The ‘new old’ car (from 1965) and the ‘old new’ car (from 2008)
I aim to live as Mustachian of a life as possible, but my family has some very non-Mustachian habits! Topping the list of face-punchable offences is… my husband’s love of muscle cars.
He especially loves 1960s Ford Mustangs, and we ended up buying one in June. In my most-recent FI progress update, I wrote:
“This car purchase is about as non-Mustachian as it gets! The car is 54 years old and a gas guzzler. It’s car number three for our household (but we only have a one-car garage!) To top it all off, we did the unthinkable and paid for it with borrowed money.”
I also mentioned in the post that there was more to the story… and that’s what this article’s about. It should (hopefully) convince you that we’re not totally crazy.
The car Q&A
We received a lot of questions from friends, family, and my readers—so I thought it’d be fun to explain everything in a Q&A format.
The questions below are a combo of real questions and ones I made up (because they’re questions I’d want to ask of myself!)
Q: Have you lost your minds?!
A: It sure seems like it, but no, we haven’t! This was a carefully-considered decision and M and I did a lot of talking and planning before we went ahead with the purchase.
Q: Is M having a midlife crisis?
A: LOL, the theory lines up—M’s 43 after all! But no, he’s perfectly happy with life and had other important reasons to buy this car.
Q: Okay, what were these ‘very important reasons’?
A: I’m glad you asked! We have four big ones:
1. M’s eye health
This was the biggest reason by far. It’s what convinced me to set my Mustachian beliefs aside and make this purchase happen.
You see, M has a condition called Coats Disease. In a nutshell, the blood vessels in his left eye leak. This leakage causes swelling in the retina, which can lead to retinal detachment, blindness, and even enucleation (removal of the eye).
To treat this, M gets a monthly steroid injection into his eyeball. (Yeah, it’s as fun as it sounds. ) While M’s specialist is amazing and has given him the best care possible, his vision has continued to decline.
We fear he’ll one day lose complete vision in one eye, which could mean he can’t or won’t want to drive anymore. At the rate his vision’s declining, that could be in less than 10 years. M’s only 43, so that’s a pretty upsetting proposition.
For this reason alone, buying the car now, while he can still fully enjoy it—is an obvious choice. Because… YOLO, right? 🙂
2. M’s promotion
Back in May, M finally received a long-awaited promotion and pay increase. While the increase wasn’t a huge amount, it was something. That got us thinking about what we wanted to do with the extra money. Initially, we mulled over a few options: investments, travel, stuff, or nice food.
As we continued to discuss it, M came to a realization. We’re pretty happy with how much we spend on all those things… so what if instead, we got his dream car now?
Based on the fact that we try to live the FI life every day (instead of waiting to do everything post-FI) M’s suggestion made complete sense.
3. The right car at the right time
Another reason we decided to purchase the car so quickly was a simple matter of timing. It just so happened that this car was on the market right when M was ready to buy. Additionally:
- It was beautifully restored. No detail was overlooked and all the work was done properly.
- It was located locally—less than an hour away in Langley.
- It was originally from California, which is desirable for used cars. That means there’s likely no damage from snow, rain, or road salt.
- M did a lot of research and knew exactly what he needed to watch out for. He also brought a car-savvy friend with him to check it out. (The car passed his inspection with flying colours.)
- The price was very fair—at least $10,000 less and in better condition than comparables.
With so many things lining up, it felt like this car was meant to be! And based on how long M’s been looking for a car like this, we knew it could be decades (or never) before M came across another car as beautiful and well-priced as this one.
4. M’s happiness
While a new car wouldn’t make me happy, I know it makes M very happy. And you know what they say: happy spouse, happy house!
I’ve got a lot more to say about the happiness factor, but I’ll save it for the next question…
Q: But you know material possessions don’t bring happiness… right?
A: For many of us, that’s true. But cars do make M happy. The 2008 Mustang he bought 11 years ago still makes him smile every time he drives it. His heart still flip-flops when he looks at it. And he misses it when we go on vacation. (It’s true! M loves his cars that much.)
Cars make M happy
While most of us believe that material possessions can’t make us happy, cars really do that for M… but why? One of my friends had a very insightful response to this:
“Maybe it’s because he’s already happy. M has everything he wants in life. This car isn’t filling a void. It’s adding to an already-happy life. That’s why this ‘thing’ makes him happy.”
My friend was right—I couldn’t have said it better myself.
It’s about the experiences
I also have a second theory about this… remember how I said that it’s experiences, not things, that make people happy? Well, when I think about it, the car does bring experiences into M’s life.
He gets to drive friends around in it, tinker with it, and hang out with other car enthusiasts to talk and learn about it. That is, M does things with this car—it’s not just a passive object that he owns.
Here’s what I’ve concluded: sometimes, things can bring happiness. But there are two caveats:
- It can’t be used to fill a void. You have to be fulfilled and have all the ‘big rocks’ of life in place already.
- The ‘thing’ should be something that brings new experiences into your life (ideally with other people).
If those two conditions are met—congratulations! You’ve just bought yourself some happiness.
Q: What happened to the Shelby that M wanted?
A: I mentioned in another post that M’s dream car was a Shelby Mustang. For the last few years, our plan had been to save up enough to buy one once we reached FI.
But as M considered how to spend his new earnings, I asked him to think about what would make him happy. Was this high-end car really what he wanted? As it turned out, it wasn’t.
After some time and thought, M realized his real dream car has always been a 1965 convertible Mustang. And it still is.
He would’ve loved that Shelby—just like he loves his 2008 Mustang. But neither of them will ever be this car. He’d always still dream about it and wish he had one. So, the Shelby got shelved, and the hunt for a classic Mustang began.
Q: What’s so special about this old Mustang?
A: Believe it or not, M’s love of classic Mustangs started because of Beverly Hills, 90210. (Yep, the original show from the 90s—we’re that old!) When M was 16, he saw Brandon Walsh driving a ’65 convertible on the show, and he was hooked.
For 27 years, M pined after this car. But practicality (and a frugal wife) always stopped him from actually purchasing one. There was also the issue that these cars are old. Most that came on the market were in rough shape and needed a lot of repairs.
When M found the car that he ultimately bought, he knew it was the one. It’s the realization of a nearly 30-year-old dream!
Q: What about you? How do you really feel about the car?
My favourite part of M’s car: the retro styling
A: I’ll be completely honest—this car and its purchase go against every one of my Mustachian sensibilities. Based on all our big, important reasons, the purchase should’ve been a no-brainer. But I still had a hard time getting on board.
I’m frugal by nature, and spending such a big chunk of money always gives me pause. It’s not easy for me to part with our hard-earned cash!
I turned to Ed Rempel (our amazing financial planner) to help me plan this big purchase. I told him I was uncomfortable spending so much money and delaying our path to FI. In response, Ed sent me this:
“There is nothing wrong with spending ‘too much money’ on 1 or 2 things if they are fun or meaningful for you and don’t mess up your long-term goals. You and I are focused on financial freedom and wealth building, but that’s not the only priority in life… you can’t let your desire for financial independence drown out your passions.”
Ed was right, and I was grateful for his perspective. I needed to quiet my rational brain and let my emotional brain take the lead on this one.
Ed’s advice, combined with lots of honest conversations with M, allowed me to move on. I let go of my natural urge to frugal things to death, and focused on the happiness it would bring to M.
Fully on board
I’m now fully on board with the car, especially when I see the joy it brings to M. Even better: he’s been learning how to service and repair it himself. Not only does he get quality time with uncles and friends who are teaching him, but he’s also growing his skills. (And as we know—connections and learning lead to more life satisfaction and happiness.)
For all of this, the car has been worth every penny. (I just have to breathe and stay calm when I reconcile the gas receipts in YNAB! Gulp.)
Thank you Women on FIRE!
I also have to give a shout-out to the lovely, supportive women in the Women’s Personal Finance (Women On FIRE) Facebook Group. I asked them what they would do in my situation, and their replies echoed Ed’s: life’s too short, and M should definitely get the car.
Receiving this near-unanimous reply from these financially-savvy women helped so much to further validate our decision. Thank you, ladies!
And that’s the story!
See—we’re not so crazy after all! As I like to say, I’m all about living the FI life now. I don’t want us to save all the best experiences for our post-FI life. Waiting could mean it’ll be too late to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard for.
That’s why we take expensive international trips with our kids now. Or bite the bullet and drop $500 on a dinner out with friends. Or, in this case, why we bought a third car—even though it’ll alter our journey to FI.
But wait—what about the financing? Didn’t you say you borrowed money to pay for the car?
Ah yes, the elephant in the room… we broke a cardinal rule of personal finance and borrowed money to pay for a car. Yikes! What kind of FI blogger am I?
Despite appearances to the contrary, this was a sound decision. We came to it with our financial planner’s guidance and a lot of careful thought. I’ll fill you in, but there are too many details to share here!
I’m working on the follow-up article and I hope to complete it in the next few weeks. (My blog writing has slowed to a crawl this summer.) I promise it’s worth the wait—especially for those of you with an interest in fully optimizing your money!
What’s your verdict?
Let me hear your thoughts! Do you still think we’re crazy? How’d you handle it when your partner’s purchases didn’t align with your values? I want to hear about it!
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