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How to Save Big on Buying a Tesla 2I am LOVING the Millionaire Money Mentors forums!!!

I am learning so much as well as connecting with some really great, like-minded people. Even if no one else would ever join, I’d keep it going for just me!

But people are joining and the site is now getting almost as many monthly pageviews as ESI Money. It’s pretty phenomenal.

We discuss everything there from the serious (ins and outs of real estate syndications) to the more light-hearted (like having a vision board) — the sort of topics you’d chat about if you had a bunch of friends interested in money. (Which is what the forums are — except the friends come with a TON of great experience and willingness to help.)

One of the threads I started was titled “What is an Extravagant Purchase You’ve Made or Are Contemplating?”

Here’s how it began:

We spend a lot of time taking about saving money – what about at least one thread on spending it!!!

In this thread I want to discuss ways you might be thinking of spending extravagantly.

This is one my mind today for a reason that will become clear soon.

Generally, most of our “luxury” spending is spent in one of two places:

    • Travel – We have taken cruises, trips to Grand Cayman, a trip and a cruise to Hawaii, and a trip to Ft Myers Beach all in the last few years. On all of those we have taken some combination of my parents and our kids (sometimes both). We stay at nice places, eat at nice places, etc.
    • Exercise – Much lower in total cost than travel but we do belong to a “luxury” gym at $130 a month PLUS I spend about another $100-$125 a month on private pickleball courts (inside).
    • Now add a new category – updating our home.

We haven’t done much yet, but I’m thinking of re-doing my daughter’s old bedroom and bathroom into my office and letting my wife have the one downstairs by the front door.

I need some more room and privacy for my stuff (I don’t want to have to lug all the valuables upstairs every night since the current office is the least secure room in our house) and my wife would like to have her stuff in one place out of the way instead of using our kitchen table as her office. It’s a win win.

So far, so good. Except…

I have always wanted a roll top desk. A very nice one. (not a cheap version you buy at Walmart)

I found one today that’s made by an Amish craftsmen that appears like (once I add all the extras) it will cost about $10k. Not a lot in the scheme of our finances. But certainly a lot to spend on a desk and versus other spending we could do.

Anyway, we’ll think on it for some time (no rush as of now) but it just got me thinking that we all probably face similar go-no go issues when considering spending on luxury purchases.

Any you’ve decided to spend money on (or are considering)?

From there the conversation went in all sorts of directions, but there was one that stood out for me. It was about buying a Tesla, something I’ve considered on and off for a couple of years. (Not really seriously, but not flippantly either.)

Here’s how one of the mentors (Millionaire #94) started the conversation:

After buying newer, low cost cars for years (I am now 49, and have still never owned a new car) and after 6 years of driving a Honda Civic for my 110 mile daily commute, I finally broke down and bought a newer, used Tesla Model S – with Autopilot!

It was a life changing vehicle. The autopilot made my previously dreaded commute a pleasure. Although I feared buyer’s remorse would eventually kick in, it didn’t happen.

Factors that were considered when I decided to pull the trigger: paid off house no debt, close to my magic number, what felt like inflated stock prices, cash on hand, and a very good price on a nearly new car made this feel ok.

If anybody is considering a Tesla, I can confirm buying used from Tesla is a great option – great experience and about 1/2 price on a car with 11k miles on it.

Of course, I couldn’t let this pass without some questions — half price for a car with 11k miles on it?

I responded:

So…a few questions…

1. How good is the autopilot? Do you actually turn the car over to itself and read/relax (I know you’re not supposed to but just asking)?

2. Do you worry about dings, etc.? I have a 139k Highlander now and if someone opens their door into it then it’s not a big deal to me. If someone opened their door into my Tesla I would react a bit differently…

3. Do they generally have a good selection of previously owned vehicles? Where do you find these?

4. How does the vehicle do in the snow? I do live in CO after all…ha!

His response:

How good is the autopilot?

It is very good. I do turn it over to the car. You do still watch it and stay aware of what is going on, but rarely makes a mistake. You get a good feel for when it might get confused. Easy freeway driving with good striping, never a problem. Construction zones, merging traffic, poor road striping, then pay more attention and be ready to take over. It is possible to totally check out and relax, however I choose not to.

Do you worry about dings, etc.?

Sadly yes. A dent would now cause me sadness. That was the best part of my old 175k mile Honda Civic; A new dent or scratch? Who cares! Not me. There is great value in having a car you don’t care about. I do miss that.

Do they generally have a good selection of previously owned vehicles?

Yes, great selection. It helps however if you are ready to be patient and wait for the right car at a price you like.

This is a long story. I will DM you on how I did it, there are some tricks that can likely save you around $10k.

If you think it is of interest we can share more widely. I vaguely remember an ESI article on car buying.

Tesla sells used cars online through their website. When they first appear for sale on Tesla’s website they’re priced quite high, way above what they will actually sell for, then every day the car is still for sale on the Tesla website the price drops around $500 to $1,000 per day. Eventually the price drops low enough that somebody buys it and it vanishes from the Tesla site. Sort of a reverse auction.

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What I found was most cars usually sold just a few thousand above the price I considered “a good deal”. A third party website to track all the Tesla inventory and trends is key (as Tesla doesn’t tell you how long it has been for sale or what others like it sold for). Found my car using this site and then purchased directly from Tesla via their website with a warranty.

How does the vehicle do in the snow?

SoCal guy here so barely any snow driving except when we go up to the mountains on occasion. Drives great in snow as it is 4 wheel drive, but the range does suffer in very cold weather. Not a problem for me, as I rarely drive in snow.

I am cheap, I never like spending a lot of money, but my Tesla was one purchase I don’t regret. It is a really a great car. It does more than your average car, better and more efficiently. Amazing vehicle. And yes – I own Tesla stock. Wish I bought more of it a long time ago!

As promised, he did DM me some additional details (repeating a bit of the above as well):

Here is the Telsa buying saga.

Tesla sells all their used cars on their website, these are lease returns and trade ins. This site is how I found mine. 

After you buy, Tesla will ship the car to the nearest Tesla place (for me was Burbank). My main motivation for buying used was that I am cheap and if you buy one from out of state (that has never been issued CA HOV stickers) it’s still eligible for the brand new purple carpool stickers.

This site above allows you to search Tesla’s inventory and see past sales prices and other data that Tesla does not provide to you on their website.

Works on a phone only sort of, but best viewed on a computer screen.

I am nuts and watched for a few months before I bought trying to get best possible deal.

The site is really good if you are looking to buy. Absolutely you must pay the $10 month subscription for all the good subscriber only data from this site. It really helps you make an informed purchase decision and also find just the right car.

The $10 subscription probably saved me $10k on my purchase price. With the subscription you can see all the prices that similar cars sold in the past went for, how long they were the on the market, what price they started at and what price they sold for. You see all the same pricing data and trends on cars currently for sale on Tesla’s website.

This site has some way better filters than Tesla’s website on very specific options, if you are after something in particular this site helps you filter the list more finely than Tesla’s website does.

Tesla sells used cars through their website. As you may have seen, when they first appear on Tesla’s website they’re priced quite high, way above what they will actually sell for, then every day the car is still for sale on the Tesla site the price drops around $500 to $1,000 per day. Eventually the price drops low enough that somebody buys it and it vanishes from the Tesla site. Sort of a reverse auction.

However Tesla provides no data on past price drops – this is where you need the site mentioned above to help you out. What I found was most cars usually sold just a few thousand above the price I considered “a good deal”. My car was $132k new in 2015, it was a 3 year lease for the previous owner, I paid $66.6k for it with 13k miles.

There is some other weirdness Tesla does, occasionally they raise the price back up after a long period of dropping it. The only pattern I could figure out was it appeared that once other cars sell and one particular car becomes the only one like it in a particular market, they may jack the price back up higher. I am sure this is something Elon Musk has some algorithm for figuring out. For all cars you can look at the pricing trends and seen what has happened in the past.

This site above will send you notifications when a car you are tracking had a price change, typically they drop the price daily on a car. It will also email you when cars meeting your desired specs initially come up for sale and appear on Tesla’s site. Saves a bunch of time browsing Tesla’s site and helps you be sure you are not over paying. Once you find a car you like, you click on the tesla site for more info, they will send you a link to a Google drive or drop box folder with photos of the actual car wherever it is located, they do a pretty good job of taking detailed photos of the car and zooming in on any damage, scratches, flaws.

In my case I had a few I was tracking and had a price in mind for each…when it eventually hit my price I clicked buy. Many sold before the price dropped to where I wanted it. I was an unusually patient buy as I didn’t really “need” the car. Bought it just a few days before xmas which also probably help price drop a bit lower than normal. Who would be dumb enough to buy an expensive used car days before Christmas?

The Tesla site does not provide any data on the price that it started out or how much it has dropped or how long it has been for sale, this site above however does do that for you. For $10 bucks a month you get all the data on every Tesla sold in the USA including the starting price and the final sale price. This way you can track and see if you’re getting a good deal or not.

Mine is a 2015 that came from Minnesota with 13k miles on it. Like new, 1/2 price. Still eligible for the brand new CA HOV stickers and also has the lifetime free supercharging from Tesla that is not available on the newer cars. Any car that has already been issued older California HOV stickers is not eligible for the new ones, thus getting one out of state is key. It was pretty much flawless, I really had to look hard to find any scratches on it, and it was nearly half price, which for a cheap shit like me was key.

Most of older Teslas also come with free supercharging for life. You can charge up at any Tesla supercharger for free which is awesome. We recently drove to Yosemite and back, using only superchargers FREE. It was nice. Charging at home is still cheap. Using plug at home, it costs me around $5 per 100 miles to charge it. Way cheaper than gas.

I resisted getting one for years due to the high cost and my own cheapness. Even though I am normally a master of buyer’s remorse I have had none with this purchase. Really like it and don’t regret it. Should have bought one earlier.

Tesla warranty and service has been great. Two years in now. Only a few minor issues, they fixed them all for free and provided me a Tesla loaner each time.

PS – I originally typed this entire message while my car drove me on autopilot down the 405 to Irvine. Autopilot is life changing.

My, oh my, oh my.

This makes me want to go out and buy one now. Kinda. It is still pretty pricey.

But I’ve got room to spend more. My 10xing has changed from travel (since with COVID who knows when travel will be back to normal) to being centered more around convenience.

For example, I am setting up my new office (not getting the $10k rolltop, but a $2k one) EXACTLY how I want it — built for performance, convenience, and comfort. I will be spending more to do this, but I’m also spending way less on travel, will spend a HUGE amount of time in my office, and have a few business ideas that I can develop there that will more than pay for the remodel.

Plus, since it’s only for business use, it’s tax deductible. 🙂

Anyway, the content on buying a Tesla was so great that I had to share it (I asked MI 94 in advance for his ok) in case anyone else was thinking of buying one.

Do you own a Tesla or want to get one? Want to share your story with us?

Or maybe you’re thinking of making a “splurge” purchase soon? What is it and why are you considering?


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