2010 Resolution #2: Pay Cash for a Replacement for My Truck

In an effort to talk about the power of goal-setting along with some methods of setting and achieving goals, I’m going to discuss my four resolutions for 2010 this week.

In 2001, I purchased a used 1997 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Over the ensuing eight years, I put nearly 120,000 miles on that truck.

As the truck approaches fifteen years of life, it’s showing some desperate signs of wear and tear. There’s a flood of repairs that are imminent on it. It also lacks in four wheel drive, which is something that we’ve decided we need due to the winter driving that we do. Perhaps most importantly, the truck will not seat five people – which is how many people our family will have come April.

To put it simply, the truck needs replaced. 2010 is the year to finally do it.

Making the Goal Specific
The vehicle that replaces our truck will not be a commuting vehicle – instead, it will mostly be used for short, irregular trips throughout the year and for winter driving. Because of that, fuel efficiency isn’t as vital as it was for our last car purchase (a car for commuting).

It needs to comfortably seat two adults and (at least) three children with some adequate storage space left over. It also needs to have four wheel drive to adequately handle winter weather. We have been extremely lucky multiple times with weather and driving over the past few years and we don’t feel safe continually dodging that bullet.

As a result of these factors, we’re either looking at a minivan or a SUV. We’ve looked at Consumer Reports car issues for the middle years of this decade and have some specific used models we’re considering and looking for. We want to purchase the vehicle before the birth of our third child, which means the deadline for making the purchase is April 15. Our tentative plan is to utilize my wife’s 2010 teaching spring break to finalize our purchase, unless we find a great opportunity before then.

Since our goal is to pay cash, we also need to have an adequate amount of cash on hand to pay for this vehicle. We’re estimating $12,000 is our cap, with our purchase (ideally) coming in significantly below that.

Breaking It Down Into Microgoals
Our microgoals are simple. For our financial goal, we simply need to end a few CD ladders and have the cash deposited into our checking account, which will take care of the cash we need.

The real trick is continually moving forward on the purchasing decision itself. By the end of January, we’re going to have a full list of acceptable models for us to buy – ones that have the features we need and a blue book price in our range. After that, each week we will trawl the websites of various car dealers as well as the classified ads and Craigslist looking for an appropriate match. My specific goal is to find at least two cars to look at every week, whether at dealerships or sold by their owner.

When we find one we like that seems like a good deal from our research, we’ll simply pull the trigger and buy it.

Feedback and Adjustment
What do we do if we simply don’t find any vehicles that match our needs? If I find that my methods aren’t coming up with enough matches – and this should be obvious within the first week or two of serious searching – I’ll widen my net. I’ll ask friends and relatives to help me search in their respective areas, for starters.

If this still proves fruitless, I’ll step back and look at our original conclusions about which models we’re looking for. Perhaps we need to include older models or other models we weren’t previously considering in our search.

If we have a financial issue, we’ll re-adjust our criteria for what we intend to buy by including older models in the search.

Tomorrow, I’ll address my third 2010 goal – one that focuses on an area of personal growth.

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