Uhm no it’s NOT an investment. First of all, buying something with monthly payments instead of putting money in your pocket is not what I would call an investment. Period.
One of my friends once argued that if he traded in his old car, that was fully paid off, for a new or relatively new diesel car. He would be able to save almost half of his gas bill every month. He thought that by buying the new car he could actually save money. He was trying to convince himself that he would not just be driving a better car but actually save money. He was right about that. He could drive a new car and save money on gas and repairs in the beginning. However, he forgot to look at the whole picture in other words, what his new car would actually cost him.
In the first place, he will have to take out a loan for the car, which means he now has to pay off his new car over a period of 5 or more years depending on his payment options. There goes the money he thought he was going to save on gas. In fact he’s probably going to spend more money on installments of the vehicle than what he would have paid on gas.
Secondly, because he has a new higher priced car, he will have to pay higher insurance premiums. Oops, he forgot about this one, it never even crossed his mind. Most of us don’t think about it either until we have to start paying. This is usually an after thought. “Oh shit I forgot about that bit Mmmmmmm”.
Thirdly, my friend was not a hands on guy that could repair or service his own car. He usually took the car to a shop to get serviced or repaired if something broke. Although new cars generally aren’t supposed to break down we all know that it sometimes happen. We also all know that a new car will cost you more to repair and service than an older car/model. BOOM !!! Another cost he didn’t think of. I bet you by this point he was already regretting his decision to buy a new more expensive car.
This brings me to my last and most important point. The opportunity cost that he loses. In the next 5 years that my friend has to pay off his new car, how much money would he actually spend on his car. Lets have a look. If for example my friend bought a new $18 000 car. At an interest rate of 4.5% over 60 months. His car repayments would be $336 / month. Lets say his insurance would cost him approximately another $160 / month. Therefore the new car will cost him $496 per month.
Now take that amount over 5 years. It would be ($496 x 60) a whopping $29 760. Furthermore, this is not even the full extent of the money he would have lost. If he invested the $496 on the stock market in an index or ETF fund for example, he could have earned an average of 8% on his investments over the same period. This would have amounted to a monstrous $37 183.
So in light of the above which do you think is a better investment ? Buying a vehicle that is worth about $8 000 at the end of the 5 year period or having an amount of $37 183 in your investment account.