No car payment? No problem … No, wait.

2010-nissan-altima-3.5-se-sedan

I paid off my car today.

For the first time since the early 2000s, I won’t have a monthly payment—and rather than enjoying this development, of course I’ve spent the past month wondering and worrying about it.

daffyduckworries

Luckily, I’ve also been trying to refute my own arguments and fears, in an effort to feel better about what should be a great milestone.

“If you get too comfortable not making monthly payments, it’ll be harder when you have to start again.”

This is the idea that bothers me most, actually. But for now, I plan to use the extra money to pay down credit card balances, as part of the plan to reduce my consumer debt. Wiping out all the balances will take more than a few months—if it’s feasible at all—but the higher payments will surely speed the process along. As long as I’m doing that, “getting used to all that free money” shouldn’t be a problem … as long as I can curb any tendencies toward profligate spending. It will be a challenge to not think: “Well, you can afford to buy that [cologne, trip, etc.] now, because you’ll be committing more every month to paying it off anyway.”

scaredpenguin

“you should set that money aside each month, so you have a good down payment when you buy your next car.”

That’s never going to happen. In fact, part of the reason my payments for this car were so high is because I didn’t follow this advice when I leased my last car. Then, when my lease was over, I didn’t have anything to trade in—and I hadn’t saved anything substantial for a down payment toward my next vehicle. I bought, not leased, this most recent car, though, so I’ll at least have a trade-in when the time comes. And considering I currently have a five-year-old car with fewer than 40,000 miles on it, I have a feeling I can get a few more years out of it.

perryworried

“But you like having a newish car, with everything under warranty.”

This is true—but really, that “everything” warranty expired after three years, with only major parts covered through five. So far—knock wood!—everything’s been fine with the car, and even if a one-time repair came up it likely would still cost less than the sum of continuing monthly payments.

Added bonus: I really like my car! I’ve driven newer models as rentals and been disappointed, although much of that may be because the rentals tend to be base models, while mine is (cough, cough) a higher-end package. However, my latest issue of Consumer Reports says late-model Nissans have sunk in both quality and reliability, so a newer car might not be worth it if it’s just for novelty’s sake. (The lone model year that is above-average in reliability? The 2010—which thankfully happens to be the one I purchased.)

So for now, I’m forging bravely ahead into an unknown world. In a year or two, after they work out the kinks in the new Maxima that’s going to be introduced next month, maybe I’ll be ready to pick up the payments again. Heck, by then maybe the new, more affordable Tesla autos will be on the market!

WHAT SAM WORE: 3/28/15
shirt032815 shorts032711 shoes032815
The shirt: Cotton V-neck T-shirt from Joe Fresh, New York.
The shorts: Lightweight cotton cargos by Fred & Howard, from Last Chance.
The shoes: NikeFlex running shoes, from Nordstrom Rack.
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