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Are We Getting a Family Car?

Are we getting a new family car? That’s the million-dollar question.

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Right now we currently own a 2007 Toyota Prius and a 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, both bought with cash, and they both run great. However, since becoming pregnant, we have been asked by many when we will get our “family car”. I think by this they mean an SUV or a minivan. I can totally see why people get larger cars when they have kids. Larger vehicles are generally safer than small sedans, and they have got room for all the “stuff” you need to take with you once the baby comes along, as well as all of their friends. So, maybe you could make a good argument for getting into a larger vehicle.

However, though our debt-free journey is paused, we are still trying to be as frugal as possible. We definitely don’t want to take on any car payments, and enjoy the freedom of not worrying about that chunk of our income leaving our bank account every month. The average car payment in America is $300-$500 every month, which would not make us feel comfortable. We also appreciate the low car insurance payments that come with not having a financed vehicle. We shopped around a bit and test drove some used cars, including some SUVs and minivans, and we were able to find something that we liked at a good price from a private seller. I am so happy that we had some money saved that we could use to purchase our family car, with plenty left over for emergencies and other expenses. 

Pros of Not Buying a Different Vehicle:

  1. We are financially comfortable with our fully paid sedans, which are also cheaper to insure than financed vehicles
  2. We get really good gas mileage: both of our cars get around 40mpg, good for commuting
  3. Our Prius hatchback as as much cargo versatility as a small 5 person SUV
  4. We don’t need AWD where we live, we don’t tow and we don’t have a large dog that we need to travel with
  5. Less worried about spills, dings and messes in older used cars
  6. We can survive with just one car if Mark doesn’t need the other one for work, so we can sell one
  7. We can use the savings from the car sale for extra padding in our baby savings account

Our Toyota Prius

2007 Toyota Prius
Patience & Pearls
2007 Toyota Prius
Patience & Pearls

Our 2007 Prius has less than 80k miles on it and those are known to run with very little maintenance to over 300k miles, so we are keeping that one.Toyota is one brand of car I will buy with high miles provided that the maintenance was kept up-to-date. I still stand by the versatility of the Prius. Our Baby Jogger City Select stroller fits great in the trunk and our infant car seat can be installed easily without it touching the front seat. The hybrid battery is also in perfect condition and the gas mileage is fantastic. I would highly recommend one of these if you still need a reliable car with good trunk space. You can buy a used one for around $6000.

Our Hyundai Sonata

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Patience & Pearls
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Patience & Pearls

My Sonata on the other hand was purchased at almost 200k miles and is fully depreciated and is due for some regular wear and tear repairs that cost money we would rather spend on something else. The trunk space is also a little bit too small for the full size stroller we have and it’s just not as versatile in terms of cargo.

We have had it for a year, and it has held up well. I have not had any car breakdowns, transmission issues, etc. I drove it to and from my medical school clerkships, and it even held up well in the winter slush. It is a good car that someone will love to drive one day, once we sell it, but it no longer fits our needs. And, as I mentioned before, the profit from the sale can go into our savings account as an extra buffer for emergencies. 

Now for the big reveal…

2006 Toyota Sienna
Patience & Pearls
2006 Toyota Sienna
Patience & Pearls

Our new family car is a 2006 Toyota Sienna XLE with~150k miles on the odometer.

We were in between an SUV and a minivan for the most part during this whole process because we already have a small car and we wanted something that our family could grow into. We also have family come visit us in Chicago, and it would make going out together less of a hassle. Previously we would have to use two Ubers or some of us would have to stay home because paying for parking in downtown Chicago for two cars is cost prohibitive. We also like to go thrifting. A lot of the furniture in our home is from Goodwill, and it’s nice to not have to rent a truck for a day just to run from Goodwill to our house with a sofa or dining table set, for instance.

Lastly, we are looking for road tripping comfort because both my husband and I prefer to drive instead of flying, and I suspect that preference will grow stronger with a little baby around. The minivan is safe, reliable, and well-maintained, and handles surprisingly well for a vehicle its size. It also has a DVD player in the backseat, rear sunshades, and the third row is comfortable even for adults to sit for long trips. My husband and I both love this car!

The Hubs & The Van
Patience & Pearls
The Hubs & The Van
Patience & Pearls

Why We Love our Minivan!

I know people like to hate on minivans because they are too expensive or uncool. Buying a used minivan takes care of the “too expensive” argument. We paid around 6k for this van, and we expect it to run for another 100k miles, at least. The “uncool” argument, I guess, is a personal preference issue. I value practicality above all else, and as long as I am comfortable and all my needs are met, I will be happy with any car.

But the power sliding doors! I am so looking forward to the ease of securing my child in their seat without the doors getting in the way. It is also very easy to park and reverse, and visibility is great. We are sacrificing fuel economy with the minivan, but the pros outweigh the cons for us. So yeah, I’m that lady. If you’re on the fence between SUV and Minivan for a family car, I say get the minivan!

2006 Toyota Sienna Interior
Patience & Pearls
2006 Toyota Sienna Interior
Patience & Pearls

Buying a family car is a very personal and individual decision. Once there is a baby on the way, it is absolutely valid to be thinking about safety and convenience while considering purchasing a brand new or used car. It is also perfectly fine to keep your efficient little sedan if the car seat fits safely in the backseat and your budget is at the top of your priority list. Either way, you are making the decision that you believe is best for your family, and that is all that matters. We found a vehicle that fits our needs and I hope you do, too! 

Here are some of the used cars under $10k we were looking at during our car shopping process:

  1. Kia Sorento
  2. Toyota Sienna
  3. Honda Odyssey
  4. Mazda CX-5
  5. Toyota Highlander
  6. Subaru Forester
  7. Lexus RX300
  8. Honda Pilot
  9. Toyota Prius V
  10. Acura MDX

We used CarGurus and OfferUp during our shopping process.

I hope this post gave you some points to think about as you and your family make this big decision. Stay tuned for a future post on how to buy and sell used cars. Leave some comments down below and share what you did with your car(s) when you found out you were expecting!

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