Overspending On Pets, Social Security, and Best Beater Cars

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Think you spend too much on pet products? Read this post about pampered pets at The Digerati Life first, and then make your decision. Got neuticles?

JLP at AllFinancialMatters discusses when you should start taking Social Security benefits. I think Social Security will be around when I retire, but I think it could very likely be restricted to those with little or no savings.

GetRichSlowly mentioned a post on Jalopnik talking about the best cheap beater car for non-car folks. This caught my eye because now my new idle fantasy is to buy a $1,000 car and learn how to drive a manual transmission.

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  1. Coolness! Thanks for mentioning my post :). I agree, some of these pet products, are just ‘nuts’!

  2. Before you give in to that fantasy, you might want to give a listen to The Bottle Rockets’ “1000 Dollar Car”. 🙂

  3. For the past 23 years I have not paid more than $1,000 for a car. I moved from Green Bay, WI to Tucson, AZ in a 35 dollar VW Bug in 1987, the seat fell through the floor in Tucson and I sold the car there for 50 dollars.

    In 2006 I finally relented and purchased my first new car ever. It was exactly the car I wanted and I will keep it until the car falls apart. The thing to keep in mind is if you maintain the cars they will do well by you.

    When I lived in the City of Chicago I used to have to spend about 400 dollars a year on bodywork on the car, parking in the city is hard on the cars, the key is to stay ahead of the work. And you will spend more on car maintenance, more so if you can’t fix them yourself. So while I spend nothing on my new car for maint, I end up spending about 1,000 per year on my 1985 truck, I tend not to do any of the work myself anymore. But still a 100 dollar a month car payment isn’t all that bad. Also I don’t need comprehensive insurance on the truck because the cost to replace it would be approx the cost of my deductible.

    So as long as you keep up on the maint, and understand that every now and again the car WILL fail you (which is why I typically had 2.) It is a great cheap way to go.

  4. Nathan Whitehead says

    Regarding learning to drive a manual transmission: get an old Miata. That car is the easiest manual transmission EVER. The convertible aspect lets you see what’s happening all around, so you don’t have to worry as much about your environment.

  5. Are your plans heading toward sports cars in the future? If so buy a sport-oriented compact from Mazda (323, Protege). Decent reliability, tuned for responsive driving, repairs won’t kill you.

    It is *almost* impossible to find a more fun car to drive than a Miata/MX-5. It is the most misunderstood hardcore sports car out there. You can find an early 90s beater for $2K-$3K around here. Drive one…it’ll transform your impressions!

    If you can spend $$$ for upkeep get an old BMW 3 series. Have it inspected though…

    Honda beaters will be either ‘tuned’ or really really beaten in that price range. Toyotas are soft, slow, and mushy.

  6. Nony-mouse says

    Cheap GOOD cars to buy:

    early 90’s honda. Paid $1000, used it for 8 months and sold it for $1200

    I am also on my 3rd camry now. These babies HOLD their value and drive SMOOTH!! Bought a 1999 for $4600. after 1 year, i think I can still sell it for $4500. Currently has 140K miles.

    Recently I discovered that used Saturns are CHEAP as hell. I dont know how reliable they are BUT they look good. Because Saturns cannot have DINGS or dents :).
    Bought a 95 Saturn for my sister for $1000….she has been using it for 2 months now. She has driven over 4000 miles and still runs good. When we buy $1000 cars, we just pray it runs for 10 months. After that, we consider it as breaking even. So it if breaks down after 10 months, thats fine. Who can beat only paying $100 a month for a car!!!

    I hate dealers. When we tried to sell our 4 cyclinder car to them, they go..”who wants a 4 cyclinder car….” but when u try to buy one from them….they go “ohhh….everyone wants a 4 cyclinder now coz of the gas prices….!!!”

  7. Well I’m a pet owner and I try to pamper my pet – in fact I think she’s spoiled but I love her anyway.

  8. Oh, go for that fantasy! You will love driving a standard (well, they’re not so standard here in the U.S. anymore, but I still call ’em that). Saves gas too…

  9. Our dog is certainly spoiled too, but no spa days for me means no spa days for him 😉

  10. Yup, I can vouch for the first car on that $1000 list, the 87-90 Nissan Sentra. Bought mine about 3 years ago, learned to drive manual on it, and it’s still running to this day. I’ve even decided to drive it half way across the country when I move in a couple of weeks.

    And that Jalopnik site surprised me; I want to know how they got a picture of my car. It has the same ugly gray seat cover and everything! After a closer look, I see that they don’t have my rust spots, their loss.

  11. You don’t have to go stick either for a great deal. I live in Cali as well and it is a GREAT place to buy used cars because most people cycle through them every few years.

    I paid $1k for a 82 Toyota Celica in 1994. GREAT car. Had almost 200k miles when I bought it and it lasted me all through college. I never really had more than the occasional $200 repair for the 7 years I drove it. I laugh when people say used cars cost MORE money.

    I bought an all but brand new Mustang Convertible with 15k miles then for around $5k. It still had the new car smell, but the thing was it was an older model. Definitely the way to buy cars. It was a 92 and I bought it in 99?

    I got rid of it (still was perfect) when I had my first child. Needed a more family friendly car so went with a Saturn for $800. It had well over 100k miles but ran great for 3 years. I am not sure it ever had a repair. Actually it was completely fine when we traded it in – just wanted a bigger car. We had bought it as more of an interim car.

    I’m now 30 and when we had our second child we decided we could afford a newer car. We paid $15k for a newer minivan. I have regretted it since. I now care that it has a dent (hit & run). I now worry it will get stolen. I just took it in for a $900 repair which is about more than I ever paid to repair my beaters.

    Toyotas, Hondas and Saturns all make GREAT used cars. The key is to buy from a private party and have a well trusted mechanic to help you in your search for a good car. That being said usually when a car was kept up very well on the outside we found the same for the inside. I remember we looked at a car once that was a wreck on the outside AND it was really low on oil. A car with a nice shiny engine has likely been well maintained on the other hand, as was with all my cars. They were well cared for and had little problems. There are eons of great cars out there for sale simply because they are “old.”

    I have since found newer cars to be overrated. My next car will most likely be a very used Toyota. If you go in the $5k range you can at least get more style. But not spending money on cars overall has made life much easier. We funneled all that money to a down payment on a home here instead. Whereas most our friends our age have cycled through 2-3 new cars, we saved the money on those 4-6 cars (between us 2) and really is how we saved up $50k down in a relatively short period of time. We have never had a car payment.

  12. I’ve always thought I pamper my cat, but the stuff people buy for pets mentioned in the post is junk. I’ve heard about “neuticles” before, about the only use I see for them is that it allowes a wife to neuter the cat without her husband knowing (in case the husband identifies too much with the cat – met a couple of such guys in the past, one went on and on about his unneutered spraying cat’s “masculinity”). I buy my cat good pet food, and I pay to the vet when she needs something done, but this is the extend of my pampering.

    As to toys, I found out that the more expensive the toy is the less likely the cat is to play with it. The best toy – a piece of paper tied up to a string hanging from a stick; also ping-pong balls. About the only commercial toy my cat likes is a laser pointer.

    As to the car, I buy new. My very first car was used, and after I totalled it and calculated how much it cost me in repairs, it turned out more than payments on the new Toyota Camry. This was in 1987. I’ve drived that one for many years. Since then I changed a couple of cars, but always new. I downgraded a bit from Camry – now I drive Honda Civic.

    I think used cars maybe a really good deal for people who understand cars enough to choose a good used car. It is especially good deal for those who can do a lot of things themselves. But for someone like me, who is totally hopeless and who doesn’t have much time to spend looking, new cars are better choice provided one can afford them.

  13. It seems everytime I do that I end up putting more into it then it is worth, just went through the crap with a jeep cherokee. So, I got rid of it and bought a new toyota.
    Great post, I have put you on my favorites, hope you don?t mind. I am fairly new at blogging and have been searching out advice for my debt problems. I am trying to clean up some old debt, making good head way, but continue to read for fresh ideas. Thanks for a great post, take some time to visit me and comment, I could use any help that I can get at this point. thanks

  14. Re: Social Security restricted to those w/o savings: that is my prediction as well (some sort of “means test”); once again, our gummint will pity and reward the grasshoppers and punish the ants (which is largely what redistribution of wealth is all about, IMO). Grrr. Only thing to do is prepare and succeed in spite of those obstacles.

    Re:cars. Until I had children, I refused to pay more than $500 for a car. Heck, that’s about two car payments on a new car, so if you got three months you were ahead of the game. Funny thing is, some of those babies kept right on a’runnin. My best deals were the $400 4×4, whose problems all turned out to be rather minor and electrical. Drove it for 50,000 miles then sold it for $1,000. But maybe my *best* deal was the ’79 T-Bird with a 351 Cleveland for $300. I drove that car relentlessly, relinquished it to a friend, and I hear that it may STILL BE GOING! The single problem I had with THAT car was locating 8-track tapes…

    That all ended the day an FUV driver yacking on her cellphone blew a red light and plowed into my wife’s car (complete with in-laws and new baby). I plopped down cash for the full-on safety wagon with AWD and mega-airbags… On the plus side, I plan to drive it for a good 200,000 miles…

  15. My first 2 cars were used from Mom with wonderful Mom financing. First one was an 88 Camry she bought new and was still running fine after I drove it for 5 years (only had to fix clogged fuel filter, and CV boot). Second one was a 95 Camry that Mom got used that had a ton of miles (probably from rental fleet). While it gave her no problems, it needed some big repairs the 6 years I had it (CV boot, distributor, inner control arms + the tires it wore out, 2 radiator leaks – drove the last leaking radiator 6 months before dumping it, was not going to replace a part that should’ve lasted longer). Current car is a new Civic Hybrid, I tried looking for used but there weren’t many on the market at the time and the price differential wasn’t that great. Plus you don’t get the tax credit if you bought used.

  16. Ah, pet insurance, buried in that article. I seriously contemplated pet insurance, but decided against it because I will gladly pay to have less insurance companies in my life. Maybe a post contemplating pet insurance?

    In last week’s carnival, there was an article about cheap dog food. About 15 minutes of internet research is all you need to know cheaping out on dog food is an awful idea.

  17. Prashant says

    Hey, the very first car I ever bought (i still drive it!) was a Honda Civic 96, for 2k … manual transmission … I bought it from a lady (first owner) two years ago and I never even knew how to drive back then, let alone drive stick!!! I got a friend to drive it home from her place, and then learnt how to drive it in a nearby Walmart parking lot at night! =)

    Gosh, I lost count how many times I stalled during the first week, but it seems ridiculously easy and almost second nature now!

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