Car with a red bow‘Tis the season when your thoughts turn to new things – like when a luxury sedan sidles up next to you at a stoplight and you yearn for that new car smell. It’s even more tempting when your mechanic says your older vehicle needs repairs. Your automotive longing may be temporarily cured by trotting down to the dealership with your checkbook. But, it may actually be a bad financial move in the long run. Please allow me to start with three little words when it comes to new vehicle envy: Get Over It.

Sure, your current ride may be loaded with dings and pushing 8 years old, but that doesn’t mean you should start over, “Cars built in the past decade are more reliable than ever, and a few unexpected repairs are not reason enough to get rid of it.

Whether or not you hang onto your current car depends on a lot more than just whether it runs. Your car may operate well, but rust or collision damage can make it structurally unsound. The only older cars worth keeping are the ones that are reliable and safe.

Before you seek to quench that new vehicle envy, take a deep breath and do this:

Audit your repair bills

Add up all your repair receipts for the past three years, and then divide by 36 months. If you’re averaging under $150.00 a month and your car is only a few years old, hanging on to it will free you from a new cycle of monthly payments, and save a bundle in insurance, taxes, and other expenses­ – primarily depreciation, since the average is 20% the first year and 10% each year after that. “If your mechanic is spending more time with your car than you do and your repair bills are close to new-car payments, it’s probably time to trade up,”

Keep finances in check

Know your budget and stick to it. Call your insurance company; ask how much more a new car would cost monthly in comparison to your existing coverage. Some consumers have liability coverage, or lower parameters to save on insurance premiums. With a new car purchase, you don’t have that luxury – the bank won’t approve your loan without full coverage.

Buy on functionality, not emotion

Yes, the bells and whistles sound great, but are they necessary? Average out yearly mileage, and how many passengers you regularly transport. It can be easy to be “upsold” when shopping for a new car, but owning a 6-8 passenger 4×4 vehicle wouldn’t make much sense if you’re the only person in the vehicle every day and you never go off-roading.

Research resale value

What if you were in a collision and the vehicle got totaled, or after a few years you need to get out of it for some reason? If it doesn’t have a great resale value, the payoff won’t be what you think. Cars are not investments – they depreciate the moment you drive off the lot – but you’d at least like to get back a good portion of the money you spent. Buying a vehicle with strong resale value is more important than buying what’s popular.

To purchase or not to purchase? There’s a lot to consider before giving in to new vehicle envy.