The short story for those who don't want to read all of this. Always buy used and always do your best to pay cash.
So, we decided to buy a relatively new mini van...just four years old with low mileage. However, we made the commitment to buy it for cash and not to take on any debt. Fortunately, we had a small inheritance from my father, which we spent a good portion of last year to buy a used car for my husband to replace his 19 year old car. After much deliberation, we decided to spend the rest of our inheritance to purchase a used (but as new as we could get for cash) minivan. Now, if we hadn't had the inheritance, we would have had to buy something much cheaper, older and probably not even a minivan -- or even gone to sharing one car for a year or so. We have gone down to one car before for months on end. We even went through a spell once when our one car did not fit our entire family and we had little ones at the time. That was an interesting period. However, this time we were blessed with this pocket of money. So, we set out to spend it as wisely as we could.
Why we chose a minivan ~ Several people have asked why we purchased a minivan when our kids are practically grown up.
- We love to travel and traveling by car is always cheaper than other forms of travel. We have six family members including grandma and often take the dog with us as well.
- Our children are not likely to leave home immediately due to special needs and the cost of living in our area. It is just hard to launch into complete independent adulthood around here.
- When I return to work in the next year or so, I will most likely be providing in-home childcare, and a minivan will be useful to my job.
- We cart lots of teens around. My kids have lots of friends who visit us frequently, and I often end up carting around four to five teens on the weekend.
We did tons of research and decided that a KIA Sedona was the best fit for our family. They are very affordable (next to their competitors), have a 5 Star Safety Rating, affordable maintenance outlook, and plenty of bells and whistles.
Consequently, this is what we bought! A 2016 KIA Sedona with back-up camera. It even came with an eighth seat if we want to put it into the middle row. It drives so smoothly. I am sure anything would drive smoothly after my former minivan that was shaking violently at every light, plus and the transmission was slipping when you least expected it. What a relief to teach my kids to drive with a reliable vehicle!
One funny aside. During the haggling process over price at the dealership, an elderly man came up to me while the car dealer had stepped away. He told me he was enjoying watching me haggle. He said it was a lost art and I was doing a great job. Now, I really don't enjoy haggling, but I hate paying an unfair price even more. My husband doesn't haggle. He is given the price and he pays it. We knew going in that, if we wanted a fair price and something we could afford, I would be in charge of the purse strings and haggling. I did a bit of research on getting a fair deal from a dealership before going in to buy both used cars that we purchased in the past year. I knew what were fair charges and what were up charges that I could insist that the dealer make disappear. I was honest about other minivans that I could go and see and that I fully understood that it was January and that this was a minivan, so they were going to have trouble moving it. Minivans aren't super popular right now. My husband said it looked like the salesperson's eyes were going to pop out a few times. But I just remained honest, patient, steady and true to our bottom line. In the end, we got very close to what we wanted to pay.
Anne started her lessons first. She is ready to move on with driving lessons. Dean would rather wait a few more months. He tends to prefer to see how it goes for a sibling before he will try something out. It has been a fantastic experience for Anne! We may even decide to do a few extra lessons once she has her learner's permit. The instructor is calm and has really put Anne at ease. I am learning a lot from the back seat. I didn't expect to learn much of anything. I have a completely clean driving record and consider myself a law abiding, good driver. However, I am learning each time.