Our sweet 19-year-old Frugalwoods-mobile
Our sweet 19-year-old Frugalwoods-mobile

I knew this day would come, though I dreaded it for years. Because we’ve been together a long time. We’ve charted many an adventure together. And now, our chapter has come to a close. I’m speaking, of course, about my beloved Frugalwoods-mobile, the 1996 Honda Odyssey minivan that Mr. Frugalwoods and I proudly drove.

It’s the car we brought Babywoods home from the hospital in and the vehicle that transported Frugal Hound into our lives. It’s the van that carted many a great trash find from the streets of Cambridge. And it’s the auto that, tragically, cannot survive life in Vermont.

Not Dead Yet

I’m thrilled to report that Frugalwoods-mobile is still alive and kicking–just with a new family. We sold our dear minivan for $1,000 on Craigslist and, I’ll be honest, I nearly shed a tear as they drove her away. But it was a deed that had to be done.

Our new Subaru navigating our driveway with aplomb
Our new Subaru navigating our driveway with aplomb

Our new life on the homestead will be decidedly more car-reliant than our erstwhile city existence and, we needed some all-wheel drive. Though Frugalwoods-mobile had many merits to her name, the dexterity to surmount deep snow and mud were not among them.

And as I’ve shared, our Vermont driveway is quite long, steep, and decidedly made of gravel. Although we successfully drove Frugalwoods-mobile on our driveway during the temperate, dry autumn, she wasn’t able to make the climb in snow and ice (even with snow tires on… ).

Thus, shortly after purchasing our homestead, we began our quest for a new-to-us car. Longtime readers know we’ve been researching potential FW-mobile replacements for years. True to our ethos on all things, we research thoroughly and then, when the moment is right, we strike!

Through our criteria of dependability, longevity, and effective gas mileage, we winnowed the automotive pool down to three options: the Toyota Prius, the Subaru Outback, and the Honda Fit. While the Fit would make a divine little city car, we decided it’s not entirely ideal for the rugged winters of Vermont. The Subaru, on the other hand, lives for winter. In fact, its been called the unofficial state car of Vermont with good reason. And the Prius provides the perfect counterbalance with unparalleled miles-per-gallon to its name.

A Two Car Family! Oh My! OH MY!

We're now a two car family
We’re now a two car family

An interesting tenet of our new rural life is the fact that we must become a two-car family. Here in the city, it was easy to share one car since Mr. FW biked to work everyday and we had ample public transit–as well as walking–options.

On our homestead, however, two cars are mandatory primarily because Mr. FW will be driving back to Boston for work occasionally and doesn’t want to leave me and Babywoods stranded with no means of transport (from both a safety and a logistics perspective). It’s also true that when our car broke down here in the city, it wasn’t a problem to kick it carless for awhile. Out in the woods however? Not so much of an option.

We always knew we’d need to scale up to two vehicles once our homestead dream came to fruition and we waited as long as possible to make this transition. No reason to own two cars in the city for any longer than necessary!

Mr. FW and I have experienced the full gamut of car ownership over the years. We lived in the city for a number of years with no car at all–something that’s totally doable! We then scaled up to one car, principally for the luxury of driving to the mountains to hike whenever we wanted. And now, we’ve entered the stage–and circumstance–of life where two vehicles are necessary. By carefully calibrating our car ownership to our actual needs and wants, we’ve been able to shore up our savings over the years. We waited until we truly needed more vehicular capability before throwing down the cash.

Frugality = Paying Cash For Cars

In a fabulous testament to frugality, we purchased both of our new-to-us cars in cash and within just a few months of each other. The ability to swing purchases these large without incurring debt or taking on financing is an awesome benefit of living the frugal life. Sure, we might not have Netflix or eat at restaurants or pay to get our hair cut, but the trade-off is well worth it to us.

Car #1 and Car #2

Avoiding auto-related financing is an example of how frugality is a compounding game. By not having a monthly car payment, Mr. FW and I are able to save at a higher percentage, which enables us to not have a monthly car payment, which enables us to save… you see where I’m going with this. Essentially, when you’re not beholden to creditors, or mired in debt, your money is your own and you can spend it in service of what you need.

Since it’s impossible to foresee exactly what it is that we’re saving for in any given month, Mr. FW and I operate on the principle of frugal autopilot. In other words, we only spend on things we absolutely must. By avoiding short-term conveniences and ‘road-bump opiates,’ we have the financial footing to do things like buy a homestead and two cars in the span of a few months.

Mr. FW and I don’t segregate our savings for purchases such as our cars; rather, we save all of our funds in the same account, some of which is liquid and most of which is invested in low-fee index funds. If you’re interested in reading more about our money management philosophies, you can check out this post, this one, and also this one here. In a nutshell, save more than you think you need and reap the rewards later.

Introducing The New Frugalwoods Fleet

The RooBaRoo!

The RooBaRoo!
The RooBaRoo!

New-to-us car #1 is a 2010 Subaru Outback station wagon, which we purchased for $12,000. Clocking in at just under 100K miles, this beaut of an all-wheel drive beast is rugged enough to scale even the most precarious of icy or muddy rural roads (at least, so far so good… ). Since greyhounds “roo” in lieu of barking, and since our greyhound rides in our Subaru, it’s only fitting that this car be anointed “RooBaRoo”!

The cargo capacity is robust–see Frugal Hound’s demo below-which is key since we’re constantly toting something somewhere (couches, chainsaws, baby strollers… ). Plus, Frugal Hound and Babywoods comfortably fit in the backseat together (we’ve only had a few incidences of someone’s tail going into someone else’s mouth… ahem). Win!

Furthermore, the gas mileage is quite decent (22 MPG in the city and 29 on the highway), which is important to us from both an environmental and a personal expense perspective. If we were staying in the city, I don’t think we would’ve gotten such a big car, but being in the country, this’ll be ideal.

Frugal Hound modeling the Subaru's roomy trunk
Frugal Hound modeling the Subaru’s roomy trunk

We considered getting a truck (we scouted the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra), but those are massive vehicles–much more expensive; much worse gas mileage; much less passenger space–and we decided to hold off for now. If after several years of homestead life we discover we truly need a truck, we’ll sell the Subaru and truck-it-up.

Quick Sidenote About The Windshield 

In fine Frugalwoods fashion–and continuing on with the theme of Revenge Of The Appliances (our oven, plumbing, closet door, fridge, toilet, and myriad other things all decided to break in the first quarter of 2016)–the Subaru’s windshield was dealt a fatal blow from a rock on the interstate and necessitated replacement.

We investigated having it repaired, but the crack was too gigantic for a mere repair. Here again, frugality for the win! Although it’s not exactly enjoyable to pay $265 to replace a windshield, it sure beats the alternative of not having that cash to expend.

Sidenote within the sidenote: it would’ve cost nearly double that amount had we gone with a large, national chain of glass repairers. Instead, we asked our trusted local mechanic who directed us to a local guy who works for himself and thus charges half the price. The bonus is that we got to support the little guy (specifically his two kids who are currently in college–I can’t help but chat up everyone about their finances!) and get a great windshield in the process.

The Snowdrop (name pending)!


Since the Subaru fulfills our requirements for rugged road traversing, we wanted our second car to more nearly meet our needs for distance driving. Hence, the gas sipping hybrid Toyota Prius was our top pick. New-to-us car #2 is a 2010 Toyota Prius, purchased for $9,000. Also clocking in at just under 100K miles, this dainty machine will serve us well on lengthy treks.

The morning Mr. FW and I set out to select our Prius, we uttered these exact words to each other: “any color but white!” For some reason, we’re both averse to white cars. They’re just so… bright. And it appears that the merest of mud puddles would mar their pristine visage. We’re not into high-maintenance anything and a white car seems like it would require more coddling than say, a silver car.

So, want to guess what color our Prius is? Yep, it’s bright, light, shining white. Want to wager a guess as to why? Oh, I bet you know why. It was several thousand dollars cheaper than every single other color on the lot. Indeed, our favorite color is cheap. We hesitated for about 2 minutes on the color, then looked at each other and said, “of course we’re going to get the cheaper car!!”

FH demonstrating Snowdrop's cargo capacity
FH demonstrating Snowdrop’s cargo capacity

The used Prius dealer confirmed that white is the least popular color here in the Northeast and that they always have a hard time selling white cars. Hence, the dramatically lower price and the happy Frugalwoods fam. Color is so incredibly irrelevant in the scheme of car selection. In fact, it’s the least relevant factor. Plus, you can’t even see the color when you’re driving!

Our plan is to drive the Prius the vast majority of the time and utilize the Subaru as a second vehicle when we require its AWD or cargo capabilities. Since we’ll be driving significantly more in Vermont, we hope to offset both our carbon footprint, and our personal gasoline expenses, by driving a highly efficient hybrid Prius (gas mileage is a whopping 51 in the city and 48 on the highway).

Full disclosure: we’re having a hard time naming the Prius, so I’d say Snowdrop is a working title. Other possible names: Winter Wonderland, White Lightening, I’m Invisible In A Blizzard, Snow White, Frugal Two, and Car McCar Face (boat fanatics everywhere will appreciate this reference). Suggestions welcome!

Why Buy Used?

Why not buy used? While I vow not to judge your spending–because we all have different priorities and goals–I will say that buying a brand new car is possibly one of the worst financial decisions out there. A car loses value the second it is driven off the lot.

Me and FH in the Subaru
Me and FH in the Subaru

And each year that elapses? That car’s value plummets and plummets. A used car, on the other hand, has already shed all of it shiny-newness surcharges. Enter the savvy consumer! As a frame of reference, brand new in 2010 our Subaru retailed for $26,790 and our Prius for $23,800. That means we realized a 55% discount on the Subaru and a 62% discount on the Prius. The initial depreciation curve on cars is terrifically steep.

Based on our research, 2010 seemed to be the right point on the depreciation curve. For the Prius, this year was particularly crucial because 2010 is when Toyota redesigned the Prius and endowed it with a system that makes it more efficient in cold weather than older iterations of the car.

We tracked the used Subaru and Prius markets for months beforehand (easy to do thanks to our friend the internet) and thus, knew the going rates for the models, years, and mileage of our chosen vehicles. When we were ready to actually purchase our cars, we were able to identify deals in the Boston market–both RooBaRoo and Snowdrop slid in under market rate.

Frugal weirdos everywhere know the secret to car ownership: don’t imbue your car with emotions or expect it to serve you in any way other than as a means of transportation. When we start to view our cars as status symbols, indicators of our happiness, or when we expect a car to magically make us “cool,” we’re in trouble. Cars are not intended to serve as stand-ins for human relationships or emotions. And when we try to force them to, we pay handsomely.

What kind of car do you drive? How did you select it?

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  1. Hatchbacks are the best! We didn’t buy ours new (this was before going frugal), but we did buy both our cars with cash. I’m *pretty* sure our next car will be new too, but maybe not. I don’t know. Fortunately, that choice is still many, many years down the road. What I can *definitely* say is that it will be fully electric. It’s just the way things seem to be going…

    Right now we use my tiny Ford Fiesta as the family car, but I use an electric bike for most of my trips.

    I don’t think that would be a good option for you though, although frugalhound & baby would look might sweet in a tandem bike trailer 😀

  2. Nice, smart choices. 🙂 We just upgraded my 2000 Honda Civic to a 2009 Toyota Sienna (at a net cost of $5400 after selling the Civic for $2900). Amazing what quality used vehicles sell for. In our case, the van would have been $30k brand new. In exchange for someone else temporarily using it, we saved $22,000 vs our $8200 purchase price and we’ll continue to save many hundreds every year in taxes and insurance costs. Plus when it gets a door ding we shrug and move on instead of fretting over our beautiful car being DESTROYED by some inconsiderate a… well, let’s just say a door ding doesn’t bother us any more. 🙂

    1. Nice choice! My parents have a Sienna and it’s a great car. Perfect for your family of 5!!

    1. Some states (like FL) it’s required to be covered at $0 deductible, but other states don’t have that. Not sure where MA is on the list, but I assume that the FWs would have called to check… right?

        1. I was wondering the same! When I lived in MA three years ago, my windshield was replaced at no cost under my auto policy. Perhaps the laws have since changed.

        2. The windshield wasn’t covered because we don’t have collision insurance, only liability. And we have a lot of liability insurance, but since our cars have a very finite $ value, we don’t see the point of paying for collision insurance (it’s not like we’d fix anything superficial like a dent anyway). We’re happy to self-insure when the odd rock hits the proverbial (or in this case, literal) windshield.

          1. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on this topic. We are transitioning between cars. We have a 13 year old SUV and a 4 year old Sedan. Full collision coverage for both is less than $1000 a year. Is there a value point on the vehicle that makes more sense to self insure. Our sedan is valued at $14K and we have a $1000 deductible while our SUV is only valued at $3000 so liability seems to make more sense.

  3. I just had to get a ‘new to me’ car after a deer ended the life of my beloved 2002 Saturn. I am still crushed. 2011 Honda CRV is nice, but not my old trusty!!

  4. We are a two Subaru household and love both of them. We haven’t met a snowstorm yet that our Subaru can’t conquer!

    1. This just happened to my husband’s truck. The hole was too big too repair, and the replacement windshield cost was lower than our deductible ($500).

    2. When my windshield got a crack in it, the deductible didn’t apply and the replacement was covered at no cost to me.

  5. Congratulations on the new-to-you vehicles! Nice choices. I too have white vehicle aversion because they remind me of company fleet vehicles. I was born and raised in Massachusetts 🙂

  6. You might be surprised. Our white car looked pretty clean, even when it was filthy. Our black car, however, looked filthy the day after it had been washed. Some white cars are weird that way. Best of luck with them!

    1. It was the same with our white car. And people would often ask whether it was new, even when it was 10 years old. I think it was just that the colour made it look fresh or something.

  7. Fantastic update! My first car was white and it was cheap!!

    Car #1: 2006 matrix purchased new when our 1994 saturn bit the dust. Got a screaming deal because we were shopping with a 4 month old baby and finally just said “you can’t meet our price, we are tired, goodbye”.

    Car #2: also bought new, 2009 civic. Our 2001 prizm was t-boned and totaled. I had been shipping for a used prizm but no luck, and we couldn’t be down to one car.

    But we paid cash for both and shopped aggressively. Hope they last 20 years. Only new cars we have bought. All prior were used. Sort of been looking for a used minivan, but honestly can’t justify it with only two kids.

  8. lucky ducks! we are farmers (da da da da da da da) so we have a fleet of old pickups but for everyday use, it’s a chev. for me. my dream car (i think small) is the VW bug i never had but wanted in the 70s, so that may be down the road yet. but a funny little aside, when my inlaws were still living, they generally passed down their used cars to us (free!) and we happily took whatever they were driving. my children’s favorite was a bright white chev impala…one of the bigger models. they named it ‘the great white’ because that is the way we rolled to school every day and they loved it!

  9. We just bought a 5 acre homestead and we definitely need a truck. We have borrowed one a few times but it seems we always have another item we need. Since your house is newer maybe you won’t need it as much, but to get plywood for our chicken coop, straw bales, etc, a truck would be very handy!! Of coarse if the Subaru has a tow hitch a trailer is a good option. Sadly neither of our current cars can tow. Congratulations on your new to you vehicles! !!

    1. Yeah, we’ve wondered whether or not we’ll need a truck… and we’ve considered the tow hitch option on the Subaru. We shall just have to see!

      1. Subaru + a small trailer = Lots of towing fun! We’ve used our big truck for plowing, hauling, etc. If you have the tractor, it replaces the truck for most things except for moving large things. The small utility trailer can help with that!

  10. Subarus are my one true car love. I’ve been in many accidents (gosh not my fault) and my car has always been ok. I’ve been in many bad bad snowstorms (some in Vermont!) and my car has been ok. My Subaru Forester is a 2010 which was a year before they changed the engine to make them harder (and more expensive) to fix. My brother has a 2014 Forester which has some issues while my 2010 is doing great. I find the gas mileage is lower than estimated but it’s worth it for peace of mind and safety. I drove an Impreza for a long time and you can fit everything in these cars! I’ve scavenged many a good deal with them.

    A note on trucks: My husband is a truck guy and I love that your research pointed you toward Toyota since they are some of the best trucks, albeit very highly priced because of it. Ford Rangers do very well for hauling and come at a great price point, both for repairs and cost. We always look at cost to repair since we (he) DIY it all (thank you mechanic husband) as a crucial part of the equation. He went to school for Toyota and they just run well and cost less to repair than other brands. Subaru is one of his close second favorites just given the reliability of our cars. We always purchase super used for him (yay for $1000 cars) since he can do repairs and purchase newer used for me. I bought my 2010 with only 15k miles on it in 2013 and it was a steal compared to the list price!

    1. Yay for Subarus! Glad to hear yours are troupers in snow! That’s great to hear your husband agrees with the Toyota truck choice! Yeah, they are indeed more expensive, but I think it’s probably what we’d get if we ever decide we truly need a truck.

  11. My husband and I upgraded our 2002 Ford Escape (250k miles, and still kicking) for a 2012 Toyota Prius back in March. We love, love driving this vehicle. We also said “any color but black!” and yet that’s exactly what we purchased. Our favorite color (turns out) is cheap too. 🙂 Enjoy!

  12. LOL. Funny that white isn’t popular up north. We’ve got dark cars in the deep south, and white seems to be a pretty popular (and really, obvious) choice in Alabama. We’ve got a new little one and are already dealing with cooling down the metal bits so we don’t burn her getting into the car seat, and feeling like we’re in a sauna for 5 minutes after getting in the car. . . .

  13. We have two cars; both were obtained very frugally. Car #1, a Chevy Suburban, easily accommodates all 5 of us when we go on trips; that’s about the only time that it’s used. While it needed some work, most of which my husband was able to do, the price was definitely right…it was free. Car #2, an aged Jeep, is our everyday vehicle. It had been donated to a local animal shelter; several years ago, my husband bought it from the shelter at a fundraising auction for $600. It gets us where we need to go.

  14. Congratulations on the new additions to the family. I have paid cash for my last three vehicles. A 2001 Altima, my current 2011 Camry and my son’s 1998 Mustang. I refuse to make car payments!

  15. Great choice with the Subie – I miss mine – gave it to my nephew the mechanic and its still going strong 16 years and 325,000 km later – put snows on it for the winter and you can drive it to the snowplow, Subaru used that (accurately) in ad eons ago :).
    My concern with the Prius – what happens when the batteries wear out? – they become junkers as the replacement cost is more the vehicle is worth and used batteries are just not on – YMMV
    As for buying new cars – if you intend to keep them until they die (~15 years in the Great White North) then depreciation as you roll off the lot is not a factor – different if you need new and shiny every 3-5 years – I have bought used cars but only if I personally know the provenance.
    Solution for white paint – camo 🙂 – I like tan/beige for car colour – it just gets a bit darker as it gets dirty:)

    1. We shared the concern about a used Prius with a soon-to-fail battery, but after some research found that it’s not that big of a deal.


      We found a shop near us in Seattle that does the same work. Basically you can get a new battery from an independent shop, a reconditioned battery, or recondition yours at home. All cheaper than getting a new one at the dealer.

      We just bought a 2007 Prius, so we’ll see how it goes if and when the time comes 🙂

      1. thanks for the link Dan – have not heard about this service in Canada(eastern) and Seattle and Houston are a bit far to go – will look though

  16. Noooo, what a sad day parting with the van! Looks like you’ve made smart choices with the new vehicles, though — the same ones I’m eyeing for myself down the road, if we end up wanting or needing a new car.

  17. Mrs Frugalwoods, thank you so much. I so needed to hear this. My husband and I have already started having a bit of issues with our 2006 car, so we were looking to buy something new to us. While we didn’t find anything in the used section, we then moved to the new section for (in our minds) a few hundred bucks extra. We got so carried away that we almost lost track of our original goal of having a $250 payment to now almost doubling it because we want a pick up truck to start a remodeling side business for the weekends.It wasn’t until i read your last sentence that i realized we got so carried away because we didn’t find anything appealing in the used section, that our budget has now doubled and we didn’t even realize it. And what’s worst, we were in autopilot and ok with our monthly payment increasing that much just because we got carried away a bit. After reading your post, i see that is time to take a step back and review our original plan and stick with it. Thank you for this.

    1. Glad I could help, Karla! It is SO easy to get carried away and think “oh it’s just a few hundred extra every month, etc”–I’ve definitely been there! But, you’re very right that it adds up over time and can make a huge difference in your overall savings. Good luck with finding a great car in your budget 🙂

  18. I like the word ‘aplomb’. Nice usage.

    Are you guys thinking of solar panels or geothermal heating for the Frugalwoods Refuge of Next Resort? Solar panels are actually much more efficient in the cold. While I have no property I can modify yet, geothermal heating has been a slight fascination of mine, prompted by its efficiency (I am the son of an electrical engineer, and obsession with efficiency has been bred into me) and by the simplicity of the design. My uncle and aunt had geothermal heating installed for their house in the county, and I have been coveting it.

    I hope your decamping to the woods goes smoothly!

    1. We are indeed considering solar and plan to research it once we’re there. I would love to have it!

  19. My car is a 2004 Subaru Imprezza hatchback. I call her Ru-Ru. And she is the dreaded colour white, but I find that she doesn’t look that dirty most of the time… Or I just don’t care, ha ha! I did buy her used, but I was not as financially aware at the time and financed her through my bank. On the plus side, I paid off my loan way ahead of schedule. I’ve now had her for about 10 years and she has be super reliable. I hope that she will serve me for many years to come… She’s smaller than the Outback, but we use her as our “truck”. My husband would love to get a Tacoma to replace his Civic, but not only are they expensive and heavy on the gas, we don’t really “need” a truck… At least not while Ru-Ru does the job so well!

  20. That’s funny about the white aversion. I had a boss who only bought white vehicles. He hated any other color. But I’m out West so that must be the difference. Two of the three vehicles I owned were white, but I never cared about the color except that I’m opposed to black since we had a black car when I was young and it always got so hot.

  21. Bought a Carmax GMC truck. Most excellent. The truck of my husband’s dreams. I woke up one day and decided we are of an age that wishes need to be fulfilled. My reasoning was that I didn’t want the guilt of my beloved passing away before he got what he wanted. It’s loaded and he’s so happy.

  22. Can’t believe all the things you’ve been holding out on us! Even though I know people who only buy white cars, I, too, am not a fan. But to save lots of $$ I would totally do it. Our current cars are a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder with about 190k miles and a 1996 Toyota 4Runner with over 400k miles. Both bought used. The prices you paid seem good to low for my area (north Texas). I would have grabbed that Outback at that price. Good job!

  23. $21k for two reliable vehicles – not bad at all! I currently don’t own a car and mooch off my girlfriend now that I moved out of the city. We’re going to try and be a one-car household, and I don’t really see any scenarios where it won’t work (hopefully).

  24. My husband has car through his work, and I have a 2012 Honda Odyessey we bought last year with 29,000 miles. We saved thousands by driving to a dealer about an hour and a half away with much more inventory….we have white which isn’t super popular and it’s a EX, so not the lowest trim but the next to lowest. We saved by wanting the power doors etc but not needing the DVD, leather and so on.

    I am pregnant with #5 so we wanted something that would last with great reviews and have enough space for us all (seats 7 but we have a extra seat we can put in to seat 8) and the gas mileage is pretty good!

    And yes we paid cash 😉

  25. LOVE our Subaru! We have a 1996 that we bought for cash 5 years ago. We live in the city, so it’s a bit large and not practical mileage-wise, but I hit the craft show circuit on weekends so the size was necessary. And I still live in hopes of getting the husband on board with a move to a less urban environment.

  26. We bought a used 2009 Ford Flex with 134,000 miles on it for $7500 in excellent shape. A new one cost about $30,000. It’d be nice to have a $134,000 less miles but it’s nice not having to take out a loan for once or having to pay higher insurance/car taxes as well.

  27. I’m really happy to hear someone talk about the choice for two cars being the right choice, especially one like the Subaru. I live very rurally as well, just across the VT border in the Adirondack Park, and while I’d love to bike everywhere, take public transit, and use my feet as a main mode of transportation, rural living has a number of significant frugal living drawbacks. Car ownership is just one. You must have a car to live rurally or be dependent on the whims and generosity of others. For us, two cars is the right choice for right now, and by choosing those cars wisely and sharing rides whenever possible, we still spend less than the average American spends on one car per year. It isn’t our ideal living situation, but it is the one that works for us.

  28. We drive a 2004 Toyota Echo. Long ago paid for, or course. And don’t use much gas. Cheap on insurance also! When it dies, we will buy a new car. Not interested in buying someone else’s problems (with older car). I prefer buying new, peace of mind knowing there is nothing wrong with it, and driving it until it dies. It will be another Toyota or Honda.

  29. I love the combination! I would love to own an electric car. I also live in Vt and love my 2010 Outback. I’m sorry to say I recently had to replace the engine at 109k (full disclosure: I did all required maintenance at dealer (stupid in hindsight but cc rewards covered most back when they offered a 3% reward to use at Subaru), apparently my thermostat acted up and the resulting overheating damaged the head, a new (used) engine made more sense than an expensive repair that might not fix all damage). Long story short, I now have a 2011 engine with @25k miles on it so I consider it a brand new car ready for the next decade of use when I can upgrade to a Tesla!
    Enjoy the new rides.
    p.s. I’m happy to report my about to graduate (MBA) sister just made a smart car buying decision snapping up a 2007 Honda Accord (manual!) with 85k for $5300. So glad she isn’t putting herself into a new-car hole in addition to the student loans.

  30. Wow – a two car family 🙂

    We bought a used 2004 Toyota Matrix when tiny Eivy was born since my mother insisted that a Geo Metro (basically a tin can on wheels) was not safe enough for her grandchild. It is still going strong although the interior has certainly taken a hit with melted crayons, cracker crumbs, and dog hair. My hubby busses it to work and I only use the car when we are traveling over two miles. I give myself a little happy face on my calendar when I don’t drive the car at all 🙂

    While we love the Prius, our next car (whenever The Blue Barron breaks for good) will be a Leaf. All electric. No gas. Ahhhhhh

  31. I was hoping one of the cars at least would be a Subaru. We live in Colorado and like Vermont, Subaru is practically the state car. We have had 3 Subarus since 1993 and will never buy anything else.

  32. Congratulations on your new rides. I’m with you on white cars, but as you say — the best color is cheap. I drive a Subaru Outback (my second) and don’t think I’ll ever own anything else. It is a fantastic car for winter here in the mountains — I have a friend from Vermont who says a Subaru with good snow tires could drive to the North Pole. And you can haul a lot in that baby — two dogs, a Costco run worth of groceries, all our camping gear, etc. etc.

    1. Funny thing, I did drive my Outback to the North Pole, North Pole Alaska, that is. It did great on the AlCan, up and back. All without snow tires.

  33. Also curious about insurance for the windshield… I understood that the deductible doesn’t apply to windshield replacement.

  34. I’ve got a 2006 Prius and it has been great – except in snow or going up a steep gravel drive. It’s really bad in snow, but I have an older version than you so I hope yours is better. Once my car senses that the wheels are spinning the engine just craps out completely. Doesn’t matter how much you floor it there is no response. I do have the vehicle stability control added so maybe that’s what is doing it. I don’t know, but I hope yours is better. BTW, snow tires did help some.

    My car has over 210k miles on it and doesn’t show any signs of quitting although it does burn a good bit more oil than it used to. Keep your tires inflated a bit on the hard side for best mileage. I’ve become quite an expert at coasting too. Always trying to maximize the mileage! I never had any trouble with the battery. That was the one big thing that everyone was worried about when Prii first came out. I guess to replace the large battery (under the back seat) is very costly indeed.

    I probably shouldn’t mention it but some people claim the EMF radiation that arises from the constant charging and discharging of the battery is supposedly unhealthy. Just something to watch for. A friend of mine is very sensitive to it and had to quickly unload her Prius because of it. Not to scare you or anything. Take it with a grain of salt.

  35. You want green and frugal? Let the rain and snow wash the car. With modern stainless steel exhausts and undercoatings, not much to rust. The purchaser of my 8.5 yr old Accord did not suspect it was never, ever washed. 4 yrs on another car and it looks pristine. Dealerships could not understand why I would pass on a “free” car wash. I needed to prove my theory and now it sticks. They do get vacuumed once a year, whether they need it or not. Keep up the good work Frugalwoods! PS I have no ill will on car washes.

  36. I’m curious as to how you decided what your mileage threshold was? 100k sounds high to me, but I don’t actually know if it is. I’ve always set an arbitrary threshold around 60k, but I’d love to be able to justify higher mileage for much less $$!

  37. Wow, this was a really helpful and timely post for me – especially that last paragraph. I am facing the choice of whether to trade my truck for my parent’s Subaru (they want 4 wheel drive and would give me a great deal), and I’ve been resisting solely because I really like my truck. But there is no practical reason for me to resist the trade, whatsoever – and I’d save a lot of money on gas because I drive a lot. I guess I just needed to hear straight-out “don’t imbue your car with emotions”, even though that’s such an obvious thing. Thanks!

  38. I drive a 2008 Scion XD. It was the first new car I’d ever owned and it has been paid off for years. I love it! It has 64,000 miles on it (my commute is three miles, no biking is not an option) and gets 30+mpg and I fill up 1.5-2 times a month. It is small but mighty and I can get 20 bags of mulch in the back if I put down the seats and use physics!

  39. Congrats on your new vehicles! I like the choices!

    We are a two car family. Our starting and ending work times don’t line up exactly so it’s just too hard to swing it with one car – then add in our after work hobbies which vary by time and place. I could technically bike to my work, but I choose to mountain bike after work for exercise rather than on the route to work because riding on the road isn’t that fun to me. I was carless for 8 months before.

    I have a 1992 Camry LE which I bought for $500 just five months ago. Before that was a 1998 Saturn that I bought for $2200. It had some issues after a long dutiful 8 years with me, so I sold it for $400 with the snow tires. I m so glad my friend who is on sabbatical was selling his Camry – hence the awesome friend discount and great timing! Believe me, it’s a serious upgrade from my 6 year younger Saturday. Sun roof and tape deck!

    Hubs drives a fully paid 2005 Subaru Outback. It’s our road trip vehicle and car we take skiing. Soon, it will pull our new little camping trailer too. (50% of these trailer owners pull with an Outback surprisingly.) If the Suby doesn’t quite cut it for our towing needs, that’s why we are not sinking a ton of cash into the second vehicle – keep it as cheap and safe as possible just in case all the while saving money.

  40. I just bought a white car on purpose! I have owned a number of cars i my almost 60 years, but never white, so I thought I would give it a try. My last car was dark blue – New England winters make dark cars look terrible with all the salt residue on them. By the way, when I visited friends living in Japan in the 90’s they pointed out that almost all the cars in Japan were white! Not sure if that is still the case, but was a notable and interesting oddity.

    While I had cash enough for the car, I decided to finance for three years because I got 0% interest (I have a credit score of 820) and figured I can keep the cash invested and get a bit investment income. Not a decision for everyone, but works for me.

    Another one wondering about insurance and glass coverage – I have had a number of windshields replaced in Massachusetts with out being charged anything at all (deductible did not apply for windshield coverage)…

    Jealous of the prius! We are a one car family so need something more

  41. Congrats on the new cars and paying with cash, well done!

    My wife and I had similar experiences with our cars. Originally we were a two-car family, then we moved to San Fran for bit and had no car, and now are a two car family again. We drive the second one so rarely though that we cut the insurance back on it which helped save a good amount. If you also won’t be using the second car as much, just more out of necessity, I wonder if you could do the same to save some cash.

    We recently bought a new car about 6 months ago and I have a detailed post coming up for the end of May to discuss our selection, etc. I hope you stop by to take a read and let me know what you think.

    Thanks for the post!

  42. I think you should name the Prius, either Snowball or Midnight, after two cats I know. One is black and named Snowball and the other is white and named Midnight.

  43. I, too, was wondering about why insurance did not cover the windshield. Around here it does without mattering about the deductible. I have never yet paid cash for a car but plan to do it next time I need to buy one. I usually drive it to death (well, high mileage anyway) and then trade on a new one when it gets to about 150,000 miles or so. Maybe this time I’ll drive it to death and then get a NEARLY new one for cash.

  44. Wow! Nice cars – what a life change for you guys, family, home, now autos!
    Please check the oil often in your Prius.
    Why do people block out License Plates in photos when they’re visible to the hombre in the street?
    My latest auto is a 1993 Corvette just for the fun of driving! Beautiful car, low miles – 83K. People who buy them “baby” them – it spent all its winters in a garage – no rust.
    Named “Bijou” as the color is Ruby, and i bought her the day after the Paris incident last November. And she’s from Vermont! But loving the desert.

  45. As an active, retired, frugal Grandma, living the good life in a small rural Ontario town, I knew I wanted a hatchback when it came time to replace my 15 yr. old Ford Taurus Station Wagon. I researched and shopped for 3 years, prior to replacing it. My excellent mechanic recommended a Honda. He said they are never in his garage, but I could not find one that was comfortable. They have terrible headrest problems, and the driver side seat adjustments, just would not work so that I could be comfortable. My teenage Grandaughters had the same problems, so I went back to Ford Dealerships. No where could I find what I wanted — a 2010 Ford Escape Ltd. Yes, at my age, I wanted black leather seats and a sunroof, plus the all wheel drive ! A local used car dealership would search for just what buyers wanted, and have them shipped in. My car had been a daily lease in Ottawa. It had been rust proofed, had only 63,000 km. and looked like new. It is even silver grey, my favourite colour. My fifteen yr. old Grandaughter went with me on a test drive on some very picturesque country roads in our area. We just loved it ! I paid my trusty mechanic to give it a thorough inspection, including a test drive, and putting it up on a hoist and looking at everything there, then under the hood. He said it was a keeper, but added that it needed new tires. He wrote a report for me. I took it back to the dealership, and they rather reluctantly agreed to give me a $1000.00 set of new tires, included with the original price. The inspection cost me $40.00. He failed two other cars, and it was well worth the money. One had passed a safety, but had something wrong with the transmission. They gave me $700.00 as a trade in value on my old Taurus, and I paid just under $20,000 cash including all taxes. Originally my car would have been worth about $42,000 when new. I purchased really good rubber mats for the front and back for about another $300.00 because I use my Escape to transport garden plants, auction and yard sale finds etc. I can just remove the large back one with one inch sides, and hose it down, let it dry in the sun, and replace it. They are designed by a laser to perfectly fit your car, and are well worth it — no damage to the carpet anywhere during the winter. I bought them at a local auto glass place, and they installed them. I also got mud flaps. I love this car ! It is high like a little truck, and I can see everywhere. The Escapes after 2012 are a different design, not nearly as nice, and lower to the ground. I think this is the nicest car I have ever owned — love those heated seats in the winter ! I did not want a lot of touch screen stuff, and this one is free of it. It is just the handiest little car for driving and parking. Did I say how much I love this car ? Love your blog too, and always enjoy reading it !

  46. Congratulations, that’s some smart buying!

    I bought a 1990 Subaru in about 1993. It had hit a power pole on the side, and the back half was literally from a different car. Paid $5000, with about 10,000 miles on it (Salvage Title). I put 100k on it and it got totaled a tremendous hail storm. It looked like monkeys with hammers had crawled all over it. Insurance company paid me … $5000! I bought it back for 500 from them. Drove it many more miles. Sold it for (I think $1000).

    So I got paid to drive a Subaru. I’ve had two – they were great, and could just about plow snow.

    I’d consider buying a little 4X8 enclosed (lockable) trailer (around a thousand on Craigslist) and do without the pickup myself, but 66 acres.. you may need more.

  47. Nice job! When I paid cash for my used car, the guy at the dealership was a bit surprised and made a comment that it must be nice to have all that money to pay cash. I felt weird and lied, saying that I borrowed the money from my 401k. I don’t know why I did that…oh well. In any case, my last two cars were white also cause it just so happens that was the color they had and I wasn’t picky. I don’t find that the color makes it look any dirtier than the other colors so don’t worry! If we move out to the suburbs, we were considering the same vehicles you guys got. I would love to have a prius for my long commute and because I can get a special tag to use the HOV lane

  48. Love your new rides. Totally awesome, was going to ask you about how the van would do in snowy roads.

    One thing on the Prius, are you worried that the battery might not last? I’ve seen quite a few old Prius for sell in Vancouver that need batteries replaced.

  49. My car is a very green Dodge Stratus 1993. The only reason why I have this car is because I got it from my mom when she decided that she had to have a new car because she never had one before. Why she decided she needed a new car is beyond me but, it still runs and works ok except for the occasional need for repairs.

  50. I understand that your extreme savers. But how exactly did you save the cash for the cars? If I understand correctly, you keep about three months of expenses in a checking account and put the rest in investment accounts. Did you have to take some money out of the investment accounts to pay for the cars? And the homestead for that matter? Just trying to understand. Thanks!

    P.S. I’m new to the blog and love it!

  51. Man, what a shocker to see what look like two brand new cars on your blog! You probably had to pull the trigger.

    Here I am debating again this year whether to sell my car or not. I bought my Honda Civic new in 2005 with the idea that a new car will inherently last longer than a used car, meaning I could just drive for the longest possible time before having to replace it. (I still support buying new for this reason. I hate cars, and I hate the idea of maintenance or shopping for another one. The least thinking I have to do the better.)

    But there’s the Civic, sitting on the street most days. Between it and my wife’s 2013 Corolla, we drive about 10k miles annually, and it doesn’t make sense to own two. But I find the Civic so hard to part with. We’ve been through so much, and it’s so handy! It’s shocking how much I’m able to fit in it.

    My in-laws have always called their Priuses “the Pry baby.” I’m sure you’re welcome to have that one.

  52. Great job on the cars! I also am a big used advocate and also love small, efficient cars if possible (although we will likely need one larger van in future). I found a 2012 Hyundai Accent hatchback for myself with all the bells and whistles (Bluetooth, fog lights, etc) for $7,000. It did have 79,000 miles but was all highway miles (previous owner drove 100 miles a day for work). My mom previously worked at an auto auction so she had access to Black Book (the true value of cars that dealers use– Blue Book is over-inflated) and she could see that car was a steal for the price. It was far distance to pick up though— took nearly 2 hours drive time to pick it up. But it was worth it! I learned that if you’re looking for a cheap used car, be willing to drive far, especially to small towns (I’m outside Philly and we had to drive past Jim Thorpe, PA for this car). Often times, smaller cars in truck-heavy rural areas don’t sell well so deals abound.

    I had previously gotten a steal for my husband on a certified pre-owned Ford Fiesta Hatch (again a 2012) with 33,000 miles (bought 11/2014) for $13,000. This fancy car had heated leather seats, Bluetooth, and push start ignition (not for everyone but we love it). This was a far-out Ford dealer that was a 2 hour NJ transit bus ride from NY PABT to a tiny town in upstate NY (we used to live in BK before moving to PA). Found car online and again, based on Black Book, it was below the normal selling price so we jumped on it. Although we learned th hard way that NY is one of the only states that doesn’t let you buy and start car insurance the same day (like if you had no insurance previously). We had to come back via bus once more to get car the next day— but it was totally worth it for the deal. 🙂

  53. Me and my husband also have a Subaru Outback and a Prius. We live in Oregon and these are the official cars of our state. We own both outright and purchased them for the same reasons. 🙂

  54. We, too, found that 2010 was the ideal year for a used car for our purposes. I’m thrilled with my Corolla…… I travel a ton for work and get so excited when I figure out my gas mileage. I’m a frugal weirdo, too.

  55. 2000 Honda Accord, bought new, still being driven by daughter about to graduate from college, 5 hours from home. Over 200K on it now, not sure since it’s been away from home. She’ll take it with her when she starts working (3 hours away) in August. At the time we bought it, I was willing to keep driving the 1987 (I think it was) Mazda 626 (bought new, had about 156K miles on it), but I was starting a new job, with considerably more driving distance and in the city, and hubby insisted on my moving from manual transmission to automatic. As it happened, I did end up driving through miserable road construction traffic for about two years. Note that the Mazda had the original clutch.

    2003 Honda Civic, bought used when daughter needed a car, so she got the Accord, and I got this one, because I did the most driving. Now has about 180K on it. Still driving to work and back. It is sometimes a little bit light for some of the roads I travel, due to serious cross-winds, but I know how to handle it. When the weather calls for snow or ice, since I’m the one traveling the farthest, I get the –

    2010 Subaru Forester, bought new, 160,000 miles or so I think, hubby usually drives it. Two gripes about it. The front passenger seat sits too low, and has no height adjustment. It does not have enough granularity at the low temperature end of the climate control. So for heat, it jumps from nothing to too warm (for me) and sometimes I want something else between the lowest two settings for A/C. Also, I wanted grey (like the two Hondas), but hubby and daughter wanted red, and that’s what we have. The red looks dirty more often than the grey. Also, the headlights are oddly square at the top, and I think it gives a funny, chopped off, headlight splash. I think this is ‘modern’ styling , but I don’t think I prefer it.

    We’ve never named a car, and there are others preceding these, back into pre-marriage days.

    Yes, we’ve bought new, but hubby says cars should last 10 years or 100K miles, whichever comes second. As you can see, as long as they’re running well, we don’t tend to get rid of them. The last vehicle we disposed of, when we bought the Subaru, was a 13(?) year old Chrysler Town & Country van, extended wheelbase, AWD (bought new). It had 260K(?) on it. This was a great vehicle when traveling 8 hours each way with a small child (even now I miss the captain’s chairs) in the winter weather at Christmas, and on other long jaunts. We got rid of it because apparently Chrysler had trouble with the AWD extended wheelbase drive train, didn’t make a lot of them, and we were reaching the point where it was becoming near-impossible to get some parts.

  56. Your car combo looks like ours: a silver Subaru Outback and a white Honda Civic (named, not joking: White Lightning). And while I can’t report on the Prius, I can report that the Subaru is your best friend in harsh winter driving — we live up high in the mountains, where snow comes in feet not inches, and the Subi is a champ, especially with winter tires on. We have the Civic for basically the same purpose as your Prius — higher mileage around town car, and for runs to the airport for work. (It spends half of each week parked at our closest airport most weeks.)

    And, you’ll be happy to know: White is by far the safest car color because it’s most visible to other motorists (therefore least likely to get hit). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the trade group for the insurance companies (who have a vested interest in NOT paying out for cars and therefore want them all to be safe), categorizes safety by whether a car is white, or is any other color. So you guys accidentally made a great choice — and it may even save you MORE money down the road by not being hit. 🙂 Also, honestly, white cars don’t look any more dirty than others. Black cars show every speck, but white cars can hide a lot.

  57. Wow, not just one new car, but two!

    You won’t go wrong with the Subaru. They’re tanks. I’ve owned several over the years. Our current family car is a Subaru Forester. The gas mileage is surprisingly good too! We don’t use it for commuting after I early retired, so it’s mostly driven when there isn’t a lot of stop and go traffic. I usually see 30-35mpg. Funny enough, we just cracked our windshield too.

  58. Good call ruling out the Fit. We just bought one last year and are very happy with it, but trying to plow through any kind of snow is not a good idea in that car. (We have a 2008 Sport package, which has some very un-practical low-riding trim, but also has cruise control while the Basic version of the ’08 model did not.)

    We live in Colorado (another place where Subarus are wildly popular) but we’re in town and walking/biking distance to everywhere we *need* to go on a daily basis, so when the snow hits, we just walk ’cause it’s easier 🙂

    For anyone interested in the Fit, though – our experience with a car that now has nearly 220k miles on it is that it averages 38 mpg – city or freeway – and has an unbelievable amount of cargo space, with really cool flexible options for moving the seats around. (At least the 2008 version – I don’t know much about the newer ones.)

    Enjoy your new (to you) vehicles!

  59. Sorry if this is repetitious — but my friends who drive a Subaru remind me that backwards, Subaru spells “U R A Bus.”

  60. White cars are the most visible, hence the “safest” by many insurer’s accounts. If I had white as a much less expensive option, I would have also selected it!!

    We currently drive a 2005 Honda Accord and a 2012 Honda CRV.
    Both bought used, both great deals because they were not top-of-the-line models.
    Congrats on your purchases!

  61. My Dad owns a shop that strictly does maintenance and repairs for fleet vehicles. I once commented that almost all the vehicles were white, and I wouldn’t think a company would want white vehicles. They wouldn’t look as clean. He pointed out that’s actually why most fleets are only white vehicles: White doesn’t show dirt as much as a darker vehicle. After a while I realized he was right: Unless the vehicle is really dirty, you don’t notice dirt as much on a white vehicle.

  62. We went with the RAV4 as we needed a awd/4wd at the time and also the clearance that the RAV gave us – yes, in DC, we were in the western suburbs. We’ve used the clearance a few times here in PA, but not really the 4wd. There’s a very steep hill out of our neighborhood, and we’re all still waiting to see how well it’s plowed once turned over to the boro. We don’t need the 4wd any more (we hope), but it doesn’t make sense to trade it in until gas approaches $4/gallon again, so we’re keeping it. For our Camry, we were initially going to go with a PriusV, but then test drove it and the Camry hybrid, and for $1500 more, we liked the Camry *much* better. We’re hopefully not buying any cars in the near future as ours are 4 years and not quite 1 year old, but we’ll probably be looking at the Toyota line again, we’ve been happy with them.

  63. Nice choices! I think you are right about the Fit. Mr. FP is always complaining that ours does not have enough clearance for rural driving. Subarus are also beloved of Coloradoans. (How do you know you’re a real Coloradoan? Your mountain bike is worth more than both your Subarus.)

    We have a 2008 Fit that we chose because (a) it cost about $6K, which was the exact amount of money we had available to spend and (b) we wanted a little hatchback. It’s not fancy, but it does have capacity. Mr. FP once crammed in an entire dining room table AND the six chairs!

    Then I still have my 1999 Accord. I bought it certified used in 2004 for $10,500, only half of which I had. I financed the rest for three years at $193 per month, a payment now loooong in the rearview mirror and the last I ever plan to make. It was my first grownup car and marks the last time I had a nicer car than Mr. FP. (We have gone back and forth between two cars and one–he has had three different cars since then.)

  64. How about Frugalwoods Two in honour of the best Thunderbirds vehicle? We have a 1999 Toyota Corolla. We didn’t really need a car at the time but public transport is expensive here so when friends offered us their old car for the price they would get to trade it in, we bought it. This was about $4000 under market value so we were pretty happy with that!

  65. Wiki: “A white elephant is a possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost, particularly that of maintenance, is out of proportion to its usefulness.” Although, that’s not a very fun name. I like “Frosty” per your earlier poster “JH”. If you don’t name it soon though, your daughter will be finding out about “Olaf”….

    1. Actually, white elephant is kind of funny, because no one else wanted the white car. PS, both cars are Awesome. Very happy for you all!

  66. I drive no car.
    I chose it by not going to a car dealership, not looking at car prices, and not choosing based on color or any other factors. Then I did not drive away from the car dealership I didn’t go to, and did not pay in cash. I also did not sign up for a loan.

    So far I love my lack of car.
    Then again, I don’t live in the woods 😉

  67. Good luck with the cars. We have a 2010 Forrester, which my son drives, and bought a new 2015 Outback as my husband has arthritis in his neck, and the panoramic backup camera was new that year. It is great ! We love them both and do all required maintenance as we want to keep them for a loooooong time.

  68. I have WHITE Subaru Impreza, selected because it was my parents’ old car 😛 But as to the colour– my dad actually insisted on buying a white car, on the grounds that you will reap additional savings/comfort gains when you need the air conditioner less in the summer! The air conditioner actually broke last year before a road trip, and I drove from Thunder Bay to Toronto in the summer very comfortably with the windows cracked.

  69. Congratulations on scoring those great acquisitions. I was going to suggest the name Blanche or Bourane (which is French for Buran, which is snowstorm in Russian) but I much prefer Frosty, as suggested by another commentator. We own a 2011 Prius that we pruchased second hand and cash. It had 24 000 kilometers and we paid 23K plus tax = 27 K. We live in Canada, where everything is so much more expensive. We named her Mémé-Q. Mémé for Granny who passed the day we bought our Prius, and Q for the Star Trek persona, as the Prius is so high tech compared to our former Corolla. My husband loves our Prius, to the point that I was worried he would have an accident, so obsessed was he with the dashboard and all those statistics and graphics. Our son recently purchased a second-hand Prius and after properly greeting, I swear the first words they exchange are about the Prius’ mileage! We too have a white car aversion. I think I associate them with Paris Hilton types!

  70. I’m incredibly lucky that I do not have to own a car in my city. I’ve driven an older-model Prius, and did not like the ability to see out the back. I felt the blind spot was too big. Me, I’m happy to walk, take the bus, or take the train. It always astounds me when I get mailers offering to “lower” my auto insurance premium. It’s currently $0, and I’d love to pay less.

  71. Since paying off our car loan years ago, we’ve paid cash (well, check technically) whenever we needed to replace them. Right now we have a 2007 Honda Accord that serves as our main car. We picked it up from a Craigslist seller. It has 160k and it still runs well.

  72. Congrats on the cars! What a surprise (a fun one) to read!

    I have to disagree about buying a new car being one of the worst financial decisions. When I purchased my Civic, the ones that were 1-4 years old were a couple thousand more, so it made sense to buy new since part of my job is mobile. We could have paid cash for the car, but we financed because the rate was so low and our savings account is at a higher rate. My mileage threshold was lower than yours, so new we went.

    Do you have any concerns about the battery of the Prius in the cold? I had two coworkers with hybrid cars a few years ago who had problems with their car batteries when the temperature dropped below a certain point.

  73. I love the name Snowdrop! That name has my vote 😉 I had to depart with my beloved ’99 Chevy Malibu two years ago – it does hurt a bit to let them go. Now I’m driving an even more efficient new-to-me Mazda 3. It was inexpensive and I’m pretty sure we will have a long relationship. My friend asked my opinion the other day on getting a new car. She’s constantly fretting about money yet thinks getting a “status” car is the answer. It’s difficult to watch. Back to your story – congrats on the new-to-you vehicles! Many adventures await!

  74. i own a prius myself and named it Limmiwinks. Have you thought of naming the car something the opposite of what it is? Such as tank, megatron, etc

  75. I like “Snow White” also. I’m driving a 2015 Subaru Outback that we purchased new for cash. For the way I drive, your 2010 Subaru (at around 100K miles) has already been driven 16 years worth of miles. [We own a 2002 Honda Civic with just over $80,000.] While not the most frugal was to purchase a car, the cost of buying new was worth it to me to know exactly who has driven it and how it was treated. We will be a few years paying ourselves back, but hey…no finance charges!

  76. My frugal solution for better gas mileage without the hybrid markup is to drive a stick-shift!! Manual transmissions also do a bit better in bad weather.

    Just a note about buying new- depending on the car *new can be cheaper* than buying used! I was looking for a Toyota Corolla in 2009, and buying a 3-4 year old Corolla with 50-80k miles cost the same as a brand new Corolla, except the new Corolla had 0.0% financing AND oil changes for the life
    of the car for paying $150 one time. I actually saved money buying new by waiting until the end of the year, shopping around and looking for discounts ($1000 off final price just for showing a recent college diploma).

    You new wheels look Awesome!

  77. My mom calls her Prius the Scrubbing Bubble due to it’s shape, which is ironic also being a white vehicle, it’s never clean!

  78. What about “The WhiteHound” for a nickname? Dont worry about the white. My dad told me they are easier to keep clean than darker cars, maybe because of the salt in wintertime. Seems to be true though! Congrats on the new adventures!

  79. You might still want to keep an eye out for a beater truck for random hauling. $500-$1500 seems to be the going rate.

  80. These are exactly the two cars we are considering when our Matrix gives out. So hard to find anything that’s Japanese and a wagon/hatchback…these two are kind of it, these days. We may even have to eliminate the Prius if we can’t get our heads around driving an automatic.

    Still, both are great, reliable cars…may they last you a few more decades.

  81. I’m really hoping my 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix with 185,000 miles keeps going for at least a few more years, but when the time eventually comes, I really want a Subaru! I can’t decide which one I would want more, the Crosstrek, Forester, or Legacy. What made you decide on the Outback instead of a Crosstrek or Forester?

  82. We just recently replaced our reliable but decrepit Grand Caravan with a Traverse. We were happy to move to something with more ground clearance since I go to my mom’s farm 2x a week, on average, and I can’t navigate her road in the winter without that clearance. More than once I had to park the minivan and hike in with a baby, a toddler and a gradeschooler. NOT FUN. It still has the cargo space we loved from the minivan and enough room for our family of five (we have three very tall sons, so leg room is a very big deal around here) and the carpool of kids that I drive every afternoon.
    My husband’s car is his work truck, a 2004 Ford Ranger fleet truck. This means it has a seriously rough and ready look on the interior but it is practical and white, which helps you read the decals on the side for our business. I think it had 40,000 miles when we bought it, somehow, but less than a year later it is over 90,000. lol It is beyond ridiculous to buy new trucks for a pest control guy. They drive them into the ground. We paid cash, of course. It also is pretty reasonable on gas, especially for a truck, because it is light and doesn’t have a very big motor. It isn’t as if my husband needs a lot of towing capacity/horsepower to drag around some small tubs of chemicals and a sprayer.

  83. My husband and I both own Priuses and live on, what is oh so often, a very muddy dirt road. We’ve never had the trouble of getting stuck but we think it’s because the Prius is so light that it sort of just floats above the mud and muck as opposed to sinking in it.

    As for your Prius’ name. Mine (black) is named Peppa so you could name yours Saltay and they could be far away twins 🙂 Oh, or, Night and Day! HA! I named my husband’s Peppy ’cause Prius got spunk!!

  84. Congrats on the new-to-you, schweeeet frugal rides! I had to laugh when I read that white is an unpopular color in the frozen north… down here in FL, white cars are very popular. They’re much cooler to jump into at 5:00 pm on an August day than a darker color. Reliable sources (white car owners) tell me they actually show less dirt than other colors. Ehrm, okay…

    BTW, what about Blanche du Bois for the Prius? (A white car in the woods.) Tighty Whitey? 🙂

    PS: Frugal Hound is the BEST. Whenever I’m feeling down, I look at her photos and they make me smile. Instant mood-booster.

  85. Those 2 new cars are sure snappy! And, of course, you guys scored incredible deals! If my Subaru Outback had not been totaled in a wreck in 2006, I would still be driving it. I lived in the Sierras at the time on a paved over, undivided, mule trail. The city/county does not plow in the winter! I have had large trucks follow in my Subarus tracks in the winter-as the highway patrol was closing the road behind us! In 2006, I did splurge on a brand new Honda Element-and yes, still driving it at 130,000 miles. The Element is nice, the Subaru was nicer. A friend has a Prius and says the car pays for itself. She lives in the Bay Area, so no snow or tough roads. White is an extremely popular color in both El Dorado and Sacramento Counties. I think it is the heat-white cars just stay cool in 100+ summers. You guys inspire me every day! Love your blog.

  86. I’m very sorry for your loss. 🙂

    While I’ll admit to struggling to view some other things in this way, cars have always been 100% utilitarian to me. I want my car to be safe, reliable, and fuel-efficient. As a result, we have a used Camry, which is my primary car, and a used Accord. Both have about 175,000 miles on them. For a while, I drove a Subaru Legacy. I liked it, but it was really tiny. We didn’t appreciate or mind this until our daughter was born, and it was incredibly difficult to fit anything or anyone in the back seat with the infant car seat. And, yes, the AWD Subaru was definitely less fuel-efficient than the Camry and the Accord are, but sometimes you just need the extra power. Congratulations on your paid-for vehicles!

  87. A little late, but will also weigh in on white cars! I had a dark grey car and live on dirt roads and it was aways dirty looking. I want toooo bothered, but it was frustrating when I did decide to wash it that it only lasted until I left the house. Now I have a white car and haven’t washed it once, and it still looks a million times cleaner than the gray car. I think white is less popular and sometimes cheaper because people think it will look dirty, since that is the case with most other white items

  88. A great read. Love the new vehicles.
    In my book, changing vehicles is up there with moving house. No. Worse.
    I did the only thing that was likely to work for me. I asked my garage mechanic to “look out for one for me”. He is the most trusty of fellows and had kept my 30 year old banger on the road and safe. Folk would look in wonder at my old car and say things like “didn’t know they were still on the road”.
    So “trusty Tony” garage mechanic “looked out for one” as I said. Weeks later came the phone call. “Think I’ve got it for you”. One of his other older ladies (that describes me!) was moving inter-state and wanted to sell it. He had been looking after her car and knew everything under the bonnet. I paid the lady cash and I’m as happy as Larry. I love my little blue car. This was one time I was more than happy to outsource a job.

  89. I am the 2nd owner of a 2006 Prius (1st owner was very meticulous about maintenance!) People are surprised on how much I can back in the back of my Prius (think helping an adult child move out of my home!) I like having the consumption chart on the dash–it changed my driving habits! I coast down hills; I get better gas mileage when I obey the speed limit (typically I would drive 5-7 miles over the posted limit) I’m enjoying your posts about your new homestead! (&Babywoods is a little doll!)

  90. Welcome to VT! I also live here (up north), commute quite a bit (~20k miles per year), and understand why the Subaru is the unofficial state vehicle… but my Outback experience was disastrous. (Long story short: purchased at 95k miles, sold two years later at 136k miles, $11k lighter just to stop the bleeding from maintenance and depreciation…)

    The new ride is a hail-damaged, salvage-titled, severely discounted, but mechanically perfect Accord with some beastly winter tires for the snowy season and great all-seasons for the remaining three months of the year. A better ride on the highway, much better fuel economy all around, and super low maintenance costs (e.g., timing chain instead of belt, and no known head gasket issues).

    True, AWD is a nice feature when needed… but, for most of us not homesteading, how often is that? Keep in mind that AWD means nothing without appropriate tires, which truly matter for accelerating, maneuvering, AND (most importantly) stopping. Subaru and other manufacturers rely very, very heavily on that image of ‘needing’ AWD on a routine basis, but the true costs (more complicated transmissions, double the number of CV shafts, more drag and reduced fuel economy, strict limitations on tire wear differences meaning you often can’t just replace one tire if needed, etc.) just don’t make sense for most of us, even in VT. For my money, give me FWD and a couple sets of great seasonal tires.

    I sincerely hope Subaru has improved the generation you’ve got and that you have a better experience with your Outback. When things crop up, check out the subaruoutback.org owners’/mechanics’ forums. Tons of good people offering info and tutorials that saved me a lot compared to dealer estimates. Good luck!

  91. Used cars are the way to go! It looks like you got some decent rides for a good price.

    Of course you buy the white car! Who cares about the color when you save a couple grand

  92. Buy used with cash is the way to go! This year we have to replace 2 cars. It’s amazing the savings verse new. The first car we purchased at a 50% discount from the new price and it is only 3 years old with 60k miles on it. I can’t imagine losing that much money on a car!

  93. After going down to one car (actually, a Tacoma truck)for over a year, I’m currently driving a used 2011 Mercedes station wagon, and I would never want to go back to a Tacoma for our only vehicle. As a bonus, we saved about 65% off MSRP buying a car that was 5 years old. It’s a safe vehicle, it has AWD, which I might not need often, but is nice to have. I can get the aging German Shepherd Dog into it by myself (couldn’t fit him into the Tacoma), and it has a built in screen to keep the big dogs in the cargo area. I love the cargo area, it is much nicer than the back of a truck! It had 59K miles on it, so it should last a long time. It’s only flaw is that they didn’t make a diesel model that year!

  94. This is late, but I’m a new reader to FW! Can you talk a little more at some point about how you decided to go with a dealer and how you negotiated the price? Thanks 🙂

  95. I had a Prius before my current car, and it was a great car! Unfortunately, I was rear-ended by a young feller in a Ford F-250 with a dump bed who didn’t notice that I had stopped as a result of the car in front of me stopping. Bye-bye, Prius.
    I am now driving a Toyota RAV4, which has been a fantastic car for me as well. I am an electrician, and I do my side jobs out of it, which works out great.
    My wife has a Civic, but it is 10 years old and starting to exhibit some symptoms of its age. I’m thinking a used Nissan Leaf would be nice. They seem to run around the $11k mark, which is totally reasonable. Plus, no gas! Yay!

  96. Someone already mentioned it, but I have to weigh in on the necessity of AWD. Qualifier: I lived the first 25 years of my life in VT, worked at a couple of ski areas – where it snowed almost every day in the winter. With properly sized winter tires, you simply don’t need AWD unless it’s so deep that you bottom out. From there the functional gains are marginal, even with AWD.

    My parents drove frugal VW Beetles, Ford Fiesta’s and then the lousiest car I ever experienced: A FORD Tempo. I drove a SAAB 99, then 3 Honda CRX’s with all-seasons tires through winter for a couple of seasons before acquiring the funds to buy incredibly ugly Nokian Hakkapelita’s (They were 135mm wide!). Those turned a lightweight almost dangerous to drive car into a snow monster. Before: Sometimes trying over 3 times to get up the same hill. After – effortless, to the degree that I’d seek freshly snowed in logging trails to have some fun driving on. I should mention: The prior SAAB 99 was incredibly capable, even with worn out all-seasons. I drove through backyards to get around trees in the storm of 87′. Weight, ground clearance and underside panels that reduced friction made a big difference here.

    I then moved to Southern New England and ironically, purchased an AUDI A4, then Subaru WRX – both with AWD . It’s quite effortless and comforting… But entirely unnecessary. I now drive a Honda Odyssey to accommodate all the kids. The Sienna was on the list of course, but… The fuel mileage doesn’t come close to the Odyssey. The Odyssey is horrid in the snow with all-seasons, very capable with winter tires and sits quite low (a big contributor to fuel mileage)

    Consider: How do you suppose Vermonters got around before AWD was a thing? Just fine.

      1. Hah! Interestingly, I had a Toyota Tacoma for a short while. I found it terrible as a drivers vehicle (my pregnant wife at the time *hated* it) & ended up getting a used AUDI A4 and supplemented home hauling needs with a trailer. That car was capable of towing ~2000 lbs which was plenty. Subaru used to more readily promote towing, but have become more risk-averse after being purchased by Toyota. At one point I had an entire woodsheds’ worth of lumber in the trailer. A fellow with an F-150 in the parking lot of the lumber yard watched me load more than his truck could carry in the bed and couldn’t help but comment “I should have done that, this thing gets lousy mileage and is nowhere near as nice to drive” .

        Glad to hear you discovered the physics of truly proper winter tires. As you noted, they can make a 2-wheel drive outperform an AWD vehicle with all-seasons.

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