Ways to Save: How I got my dream car for $150

Ways to Save - Jeep WranglerI started saving for my dream car at 13 – a red Ford Ranger pickup truck.  At 16, I did not get my red pickup truck.  This was partially because I never had any real ways to save for the the truck and partially due to that fact that I was saving bumper stickers instead of money for the truck.  I tossed those bumper stickers and that dream the day I left for college.

I never got a car in college.  This was a great way to save money.  I always found a ride home from a friend and worked within walking distance from campus.  When I got a job that was too far for walking, I paid my roommate $20 a week to drive me to and from work.  Finally, I was graduating and my roommate was moving away.  I had to get a car of my own.

I wanted a red Jeep Wrangler with a black top.

I always felt like a Jeep person.  Growing up on Saturday nights, we would take a four wheel drive truck and go find a muddy road.  Since I was graduating and starting a new life, a Jeep would bridge my old life with my new life.  I would not go off-roading, but I could if I wanted.  I would have a Jeep!

Unfortunately, there were three obstacles in my way.  First, I lived in Illinois and would only be able to use the Jeep, with the top off, for about 4-5 months a year.  Second, I test drove a Jeep with the soft top and the noise was too much.  Third, I made the mistake of looking at Consumer Reports and saw the horrible ratings for the Jeep Wranglers.  My logical side triumphed and I bought a Pontiac Grand Am.

Seven months later, I moved to Florida where I could use the Jeep year round but I still had three and a half years left on my lease.  I knew that turning my car in early was not a way to save money.  When my lease ran out, times had changed.  I had met the love of my life and we were getting married.  We planned to have kids in a few years.  So, no Jeep…I bought a Toyota Rav 4.

175,000 miles and six years later the Rav was starting to rack up some expensive repair bills.  At this point, we had a daughter so I traded it in for a Toyota Highlander.  I’m still driving the Highlander today, but my itch for a Jeep has returned.

I was going to spend a week in Arizona for my sister’s wedding and would need a car rental.  I went online and reserved my car.  When I got to the rental car counter, on a whim I asked if they had a Jeep for rent.  They did!

I got my red Jeep with a black top for a week and it only cost me $150 more than a boring rental car.  Not only did I have the coolest rental car at the wedding, I spent the week fulfilling a dream.  I made sure to drive over a few medians and take trips up and down the mountains.  We went to the grocery store, went on day trips, and put my daughter in and out of her car seat many times.  At the end of the week, I had scratched my itch.  The following Christmas, my wife made me a coffee cup with a picture of me standing in front of my Jeep.

Renting your dream rather than buying it is a great way to save.  Whether you’ve hit your mid-life crisis or are just tired of pushing your dream back, look for creative ways you can make your dream a reality.

If you have come up with a creative ways to save money and realize your dream, please share it with us in the comments below.

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