Your Little Green Truck Moment
As many of you know, I drive a small 1995 Green Nissan Pickup Truck.
What many of you don't know is that it's the most valuable vehicle in the parking garage at work.
Find that hard to believe? Let me tell you a story.
The Little Green Truck
Back in 1995, I purchased my truck for the whopping price of $15,818. Including some taxes and fees, and a down payment of $5,000 I took out a loan for $10,818.
Given the wonderful interest rate of 8.25% (wonderful rates in 1995) and 51 payments, this brought my monthly payment to $249.
Time goes by and it's now January 2000. The previous month, I had written my final car payment check and this month I was looking at an extra $249 in my checking account. What to do? Well, the truck was only 4 years old and perfectly fine, so getting a new one seemed rather silly. I was also thinking ahead another 4 years and wondering if by then I would want a new vehicle. If I did, it would be really nice to have a large down payment. So I figured I would just save the "truck payment" money every month for the next few years in anticipation of this.
And as things would have it, I had also been reading a lot about finances. At the time the hot ideas were the Motley Fool, the Dogs of the Dow, and this interesting counter idea of "Index Funds". Since markets only go up (ahh... Youth...) I figured the best place for this money was the Vanguard S&P 500 fund. So I set up an automatic withdrawal plan from my checking to Vanguard.
And 4 more years go by.
The truck is 12 years old at this time, but I've had this new job downtown. It's a measly 12 mile commute a day, round trip. And they have a parking deck. So, in the course of a year I put 3,120 miles on the truck and it's basically in a garage all day long.
And 4 more years go by.
At 16 years someone mentions that at 20 years, I can get antique license plates. That sounds fun, might as well.
And 5 more years go by. I'm working for this company called the ABA. It's even closer. I put 19 miles a week on my truck going to work and back. Again, I have a parking deck so the truck is in the shade all day.
And so begins 2020. I'm thinking that finally, it's about time to get a new vehicle. But then this global pandemic thing hits, and who the heck need a vehicle?
Which brings us to today. (Or, May 2021 if you are reading this in the future.) I've now had the truck for 26 years and, heck it's still fine. I expect to get a new vehicle any day... soon... just as soon as this one wears out.
More importantly to this story, I've never stopped the monthly $249 contribution.
So what is it worth? A bit hard to say, as I of course have added to that initial monthly contribution,but the internet has a lot of tools that can help. Finding an online calculator, the value comes to
No, that is not a typo.
Yes, please stop and read that again.
Yes, I think I have my down payment covered.
Now, before you go off on the wrong direction here, this is not an article to talk about how if you only keep your car forever you can save lots of money. What it is, is what I call your
This particular case worked for me, in that place and time, because I don't place a premium on having a new car. Because of this I was able to take a windfall of new money and invest it. This might not be your situation. Maybe you get a great enjoyment from driving a new car. If so, do so. The trick is to take advantage of a situation where you don't have a strong preference, or when you were not using the money for something else previously and will not miss it. I firmly believe that you will have a some situation in your future that you can take advantage of. The only question is if you can grab it and make your own "Little Green Truck Moment".
That promotion you just got? You didn't have the money last month and you did just fine. How about saving most of it? That yearly raise, I wonder what would happen if you spent half and saved half of every raise for the next 10 years? Did someone say "Stimulus Check"? Anyone get married recently? I'm betting there are a few dollars to be saved with one rent as opposed to two.
It is not the little green truck that is important. Anything might be your opportunity to start your automatic savings, you just have to be on the lookout for it.
So the next time you see me driving by, give me a double beep and smile. It's not every day you see the most valuable vehicle on the road.