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By Nicole O'Sullivan

When it comes to spending my money, my priorities are ridiculous. For example, I wouldn’t think twice about purchasing a brand-new outfit (for every occasion, every weekend) or getting a spray tan. But I’d never prioritise spending my money on more typically appropriate things such as private health insurance (to my mum’s absolute horror) or investing in a decent and safe car. I could go on and on about my hopeless spending habits, but I’ll save that for another blog. Today, I’m giving you an insight into the first time I purchased a brand-new car and what I learnt from the experience. 

Prior to my recently purchased, brand-new hot wheels I haven’t had a great run with cars. First, I had a 1990 Hyundai Accent, which has now been fittingly downgraded to my Dad’s paddock bomb. I then ‘upgraded’ to a 1995 Holden Nevo, which eventually ended up at the wreckers for $100. I thought I was traveling reasonably well in the Nevo, until one day when I noticed smoke coming out of the bonnet while I was driving. I later found out that this was due to the car having a leaking radiator and the repair alone was going to be worth more than the car. It then became clear to me that I needed to do the one thing I’ve been putting off for years – upgrade to a new car.

Thanks to my previously mentioned spending priorities, I certainly didn’t have enough to purchase a new car out right. So I took my conundrum to a work colleague who was a finance manager at a car dealership in a previous life and together, we hit the car yards. Initially, I was looking at a 10-15k, second hard car. Because it was the first ever loan I’ve ever had (apart from my HECS debt) so I was a little apprehensive on going beyond the 10-15k limit. My work colleague Rod and I went to one of the local car dealerships and on a whim, I decided to test drive a brand-new, way out of my price range, car. My new car experience was so limited, I even had to ask the car salesman, ‘What does cruise control do?’ Of course, I immediately loved it, but backed out due to the $20,000 potential debt it would result in.

After a day of looking, test driving and still no damn car, I was starting to get stressed. Luckily a closer relative of Rod’s was interested in selling their 2011 Nissan Tiida, for $9,000. Before making a decision, I drove Nissan Tiida around for a few weeks and listened to multiple opinions on whether I should purchase this car. After finally making the decision to purchase the Nissan, I looked at getting a personal loan for car. I was immediately dumbfounded to hear that the interest rate on a personal loan was 13%, a whopping 8.4% higher than the interest rate on a brand-new car. So, as I do for most big decisions I make in life, I drafted a quick pro’s and con’s list.


  • If I financed the brand-new car through a car dealer ship, I would receive a low 4.6% interest rate, compared to a personal loan for $9,000, which had an interest rate of 13%.

  • It has this ‘new’ feature called cruise control, apparently most cars these days have it.

  • The resale on the brand-new car would be better than it would be for a second-hand car.

  • It’s a good way to learn how to better prioritise my spending.


  • It’s a 20k loan, so I would have to create, and stick to, a budget.

  • I will be in debt, so I will have to make some lifestyle changes, like turning off all online notifications on my phone, which I’m hesitant about.

  • Stop being so heavy handed on the accelerator! Apparently, insurance on a new car isn’t cheap!

I made my decision and today I have a brand-new car (well, it’s a few months old now) which I love as much as someone would love their pet. The biggest learning curve that I overcame during this experience was thinking and planning for the future. It is so important to think about building up your savings sooner rather than later, in case of an emergency. Especially when you have a build-up of rust and a leaking radiator within your current car.  I also learnt  before purchasing, to have a think about the future re-sell of your vehicle and whether you would get any money back from a re-sell, at least more than a measly, $100. And finally and most importantly, I learnt to have a  think about how good it would be to take a road trip to the beach in an air-conditioned car, with cruise-control.

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