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The Moneyist: I saved $1.1M for retirement, earn $128K and have $56,000 on my mortgage. Can I afford my dream car — a Nissan GTR?

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Dear Quentin,

I’m looking to purchase a used Nissan GTR and spend about $80,000.

I’m 41, single, no kids, and have always been a big saver. I currently make $128,000 a year, and have a combined $1.1 million in my 401(k), Roth IRA, and brokerage accounts. I’m saving 15% of my pre-tax income with 4% contribution from my employer.


Can I afford my dream car?

I have $56,000 left on my mortgage of which I’m paying an extra $500/month towards principle and planning to pay off within 5 years. I have about $150,000 equity in my condo and about $22,000 in savings.

Dealership appraised my current car, which I paid cash for, at $6,500, but I may end up keeping it as there are some activities I don’t/can’t do in the GTR (e.g. parking in the city, transporting bike, moving semi-large / dirty items, etc.).

1. Can I afford my dream car?

2. If I can, how should I go about financing it? Should I pay it off? Loan?

Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for reading this.

Would-Be Dream Car Owner

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Dreamer,

I don’t want to quash your dreams of owning the car of your dreams. (Like I did with this guy.) But your circumstances are different to that good fellow: namely, you are financially independent, and you are in a very comfortable position for retirement, notwithstanding any unforeseen circumstances. You have worked hard to have the car you want. Bravo, my friend!

But should you get it? Think on this: It’s more than 62% of your gross salary, and it will make you happy (for about five minutes). Yes, that feeling typically depreciates along with the value of the car. I don’t know what this model means to you, but I do know that — from what you say about your finances — you are not the type to give in to your impulses at the expense of your financial security.


The biggest and best dreams don’t cost $80,000.

It’s an expensive toy and it’s a pricey piece of machinery. Automobiles serve both functions: They get you from A to B, and they give you that Christmas-Morning feeling when you get the keys. Keep that in mind before buying. Alternatively, consider leasing the car first to see if it’s an everlasting love.

I haven’t said you should buy it, and I haven’t said you should not buy it, mostly because I think if you really knew it was the right move, right now, you would not seek a second opinion from The Moneyist. I will say this: It’s a relatively modest dream for a not-so modest price. Here’s a secret that should not be a secret: The biggest and best dreams don’t cost $80,000.

People should generally not buy a car with cash when the price exceeds their own liquid savings, and/or during a time when interest rates are so low. Given your $22,000 in cash, buying a car of this price with a low rate of financing would make more sense. But the cash vs. financing question depends heavily on the price. If I were you, would I buy it? No. For all of the above reasons.

And if you did buy it with financing? Even though you would still enjoy driving it, there may come a day when you owe more on this car than it’s worth.

All too often in America, that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

The Moneyist: I’m a farmer in my late 30s, live a frugal lifestyle, and my son has a disability. Should I pay extra on my mortgage — or save for retirement?

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