Car Purchasing Decision: Minivan or Not?
My wife and I are actively working on buying a replacement car. My 1998 Nissan Sentra is currently having some problems (significant oil leak) and I've decided that I don't want to continue to invest in the car since we plan to replace it in the near future.
The biggest discussion point for us has been whether or not we think we need to purchase a minivan for the family or a commuter car for myself. My wife currently drives a small SUV, a Hyundai Santa Fe, that we really enjoy and our family currently can manage distance travel in. However we recognize our family needs are continuing to evolve and while we don't have an immediate requirement for a minivan we recognize that a minivan will be more practical and a longer term need for us.
Of course I am always focused on the numbers. Its hard for me to justify spending an extra ~$10,000 for a perceived convenience / need in the future. A minivan offers a number of small conveniences, however an extra $10,00 in our pocket could be allocated a number of ways:
1) A weekly home housecleaning for nearly 2 years
2) A large family vacation
3) A significant part of one of our child's college education
4) A sustained increase in our food/dining out budget
In the end if we do buy a minivan the financial numbers won't support it. That doesn't necessarily mean its a bad decision for us. If our primarily goal was to maximize our savings, the minivan discussion would end here. If other priorities such as convenience, social opportunities, and family travel are important then there is a lot of merit of considering spending more for a family minivan. I'd love to hear you comments especially if you have made the decision to purchase a minivan for your household.
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