I’m a pretty “green” kind of person. I make the effort to recycle (even the plastics that won’t be picked up at curbside and I have to make a special trip to a recycling station at my local fire station). I compost in my backyard. I like to reuse and repurpose things in order to keep them out of the landfill. I’m working toward making the switch to all LED light bulbs. And I drive a Toyota Prius hybrid. But my reason for driving the Prius is much less about the fact that I’m green and much more about the fact that I’m frugal (or maybe even “cheap”).
At the end of 2013, Consumer Reports declared the Prius to be the best overall value in vehicles, for the second year in a row. The way they determine this is by factoring in not only the cost of purchasing the car, but also the costs of ownership (maintenance, fuel, repairs, etc.). The fuel advantages are clear with a hybrid. I regularly get between 40 and 50 miles per gallon with my Prius. But other expenses can really add up as well. How often do things go wrong with the car? Are they major expenses to repair? How much does regular maintenance cost? How much do tires cost? Is labor particularly expensive for this make/model? These are all things that everyone needs to consider when making a major purchase like an automobile. The car with the cheapest price tag is not necessarily the best value.
Nearly all of you will at some point in life purchase a new (or at least new to you) vehicle. When you get to that point, don’t forget that you’re not just buying a pretty car that meets your transportation and hauling needs and that has nice options. Consider the price. Consider reliability. Consider maintenance expenses. Consider the cost of driving and owning it, not just the cost of buying it. I’m not saying that everyone should drive a Prius. But I am saying that everyone should think about all of these factors when making this very large financial decision.