It’s no secret that my husband and I live in a wealthy neighborhood. In fact, since the day we first met back in 1983 and we moved in together, we have always lived in very wealthy neighborhoods. How do we do it? By living in the most modest house on the block. Location. Location. Location. Our home may be a bit smallish BUT we have the zip code. And sometimes, that’s all that may matter.

In our current location, we did it by buying a distressed piece of land at a super great price and building our very own custom-made modular home upon it. We negotiated with the land owner over price (he was the one who was distressed. not the land.) His previous prospective buyers passed away before they purchased the land. We came along, had the money and a good gift of gab. Ditto for the modular construction company. Hubby GC’d most of the work himself (plumbing, electrical, construction) knew exactly how he wanted the home built (thus saving us thousands and thousands of dollars) and was able to erect a home valued at $275K (at that time) for only $170K. All for cash. No mortgage. No loans.

You can only do these things and get these things accomplished if you have a good deal of money in the bank. That’s where our frugality comes in. Once the seller knows you have cash to back up your negotiating, they are more than willing to make a deal. They know we have the potential to complete the sale. By our living close to the bone and within a budget, we get to deposit more money into savings and investments. Cash is the power needed to ‘Let’s Make A Deal’.

I have always chanted: I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to live like one.

That means living well, eating well and looking well. I don’t do this for other people. I do this for myself. I always wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need to toil and denegrade myself for the almighty buck in order to live very well. Good negotiating skills will and can get you anything you want. You just better have the cash to back yourself up. Otherwise you’re just a babbling fool.

Living in a nice house and dressing in nice clothing doesn’t stop there. If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. That translates into you needing a stunning ride. Car. Vehicle. Mobile. I always made sure I drove a really nice automobile to close the packaged deal. Any fool can go into a car dealership, plunk down a bare minimum deposit and take out a bank loan. I haven’t bought a new vehicle in decades. I learned that lesson well. You buy used. Newly used. Maybe 2 or 3 years used. And you make sure you have your own expertly maintained, pre-used vehicle as part of your down payment before you whip out the balance in cash. It’s a trifecta that has never failed me. From Mercedes Benz to Datsun 240Zs to red convertible Mustangs, throw in a Corvette, or two; hubby and I have enjoyed driving luxury cars for decades.

I have always chanted: I want a top shelf life at bottom shelf prices.

Every single thing I own, from the every day dishes I keep in my kitchen cabinets down to the diamond ring on my finger, clothes on my back, every stick of furniture, every food tidbit that touches my lips, anything and everything that I buy, have all been negotiated for. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

Our 2013, fully loaded, super duper luxury Dodge Durango Citadel, valued at $56K when new, was purchased by us in 2015 for only $32K. $12K of the payment was from a trade in of our Ford Explorer and $20K in cash. So, realistically I only spent $20,000 in out-of-pocket cash to get a luxury car (It’s based on a 350 Mercedes Benz model. Chrysler and Mercedes jointly worked together that year on the Durango).

Fast forward to today and hubby and I are again in need of another vehicle. We used the Durango to tow our RV and it could only tow on flat land. No mountainous regions or hills could we travel. Over the past six years it didn’t bother us. We only traveled to Florida or Rhode Island and all that driving was on level ground. Lately, however, now that traveling is coming back into vogue, hubby and I want to explore the landscapes of both the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway as well as finally driving out west and visiting The Grand Canyon and Sedona. It’s time. This dream has been put off long enough.

Hubby did his usual search. We interviewed a few dealerships. Got a feel for what our Durango would bring in. Hubby and I did have at least one heated argument. Well, actually two. One was he wanted a new tow vehicle because of all the added safety features. The Durango is loaded with safety and he got used to them. The second argument was he wanted to either lease the vehicle or take out a small loan. Have you looked at the prices of cars these days? They’re almost the price of a small home. That’s if you can even buy a car today? Used cars are few and far between. New cars, if not on the lot already, are facing a computer chip backlash and may take weeks, maybe months to get.

I would have neither one of his wants or desires. (This is why my husband will always be the poor boy he grew up as and I’ll always be the rich bitch I was brought up as. His family is poor. My family is rich. Opposites attract.) We need to stick to our budget and style of living. One: I don’t buy new cars because as soon as you drive them off the lot they lose 20% of their value. Better to buy a vehicle 2 years old, already depreciated thus saving yourself thousands and thousands of dollars. Two: I don’t deal with banks. They’re thieves, deceitful and liars. I had a car repossessed once because they said I missed a payment. When I called the bank manager, he confirmed he did receive the (late) payment BUT his bank needed the car more than I did due to their own financial problems. Nope. No car loans or leases for us.

Once hubs and I were on the same page, we went to work. Hubby is a fantastic mechanic and knows his vehicles inside and out. It took him a few days and a few dealership interviews but he located a vehicle that had mostly everything we wanted or needed moving forward in our towing requirements. A RAM pick up truck was going to bring us closer to The Grand Canyon than any other model. Cost was our first priority. Technology was second. Luxury was third. Have you seen some of these new fandangled pick up trucks lately? They’re geared for the long haul, with Navigation systems, leather seats, heated and air conditioned bucket power seating, Apple Play, USB ports, lumbar supports, super roomy, tons of storage space….the list goes on and on.

I love that this photo was shot in the desert.

The model we chose was a 2019 RAM 1500 Crew Cab. New, this pick up truck was $52,000. Today, the dealer wanted $42,000. What was our price (after two days of negotiations)? $37,500. What did we get for our 2013 Durango as a trade in? Their first offer was $10,000. Their last and final offer was $13,000. We took it. Total cash out-of-pocket for us was $24,500 (plus tax and a DMV $75 fee). Vehicle is a CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) still under original warranty with an extended warranty included and has very low mileage.

Our frugal ways made sure we had the cash saved and once the dust settled, it was a seamless purchasing experience. SCORE! Hubby has visions of towing his eventual sailboat. I just want to get our RV up in the mountains and I just want to start exploring some National Parks. Our new luxury truck has been puppy approved!