

Because I don't think it's fair to put the driving onus entirely on my girlfriend, I am planning on getting another car. My sister has a 2006 Toyota Yaris that she won't be needing anymore once she moves to Manhattan. My mom bought that car new, as another family car. I had it for a few years in college, then my sister had it for a few years in college. While we were using it we helped out with the car payments as best we could. Now that it's paid off, and my sister doesn't want to pay insurance anymore, I think I'll be able to buy it at a favorable rate. It may be a little more automotive inventory than I need, but it's a known quantity combined with the fact that the Yaris gets up to 40 mpg. With that car I wouldn't be surprised if I went a month between fill-ups.

So where does that leave me? Selling a car, something I've never done: lowering my level of wussypantsitude. A smaller, older, more efficient car: that's Mustachian, though not as good as going without. There is something I can do, though, to up the Mustachian ante.

I need to sell the LR2 before June. My sister doesn't know when she'll have an apartment in the city. Not to fret. I can go carless for a number of weeks between when I sell the LR2 and when I buy the Yaris. By time this happens I'll be used to commuting by bike, and on days I don't want to bike, I'll have to suck it up and take the bus to work. Somehow I think I'll bike a lot more when the alternative is taking the bus rather than driving.

This is usually the way I make a big move. Deciding that something is a great idea isn't enough. I set in motion a sequence of events that will act as a commitment device, forcing me to make the "right" decision when the time comes. When I studied economics, the time inconsistency problem was the most interesting subject I came across. Commitment devices are my bread and butter for big positive changes, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

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