Like the title says, I’m considering trading in my 2016 Mustang GT for something with: a cheaper payment, better gas mileage, & cheaper insurance, but still fun to drive.

Here’s the situation: my wife just started grad. school (this week), and will be in school for the next 3 full years. It is an intense program, and they urge students not to work, but she is going to attempt to work part-time (2 shifts a month “part-time”), so we’re losing most of her income. That being said, I think it would be financially smart to find something cheaper for my DD. I am really just using the Mustang as my DD, and we typically drive her car any time we’re together (2018 CX-5 GT AWD).

Time for the $$$$ - I’m currently paying about $600/mo car payment, $200/mo in gas (1000 mi/mo @ 15mpg), and ~$100/mo in insurance for a grand total of $900/mo just to drive this thing to work and back. While it is extremely fun, It’s not worth $32k+ over the next 3 years. Since we’re losing her income, we will have to dip into savings some each month to make up the difference.

Since my current priorities are to cut costs over the next 3 years while still driving something fun, at an absolute minimum I am planning to refinance the car, probably for another 5 or 6 years. This would drop my payment from $600 to about $350 or so. I understand that is a dumb move long term, but I am really only worried about the out of pocket costs over the next 3 years at this point. I am not under water on the car, and I’m not planning on keeping it for long after my wife graduates. At that point I will have had it for 5.5 years (bought new in Jan 2016), and my car A.D.D. will be in full force and I’ll want something else.

*Refinancing alone would save me about $8k over the next 3 years.

*HOWEVER. Option B is to trade in the Mustang (with about $1500-$2k in equity) and get something cheaper. My budget would probably be a max of about $18-20k, with cheaper being better, and looking at something with less than 40k miles or so. Between the extra savings on payment, fuel and cheaper insurance, I estimate I would save an extra $6k over refinancing alone.

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Needs: Under $20k, less than 40-50k miles, reliable, practical, good gas mileage(25mpg+). It doesn’t have to have 4 doors, I’m just leaning towards that since it’s cheaper and more practical than an FR-S or something.

Also, I’m 6'4 250lbs, so Miata IS NOT the answer. lol

Current top ideas:

2015+ Volkswagen GTI - $18k+

Fiesta ST - $15k+

Focus ST - $16k+

Any other ideas? Thoughts on these ideas?

I’m leaning towards the GTI since it has a significantly nicer interior and is more of an “adult” car, but it is also about $3-5k more expensive than a comparable year/mileage Fiesta ST, depending on the trim. Focus ST is an option, but it’s about the same cost as the GTI, and I would probably prefer the GTI.

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The only problem is that there is now a green for the 2018 GTI which I quite like. But I don’t need a new car....

TL:DR -

Option 1) Keep the Mustang and refinance, save $8k+ over the next 3 years. V8 roar for 3 more years.

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Option 2) Trade in the Mustang for something cheaper and more efficient and save ~$14k over the next 3 years. Any ideas for potential replacements? looking at a max of $20k, 40k mi.