Finally buying a minivan: Why we chose a three-year lease

I wrote a post a few months ago about my decision to postpone a minivan purchase as part of a WalletPop series highlighting real-life signs we're in a recession. Many readers thought it was silly for a family of five to drive around in a '99 Ford Taurus for one more minute and had lots of advice on how we could get into something more suitable without blowing our budget.

I'm happy to report that we finally bit the bullet and, after weighing lots of options, recently leased a Honda Odyssey.

We've had the car for about a month. I am pleased as punch with the purchase. It's fun to drive, incredibly roomy (so the older kids can actually buckle themselves in) and we feel like we show up at events and friends' houses driving a nice set of wheels for the first time in a long while. Best of all, we are only paying $259 a month for our lease.

I have always been against leasing cars. We bought our Taurus with a three-year no interest loan plus a few thousand off from my Ford credit card. We paid $422 a month for three years and then had five years of driving pleasure with no payments.

I wanted to do the same thing again. But this time, when I went to a dealer all set to buy a Dodge Caravan, captivated by its swivel-and-go seating system, I found payments would have been near $1,000 for the model I was getting sold. Feeling pressured, I left and didn't buy.

I looked at getting a car loan and buying used, but the payments would have been more than $450 a month even for a $15,000 car (or one about three-years old for the models we were considering).

But then I stumbled across an advertisement for an offer for just $259 a month to lease a 2008 Odyssey. I called up Brewster Honda and the sales person who answered said simply, "I can put you in that van." We went up there and, sure enough, he showed us the exact model (an LX, basically the no-frills version) and didn't even try to up-sell us. I asked about the advantages of trading up, but it seemed it mostly amounted to power doors, which didn't seem a must-have for more than $100 increase to our monthly payment.

So we took the deal. And haven't looked back. Until now... When I find, much to my chagrin, that the same dealership is now advertising the same van for just $239 a month!

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