Our Shared Ongoing Battle To Not Buy A Tesla

Like you, I am pretty much resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to buy a Tesla at some point.

I can tell because I have read every last scrap of Tesla news and inadvertently memorized every last technical detail about the company and their cars and energy storage systems that has ever been printed or YouTubed. Since about 2012. When this happens to me for any product, whether it’s a new laptop or a different vehicle  or a house in a certain neighborhood, I usually end up buying it.

The purchase tends to happen when the list of justifications builds up to a tipping point where it starts to seem sensible. For the Tesla, these justifications are things like:

  • “I strongly support the company and its mission. Unlike almost any other big company on Earth, Tesla exists primarily to help out the human race. Surely worth a few of my spare bucks, right?”
  • “I can afford to buy it in cash without having to go back to work or anything extreme like that.”
  • “It’s the best car AND the best piece of technology in the world, and at least ten years ahead of the next best. Shouldn’t a lifelong tech expert like myself be taking a peek at the future?”
  • “It would be a lower-pollution way to replace some of my air travel, as the only car that can drive itself most of the time on long highway trips. PLUS, imagine the road trips I could take with my son! Mammoth Caves National Park! Lifetime Memories just like I have with my own Dad!”
  • “They are reasonably priced these days at “only” about $45k for a new Model 3 and even lower for a used Model S.”

In the past, my mind has made up similar justifications for other purchases like, “this lovely camera will help you create more engaging pictures for the blog.”, “this drywall hoist will save you a lot of time”, “you will make a profit by owning this high-end new laptop because it will encourage you to write more.”

And it’s not just me. As I’ve talked to more and more people about this, I find that most of us have some sort of Purchase Justification Machine running in the background of our minds. The PJM’s effects can range from very useful, like a carpenter buying a nailgun which will be used every day to make money, to completely disastrous, like the office worker who buys a $40,000 8-passenger Honda Pilot for his 12,000 annual miles of mostly empty driving on smooth roads, because “I need to make sure I can get to work in the winter, too.”

I like to fancy my own PJM as being at least a bit better than average, after all I have always maintained a slightly-less-ridiculous level of spending than the average middle class worker. Most of the things it has talked me into buying have indeed been things like nailguns or reasonably good quality clothing that just happens to be from Costco or the thrift shop.

Yes, there was once a brand-new $13,000* Honda VFR800 sport motorbike which destroys a lot of my credibility, but that was in 2001 long before Mr. Money Mustache was born.

But I can TELL that it is really grasping at straws when it tries to justify that Tesla. And that’s why I thankfully still don’t have a Tesla.

The PJM has done its work well, but I try to stay ahead of it by tossing in my own list of objections, like throwing gnarly stumps into a wood chipping machine to slow it down.

  • “You don’t even have anywhere to drive that Tesla, dude! If you had a mandatory 20-mile commute and absolutely could not move closer to your six-figure job, that would be one thing. But you’re retired and you bike everywhere, so a car is only for camping and hiking trips. Wait until you are further along in the child-raising project and have more free time to take off for month-long road trips.”
  • “You can’t just leave a $40,000 car out in the searing Colorado sun to bake and fade and collect birdshit, but you also don’t want to sacrifice an entire bay of your tidy workshop garage for a car. So you need to at least wait until you build that master bedroom deck which doubles as a carport, right? So you’d better get out the post-hole digger before you sign into the Tesla Design Studio.”
  • “No matter how much you use that car, it will always cost more per mile than cross country air travel even with full carbon offsets. So don’t get lured in by the nearly-free nature of electric car charging.”
  • “Make sure you try it before you buy it. Rent a Tesla from Turo or from a friend and try your first road trip. If you still crave one after that first thrill wears off, then we can talk.”

See what’s happening here? In order to keep ahead of the relentless efficiency of my Purchase Justification Machine, I just need to throw up nice, rational roadblocks to slow it down.

But the reason this is so effective is that I’m not just flat-out denying myself that Tesla. It’s pretty hard to tell yourself that NO, you can never have what you want. Instead, I’m just telling myself what things need to happen first, before clicking “buy” on the Tesla website.

And if these things are healthy, happy things (raising my son, getting other labor-intensive projects done with my own hands, and planning a great future series of camping and roadtrips), I divert my attention into living a good life right now, instead of doing the easy thing which is just buying myself another treat.

And the further I can delay this or any purchase, the longer my money can remain productively invested in stocks, and the more it prevents my PJM from locking its greedy crosshairs onto the next little lifestyle “upgrade” that it will find.

But this trick is not just for jaw-dropping electric sports cars. You can use it almost anywhere in your own life.

Kicking the Kitchen Down the Road

A friend of mine loves to cook, and has been pining for a kitchen upgrade for many years to make this activity more enjoyable. And I can’t blame him – his kitchen is indeed dated, as is the rest of the house. But he’s also in debt and not climbing out very quickly. And too busy to do the kitchen upgrade work himself, because work and kids suck up all his time. Should he allow himself to upgrade this kitchen?


BUT only after meeting a carefully considered list of conditions:

  • Quit Cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, video games, and other time drains. Because getting three hours of life back each day will give you more time to address other shortages in life.
  • Make sure you’re getting in at least an hour of outdoor walking and/or cycling every day. Plus, regular weight training. The joy of a new kitchen is nothing compared to the benefits of getting your heart, muscles and mind in better shape.
  • Use another hour of each day for cleaning, organizing and optimizing the house you already have. Is every drawer in the kitchen well-organized? Could you get more space by hanging up the pots and pans? Adding one of those large but simple heavy duty rolling islands with butcherblock top from Costco? What about just a super nice faucet for 80 bucks and a couple of nice track lights?**
  • How about the rest of the house? Are  the closets well-organized with optimal shelving? Is the garage spotless? Carpets DIY steam cleaned and rooms patched and painted nicely? Gardens and lawn tidy and peaceful?
  • How about the finances? Have you checked around for lower mortgage rates, home and car insurance, mobile phone plans, and canceled any unused subscriptions? Ask your friends what rates they are paying for all these things, switch to the best option, and you cut your bills by $500 per month, which will add up to pay for a kitchen pretty quickly.

See, instead of being constantly depressed because it will be years until you can afford that kitchen, you use it as a trigger to get busy and improve your entire life right now. Which gives you the feelings of happiness and control that were making you crave that kitchen in the first place. Or that Tesla.

And on that note, I am going to get out there and start measuring the post locations for my new deck.


The very day after I published this, I went down to visit a friend in Broomfield to chat and borrow some of his spare video gear (to help me delay purchasing my own, of course!)

But what should I find in his driveway, but a BRAND NEW Tesla model 3, long range all wheel drive in the same glowing red color shown above, which he had just picked up the day before.

I gave him the whole interview on why he bought it, because I know he doesn’t commute to work and has no need for a fancy car either.

They were the same reasons that I had listed above – he’s mostly curious about the future of technology, wanted to support it, and knows that Tesla is it. If it weren’t for Tesla’s existence, he would be perfectly content with a 15-year-old Honda. This company is really pulling out a unique set of buyers that no other car company could ever entice.

So we took it for a test drive. My diagnosis: very similar to the Nissan Leaf in interior size and tight, silent driving feel for standard urban driving – except much more artistic inside and out, and so fast that you literally start to lose consciousness and get dizzy under full acceleration. Kinda silly, but the very existence of cars is silly so you might as well embrace it.

Oh! And unlike the Leaf, when you fold down the rear seats and climb inside, it is plenty big and flat to sleep two people, which makes it a passable road trip mini-camper, even without a proper hatchback.

In the Comments: what is YOUR Purchase Justification Machine trying to make you buy? Have you already bought the Model 3 or are you still milking the 2010 Prius for all it’s worth? How long are you going to push your current smartphone until you allow yourself to replace it? Sharing your battles will give others the strength to keep their own procrastination game strong.


* I forked over $10,000 of my hard-earned cash as a 26-year-old kid in the year 2001, which is about $14,000 if you adjust it for inflation to 2019. But motor vehicles prices have risen slower than general inflation over recent decades, so I split the difference a bit here. But any way you slice it, this was a foolish purchase on my part!

** I linked to those because I have been using that particular track light everywhere in recent years – headquarters, home, and other projects. Way nicer quality/style than the options at Home Depot despite lower price. These LED bulbs are great for it as well.

  • Sanchez May 12, 2019, 2:01 pm

    I find this ongoing battle with internal voices begging me to buy things is linked heavily to how much I indulge in certain types of culture and news. For example, the more I watch Youtube videos or official company keynotes (read: slick advertisements) that go into detail on high end PC graphics cards, the more I want to purchase a new graphics card. I bet that if MMM stopped consuming so much news about electric cars and checking Tesla’s website to constantly compare this model to that model, that constant gibbering voice of endless consumerism might stop talking so much. Tesla in particular seems to be very efficient at promoting itself as a force for good and a beacon of tech… I have more mixed feelings about them, but no matter.

    For my graphics card woes, it’s a feedback loop that bypasses my usual internal pattern of thinking:

    Usual mode of thinking: I have a very good computer that does everything I need. I can browse the internet, watch videos, and play my large collection of video games perfectly. I want for nothing.
    Crazed mode of thinking: What I have is not good enough!!!! It’s just not!!! Oh man I must I must I must!

    Funnily enough I gave into that churning consumerism voice a few times in the last few years and I always ended up disappointed. Spending 200% of the money for 50% better performance is not my idea of money well spent. Or time, or attention, or effort. Then the trap becomes how little I enjoy using the new graphics card, because it’s bigger, louder, and just due to the fact I spent more money on it I seem to like it less. Ah, well, mistakes are made and we learn from them, eh? Once I even tried selling what I had to get a more power efficient graphics card. Another mistake – it’s all the same dang product! I get suckered in, over and over again. But advertisers wouldn’t have jobs if they couldn’t persuade folks as well as they do.

    I’ve started cutting back on the constant content churned out on Youtube about graphics card technology and funnily enough, I find myself less compelled to buy another. The same goes for the constant reading about gaming consoles, smartphone technology, or home theater forum news. This might be enjoyable to read about, but it has the toxic side effect of making me sufficiently dissatisfied with my possessions. A switch flips in my mind and suddenly those otherwise mundane details I’d never notice become the only thing about a product category I actually care about. What do you mean my graphics card only goes up to 14 jigahertz?! Egads!

    New goal: keep what I have for as long as possible. If I have to block my own access to certain websites and stop following Playstation on Twitter, all the better for it! Sometimes I’ll even go to the library for an hour, check out a few books (a great substitute for all of that technology blog content I’ve cut out of my life), and suddenly life seems perfectly balanced and harmonious. As it really is, when we pull the wool from our eyes.

  • Effsysbreak May 12, 2019, 4:54 pm

    Et tu, MMM?

    Oh thank the Lord, you still haven’t bought one. Your Leaf is an excellent vehicle for your needs, and while you could certainly afford the Tesla, you are helping prove to the rest of us that we don’t need big fancy cars either. Keep leading by example!

    A few other commenters have mentioned used Chevrolet Volts as a good automotive selection. They are dead-on right. Used ones can be had in excellent shape for less than $10,000 for a Gen I, and even Gen IIs can be had below $15,000, if only 75% EV usage just isn’t enough for ya (disclaimer: I bought my Volt new and am kicking myself for that one. I’m an idiot sucka, and every time I want to buy something new apart from groceries, I look at used Volt prices to remind myself that depreciation is a BITCH AND A HALF. By all means, learn from my mistake, other Mustachians-in-Training!) Mine gets damn near 50 MPG on the highway when I do have to use gasoline, and I can usually get 60 miles out of the EV range. And I do, since I live in rural Texas, far away from any convenient charging stations. Not to mention, what few EV stations are nearby are often overcrowded. Oh, and you can camp and sleep quite comfortably in the back of a perfectly air-conditioned Volt (just switch to mountain mode about 50 miles out from your destination, and the gas engine will run a but higher RPM to give you about 10 miles of charge, which is plenty for a night of HVAC) after driving for hours out into the bush. I’ve done this when going out to the even more rural sticks in Arkansas, where there’s no any sort of electric outlet for miles and miles. Heck, I’ve even heard of a few more enterprising Volt owners running inverters and setting up hot plates and water purifiers, and even slapping solar panels on the roofs to charge the battery during camping!

    I also have to say…there is another big reason not to buy a Tesla. I will NOT be buying a Tesla anytime soon, because Tesla is an aggressively anti-union company. I bought my Volt because I strongly support unions as a bulwark against stagnant wages and ever increasing demands to make 50, 60, 70, 80 hours of work a week the new norm. I will freely admit that Mr. Musk is a visionary, and the cars Tesla makes (aside from the silly, unreliable doors on the Model X) are brilliant, but Musk does NOT treat his workers well, and Tesla has been documented for firing employees because they wished to form a union.

    When it comes to his workers, Musk seems to want to return to the 19th century model of employment. There’s a really good reason Henry Ford recognized the value in shorter working hours and higher wages — you get better quality control and FAR more loyal workers. Working largely monotonous assembly line jobs for long hours is a good way to guarantee more quality issues and workplace accidents. I have quite a few friends who have jumped ship from Tesla/SpaceX because they were offered a position with a better work/life balance, even though they loved the work they did. Do consider what message your dollars are sending if you love your job but get fed up with having absolutely no power in your workplace/don’t love burning out at 60+ hours a week, and go out and buy a brand new Tesla.

    Now if Tesla unionizes, I’ll become the biggest Tesla fanboy this side of Texas, but until then, I will continue to drive my Volt until it passes ol’ Sparkie (2012 Volt that has 477,000 miles on it). After all, that depreciation that kicks my ass each day can only amortize further over time, right?

    Keep on rocking on, MMM. If you have the means to buy a Tesla but still exercise the willpower to not buy one because your current situation is enough, we all can continue to look at you as a damn good role model. And I’m sure I for one am gonna need it… I’m sick and tired of the A/C bills when I turn it all the way down to 76 at night. Let’s see if I can’t ratchet that up to 80 this summer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Piki Dad May 12, 2019, 6:53 pm

    I admit I’m not that caught up with Tesla news as I’m not as big of a fan as some of the commenters here.

    However, when I read that today’s Teslas ALREADY have the hardware to support self driving capability and are just waiting for software and regulation changes, it got me anxious. From the little I’ve read there are Tesla owners who don’t even know this exists.

    Does anyone else feel like this can be a huge security risk? I just hope their network security protocols are up to snuff. I’d add that to my PJM conditions.

    A quick google yields: https://www.slashgear.com/tesla-autopilot-hack-raises-new-self-driving-car-concerns-01571726/

    Again, I’m new to this topic so I’m not fearmongering, just concerned and uninformed.

  • Brett Burkhead May 12, 2019, 7:57 pm

    Autonomous driving will be the huge change over for many, many people. Until then I’ll be rolling in my recently purchased 2016 Chevy Volt. I think the over/under for autonomous driving in 36 months. Curious what others think? Thank you.

  • rahul sonnad May 12, 2019, 8:55 pm

    A new PJM will become more and more compelling. By buying a Tesla with 8 cameras (not a very old S or X), you will be taking out an option on the earning potential of the car in the future. Minimally if you decide you don’t need it all the time you will be able to easily rent it out on platforms like ours (Carmiq.net). But once Tesla’s robotaxi network gets going, you will see huge earning potential and asset appreciation. Even if this is many years past when Elon says it is, it’s worth the optionality. And even if it’s late or only in certain places, the value of the car will increase. Also, you would do much better to finance the car and put the rest into Tesla stock at <$275. You really are not going to go wrong there. If things work out you can start running PJM on 2nd homes.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 13, 2019, 9:02 am

      Hey, are you the real Rahul Sonnad from Tesloop as implied by your email/URL?

      If so, thanks for the great data you and Haydn (your son?) have shared on Tesla battery longevity via your YouTube channel – I have referred many people to your videos on it!

      (For those unfamiliar, they have put 350,000+ miles on Model Xs with constant supercharging driving shuttle service on the hot, fast road between LA and Las Vegas and still found the vehicles surviving in great condition after all of that).

      I agree with you on the general principles, although I don’t buy the idea of Teslas “appreciating” based on the robotaxi potential. Wouldn’t the upper limit on a used Tesla be the sale price of a NEW Tesla? (and eventually any cars from competing manufacturers)?

      I have seen Tesla fan sites unquestioningly throwing around numbers like, “These cars will be worth $250,000 each if this comes true”, which to me is a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. This would only happen if the company stopped producing new supply or chose to raise their prices and thus turn off sales to regular consumers – neither of these things would align with Tesla’s mission statement.

      And on top of that, if the robotaxi service proves to be extremely profitable, competition from other autonomous taxis would just drive the price down until the profit was minimal, just as in every other competitive market, right?

      And regarding buying Tesla stock – yes, like any exciting tech company there is lots of upside. But also the potential for it to go to almost zero if there are unpredictable problems. So I’ll stick to index funds and automatically get some Tesla as part of the bigger package.

      Still, setting aside my own economic theories, thanks for the great work and I wish Tesloop/carmiq the best

  • Charles May 13, 2019, 11:45 am

    I also use wish and watch lists on Amazon and eBay to discipline my my PJM. I let the items percolate for a while to see if they pass the test of time.

    Currently I have the opposite problem: I am emotionally attached to my 6 year old smartphone and am sad that the time to replace it will come soon. Pathetic I know.
    There is nothing physically wrong with it. It is built like a tank and except for the browser it’s still as lightning fast as the day I bought it.

    In 2013 the Nokia Lumia 1020 was the best smartphone on the market according to its fans. It has a 41 megapixel camera and a super strong xenon flash. It can take superb low light pictures without flash. In regular light you can zoom in to pictures afterwards to view great detail.

    It has other very useful non camera features, thanks to Nokia’s accumulated intellectual properties, that have only started to appear in other smartphones 1-2 years ago.
    But it has two humongous shortcomings that make it sad and frustrating to own:
    1) it runs the Windows phone 8.1 operating system that Microsoft gave up on years ago so developers do not create apps for it
    2) the processor is not strong enough to load ever-increasingly rich web pages and the browser doesn’t understand the evolved html programming anymore because Microsoft can’t be bothered to update it.

    So this beautiful corpse made up of toxic materials, along with 100’s of millions just like it, will end up in landfills because of bad decisions by rich, out of touch executive boneheads at Microsoft.

    There should be a law preventing forced obsolescence of perfectly good electronics for 10 years minimum.

  • Renee May 13, 2019, 12:34 pm

    Clearly not as common here: does anyone besides me love clothes and shoes? Not just for fashion, but my PJM loves to bark in my ear for snow boots this and tech-ultra-light-down that. “Just buy this and I can wear/use this for years!!” I do use them for years, but I still end up with way too many if these items that I end up not necessarily using.

  • Tash May 13, 2019, 1:14 pm

    Buy a used Tesla! Agree with MMM and lots of the comments – somewhat/totally hard to justify – like WTF – spending some serious cash even for a used model. That said, it is sort of a marvel – light years ahead of other electric cars.

  • Jason May 13, 2019, 2:04 pm

    My PJM is trying to convince me to buy a welder. Why? because it seems fun and MMM says its a useful skill/ability to be able to have/sell and I have some minor prior experience that I remember fondly and I imagine that I could think up some really cool stuff to build with it.

    What’s keeping me on the sidelines? Where will I use it–my driveway? That’s a bit of a drag here outside Chicago with seasons named pre-winter, winter, post-winter, and spring. What will I make with it? I’m sure I can think of some really cool things to make, but the only thing that really comes to mind at the moment is shelving to get the clutter in the garage up off the floor (clutter that the welder and accessories will most certainly make worse. When will I use it? I am struggling to keep up with the yard work around all of my higher priority work, family life, and repairs. Plus, I’ll have to practice a bunch before I could even dream of doing something productive with it. Can the house even power a welding machine? I better start learning the basics of assessing house electrical systems so I don’t end up with a useless boat anchor (really a problem for someone that doesn’t own a boat) or worse, a big electricians bill for code violation discoveries.

    Great Article, MMM! Clearly hit a chord with what was already on my mind today.

  • David May 13, 2019, 8:39 pm

    I got burnt pretty bad by PJM in the last decade:

    The car… More paid than left to pay; rookie mistake (buy a new car). I swear I won’t buy another one once this one is done paying… for a LONG time.

    The condo, paid too much (GST & PST anyone?) with a B mortgage creditor to boot (5.4% interest when everyone was paying 2.5%). Pure and utter nonsense. Now that my consumer proposition is 5 years past (removed from my credit file), I’ll be able to approach a bank without it screaming and running away. Or better yet, sell the darn thing, though at the risk of losing part of the extraneous 14.955% tax on new homes here I paid… And may never recoup if I sell too soon.

    But one learns. My 5 years old iPhone 6+ is dying/ typing by itself/ drops calls (and I’m on call 24/7) and yet I’d rather buy a flip phone and reduce my phone plan than ‘upgrade’, lures of the greatest and best notwithstanding.

  • PLS May 14, 2019, 6:42 am

    Yeah, I’ve been Jones’n for a pickup for years. Like since 1999. I’ve gone from wanting a new 4 door, Ford F-150 all-wheel drive down to a more “reasonable” pickup such as a used 4 door, Toyota Tacoma all-wheel drive. Yet I still drive my 19 year old Toyota Avalon that was given to us, used, by my father-in-law when we had twins 8 years ago. The damn thing simply will not die!!!!

    The pick up would be great because I can haul yard supplies, lumber, rocks, you name it.
    I would have an easy way to take the kayaks to the lake or the beach.
    And if I’m at the beach, I’ll need a 4×4 so I can go fish in places no-one else can get to.
    Plus I love to take back roads in the mountains.
    And I’ll need the 4 door because the family will come along.

    But I don’t have a pickup. I still drive the 19 year old Toyota. The reason we were given the car in the first place was to allow my wife to stay home with our twins. I had paid off my credit card debt but still had a mortgage, student loans and car payment (Prius). We figured that if we could get rid of the car payment, refinance, and put ourselves on a budget, we could make up for my wife’s teacher salary minus the cost of child care. So we did. It worked so well, that while we were on one salary, we ended up saving more than we ever had, paid off the student loans and paid down our mortgage faster than ever. It was also around this time while I was looking for financial advice that I found MMM’s blog.

    Now, the kids are in school and my wife is working again, yet I still drive the old car and we go without a car payment. Why? Because I have other things that are a priority for me now. We are working to pay off our mortgage, save as much as possible and buy real estate to give ourselves another source of income. So now my gnarly chunks of wood look like this,

    I’ll get the pickup when I have my house in order and get everything fixed and up to date.
    I’ll get the pickup when I’m sure I have my kids college paid for.
    I’ll get the pickup when we have another source of income that can pay for it outright.
    I’ll get the pickup when my wife and I have the option to retire full time so I can actually use it to go to the lake, the beach and the mountains.
    I’ll get that pickup when my current car dies, which seems like never. Damn Toyotas!

  • CZ_technically_frugal May 14, 2019, 8:23 am

    Tesla is nice … but it costs over $50k, needs over 15kWh/100km, the speed is illegal to use here in Europe, is very hard to repair (no documentation), and it hasn’t real big trunk with it’s own almost vertical 5th door.

    It feels very dangerous (although the autopilot may offset it partly) to set almost everything in car on touchscreen – you don’t need to look at switches and levers, you can feel them without looking.

    So even when it’s very nice piece of technology, it wasn’t very hard to persuade myself to buy used electric car, buy batteries, put it together and end with half power consumption for $8.5k with registration fee and everything. Plus I have got simple parking (it’s short) and propane heating for winter.

  • Robert May 14, 2019, 11:34 am

    I love the PJM concept. My PJM concept is letting me purchase a brand new Scout Paramotor. I went to training a little over a year ago to learn how to fly and I have been saving up and buying some of the kit needed for my own gear. However, I have been putting off the big purchase of the Paramotor because I wanted to keep maxing out all my pretax buckets and I don’t want to significantly push back my FI date. However, this year my finances have improved and I can finally afford both my retirement and the Paramotor. Man! I can not wait to fly out of my local park and into the wild blue yonder again. Great article MMM, keep up the good work.

  • Julius May 14, 2019, 2:24 pm

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2019, 9:57 am

      Yup, also a good point – bugs and repairs in a new piece of technology!

      I’m accustomed to the “Old Honda/Toyota” lifestyle, where you change the oil once a year and nothing ever breaks. The Nissan Leaf, while new or computerized, has proven to have zero problems for its first three years of life too, as I had hoped. (Although the battery is down to around 93% I think, which is faster than Tesla battery degradation).

      If I have to take a car in for service even ONCE for something I can’t fix myself, especially if it comes at dealer-level service costs, that blows the whole year’s value of owning that car for me, since cars aren’t that useful to me in the first place. While Tesla in general has great service (mobile techs often come to fix the car for you wherever it is), it could get sketchy as the cars get older and more stuff fails and the company gets overloaded with requests.

  • Richard Jewell (yes, honest) May 14, 2019, 2:27 pm

    No smartphone – I’m still using my 2019 CAT builders phone, although I’ve recent,I’ve y had to spend £11 on a new battery for it.

    I’m still using my late 2004 Smart car. I’m a cycling nut, so ride far more miles a year than I drive. At 15 years old the Smart has only 43,000 miles, so it’ll probably be with me a other decade yet.

    But best of all is my bicycle. It’s a 1983 Claud Butler than my Grandma bought me for my 14th Birthday. It’s a high quality machine thats been worked hard but well cared for, and following a full rebuild in 2017 is still in daily commuting service now I’m 59 years old, and I plan to keep riding it until I’m in my coffin.

    Alas, divorce cleared out much of the financial benefit I had accrued with my parsimonious behaviour (that’s probably why she dumped me in the first place!) but I’ve rebounded and will be retired by 55 if my plans come off.

  • Johnny May 14, 2019, 2:58 pm

    #1 reason not to buy, don’t want to set a bad example/precedent for mr. mini mustache. They’re always watching

  • caryatis May 14, 2019, 3:46 pm

    I want to hear more about this DIY steam cleaning…how much skill does it require?

  • beannie May 14, 2019, 5:02 pm

    My PJM won, I bought a slightly used Volt. I get almost 60 miles pure electric, and have gas as backup for the rare long trip. I haven’t bought gas in 3 months, I love it! I just hauled a tonne of soil and plants by folding the seats down too. My old 2006 car had just had a $2k repair and although I wanted a Tesla, I got the Volt as it covers my commuting. Saving $3k a year on gas and who knows what savings on maintenance.

    Looking at Solar next.

  • Paul May 14, 2019, 11:17 pm

    MMM, I was in your shoes a year ago but took the plunge and have loved every single minute of driving my M3 for the past 16k miles. As a family of 4 we go camping often and now leave the 2005 Prius at home. I know buying a $50k+ (you know you want FSD) car doesn’t make sense, but what good is all this money once you are dead? I promise you won’t regret the purchase.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2019, 9:43 am

      I think you explained the difference between our situations well, though – you put 16,000 miles (25,000 km!!) on your car in the first year, which is roughly the amount I have driven in the past eight years combined, and that was mostly road trips of the type I am no longer doing because of my son’s interests.

      Still, congratulations and thanks for leaving the gasoline world behind!

  • Simple Money Man May 15, 2019, 10:19 am

    It sounds like you simply don’t need it And because of that if you buy it, you may have buyer’s remorse pretty soon. When you do need it (a car), Tesla would be the way to go. And save money too if you plan to side-hustle via Uber.

  • Luka May 16, 2019, 8:30 am

    I have oposite position and agree with these guys https://cleantechnica.com/2018/11/24/7-reasons-not-to-buy-a-tesla-yet/

  • Bernie Keene May 16, 2019, 1:29 pm

    And when you make that trip to Mammoth Cave, you can save even more by staying at my parents Bed and Breakfast in Bardstown for a while. Just about an hour north of Mammoth Cave. AND Bardstown is the Bourbon Capital of the World!!
    Oh, my boss has a Tesla. The only problem is that he has quit riding his bike around town and now drives the Tesla all the time!!

  • Paul May 16, 2019, 2:48 pm

    My PJM is that I don’t want to die a millionaire like my father. My mother will die a millionaire and I’ve already retired at 48. Want to enjoy life but I am an under buyer (like my family). The conversation really hits home for me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 19, 2019, 11:42 am

      This is a valid concern Paul – as they say, you can’t take your money with you when you die. BUT, you can change/save the lives of hundreds or thousands of people with that money.


      My own philosophy on this is that I am allowed to be imperfect and still buy myself plenty of fancy stuff and live a relatively luxurious life. But at the same time, I’m at least weighing it against the value of providing MUCH bigger increases in happiness to a much larger number of people. Depending on your generosity/selfishness balance, this might mean that you might be willing to spend $10k to get yourself a nice kitchen, but stop short of spending $100k to pave the driveway of your mansion with imported cobblestones. Or some other decision like that.

  • MKE May 17, 2019, 9:48 am

    While there is nothing new in the line or title of the Social Distortion song “Can’t Take It With You” that opens with “Never saw a hearse with a luggage rack” , it resonates with me and keeps me from buying more worthless shit than I already have.

    I had the sobering experience of cleaning out the houses of two deceased relatives. At about the same time, a friend was moving her parents into a nursing home. Her response was to start clearing out everything in her own house, and, as her husband said, “keep us from ever buying anything again.” My response, unfortunately, was not as strong. Maybe I am just a few years younger and dumber. But I have my own variation.

    Cleaning up the belongings of a dead person is shocking. While you try to repurpose, recycle, and donate all that you can, you end up chucking a lot of it into the dumpster. It’s just stuff. And you come home and look at all the shit someone is going to have to clean up someday. What kind of mess are you leaving for them? (I am not resentful or anything of those relatives, it was just an eye-opener for me. I am actually glad about it).

    Now, if I consider buying something, I have a new deal: I have to get rid of something that I already have that is of equal or greater weight or volume (whichever is bigger). I would love to buy the bike trailer that MMM wrote about in a post, but that would necessitate getting rid of the extension ladder. I never use the damn ladder, but it’s also a pain in the ass to offload. For now, it sits there instead of the bike trailer. Fine. And so it goes.

    When I think of buying a shirt, I ask myself which two shirts I am going to get rid of / donate. That’s just a nuisance, and I haven’t bought a shirt in a long while. Even though I manage to donate a few shirts here and there, I don’t let them “count.” Since I am running out of shirts to donate (not really), it’s getting harder and harder to buy a shirt.

    I’d like to think I am just this guy who wants to ride a bike, lift weights, listen to tunes, and read books. Then I look around and see this crap and wonder who I am kidding. More mass and volume must go.

    So, MMM, what do you have of equal or greater weight or volume that will make up for bringing that #@$%ing Tesla into your life? There’s no sense burying you in it, and getting rid of, donating, and /or transferring ownership of a car is a nuisance. This isn’t “Gran Torino.”

  • Anonymous May 17, 2019, 11:10 am

    Crazy idea here, but what about buying a used Chevy Volt. I’ve seen them for as little as $7.5k on Craigslist for a ’11, and they get around 40 miles per charge before they burn any fuel, which should be plenty for your driving habits while also allowing you to do longer trips of your ever decide to do more road tripping. Not as sexy as a Tesla, but for your most common uses, still an EV.

  • Anonymous May 18, 2019, 11:50 am

    My father and I are on our second Tesla Model S. The Model S is absolutely Car 2.0. It is the best car on the road IMO. I drive it about a week out of the every month when I am in Houston on business. But I just bought a Chevrolet Bolt for my Boulder car (I live out of the country over half the year). I looked at the Leaf, the Model 3 and the Bolt. Of the three, I definitely preferred the Bolt. I highly recommend giving it a look if you are in the market.

    An idea that worked out extremely well was partnering with a friend to buy an expensive car. About 15 years ago, a friend and I purchased a Porsche 911 4s, which we bought slightly used. Both of us had other transportation and so we just swapped it back and forth every month. He was as meticulous as I about its upkeep and we competed on who could bring it back in better shape.

    I could have afforded it outright but within a month or two it would have just been another car. But this way, neither of us ever became hedonically adapted to it and had the fun of getting a “new” car 6 times a year, with the dopamine hit and excitement that entails. We sold it after a few years and made most of our money back. I think its a fantastic way to own a luxury item – half the cost but 10 times the pleasure.

    • Joshm May 20, 2019, 12:14 pm

      Neat idea. How did you manage the insurance and repair costs?

  • Rulo May 19, 2019, 3:44 am

    Bought a new 2017 Accord in 2018 for 21k and it gets 40mpg on the freeway (just drive sensibly). Even at 33mpg, that’s 100,000 mi / 33 x 3.25 per gal. = $9848. 21k plus 10k = 31k. I could drive it for 200,000 mi and still be ahead of a Tesla. For as little as I drive (<10k mi /yr), it would be insane to by a 45k car! I'll keep the other 24k earning stock dividends. And before anyone lectures me about using petrol, I'll mention that my very low carbon footprint involves having zero kids. Me thinks that MMM might be in need of a head slap.

  • Amine May 19, 2019, 4:12 am

    Tesla acqusitions in France are really slow still I fight daily my PJM to buy a model 3 since a month now. I just started working and it will take me a good chunk of my money to buy a new one. I not only don’t have a car right now but also, I do not need it because I work 2 times a week and I rideshare through a local service in france. ( http://www.blablalines.com). Thanks MMM for all the support, you make our mind more PJM-resistant everyday.

  • Anonymous May 20, 2019, 10:30 pm

    There is no such things as a good or bad car. Any car is good for a specific buyer. I have 4 kids and can’t give less f$&@s about Tesla. We drive KIA Carnival, my friends with same number of kids drive Honda Odyssey or Toyota Prius. Tesla might be a good car in its own capacity but similarly to Ferrari or Corvette it serves purely symbolic purpose for a buyer. Personally, I don’t believe in proliferation or electric cars. I think it is likely that public transport will become more efficient and more people will use bikes to move around. Believing in electric car is like back in a day thinking that horses would be replaced by horses with engines.

  • Married to a Swabian May 21, 2019, 4:26 am

    Yes, a Tesla would be cool. But my PJM is now more heavily influenced by MMM’s previous Post talking about how most purchases bring only a temporary happiness “bump” and then our happiness level returns to status quo.

    For me, attaining FI is far more important than spending over $40k on a new car!

  • Dave May 21, 2019, 1:55 pm

    Wow MMM! I am surprised the Tesla 3 never made it to your usual cost of ownership analysis include cost per mile after including a Powerwall installed, cost per KwH, etc. You must be too busy for an old detailed engineer’s approach these days. I am also on the PJM wagon regarding a new Model 3. But my 2005 Highlander with 200,000 miles on it still gets 26 MPG on the freeway and the JBL sound system is one of the best I have had in any car. But don’t ask me about the digital cabin environment control board that went out 20,000 miles ago!

    • Dave May 21, 2019, 1:58 pm

      Btw, for the existing Tesla commenters, has Hedonic Adaption set in yet on your Tesla purchase?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 22, 2019, 5:15 pm

      There is no need to do a cost analysis on a $45,000+ car – it is always going to be way more expensive than driving a frugal car! (although cheaper than driving a luxury pickup truck or any gas car of similar price).

      For example, considering fuel alone, a 2014-ish Prius gets 50 MPG, which means fuel is 6 cents per mile if gas is $3 per gallon. A Tesla 3 gets 4 miles per kWh, which costs 28 cents at superchargers (7 cents per mile or about 16% more expensive than gas).

      Of course home charging can be 3 times cheaper so commuting is a different story than road trips.. but the Prius is also only 10 grand to buy!

      So, buying a Tesla has to be done for other reasons besides cost. And although I’m not buying one myself, if I did it would be for the reasons listed in the article.

  • Dan Albrich May 21, 2019, 8:55 pm

    Get a Honda Clarity for 1/2 the price (or less). Look it up. It’s a plugin hybrid so you don’t need 2 cars. i.e. For my family commute is 100% electric, with occasional need to go long distance using gas at 40 mpg.

    Federal tax credit is $7500 (be careful, its non-refundable, meaning you need $7500 in tax liability to get full credit). State and energy company discounts also exist. i.e. State rebate (not dependent on your taxes) and utility rebates exist.

    If you opt to go BEV, as others have noted, there are many cheaper alternatives to Tesla.

    Compare Tesla frugality to Leaf, Honda Clarity, Toyota Prius Prime, Hyundai Sonata PHEV etc.

    Now if you simply want a fast electric car for fun, or because you think its cool, so be it.

  • Joe Isuzu May 21, 2019, 11:20 pm

    No Tesla. Went in sat in one. Sure was cool! And someone gave me a ride in an “S” and proudly demonstrated ludicrous mode. And I think I will have failed your MMM ideals, but hear out my PJM logic:

    Bought a 2018 Chevy Bolt. Second new car I ever bought, replacing a 2000 model. It came out to $26K after all rebates, sales taxes, etc.

    Already have PV power on our home. Due to the power company’s EV rate pan, I can drive the car about 12-14,000 miles a year without any electric bill, without expanding our PV system which was sized just adequately enough to cover our household electrical needs prior to the car. That’s because the power company credits my bill at a higher rate during the afternoon than when the EV charges overnight. That’s pretty cool.

    65-mile one way commute. No, not every day, that would be crazy. I have an alternative career, and commute about 4-5 times per month. Most of the time I charge for free once at work, but I regard this as a short term temporary benefit.

    When I’m not away, we drive the EV for all non long distance drives. In the past 6 months we’ve bought 2,500 miles worth of gas in the non-EV car, the rest free driving. With fuel more expensive these days, I calculate I’ve saved about $1200 so far since I put the Bolt into service 8 months ago.

    Did the purchase make sense? Yes and no. A good used car may have been better. There is technology risk. Warranty expiration risk. Power company rate plan risk. Ask me in 10 years…

  • Shiv May 22, 2019, 12:20 pm

    I want a Tesla, but I want to be worth a million first. Plus the almost-there nature of autopilot kind of freaks me out. Also I am 25 with a 2015 Subaru Legacy with 46k miles on it so it would be one of the dumbest purchases ever.


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