Hey, it runs, right? In praise of the $1,800 car

Name: Greg Esser
Age: 24
Location: Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Consultant

Once he started his new job at a global consulting firm earlier this year, Greg finally had the grown-up salary he needed to buy a new car. A longtime Volkswagen fan, he briefly considered leasing a 2009 Jetta. But in the end, he shelled out all of $1,800 for a gold 1991 Dodge Spirit, which his girlfriend immediately named "Randal."

As rides go, it wasn't the sexiest. But Greg paid cash for the car, which meant no car payments. And because Randal's book value is about the same as a nice suit, he skipped collision insurance, which dropped his monthly premium to $40.

Greg's not naive — he expects to pour some money into repairs and maintenance. He already paid $700 to replace the car's computer. But he thinks he'll come out ahead in the end. He created a spreadsheet detailing the per-month cost of the car over time, combining sticker price and upkeep, and if he can squeeze two more years out of Randal without any big-ticket repairs, he'll have knocked the per-month price down to his goal of $100.

Plus, in Washington D.C., where car break-ins are as common as lobbyists, there's the peace of mind factor. If anything happens to the old Dodge, he said, "I wouldn't be nearly as irritated as if it were a new car." No offense, Randal.

-As told to Dave Jamieson

Have you ever named your car? Was it a he or a she — or, worth more than $1,800? Share your stories in the comments below.

Do you have a money quandary? A success story? A cautionary tale? We'd love to hear from you. Send an email to editors@bundle.com and include a photo.

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