I've Already bought my last vehicle I'll ever need at age 21

I’m 21, and I’ve Already Bought My Last Vehicle

Finance Sarah's Thoughts Simple Living + Minimalism

If you know me at all, you know I’m a simple person, and that’s highly evident in my choice of wheels.

In December 2013, at age 17, I bought what I hope to be the last vehicle I’ll ever need. 

If you know me outside of my blog, you know that my last vehicle is nothing spectacular. Some people, myself included, can appreciate it for what it is. Others, who probably have more sense than I, just don’t ‘get it’, which I completely understand.

Meet Gloria, My Last Vehicle

Gloria is my 1996 7.3 Ford Powerstroke. Yep, we’re the same age! In a short 3.5 years, we’re officially graduating from ‘classic’ to ‘vintage’.  D: 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke
That dent on the bumper is the result of the previous owner hitting (getting hit by??) a drunken man on a horse late at night. Don’t worry, the horse was okay. 

If you’re wondering why in the hell I’d want this to be my last vehicle, I’ll explain that below. 

Oh, and today’s post isn’t *really* about a truck, but I’ll get to that at the end. 

Super Handy

Devin and I like being outside, and Gloria definitely caters to that. 

Though it only has two doors, it seats 6 people (yes, there are six seats and belts), which can be really helpful when we want to take friends and family along. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke Red Interior, Dog in Backseat
The backseat isn’t overly spacious, but it does it’s job. Oh, and that seat folds down to make a bed, which my dog, Blair, really likes! 

Going kayaking? Throw those in the extended bed.

Going trail riding? It’s a one-ton truck with a B + W gooseneck hitch in the bed- you’re good to go. 

Going camping? Also has a ball hitch on the bumper. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke pulling dutchman camper
This was when I first got my truck and hadn’t swapped out the headlights yet. Hooked up to my parents’ 35-foot Dutchmen Camper. I’ve had so many good memories in that camper! 

Building fence? Tighten barbed wire up with the hitch. 

Road-trip? Attach the camper shell to the back, and take off. 

Is your semi-truck dead? Hey, this pickup’s got two batteries, you can jump it within 15 minutes (and we have). 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke with black peterbilt
When Devin and I first started dating, I would go pick him up at Truck Stops when he passed through town so we could have dinner together. One time he forgot his lights on, and his semi, Pete, died. Within 15 minutes we had it jumped, thanks to Gloria’s two batteries. 

Need hay? Swap out the ball for a bar, and take the hay wagon.

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke pulling hay wagon
my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke puling hay with guineas
Have you ever seen anything more redneck? 17 year old me with a load of hay and a pair of Guineas I just bought. 

Taking a backroad, driving through a pasture, or going off-road? It’s four-wheel drive, with lots of clearance, AND we’ve got some wicked all-terrain tires that really dig in when you ask them to. Despite the truck alone weighing four-tons, we have yet to get stuck with these new tires; We didn’t even get stuck that time the mud was deeper than our hubcaps, AND we had the horse trailer hooked up. 

Matches My Style

Aside from the black and chrome exterior (my favorite) and red interior (also my favorite), there are other reasons why I like this truck so much. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke bright red interior
There’s no denying that red is my favorite color! 
my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke with dog
This sweet guy was named Red. He came to me as a stray when I was in high school. He loved going for drives and getting chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.

My mom worked at Ford in Indianapolis, roughly a 100-mile drive from home, during her pregnancy with me. She bought her brand new 1996 Ford Powerstroke in January and gave birth to me in October. By the time I was born, I had already traveled an estimated 30,000 miles in that truck with her. 

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When dad wheeled mom and me out of the hospital to take me home, I was crying and highly upset. As soon as he started the truck though, I instantly stopped and fell asleep before they could even finish buckling me in. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke with red dually in the background
I don’t have any photos of mom’s truck by itself, but you can see it in the background here. Though they both share the same body, year, and engine, hers is darn-near perfect cosmetically speaking, and it’s a red two-wheel-drive dually. Both of them seat six people, but since hers has four doors, it’s much more spacious. 

I guess you can say I liked a 7.3 from the very beginning. 

The Perfect Dose of ‘Pre-Loved’

I will admit, that I’m not a fan of the damage Gloria suffered before she came to me. 

She was a rodeo truck, and had spent 17 years, and 250k miles strictly hooked up to a horse trailer. The headlights were even angled down to account for the weight of the trailer.

She had already visited the 48 Continental States on the circuit, and you can tell.

The paints a little faded, there’s a couple rust spots, some dents, dings, and minor scratches on the door when she came home to her excited dogs.

The front bumper and driver headlight was busted entirely out when I bought it. The previous owner had apparently hit (or been hit by?) a drunken man on a horse late at night. Don’t worry, the horse was a-okay.

Someday, I’m sure I’ll replace all of the damaged body panels and get a professional respray. 

For the past five years, I’ve been telling myself that I’m still young, and I may leave a mark or two myself, so it’s best to wait. I have to admit, that it’s been nice to have something that I can say “oh don’t worry, it’s already got a couple spots”. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke Sarah Hamelman Jones in the driver's seat
I think this is the only photo that exists of me actually sitting inside the truck. This was taken shortly after I bought it. You can see the ugly rust spot in the bottom right corner. 🙁 

I have yet to leave a mark on it, so hopefully, that won’t change when I finally decide to get her cosmetically back to Day 1.

building fence
Building fence for our horses! 

The Downsides

I can hear you already! Here are some of the doubts and downsides:

“What about your fuel mileage?”

I have horses, and I hope to buy a camper soon. My fuel mileage isn’t going to be too high to begin with! I will say that it has significantly improved (from 9mpg to 18/20 mpg) as I’ve given Gloria some much-needed repairs, plugged up a SuperChip, and I learned how to drive better (keep your foot off the floor, you don’t need to hear that turbo all the time, Sarah!).

Luckily for me, when you exclude road-trips, I only drive about 20-30 miles a week.

I work from home, so I only really leave the house once every week or two for groceries. On Friday’s I drive 4 miles to see my grandparents. Daily, I drive about a mile to feed and water my horse.

Fill up is currently $100 when I fill both tanks (I feel like I’m flying a jet when I get to flip the switch on my dash to use the second tank), and that lasts me a looonnng time. 

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“What about future children?”

They’ll probably want horses and campers too! It seats six people, and though it may be a pain to only have two doors, it’s certainly do-able. If the Wilders could cross the country using a Conestoga wagon and some mules, I can probably put up with the hassle of rolling a seat forward here and there. 

“What about the high mileage and repairs?” 

I’m not totally sure, but I believe that the costs will slightly less than if I bought a newer vehicle with a good warranty.

First off, I bought the truck for $4,600 privately.

Since then, I’ve had about $4k worth of repairs done. That includes a new head, new injectors, water pumps, fuel pumps, oil pumps, shocks, brake work, AND a rebuilt transmission (by far the most expensive part). That breaks down to $800 a year in repairs. The head, injectors, and transmission (the expensive repairs) should last me at least a decade before I need to deal with them, so I expect my annual repair bills will be much lower the next few years. 

At this point, I’ve almost got a new truck (haha). Diesel vehicles seem to have fewer breakdowns, but those breakdowns are more significant when they do happen.

I’m confident I can make this truck last for the remainder of my life. They’ve been proven to keep going, even when way up there in mileage, so long as the owner is willing to keep up with maintenance and repairs, which I totally am. 

Won’t you want/have another vehicle? 

I will say that we do have a 2006 Ford Taurus that we bought for $1k cash this year. It gets 29mpg very consistently. Ironically, we bought it to be a cheap ‘beater with a heater’, but it’s in remarkable shape. 

This is Norm. He’s really basic, with beige as his interior and exterior. No fancy bells and whistles, but so reliable. If he were a person he’d probably be a balding accountant who strictly follows his daily routine, drinks mild roasted coffee, and wears white Nike’s with black socks.

We also have a 1999 4Runner, which is basically Devin’s toy. 

I totally don’t mind having other vehicles, especially cheap ones with great mileage. When they give us trouble though, I don’t feel bad about trading them in for another cheap vehicle that we can buy for cash. 

We could absolutely get by with just my truck. However, it is nice to have an uber frugal car sitting in the driveway that consistently gets 9-12 more miles per gallon. 

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke by roundbale and dog
Gloria and Sissy, my little sister’s lovable black lab. 

It’s a Reminder…

…that not every ladder needs climbing. 

(This is the part where I show you why this post isn’t *really* about a truck.)

my last vehicle I'll ever need (the last vehicle you'll ever need) a Black 1996 7.3 Ford F-250 Powerstroke at Jennings County Township in Indiana
A photo opportunity I couldn’t pass up 😉

We should all strive for personal excellence and self-improvement, but we only have so much give. The phrase “Better to be a Jack of all trades than a master of none” is relevant here.  There will always be room for improvements and upgrades, but that doesn’t mean we should still go for it.

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At the end of the day, vehicles are merely vehicles.

Unless you specifically use your vehicle for work (taxis, Uber, Lyft, Trucking, vehicle flipping, etc.) it’s always going to be a liability, and never an ‘investment’ or an ‘asset’.

The most you should ask is that it gets you from Point A to Point B on time and in one piece. Anything more than that is a luxury. Really, getting to drive rather than walk is a luxury in itself. 

If I upgraded my vehicle to something newer, I might feel more compelled to keep updating it.And if I’m the kind of person who has a nice vehicle sitting in the driveway, eventually I’m going to have to look at getting my house up to par. 

Of course, once I have a more beautiful house, I have to have a better barn. 

Oh, and a better barn shouldn’t have an older horse trailer sitting beside it. I gotta fix that too. 

But then I can’t be backing a $1,500 horse out of a $50,000 trailer. I need a new horse now. 

And expensive horses deserve expensive saddles, and headstalls, and bits, and bridles, and blankets, and halters, and fly masks. 

I gotta draw a line in the sand somewhere, and a truck seems like the right place for that.

Let’s Talk!

  • Where do YOU draw a line in the sand to avoid lifestyle inflation?
  • Would you consider keeping your same vehicle?
  • Would you need a different vehicle (so that it can meet all your needs)? 
  • What are your thoughts on buying new and having fewer repair costs vs. buying used and getting more bills? Is one option more financially savvy than the other? 

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7 thoughts on “I’m 21, and I’ve Already Bought My Last Vehicle”

  1. There’s a particular saying that might be fitting here. I’ve been told it’s a millennium quote, but I like it and it works ~>….”You do You”
    Do You
    Doing you is basically what all anyone ever needs to do. As long as you do you you can’t complain about anything. If one is ever stuck in a dilemma or in a toss up, just say screw it, “I’m going to do me.” Doing you is when you lose all regard for other people’s opinions and are finally at peace with yourself. No one can ever hate on someone else for doing them; unless while in the act of doing them one impedes on others. You can’t do you if it is going to have negative effects on others or the community. As long as doing you is chill then ain’t no one going to stop you. One can not hate on someone for doing them, they can have opinions but after it is all said and done respect must be given for anyone doing them.

  2. To be honest no one really needs a new car until the old one is no longer fixable. I love your attitude and vintage cars are the best. I hope Gloria and you have a long happy life together.

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