Figuring out when it's time to get rid of it

In 2004, I purchased a new Ford one-ton Superduty. This truck was loaded - leather, four-wheel drive, the works. I was so proud of that truck - until the payment book arrived. I got sick to my stomach every month when I had to write out that big, fat check. After my monthly bouts with nausea, I would drive that truck all over. Yep, I sure loved that truck.

I woke up one morning after getting my monthly budget all organized and dialed in, coming to the conclusion that I must cut costs. I found that selling the truck and eliminating the payment would also eliminate a very hefty insurance cost as well as saving me a bundle on the vehicle license tax.

So I implemented the plan and sold my pride and joy. I cried when I saw the new owner, who was also gleaming with pride, driving my baby away.

The thought came to me at that time of something my dad had relayed to me. He said, "Johnny, don't ever get attached to a car. It's just a machine to move you and your stuff around."

To this day, I ponder those words. To me, cars and trucks are way more than just a vehicle to transport people and their stuff.

At the moment I saw my truck leave, the thought occurred to me: "Great, now what do I drive?" I still had my old 1990 Chevy half-ton 4x4. This truck had over a million miles on it. It was on its third engine that smoked and ran really cruddy. The transmission slipped, the seats were tattered and it would not go into four-wheel-drive.

The body was still straight but the paint was peeling. I have owned this truck for over 15 years, fixing it whenever it broke. I use it every year for quail and deer seasons. It didn't owe me anything, and it wasn't eating or drinking.

I decided to fix up that old truck. I painted the bad parts on the body and waxed the rest. We went through the front end. We rebuilt the engine for the fourth time. We installed a rebuilt GM replacement transmission and reupholstered the front seats. I had found some model aluminum wheels and installed them with some new tires.

After getting all the lights to work and the A/C blowing cold, I began to smile. This truck looks and functions as good as it did in 1990. Even at full-blown retail costs, I only spent one-fifth the cost of that new truck. Two years worth of vehicle license taxes are less than a hundred bucks, and my insurance is dirt cheap.

I can't drive around town in my new, shiny diesel. Instead, I am driving all the way to the bank to deposit the money I am saving.

When do you get rid of your old vehicle for a new one? There is no magic formula. My old truck practically has no Kelley Blue Book value. So when then? I recommend buying a new vehicle when you want to or when your budget says you can afford it.