Extinguishing the stars in your eyes
February 9, 2012
It's the small print, the stuff nobody told you, the little details that were obscured by the stars in your eyes when you reached for your wallet.
The true costs of owning a big-ticket item like a new car or a house are what gets you. Is it worthwhile in the long run?
Before the flags and balloons and fast-talking salesmen dazzle you with their Presidents Day deals, Edmunds.com will help you decide on that new car with its calculator that shows the depreciation, cost of insurance and cost of repairs over five years. Ouch. http://www.edmunds.com/tco.html
What costs you in the dealer's showroom may multiply in your driveway. Is it worth going for the shiny substantial Buick, or is the Audi a better bet? What will the neighbors think? The calculator can't help you with the latter question, but if you can live down the funny looks, it seems Kia is the brand that provides the best investment these days with good quality and lowest costs. Yes, Kia.
Vehicles may be your current issue, but long term, where are you going to park it? Renting a home has gotten a lot of support in the past few years as home values have plummeted, but when considering the best way to spend your money long-term, this calculator shows that buying usually makes more sense after five years. Maybe you should bite the bullet and borrow the down payment from mom and dad? It could save you thousands over time.
Horses or horsepower, it will all cost you.
The caveat is that moving in costs money. You'll have homeowner's insurance, need to paint and furnish, pay for property taxes and repairs. This writer found herself spending over $45,000 in the first four years of owning her “dream” home.
Since a home is such a major expense, you might as well have the place you always wanted, right? You're going to spend all of your free time trimming the lawn and shaping the evergreens into perfect teardrop shapes, so you might as well go for the sparkle of a pool in the backyard. When you picture it there you can almost smell the barbecue and hear the tunes on the radio wafting through the warm summer air. If you have the $25,000 to $50,000 to drop on that hole in the ground, consider that when it's done, you'll still pay. According to this article, pools cost $500-$800 a year, more in New England where you have to “open” and “close” it with the seasons. Now you know why your friend's father always yelled at you kids to be careful that you don't put a hole in the liner.
Face it, everything costs more than the ticket price. Your daughter is horse crazy? Hold on – that's an extra $600-$1,200 a year just to feed it, nevermind the vet bills (you can't put Seabiscuit in the back of the car and drive to the vet, you know). Even your daily dose of caffeine will kick you if you parse the digits. The luxury of your new K-cup single-serving cups is calculated at $51 a pound for the beans.