Lease vs Buy – 30 Year Analysis

I recently found myself mulling over the car Lease vs. Buy decision.  Coming from a traditional ‘Buy to save money’ background, I wanted to know what the larger picture looked like – let’s try a 30 year analysis.  Take the following comparison between purchasing three well maintained cars for 30 years (average 10 years per car) and 30 years of leasing.

Purchase Assumptions:

$35K – 40K average list price

$18K down

3.9%, 36 mo.

Driven ~11K mi/yr

$475/mo. payment

~$3,500 in maintenance over 10 yrs.

%5,000 residual value


Lease Assumptions:

$35K – 40K average list price

$750 down

36 mo. lease

12K mi/yr

$399/mo. payment

Maintenance included

Assuming the details of each subsequent purchase and lease are similar, the statistics break down in the following manner:

Lease: 10 Cars over 30 years vs. Purchase: 3 Cars over 30 years
Total Investment: Purchased: $99K vs Lease: $148K

Month 276 (23 years) 8 leases vs. 3 owned
$112,932 (leased) vs. $100,675 (purchased)
$12,257 = ~$45/Mo. difference


After graphing these results, I began to ask myself a few questions –

  1. How much is my time worth? (keeping busy maintaining my three well maintained cars…)
  2. What would I have gotten out of owning three well maintained cars over a thirty year period?  A sense of accomplishment?
  3. How much new technology and experience would I have missed out on over that 30 year period?  Best comment came from my son recentl
    y: “I haven’t felt heat in  the back seat of this car for longer than I can remember!!”
  4. Was it critical for me to save ~$45 / month for 23 years?

So, the traditionalist opted for the lease program – at least this time around.  Is there anything I’m missing?  Post a reply – would love to hear your opinion 🙂


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