How I made $200 in 2 Hours Driving Luxury Cars
If you’ve been with me for a while, or read Financial Fives - thank you - then you also probably know about my love for cars. Growing up, I was the kid with Maisto model cars all over my bookshelf and Hotwheels on my window sill. My awesome parents even got me a rug that was a map of a town, so I could pretend to drive with my Hotwheels and envision my future!
Fast forward to today, and that love hasn’t waned. In fact, it’s probably gotten even more enthusiastic with the emergence of electric cars (Porsche Taycan is the current favorite, but maybe Tesla will be a stepping stone to that). Since graduating college, I have bought and sold 7 cars. In fact, as I write this I am carless, searching for my next deal after selling my Prius and making over $6,000 more than I purchased it for a year ago. That’s with driving it across the country and camping in it for 10 nights!
If you ever have car questions, I’ve got you covered. I can talk about cars all day. My strategy was buying a car every year, and that has been very financially rewarding for me. I buy them at a great deal after vetting them out, and then I enjoy it for a year.
I have never paid for any tires, brakes, or maintenance over the last 10 years, besides a few $30 oil changes. I have sold all of them, except the 2011 G37, for the same price or better than I bought it for, including taxes! Not only do I not lose money on depreciation and maintenance, but I also get to enjoy a different car every year and live my dream!
A Dude, a Sports Car, and an Open Road
Now about the G37. I loved this car so much that I drove it for almost 6 whole years! We went all over the country together, well more like 14 states. California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia! It’s not the most road trip or moving-friendly car, so this parlays into why the Prius came about. However, I bought that car for such a good price, the dealer took a $4,000 loss on it than how much they paid at auction! It only has needed oil changes and did surprisingly well in Colorado’s volatile weather.
When I sold it in TN, it was at a point where at 10 years old, I wouldn’t much for it if we kept going. Plus, this whole nomad thing was getting to me and I wanted a car more versatile for camping. So, I sold it for $7,000 less than I bought it. Not bad for 6 years and 25,000 miles! With gas, insurance, registration, and parking, this was still about $100 per month, less than some of my friends spent on rideshare services.
So when I bought the Prius and drove it from TN to CA, I put about 8,000 miles on it for the year. It only costs $45 to register in TN (lucky you, southern folks!).
I sold the Prius and made more than $6k on it, so that pretty much made up for the loss on G37. Add in 10 nights of free camping, and I’m going to call that breaking even. So, for the last 10 years, I’ve pretty much lost no money to depreciation, but yes it takes a lot of time.
Pay Me to Take Your Ride for a Spin? Yes Please
Wow, that was a long intro! So how did I make $200 test driving luxury cars? Well, in this hot car market, as I was looking around for my next ride, I was surprised to see a chain of dealerships in CA offering $50 gift cards for test driving their cars. I figured it's such a hot market, why would they need to pay customers to come and take a look at their cars if they are such hot commodities?
Not only that, but digging deeper, I found that they were offering $100 if you got your car appraised. So, being a prudent FIer, I read the fine print, called ahead, and took one of our family cars to be appraised. While that was being done, I took a Porsche Cayenne Hybrid for a test drive. At the end, they asked where I wanted the gift cards mailed, and that was it.
Then, I asked if this was still valid if I wanted to take a look at a different car a few miles away. They said sure, no problem. So, I did and got to test drive an Audi A4. A few days later, another $50 gift card came in the mail.
Guilted Into Buying a Car after a Test Drive?
Now, you might be saying I wasted the salesperson’s time. I thought about this as well, but I was upfront about the fact that I was just exploring which car I want at this time and did not come in to buy. Fortunately it was a slow day, and they didn’t even really try to sell me the car, just talk about life and the news. So, I figured things must be going pretty well for them!
When I worked as a car detailer and lot porter in college, I always saw the salespeople congregate in the front of the showroom. I always thought that was bad manners, because if a customer walks up, they are going to feel ganged up on.
The most successful sales people naturally would walk by as they tended to the cars, and if you were around, they would just tell you to flag them down if you need anything.
This disarms the customer from having to avoid aggressive sales tactics, and more often than not, the customer replies, “Actually, I did want to ask about this thing’s navigation system…” and those sales people get the sale.
Some sales people are so arrogant, that when we went in to shop for my parents car a few years ago, the salesman asked if we were going to buy today, and I said no we are going to go home and do our homework first. He right then handed us off to a rookie as if we weren’t worth his time. No wonder so many customers are moving towards online car buying options.
So, I would just say that when you are shopping for cars, first go to a site like CarGurus or Cars.com, and then visit the dealer’s website to see more about the car or to see if it’s listed any differently. Often, you’ll be shown offers like this that aren’t apparent elsewhere.
Like I said, I thought it was two hours of fun (mostly) and I can chalk that up as some side hustle money for the weekend.
And if you’re looking to buy a car this year, be sure to check out the post “7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Car” I wrote for Financially Independent Millennial!