Pattie Lovett-Reid: You sold your car during the pandemic now what?
Cars are parked in an auto dealer lot Wednesday, April 15, 2020, in unincorporated St. Louis County, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
HUNTSVILLE, ONT. -- If you were smart enough to sell your car during the pandemic you are to be applauded. Cars tend to lose value over time and new cars are the worst. The minute you drive a car off the lot it goes from new to used – a phenomenon often referred to as the new car hit. Most of us shrug this off with the excitement, trumping financial common sense.
The pandemic proved, for many, the luxury of owning a car, only to have it depreciate by the day as it sat idle due to work from home mandates, lockdowns and restrictions. At the time, selling it likely seemed a smart money saving move.
Now, however, with demand picking up and prices surging, you might be wondering if you made the right decision to sell when you did?
I would argue you did make the right decision.
However, you are to be forgiven if now there is a slight panic creeping into your thought. If back to work orders are put into place in the fall and your preferred mode of transportation is gone, what are you going to do?
Before you decide to rush out and replace your vehicle – pause, breathe and evaluate your situation.
At the best of times, buying a new car isn't always the best money move, and, in an ironic sort of way, the pandemic brought this to the attention of many. So, I would hit the pause button on a car purchase for now and here's why:
- Cars are expensive at the best of times and prices for passenger vehicles are on the rise. In fact, prices were 5% higher year-over-year in May, highlighted in the latest retail sales report by Statistics Canada. This is the largest yearly gain since September 2016, driven in part to supply chain issues related to a global shortage of semiconductor chips. It could pay you to wait.
- The return to office may be a hybrid scenario not requiring your presence daily, so you may not be commuting as often as you think.
- Insurance premiums really didn't come down during the pandemic, so it is reasonable to expect they will still be high and the expense associated with those premiums could be better aligned to savings or an investment strategy.
- Public transit, ride sharing, or temporary rentals are just a few of the viable options for transportation out there. Get creative, share the costs and pocket the difference. Sure, this isn't going to work for everyone but at least explore it.
- You didn't like rush hour before the pandemic and you might think rush hour is a thing of the past. But, it’s not likely – traffic will be back with a vengeance.
- If you’re honest, car ownership was likely a nice to have vs. a need to have. Especially if owning a car didn't reflect your current pay status. Were you driving too much car and the cost was draining your bank account? Today you are better off financially, so don't make the same mistake twice by buying or leasing again.
Cars have often been referred to as a mobile money pit and for good reason. Expenses associated with car ownership can be more of a financial drain than you realized. From the purchase price, to insurance and let's not forget gas.
I get it.
Driving the car off the lot is an amazing high and picking up friends and family can seem like a nice thing to do. And it is. But not always at your expense.
So once again I reiterate, selling your car during the pandemic may have been one of the best money moves you made this year and buying it back could prove to be one of the worst – especially if you have to borrow money to buy a new car.
Proceed with caution. If you absolutely have to consider a car, buy used. Borrowing money to buy an asset that drops about 30% the minute you drive it off the lot never makes financial sense, especially if you are already scrambling to make ends meet.