Buy or Lease?

Car ShoppingHaving both bought and leased in the past, this weekend I found myself rehashing the pros and cons of buying versus leasing a new car.

Because of how my brain works, it got me thinking about health and weight loss and how relevant the buy vs. lease notion really is.

Confused? Promise I’ll explain. But first, a little back-story that leads me to today’s theorizing. 🙂

Back in 2004, I leased my first new car, a 2004 Honda Civic, which I adore. I bought this car with my dear friend Jason.

He’d just bought a new Accord, and so we’d gone to “look” for me, since I’d been in the market for wheels. I never needed them living in DC, but I was living in Arlington and was about to move to Silver Spring … grocery shopping is tough when you’re without a car.

February 28, 2004, I took the Metro to meet him at the Greenbelt station to go to Owings Mills, MD … and found myself driving home in my new car! (I-95 and the Beltway is scary when you’ve never driven them … !)

Anyway, the salesman brought out Black Pearl (my car) for me to drive and it was love at first sight/first drive. The car was mine. I called my parents and my now-hubby, who was still living in El Salvador, to share my news before I signed any papers, got her insured, and was on my way!

I’m amittedly a big shopper, but I’ve never made an impulse buy that huge. Still, it was totally worth it. This car took me all over DC, up to New Jersey and back several times a year, and it moved hubby and I to Michigan in 2006 right before our wedding. It’s been a good ride.

When the lease ended in 2007, we got a great deal and I bought it out. But in February 2010, my car payments will be finished, and the car will be mine … so with the economy being so craptastic, I’m in a decent position to keep it if I want … or sell it/trade it in to get something new.

There’s nothing wrong with my car; it just crossed the 60,000 mile marker (a little past 5 years, so actually I’ve done quite well on my mileage).

But I’d like a new, safer car before we have a family. So over the past month or so, we’ve gone car shopping — to Honda to drive the new Civics, and this past weekend we went to Mazda where I test-drove the Mazda 3 … and fell absolutely in love.

Which brings me to the prospectives of buying or leasing. I’ve done both, and I know both worked for me at different times in my life.

When I lived in the city (D.C.) and didn’t need to drive a ton, the lease made perfect sense for me. At the time, I Metroed to work and didn’t travel too far most weekends, save for a few trips up to NJ and some other road trips. True to my lease’s boundaries, I stuck to my miles and did just fine.

When we moved here to Michigan, buying it out made more economic sense (at the time). But now two years later, if I could get a new car, obviously I’d prefer that … the decision now is, once again, buy or lease.

Though I am all about investments, I know cars depreciate immediately, so I’m not won over by that argument.

And I like the idea of leasing/”renting” — trading in my car every three years, even if it wouldn’t be outright mine … so as our family grows, we’d have more options. My husband is more a fan of buying — owning something, having it be “mine;” I see certainly see both sides of the coin.

Since we got to the Mazda dealership so late on Sat., all we had time for was a test drive before the closed. So they are calling me later today with details about my options: buying, leasing, trading in, etc.

And after analyzing the merits of buying versing leasing, my wheels started turning.

Regardless of what happens with my car situation, it’s just a lead-in to today’s analogy. While my body is healthy and fit (like my car), my body isn’t at its optimum (like a new car could be).

And while I can’t buy a new body, I can work for a better, stronger one. This time around, I don’t want to feel like I’m leasing my health. I’d like to buy it, own it. I thought I was owning it … but these extra pounds on me are evidence I haven’t been owning it.

In retrospect, it makes sense that as a Type-A person, someone with perfectionist tendencies … I thrived under a lease. I was given 12,000 miles a year, and I stuck to them. Similarly, on Weight Watchers, I was given a points parameter, and I stuck to them.

Still, from 2004-2006, I honestly felt like my body was on loan; it was so new and so shiny and sleek and I always felt like it would slip away. That fear made me vain; it didn’t help me stay thin.

Life happened, and I “drove over my limits” sometimes, and naturally I gained weight and the DE behaviors began … even though I didn’t gain it all back, I was owning something I wasn’t proud of; no wonder I want to ‘trade up’ to a better model now.

I’d like these positive changes/strides I’ve been recently making to be permanent, and I think I’m headed in that direction (yea!).

I always professed, “Weight Watchers isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” And I believe it, I do. It single-handedly changed how I eat, how I look at food (in a good way, pre-DE). But it is a weight loss program to follow, no matter how you dice it.

And it worked for me because it’s part of my hardwiring, my nature, to prefer living within certain parameters to succeed. I like journaling, I like counting, I like boundaries.

Inherently, I like a “lease” because those boundaries keep both my Honda’s mileage in check and running efficiently … and my body’s.

But truth be told, I didn’t do so hot “owning” it the past couple years … my motor hasn’t been running as well as it could be, I’ve been overworking my body, and I’m carrying extra weight that impedes my “efficiency” and “fuel mileage”.

I was going against my “hardware” when I loosened the parameters; it’s no wonder I gained.

(Note: I do realize that weight gain is not tragic; most people gain weight at one time or another. But for new readers who might not know my situation, having been heavy my whole life before success on WW, it’s very hard for me to be where I am now — this is something that I know sounds horribly vain to others, but it is part of the stuff no one talks about after losing weight … and ignoring it doesn’t make it less of a reality).

Anyhoo … so now that I’ve had a great first week back on WW, enjoying holiday festivities and depriving myself of nothing (all within my Points)!, I feel good and secure in my judgment again. It’s like something clicked, and I feel like “me” again.

I don’t intend to change the focus of my blog –don’t worry, you won’t read about what I eat, how many Points I eat or APs I earn, or about my weigh-ins or anything directly weight-loss related — but please bear with me while my focus shifts slightly. I honestly view it as progress.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results … it’s time for me to be doing something new, something tried and true, but new all the same. I’m going at it with fresh eyes this time; eyes that have seen the evils that can come, and, as a result, will be more vigilant going forward.

It’s time for a new “lease,” on my health, and that’s why I chose to go back to WW. But this time I don’t want my body to feel like a “car on loan,” I want to own it, even within my “lease boundaries.”

I am not sure what I’ll do about my car (keep it, buy, sell, new lease) but I do know I’m driving down the right path with the decision to go back to WW.

It’s a lease I know and am comfortable with. Best of all, I know what it feels like to stay within the lines … and I think this one week might be enough to get me back on track, set the pace.

How about you? Given the fact that most people don’t keep weight off, do you believe it’s possible to look at diets as “buying” or are they always a matter of “leasing”?

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3 thoughts on “Buy or Lease?

  1. You have such fun posts! I’m not sure if I can think of a diet as buying anymore. I lost 20 lbs. a few years ago, and kept it off for 6 years…..so I thought that was success. Then, I’ve fallen into a pit of disordered eating – close to anorexia then obsessive compulsive exercise and culminating in c/s behavior that I’m trying to nix…..now I’ve gained back 12 lbs. I’m still 5 lbs. away from what I used to be, but I still feel like another diet would only be a lease for me. sigh…..but for those 6 yrs. of maintaining my thin, yet still healthy weight, I did feel that I had bought that body. I’m trying not to lose my hope that a body like that can be permanent., even longer than 6 years….Maybe my husband is right, maybe I just need to buy a minivan body instead of a sedan body. Maybe my ideal body is too thin to buy….maybe the next size up if it is healthy is the only real body to buy….I don’t know….still sorting it out in my mind.

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