Spending Money to Save Money

By Kevin Gibbons

I have to imagine that it’s not easy being married to a cash flow planning expert and financial educator. My wife Leta is always reassuring me that she is making “Savvy” purchases and that she is spending and saving wisely. Just like with our clients, sometimes I have to remind her that living a Savvy Life means to build a strong financial foundation while enjoying the journey. So, when she decided she wanted to buy a new (used) car, she had certainly done her research to make sure it would be a savvy purchase.

For all the time I have known Leta, from when I first met her to today, she has always owned trucks. Usually full-sized trucks, with a few unsuccessful ventures with small pickups. These vehicles have proven incredibly useful over the years, for camping, hauling, long drives, moving and pulling trailers. There has been a cost tradeoff, in terms of maintenance and gas consumption however.

Leta works about 60 miles from our house, driving to work in the very early morning hours and driving home in the afternoon. We had just put a significant amount of money into her truck for some maintenance and repairs several months ago when she was filling the 23-gallon gas tank and finally had enough. She decided she had to do something.

I wrote about how Leta helped me buy my car several years ago. She is a phenomenal research shopper. And she is not afraid to think outside the box when it comes to problem solving. I expect she looked at regular car sales ads, but she quickly found a local auction house that sold cars “as-is” for much below list price. She knew what she was looking for: a bare-bones simple little commuter car with great gas mileage, good reliability and maybe just a little fun to drive. She found a listing for a 2004 Nissan Versa Note. This car couldn’t get any more “bare bones!” It had a manual transmission and roll-up windows. (For those readers born after 1985, in the old days, cars actually had little crank knobs and mechanisms that you used to raise and lower the windows manually. Leta teaches cooking for the military and has had many young sailors get very confused when riding in her car.)

But she knew that getting a good price on the car was only the beginning of her research.

  • She checked Consumer Reports for Customer Satisfaction and mileage.
  • She got an insurance quote.
  • She looked up expected maintenance costs.
  • Because she was buying the car from the auction house as-is, she looked into an independent post-sale warranty.
  • She planned on keeping the truck, so there would be no trade-in or resale cash from that, so she also researched her credit union for financing.

Only then, did she come to me with her plan. (We operate a 3-account home system – “Yours,” “Mine” and “Ours.” We can use our own money however we choose, but anything that requires shared finances, or incurs a substantial obligation like a car payment, we discuss.) Her research and analysis were solid. The money we would save on reduced gas and wear and tear on the truck would more than pay for the car, even with the extra registration and insurance.

She’s had the little blue car for about 7 months now. She’s fitted it out with “Wonder Woman” license plate frames, seat covers, steering wheel cover and sunshade. It’s everything she wanted. We still have the truck for “truck purposes,” hauling, pulling trailers, etc. After everything, she has an extra $75 every month to help her enjoy the journey.

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Kevin Gibbons is a Cash Flow Planning Expert, the Vice President of The Savvy Life and co-author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, Kevin and Savvy Life Founder Melissa Tosetti have worked with over 545 individuals and families to create Spending Plans.

They also work with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

To learn more about how Kevin and Melissa work with clients, visit The Savvy Life’s Programs Page.

If you’d like to learn more about how they work with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page.