Have you ever been driving and looked over at the stoplight and couldn’t help but stare at the Jeep that rolled up next to you? There are so many rad models, trims, and options that make us think, “I need that!” But like a ten-year-old kid smashing open a piggy bank or looking for money in every birthday card, there never seems to be enough to make that dream a reality — unless you’re like Dave (He owns the JT pictured above). Jeeps and all the upgrades can be pretty costly, so this article aims to be a guide on budgeting to get the rig you want. *Of course, it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it), I’m not a financial advisor, this is not actual advice, but some tips and ideas.
This can be tricky since so many Jeeps these days are holding their value, if not selling for more than the original sticker price. If you look for private sellers on various social media outlets, you can still find great deals.
Buying used means you are inheriting a lot of the previous owner’s problems, but it also means that they have had a chance to work out some of the kinks. A Jeep enthusiast might have added several modifications that you were going to add to the stock Jeep anyway, and maybe a few you hadn’t even thought about. The price point can often work with your budget, and with late-model Jeeps these days, they are built well enough to be reasonably close to brand new performance, without that steep price tag of something that just rolled off the factory floor.
Buy your dream Jeep at 23% APR
Okay so this may be a little high, but nonetheless, if you want to buy a brand new rig with all the bells and whistles, get ready to feel the interest rate burn.
Buying new—or using any type of financing—means that your credit should be as good as it can be when you walk into the dealership. Some people love the challenge of haggling prices with the dealer, trying to get it to as close to MSRP (or lower). Just remember, going to different dealerships and working multiple deals can mean numerous hits on your credit score. It’s good to use one of those free online tools to check out your credit score to see what your FICO is before going to a dealership and printing a copy they can use for underwriting. Otherwise, these hard hits will be like a ratchet effect on your FICO and it will drop and stay there for months. Most underwriters won’t look past your credit report because dealerships make money off suckers…er, customers who are willing to pay higher interest rates. Credit unions usually have lower interest rates than other banks, so consider opening an account with one and talking to a lender before you walk into a dealership.
Save those nickels and dimes
Some people have a change jar that they empty their pockets into at the end of the day. Since we live in a more or less cashless environment, this tactic doesn’t typically work as well as it once did. Luckily, many banks have features that allow you to save a percentage of every purchase made using your bank card and transfer it to a savings account. It’s surprising how quickly these savings accounts grow. The problematic part key is not spending this cash on something else. Keep your eye on the prize!
None of us likes being in debt, but if you look at the amount you could save each month by not having to pay off credit cards, cell phone financing, streaming memberships, and other debts, you could use that for a healthy monthly Jeep payment. Who needs a new cell phone when the ladies are lining up for a ride in your sweet Jeep?
Alternatively, save up over several months and maybe even purchase a vintage Jeep with cash that you save and just build the Jeep you’ve always wanted.
A good tip (but in no way financial advice), look into a financial plan that lets you pay off the highest interest rates first, then snowball those payments to the next debts until you are debt-free. In many cases, paying off debts will also improve your credit rating and free up some capital to put into your dream Jeep.
Sell a kidney on the Dark Web
There’s a lot of money to be made from selling your organs on the internet. Depending on the options, trim, and everything you want to pack into your dream Jeep, black market organ harvesting might be the way to go. Kidneys are a great commodity since you only need one to survive! Just remember to drink a little more water when you are out wheeling your Jeep**, since your remaining kidney has to work twice as hard.
*(Don’t actually do this)
** (A new tricked-out Rubicon costs about six human kidneys btw)
Have a side hustle
If organ harvesting isn’t your thing, you might have some other talents to contribute to a Jeep fund. A lot of us are pretty talented outside of our day jobs, and you might be able to find an additional income stream to supplement your Jeep fund. If you are mechanically inclined, do some shadetree mechanic work on other people’s vehicles, start a side hustle like dog poop scooper (don’t laugh, there’s real money in the scooping game), sell off some old scrap metal to a junkyard, knit hats and sell them on the internet. If you have the fortune of being entertaining, you might find a passive income stream with an app like TikTok or Instagram. With clicks and likes remember to follow the influencer’s motto; “no one cares about how just how many”.
Keep your options open
Every time Jeep rolls out a new trim, your idea of the ideal Jeep might change. Subtle differences in what you like will change from year to year while gearing & feature differences between Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon might mean a world of difference in how much you will save versus what you want to do with the Jeep. For example, if your Jeep is going to be pavement princess occasionally rambling down a dirt road, the Rubicon is likely overkill considering you won’t need the upgraded suspension, gear ratio, lockers, and electronic swaybar disconnects. If aesthetics are more your thing, you can get away with a Sport and tack on an angry grill (*just kidding*), custom fenders, a lift, etc. You’ll still not spend as much as you would on a base Rubicon. For a midrange compromise, consider the Sahara for a good place to meet in the middle for looks, and features. I’m told that the Sahara also tends to ride better on pavement than the Rubicon. If that’s the case, perhaps expensive suspension for off-road might sound like a good idea until the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
Let your plan evolve
Mike Tyson once said that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Your plan doesn’t need to be rigid, but it is good to start somewhere when buying your dream Jeep. Consider trade-ins, improving your credit, having an additional revenue stream, and don’t let your eyes get bigger than your wallet when looking at all the different options. Test-drive a variety of different trims to see what really works better for you. You might even find the perfect rig by going with a TJ or JK you could pick up from a Jeeper/JeepHer who’s ready to upgrade.