The financial decision that's helped me save thousands of dollars and travel the world: owning the same car for 12 years

Business Insider
Leslie Quander Wooldridge

I didn't always plan to keep my car this long. 

As excited as I was to go to the dealer nearly 12 years ago and buy the silver Acura I adored, I never thought we would have this kind of longevity. But keeping my car — the first I ever bought — has been one of the best financial decisions I've made. 

We may think a car payment is a fact of life. A thing we have to have, especially if we live in an area without great transportation options. In fact, transportation is the second-leading expense for American households, behind only housing, according to a 2019 report from the US PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. "More Americans carry auto debt, and they owe more on their loans, than ever before," the report notes. 

The average auto loan amount is also at a record high, according to a 2019 report from Experian, with the average loan amount for a new car exceeding $32,000. Meanwhile, the average monthly payment is $550 for new cars and $392 for used cars. 

What if we could have more freedom by making different choices? Think about all of the other things we could be doing with that money.

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