So I'm somewhat of a dilemma.
A little under two weeks ago when we had flooding my car(2012 Genesis Coupe) was flooded and deemed a total loss. I owed on the car and came out about 3k on top. Great. So now I'm waiting for the check from Geico and have no idea what to do..
I'm getting married in less than a year so I'm trying to make the smart financial decision here. I don't want to go into my marriage with debt, but I also don't want to be plagued with nonstop, expensive mechanical issues on an older, cheaper car.
I see it as 3 options.
1. Buy an older used car ~3-5k cash and drive it to the ground. The obvious advantage here is that I wont have a car payment and can save a decent amount more money, with the risk that the car might end up causing more headaches than it's worth. Also if I buy this used of a car I can expect to need to car shop again in a few years, if I'm lucky. I feel like this option is more of a temporary bandaid than a long-term solution. And I would hate to have money-eating problem after problem and defeat the whole purpose of buying cheap..
2. Option 2 is buy a used car in the 10k range or so. I would have to finance this since I only have the 3k to put down, but could probably pay it off in 18 months max. Advantages here are obviously a newer car with less mileage and hopefully more reliable and longer lasting. Down side is now I have a payment again, albeit a small one.
3. Then there's the 3d option. Basically buy a newish car(2013 WRX to be exact :P) with low miles around the 20k mark. The upside here is that I can expect the fewest issues, and the car will hopefully last me many many years. Downside is I'll have a nice car payment again and the loan term will be starting all over again. This is the most appealing option to me, I'm just not sure it's smart going into a marriage with a nice new 20,000 debt.
So what do you guys think is the best option? Am I missing a viable option all together?
Any input is appreciated.