Should I Buy a New Car Before I Retire [Consider This First]

Should I Buy a New Car Before I Retire - Rebel Retirement

The answer to the question, “Should I buy a new car before I retire” is a resounding no!

You may be thinking it’s prudent to repair the house,  get your teeth fixed, and so on before you retire.

But, think about it.

Be reasonable.

Do you intend to buy everything you will ever want or need before you retire?

Most baby boomers can’t afford to do so even if they want to.

The first question to ask yourself if you are planning to buy a new car before you retire is “Why?”

Ponder the following questions as well:

  • Is it necessary?
  • Do I need a new car? Or do I want a new car?
  • Am I buying a new car to impress my friends?
  • Will buying a new car before I retire add value to my life? If so, what?
  • Am I afraid that when I get older I won’t be able to afford a new car?
  • Is buying a new car based on old habits? Am I in a rut of repeating what my parents always did by replacing vehicles after so many years or so many miles?

Each of us will answer differently to those questions.  We all have individual circumstances and beliefs by which we make decisions.

However, if I successfully get you to step out of your comfort zone and free yourself from thinking like the average American, I will have made a worthwhile contribution to my generation.

The future is uncertain. Always has been.  Putting off retirement until you buy a new car is foolish.

Don’t delay retirement to buy a new vehicle.

Using the Rebel Retirement method, you would not be creating debt for yourself before you retire, nor would you be buying a new car.

Stop spending money you don’t have to impress other people!

If you’re like most baby boomers, you’ve had a car note since you were in your 20s.

I’m not faulting you for that. I get it.

They’re status symbols that show we’ve achieved the American dream. And Rebel Retiree and I have had our share of car notes.

I’ve seen the ads for luxurious cars with beautiful people driving off into the sunset in Marlboro Country.

In fact, I’ve always had a dream of being Grace Kellyish, with headscarf flowing, driving the Pacific Coast Highway in a sleek convertible.

However, I’m not a blond bombshell and it turns out that I value trucks more than I do convertibles.

I also know that it’s a waste of time and money trying to impress others, especially if you want to retire now. Don’t let peer pressure suck you into forgetting what’s real and important.

Read: Are You Afraid to Retire? If You Are You Must Conquer Peer Pressure

Rebel Retiree and I live debt-free, but chances are if you are reading this, you have 25,000 dollars in non-mortgage debt with auto loans accounting for about 38.5% of that total.*

Why on earth would you be thinking about buying a new car before you retire?

Are you determined to bring debt with you to the grave?

Delaying retirement to buy a new vehicle is unwise.

Kelly Blue Book states that the average price of a new car is over $48,000 for a light vehicle with high-end SUVs costing over 60 thousand dollars.

And statistically, most people finance their new vehicles for almost 6 years, with an average monthly note of $551.00.

A new vehicle is a depreciating asset. We all know that its value drops as soon as it’s driven off of the lot.

Insurance rates and license fees are higher on new vehicles.

Besides, when all is said and done, a vehicle is simply a mode of transportation – something to get you from point A to point B.

Yes, it should be reliable, but you don’t need to put yourself deep in debt before you retire in order to have a nice rig.

What’s the solution?

Keep your current vehicle as long as it’s reliable, or if you must buy a car before you retire, buy a used one instead.

Because of skyrocketing prices of new cars, many people are looking for affordable alternatives.

In 2018, over 40 million used vehicles were sold.

And Rebel Retiree and I are in the number of used car buyers for 2019.

I started my search for a used vehicle at the beginning of 2019 and after a reasonably brief search, found a dream of an SUV for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

In fact, it’s my 3rd used vehicle since Rebel Retiree and I wised up and began purchasing used cars 14 years ago.

In total, I’ve paid 19,000 in cash for a nice minivan, a reliable Suburban, and a high-end SUV.

I’ve been fortunate with low maintenance costs and have had only minor issues.  At this point, I’m guessing about $3,000 in repairs.

Also, I’m lucky to have a husband who is mechanically inclined and adept at tackling most repairs.

Buying used vehicles has been an excellent way for us to have reliable and nice-looking vehicles without going into debt.

In addition, buying a used vehicle frees up funds for other uses such as hobbies or travel.

But, what if you’re concerned about wear and tear on an older vehicle?

You may find as a retiree, that you spend less time on the road, therefore reducing overuse, which extends the life of a vehicle.

If you’ve never considered buying a used vehicle, I encourage you to empower yourself to do so.

Here are 10 tips taken from Nerdwallet on how to buy a used car.

  1. Set your budget.
  2. Choose the right car.
  3. Check reliability and ownership costs.
  4. Locate good used cars.
  5. Price the cars.
  6. Check the vehicle history report.
  7. Contact the seller.
  8. Go on a test drive.
  9. Negotiate the best price.
  10. Close the deal.

I will add that it pays to use your intuition when it comes to purchasing a used car.

If you’ve done your research, and you’re still uncomfortable with the transaction, walk away from it.

Something else will come along.


Because of insecurity and peer pressure, it’s often thought that it’s a good idea to buy a new car before retirement. However, buying a new car before you retire is counter-productive.  It may cause you to delay retirement, spend money you don’t have, and increase debt instead of reducing it.

Retaining your current vehicle, if reliable, is the better option, as well as purchasing a used car.

sources: *Lending Tree, Kelly Blue Book
Last updated to reflect current new car prices: 09/05/23

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5 thoughts on “Should I Buy a New Car Before I Retire [Consider This First]

  1. PAT says:

    The currently problem is that the interest rate on used cars is MUCH higher than the new vehicles. How do I factor that in?

    • yoga woman says:

      Hello Pat,

      Good point! Times have changed since I wrote the article. With the average price of a used vehicle costing over $30,000 and interest rates on used cars at over 9%, I would hunker down and wait it out until the economy improves. Unfortunately, we can’t always do that when we need a vehicle. Additionally, used car prices may never come down to pre-covid prices. Good luck and thanks for your input.

      Marlene, Yoga Woman

  2. Dan says:

    My car has 113k on it, but it still runs great. I bought it used in 2016. It’s a 2013 SUV. I see no reason to sell it if I maintain it properly, I can drive it another 5 years, at least. I plan to retire in 3 years. The last thing I want is a monthly car payment. I can invest that $500 instead of wasting it on a car payment. No thanks! I’m good!

  3. Chris says:

    I came across this because I wanted a more dependable(new vehicle) before retiring in around 2 years. I do take road trips and also wanted the safety features with bells and whistles. Didn’t want to worry about repairs or anything for possible the next 5-10years. Just spent over 2 grand on a used vehicle turbo that would have been covered if it was a certified pre-owned but it wasn’t. Now I have some leaks that will cost me around the same just to repair those. I hate worrying about things so these are my reasons. I may except that i may have a lower car payment after retirement because I’m going to put extra payments prior. But i will not be delaying my retirement.

    • Yoga Woman says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your insight. Safety features with bells and whistles are a definite consideration when making an investment in a vehicle, whether new or used. And I agree that worrying about repairs is a problem that we all need to consider. Dependability is essential. Happy to hear that you will not delay your retirement due to a car note. My point is to retire with what you value but without the peer pressure of purchasing needless extravagances.

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