How a used Ford means freedom

In my first post of the year I laid out my themes for 2013, one of which is freedom. Here’s one way I’m playing out that theme: I bought a 2006 Ford Focus.


This car fosters freedom because I paid cash for it. (I do realize that having enough cash on hand to buy a car means I’m fortunate to begin with.) This had been my dad’s car, and he upgraded recently. A Focus isn’t the car of my dreams, but it’s been reliable, Dad took good care of it, and the boys and the dog all fit inside.


You know what I’d love to own? A new 3-series BMW coupe in black. I’ve wanted one for 20 years. Siiiiiiiigh. Just look at it. Isn’t it dreeeeeeeeeamy? There is no doubt in my mind that driving it would bring me immense, intense pleasure every day.

I just optioned a BMW 328i coupe at I didn’t even dream all that big and the price tag still swelled to $41,595. If I trade in my Toyota as a down payment and take a five-year loan, I could swing the payments – well, as long as absolutely nothing goes wrong in my life.

I am not going to be bound to that.

My older son turned 16 yesterday. My old Toyota seems like a perfect first car for him. And an unsexy hatchback will get me from A to B just fine. Meanwhile, I can save my money for a rainy day. All kinds of rain can fall on me and I can just keep driving my paid-for car! And the Focus is surprisingly fun to drive – it has good acceleration and handling for an economy car. It’s no BMW, but I’m looking forward to taking it out on a twisty highway and seeing what it can do.

Costly things do happen, course. Read my story about when several happened to me at once.


12 responses to “How a used Ford means freedom”

  1. ryoko861 Avatar

    It’s called “thinking rationally” Jim. You’re right, you could very well pay those monthly premiums on that sweet beemer, but you’ve got two kids coming up the ranks! Just because they’re getting older doesn’t mean the “fun” ends. I would love a Mercedes Benz, but in reality that’s just an insane move on my part. Besides, with all the POS’s in my driveway, it would stand out like sore thumb. Someday Jim, you can have your toy!
    Hey, I think the Focus is sexy! I love it! Those high tail lights are SO cool!

    1. Jim Avatar

      We’ll see if I ever get that toy. I can be such a cheapskate – I can’t imagine ever wanting to take on a payment on an expensive car. If I won the lottery to the tune of $40,000, I’m still not sure that I would buy this car. I’d probably put that against my mortgage.

      1. ryoko861 Avatar

        Nah, it’s not being a cheapskate, again, rational. Logical. Things have priority. Your mortgage is a bit more important than a beemer at the moment. Yeah, you probably could live in your beemer, but your kids wouldn’t be too happy. You have responsibilities right now, when some of those have gone away then you can think about the BMW.

  2. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Just imagine if everyone was so financially sensible as you, Jim! We think along your lines, that there are very few material things worth stretching ourselves thin financially for. Also, I’ve driven a Focus before and LOVED it :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m sensible with the big purchases, but when it comes to $10 and $20 purchases I have a really bad tendency toward being impulsive!

  3. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    I hope you can swing the Beamer before it’s time for an Oldsmobile, Jim. ;) I’m thinking of hanging on to my car for a few years once it’s paid off, and then hopefully eventually the hybrids will be affordable and moderately neato to look at.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’d sure like to get hybrid-style gas mileage. This Focus gets surprisingly poor mileage for its size – 22 miles per gallon in town, versus 30 on the highway.

  4. davidvanilla Avatar

    When does a Focus look better than a BMW3? When it is yours and there is no obligation to pay through the nose, month after month after month! Well played.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yup – no obligations to the bank. Just the way I like it.

  5. Richard Avatar

    When you wrote you purchased a 2006 Ford Focus I knew immediately what “freedom” meant.

    “What’s the best kind of car?”

    A car that’s “paid for”.

    1. Jim Avatar


  6. kiwiskan Avatar

    The car’s neat to – better than biking

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