Frugality Gone Wrong: The Real Cost of Owning a BMW

BMW Welt European Delivery ProgramIt’s no secret that I committed a PF sin back in the fall. After months years of contemplation, I pulled the trigger and ordered my first new car in over a decade.

When I placed the order in August, I made sure to detail my desire to take full advantage of the BMW European Delivery Program offered to any customers purchasing or leasing a new car. I also reserved a spot to take a re-delivery at the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina once the car arrived stateside (I’ve posted a full recap of the Welt portion of the experience…stay tuned for more!).

This weekend, I’m headed to SC for a full day of factory tours, race track driving and off-roading (yep, they give you a stock car to beat the snot out of on the track then take you off-roading in an X3 or X5). Can you tell I like my bimmers?  :)

While the EDP and Performance Center re-delivery are free to me as a buyer, what happens when I drive my shiny new car back to Boston? Basically, the reality of the real cost of owning a BMW will most likely slap me in the face.

The real cost of owning a BMW

I ordered a 3-series, a 328i, which is the mid-range vehicle BMW offers. Despite a fairly reasonable starting price (for a luxury car), the final tally including the options I opted for brought the final figure to….wait for it….just around $50K. Holy.shitballs.

Luckily, with all new cars, BMW offers free service for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles. This includes all oil changes, brake pads, fluids and discs, inspection services,  engine drive belts, wiper blades, etc. You’re also afforded free BMW Roadside Assistance for the first 4 years (no mileage restrictions) as well as BMW ConnectedDrive/Assist for 1 year.

But what about the other costs?

What about insurance, gasoline, parking and all the other miscellaneous expenses I’ll incur as penance for my sin? Obviously, if I spent this much money to buy the car, I’ll definitely be trying to take very, very good care of it. Unfortunately, that may mean more money being eaten up:

Insurance: My car insurance has gone up $53/month or $636 for the year.

Gasoline: Luxury vehicles require “luxury” gas (haha). Gone are my days of filling ‘er up with regular–I’ll now need to foot the bill for Plus or Super Plus. I’ll estimate that my gas expenditures will rise a modest $40/month (because we all know how much I love riding my bike to/from work!).

Depreciation: As with all new cars, the moment you drive that sucker off the lot (or out of the factory in my case), the depreciation clock begins to tick. It’s estimated that in the first year alone, my new 3 series will depreciate about $7,600.

Parking: I’ve added a new line-item to my budget for parking expenses. I won’t be paying to park in a garage on a regular basis (I have ample, free street parking in front of my house), but I will be paying to park in a garage whenever I venture into the city as I don’t trust anyone with my new bumpers. I’m budgeting $30/month for parking fees.

Total: Not including my monthly payment, I’m increasing my car-related expenses by at least $123/month or $1,476 for the year.

The fine print

Overall, this could be far worse–especially if you consider the potential costs had I chosen a luxury car that doesn’t include free maintenance services (costs estimated for first 4 years of ownership):


As any good PF blogger would do, I made sure to budget for these expenses (and practice living like I had to pay for them) BEFORE buying the car. I also ensured that I could still fund my retirement accounts, save, travel and basically keep my lifestyle the same as it is now.

Yes, this is a frivolous purchase. Yes, I could have purchased another car for far less money.

But with all that said, I’m still happier than ever about making this purchase because I love cars, love BMW and have planned/worked hard to make this a reality. Then again, talk to me a in a few years to see if it’s still worth it.  :)


What’s the most frivolous purchase you’ve recently made?


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We're a team of freelancers who are on a mission to inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Work from The Happy Homeowner has been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Wisebread, Lifehacker, The Dr. Oz Show, and many other outlets.

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