How My New Car Cost Me $1,000,000

“I Will Always Have a Car Loan”

The next time that you hear someone say this phrase, please sprinkle holy Evian on them immediately and then refer them to this blog. That phrase is not only false, but it will cost us MILLIONS of dollars over our lifetimes.  Millions? Yes, millions! Let’s break things down so we can get a clearer picture of what I mean.

The average brand new car in March 2014 was $32,086 with an average monthly car loan payment of $710 with the assumption of a 48 month loan term at 3% interest.   For the record, this example has already made our total loan repayment $34,068 before we really get too deep. Yes, we just lost $2000 before we even left the car dealership lot. But let’s move on to bigger fish.

Typically, cars lose 20% in depreciation in the first year, 15% in the second and third year, and then 10% in the fourth year. So in this example, this would mean that the car is worth $16,691.

The average age of cars on the road in the United States today is a little over 11 years old. Most automobiles are pretty dependable nowadays because of the advances in quality and technology—so 11 years is not a stretch at all. So given that information, we could have owned the same car for over 50% less money if we had just waited a few years and bought with cash. But, I’m still not done.

Let’s assume we repeat this “gotta have a new car” buying habit for 40 years. For simple math purposes, let’s assume each new car costs exactly as much as the first car did.

So after 40 years, we have bought 10 cars and lost:

(a) a whopping $20,000 to car loan interest

(b) a monstrous $173,950 to depreciation

But it gets worse, you also lost:

(c) a life-changing $2.36 million dollars!


(Assumes we invested $404 per month in lost depreciation and car loan interest every month into a good mutual fund at 10% rate of return for 40 years)


For giggles, let’s assume we learned our lesson on the first car, but we still bought the first car anyway. In that scenario, let’s deposit $404 per month for just four years and then wait 40 years. After 40 years, you still lost the opportunity to:

(d) a still life-changing $760,000 dollars!



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