It truly does kill me to say that I really don’t want to buy a truck anymore.
I didn’t really start questioning my desire to have a truck until we went to the financial gathering, Chautauqua, in 2015.
It was there that I realized a couple things; happiness is more than just having “things” and relationships and experiences are far more valuable.
To really know the full extent of how big of a deal this is for me to not want to buy a truck, there are a couple things you need to know about me; I grew up in the country and I love the outdoors and country music.
‘nuf said, right? That’s like the trifecta of requirements to own a truck!
I mean, they are so versatile; you can haul things around, these days they’re basically a luxury vehicle, and they dwarf most other vehicles.
A good list, for sure.
My Beef with the Truck Industry
Apparently I’m not alone in my addiction to wanting to buy a truck.
The Ford F-Series has been the top selling vehicle of any kind in America for 35 years.
Ford has sold enough F-series trucks to circle the Earth 3 times!
The American addiction to trucks is only getting worse.
According to this article on Edmunds,
Truck popularity is at its highest level in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Trucks have accounted for 15.1 percent of all new sales this year through September, the highest share since 2007 (17 percent). – Edmunds.com
Trucks aren’t cheap either. In fact, the average transaction price for a truck has climbed faster than overall auto-industry averages.
The current draw of and loyalty to trucks is especially surprising given that their average transaction price ($43,277 in 2016) has climbed a remarkable 46 percent to since 2006. By comparison, industry-wide average transaction prices ($33,728 in 2016) are up just 23 percent over the same period. – Edmunds.com
And looking back further, Edmunds sheds even more light on how truck prices have soared…
In 2014, what a consumer paid for a car or truck sold in the U.S. hit a record high average of $32,386 — a 17.5% increase compared with 2004, while the average transaction prices for the entire pickup segment has risen to $40,696 over the same period, a 41.3% increase. – Edmunds.com
The truck craze just seems to be getting bigger these days as newer models become more luxurious.
If you ask me, that’s just getting a little ridiculous!
What happened to the basic truck, meant for hauling things around? I remember when my dad had a basic Chevy 1500 that he drove into the ground. It had nothing but a cassette player for a feature – that was it!
Instead we see accessory options running the gamut to the point it may take hours to choose your truck.
Oh, and now the number of auto loans are outpacing mortgages! The delinquency on those loans, you ask? Quickly soaring past 2008 levels!
This graph below depicts this increasing debt in an easier visual. As you can see, auto debt has now sky-rocketed higher than anytime in nearly the last 15 years!
And the delinquency mentioned above…
While auto debt dipped for a bit during the 2009 recession and the following years, it has since been on the rise once again as the economy has taken off.
Unrelated to trucks, but totally related to loan debt, we recently paid off our student loans. If you have student loans and want to get a better interest rate, check out SoFi – a student loan refinancing company that could save you thousands over the course of the loan. Our rate was 6.8% which is very high. We could have refinanced for a lower interest rate (which could have saved us thousands) but we didn’t know about it.
Click here to check out SoFi
So, basically, the sticker price, debt, and delinquency of payment of vehicles, in general, and trucks, more-so, are vastly increasing.
Yet, the number of trucks bought and loyalty of owners (meaning trade-ins result in buying another truck – usually of the same brand) is also increasing at a record rate.
This doesn’t make sense to me; everyone is a statistic of something, but I’d rather be on the opposite side of this one.
I’m done with trucks…
That FIRE Lifestyle
Once I started learning about just how expensive it actually was to own a truck as well as the FIRE lifestyle, I soon realized that purchasing a new vehicle, let alone to buy a truck, is probably one of the worst ideas for my wife and I.
It’s really a no-brainer that you should probably stay away from making large purchases on new, expensive vehicles if you want to retire early. The impending loans that you’d have to pay back, as well as the interest on those loans seem to outweigh any benefit to owning said new, beautiful, awesome, totally-should-have-it truck.
Unfortunately, no-brainer feelings seem to always become mixed with feelings of “well, I really deserve this” or “I’ve worked hard for so long, why not buy it?”
When these feelings pop in my head, I often think of a quote that has helped me along my way –
“Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want now.”
How this Helps…
Thinking of this helps those feelings subside and allows me to keep my attention on our ultimate goal of retiring early and living the life we want most; free from debt and able to do anything we want, whenever we want.
Who knows, maybe some day when we absolutely need a vehicle to get around for our travels, I may just buy a [used, but dependable] truck (insert shocked emoji face here).
For now, it’s the frugal life for us as we continue our journey to FIRE.
So, coming full-circle from being in debt and still wanting big-ticket items to now paying off our debt and keeping the focus on what’s important…even though we could totally buy a truck if we wanted to do so.
I guess I’ve grown up…a little. 🙂
Should You Buy a New Truck?
Deciding to buy a new truck is a highly personal decision, but for me I’ve realized that what I’d be gaining (a new vehicle) would not be worth the thing I have to sacrifice (money in the bank and an extended timeline to early retirement).
The good news is that I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself by not buying a new truck since I’ve realized that there’s a huge difference between frugality and deprivation.
As Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life, once said:
“Frugality is enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of your life energy and from everything you have the use of.”
To be frugal means to only spend money on the things that you deem worthy of exchanging your time for. Sure, I could buy a new truck, but it would mean I have to trade more of my time for money in order to afford it.
By recognizing that a new truck wouldn’t have a massive impact on my overall happiness, I can instead save my money and race towards early retirement and financial independence even faster.
- Why Teach Your Kids About Finances and Money? - September 16, 2019
- How to Start Eating Paleo for Beginners and Not Hate It - July 19, 2018
- Consumer Protection Lawyer Interview: SaraEllen Hutchison of Seattle - July 7, 2017
[email protected] says
I love that first pair of images which I think ultimately drives all of us looking to work towards a larger goal. I really don’t care about cars or trucks. As long as it is safe, dependable and meets our realistic needs I am OK so I can’t relate to wanting a big truck, however, we all have our own ‘big trucks’ that we want and those items can conflict with our larger goal. For me, as an Architect, I would love to do a major renovation on our house. I know that I could really make it something exceptional and unique but I have to keep the larger goal in mind which is saving and living on one paycheck so that my wife can stay home. Due to that I have already pushed back the remodel from this year to 5 -10 years from now. That should give me plenty of time to save on the side and/or decide to push it off even further.
Thanks for sharing! Yeah, it’s really tough sometimes when there are so many other things that are within our grasp, other than our largest goal. We all just have to keep that bigger picture in mind!
The Grounded Engineer says
I’m still amazed the F150 is the number one selling vehicle AND the vehicle driven by most millionaires according to The Millionaire Next Door.
You can find dependable, low-cost trucks if you look hard enough. This weekend, my wife and I found a 2011 Traverse. We could trade in her current vehicle, which is a paid off RAV4, and upgrade for about $2k out of pocket.
Nice write up, Julie. And that is a crazy stat regarding the number of delinquent car loans.
Thank you! Yes, super crazy on the delinquency numbers! And I had no idea about the millionaires driving them so much.
Mr. Groovy says
“Somethin’ ’bout a truck in a farmer’s field.
A no trespass sign, and time to kill.
Nobody’s gonna get hurt, so what’s the big deal.
Somethin’ ’bout a truck in a farmer’s field.”
I live in the south. And if you’re an 18- to 34-year-old male, and you want to remain in good standing, you better have an F-150! It’s insanity, but guys would rather be broke than break the code.
Thanks for info, Julie. I knew trucks were expensive, but I had no idea they were this expensive. Thank god I was never a car or truck guy. To me they’re just overpriced hunks of metal that get you from point A to point B. Heck, 98% of the time your car/ truck is sitting in your garage or driveway. And, yet, people have no problem making GM and Ford rich while making themselves poor. Sad.
Yeah, it really is sad. While trucks are nice to look at and occasionally drive, they’re way too expensive to own, in my opinion.
Owen @ PlanEasy says
We’re a small car family. A Honda Fit. Super inexpensive and reliable.
Surprisingly with the “magic seats” you can create quite a large space in the back. Enough room to fit a crib and dresser at the same time! Or a full size credenza.
We’ve fit all sorts of items in that car, to the amazement of many people.
For sure! There are many more vehicles that are half the price and just as good for their utilization.
I bought a brand new truck (Toyota Tacoma) when I got my first job out of college. Fast forward a few years to when I discovered the concept of FI, I was so close to the last payment that I just finished and now own it outright. That said, it’s still an expensive asset that is losing value over time… But I still have it.
I know I should sell it… But there is that part of me that says keep it! I feel your struggles.
The quote “Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want now” definitely helps put things into perspective. I do plan on selling it and going smaller/cheaper/used. This article may help provide the kick I need to get it posted for sale.
It blows my mind that new trucks are going for $40k+ now… so expensive!!
I’m glad this article helped! Yeah, those prices just keep creeping up there and people don’t seem to notice or care.
You mention you value experiences over things, but I’d argue that things can bring you an enjoying and happy experience, too. That’s why people buy things, after all. I think the point I’m trying to drive home is that everyone values different things and experiences… well, differently.
But of course, knowing what you should buy and shouldn’t buy based on what you can afford and understanding the consequences (especially how it impacts FI goals, debt accumulation yada yada) rings true, too. Good on you for steering away from a truck. 🙂
Absolutely, I totally agree with you. Some experiences require you to have certain “things.” For me, this would be camping, fishing, etc. You cannot do these activities without first owning the proper equipment.
Like you said, it just depends on the goals (bigger picture) you’re working towards as an individual. If your goal is to own a truck and you buy one, more power to you! I just came across these numbers and thought more on how it fit into my path for reaching my personal goals.
Thanks for commenting!
Ryan @ Just Another Dollar says
I can vividly remember growing up and seeing nice cars, gadgets, etc. and thinking to myself “I’ll definitely have one of those when I get older.” Now that I’m officially ‘older’, the vast majority of those things never cross my mind. I’m more interested in paying off the next debt so we can begin saving to buy a house.
These days, if I have an impulse item over $50 I want to buy, I’ll discuss it with my other half to see if it seems reasonable. If we agree on it, I’ll wait a few days and see if I still want to part with the cash. Probably 95% of the time we end up saving the money instead and I don’t even feel like I’m missing anything.
That’s a great strategy! Thanks for sharing.
This article seems to be more about living a, “live within your means lifestyle.” I am all for being prudent and saving your money. I believe that contributing to your 401k as soon as possible is still the best way to guarantee that FIRE type of life. But, I am not sure I am convinced that the truck is the main culprit to the deterioration of our wasteful spending. This article is about something much bigger than buying a used F150 with 17,000 miles for 29,500. Because that is exactly what I am grappling with.
Adam L says
I’m still struggling with the ramifications of a $39000 loan on my current pickup. I only fell into this trap due to peer pressure so it’s my own bed to sleep in. There’s so many other things that auto money could go towards that could enrich your life. But of course when you move out to the sticks and ride around on a bicycle, no one’s going to shut their mouth about you not having a vehicle. If I had to go and do it all over again, I would’ve been okay with bail money and attorney fees for forcefully saying “HELL NO” to these country boys and their addiction to their toys.
Once I get this thing paid off, I’m moving out of here and leaving that behemoth behind. Be like: “First $5 takes it off my hands!!”
I’m cool with my bicycles and motorcycle. If it snows, I’ll just go slow. end vehicle ownership frustration rant.
I would like to have a new truck, problem is they have too many features that I do not want, GM with dynamic fuel management that destroys your engine when it fails, and now Ford and GM with the Stop / Start feature, a feature that I will not have on a vehicle. No one just builds a decent reliable simple truck. These new vehicles are JUNK, I repeat, JUNK. How do I know this?, because I am the guy who has to work on this crap every day.