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Old 10-04-2013, 06:54 PM   #1
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How do you afford your Jeep habit?

This post might be a bit serious or deep but I find myself thinking about it all the time when I see pictures/videos of modified Wranglers...Where do people get the money to afford the Jeep habit?

To start, my wife and I are school teachers. We both make a good living and I would say we middle-class. I bought a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport. Bone stock. No gadgets...and the horrible 16' steelies. But even this model is the only one I could rationally afford. I did a 5 year loan.

Now, I have the Jeep fever and want to mod up my stock so bad but can't. Man, I'm saving up just to get tires. Meanwhile, I see videos/pictures of people who have BOUGHT Rubicons to use as a trail-monsters, all souped-up ready to go. The Rubicon is expensive! Lots of the mods done are expensive! But what gets me is that its not an elitist hobby...say like, Yachting. Jeep is a hobby embraced by almost every type of American. But yet, its still one of the more expensive hobbies. I'm curious how people can afford such an expensive vehicle, rig it, and then even use it on some of the most dangerous trails in the world and not worry? I worry when my dog jumps in the back!

I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this...

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Old 10-04-2013, 07:13 PM   #2
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I know a lot of folks here do a lot of the work themselves. Ie it may be a $200 part but a stealership would charge a grand to put it on lol. I dont really plan on doing a lot to mine other than nicer tires. Mainly because I am a woman and just not mechanically inclined. There will always be people with bigger prettier toys no matter how much you spend. So long as you are happy is what matters. My objective is to have fun with it not keep it as a show toy. So long as I dont do anything stupid, keep up with maintenance and carry insurance I am good.

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Old 10-04-2013, 07:35 PM   #3
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:38 PM   #4
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:39 PM   #5
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I can't afford anything so I just slide my Jeep in there on the list of things to spend on that I can't afford.
Hey, I started with Nothing and I still have most of it left ! Lol
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:40 PM   #6
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My wife and I are both teachers too, so I feel your pain.

I used to set aside about $50-100 a month for Jeep stuff. We had some stuff pop up and that disappeared. So then I used extra cash I'd get from tutoring, or my VA refund when it came in (Graduate school). But then some more stuff came up (wife had a major wreck, hospital bills, new car, Jeep tranny blew up, etc). So that disappeared.

So now, I don't mod at all. What I had managed to do was get a new bumper and a couple of minor things. I have a buddy who is now the GM at a Firestone, so he hooked me up for cheap on tires and wheels. Next year I'll need new tires and will go back to him to get stuff at cost and about 50% usual labor charges. When I "lifted" my Jeep I got some cast off 18/59 springs from a buddy and leveling pucks from Teraflex. I had that installed for about $250 by my buddy's shop and was able to get about 2-2.5" of over all lift.

So after going off on my tangent, I spend when I have some extra cash that isn't earmarked already. I also look for deals and scoop them up if I have the cash on hand. I'll be damned if I'm going to go into CC debt because I couldn't control myself and my hobby. I'll just go in debt because life happens and teachers don't make jack for money.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:01 PM   #7
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It all depends how you look at money. I have the Jeep so that's all that matters. I really cannot justify money towards mods ect. I would like to go offroad and all the things that are Jeep but I have too many financial obligations.I feel your pain. I am just guessing most of the posters that put money into there rigs are childless,single,make really good money, make really good money with a family ect.. I am not dissing them but I wonder also. How do you sink $25,000.00 plus in a rig and add thousands more and still pay the rent. The only way to know is if somebody posts how they do it. More power to them. If it is your passion do it. Life is short. But so is money.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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A lot of folks who are working in the field of anything automotive find ways to trade out and barter for ALOT and what they cant trade and barter you can bet they wrote if off as a deduct or a loss on there taxes at the end of the year. My jeep stays at my shop therefore anything that's done to it that actually costs money gets written off as upkeep maint.

But then again yall are talking about new rigs, I don't think I would buy a new rubicon and go sink money into and then sink it in a hole like some do. My wife got a new 4 door rubicon a few years ago and I put her a lift and 35s on it and that's it.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMO84 View Post
This post might be a bit serious or deep but I find myself thinking about it all the time when I see pictures/videos of modified Wranglers...Where do people get the money to afford the Jeep habit? To start, my wife and I are school teachers. We both make a good living and I would say we middle-class. I bought a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport. Bone stock. No gadgets...and the horrible 16' steelies. But even this model is the only one I could rationally afford. I did a 5 year loan. Now, I have the Jeep fever and want to mod up my stock so bad but can't. Man, I'm saving up just to get tires. Meanwhile, I see videos/pictures of people who have BOUGHT Rubicons to use as a trail-monsters, all souped-up ready to go. The Rubicon is expensive! Lots of the mods done are expensive! But what gets me is that its not an elitist hobby...say like, Yachting. Jeep is a hobby embraced by almost every type of American. But yet, its still one of the more expensive hobbies. I'm curious how people can afford such an expensive vehicle, rig it, and then even use it on some of the most dangerous trails in the world and not worry? I worry when my dog jumps in the back! I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this...
I have jeep and i replaced the headlamps. Not going to do anything crazy. New tires/rims are not in the budget for a while.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:20 PM   #10
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Also realize you are seeing THOUSANDS of people from I suspect all over the world (this is the web of course). Even those "thousands" are probably a very minute fraction of total Jeep owners. And think about it-who are the kind of folks most likely to seek out a board like this? Some folks just want to bond with like minds or have fun (I am in this camp) and maybe learn a little bit, some folks seek out sites like this BECAUSE they are into modding out their Jeep.

True story: I belong to some other boards. Being a woman, they are largely cooking and cosmetics oriented. I can show you ladies who can drop the cost of a lift PLUS all new tires in lipstick alone in a month-for real! There really are lipsticks that near the $70-80 price point, and then of course you need ALL the colors and so on.

It's not a race. My son is older and on his own and I make decent money-I could dump a fortune into my Wrangler if I wanted. But at this point, I really see no need to do so. Maybe hanging out here enough will change my mind but I will never aspire to "mod with the big dogs". And I have zero plan to ever carry debt to do it-expendable cash only.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:31 PM   #11
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I work, don't smoke etc, no kids, and I started with a 98 so no payments. Only other hobby is mountain biking.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:32 PM   #12
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I'm sure drugs and gun runnin' are involved.............and of course Obamacare
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:35 PM   #13
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I don't have much of a Jeep habit.

I saved, saved, saved, saved, and saved some more.
I found every possible deal and discount I could find when I purchased.
I ordered what I wanted, what I needed, and nothing more.
I also put aside an original budget for some items that I knew I would NEED (key word, need), and stuck to it. Almost all of my funds were spent on items that were either for comfort or security.

A big part of it is that I'm not much of an off-roader....so I'm pretty much stock on the outside. Not needing to fund $5000 in lifts and tires helps!
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:59 PM   #14
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One of the guys my dad subcontracts for, (who is quite wealthy, multi millionaire,) just bought a brand new jk Rubicon and in immediately had it put in a shop where he spent 110000 on all the mods and labour. It seams to me that's just a bit over the top, but its more of a prestige item for him. I just wish I had his jeep budget.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:04 PM   #15
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One of the guys my dad subcontracts for, (who is quite wealthy, multi millionaire,) just bought a brand new jk Rubicon and in immediately had it put in a shop where he spent 110000 on all the mods and labour. It seams to me that's just a bit over the top, but its more of a prestige item for him. I just wish I had his jeep budget.
11K for parts and labor...for a millionaire? Tell him he needs to think bigger! I'm over that mark but none of it involves labor
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMO84 View Post
This post might be a bit serious or deep but I find myself thinking about it all the time when I see pictures/videos of modified Wranglers...Where do people get the money to afford the Jeep habit? To start, my wife and I are school teachers. We both make a good living and I would say we middle-class. I bought a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport. Bone stock. No gadgets...and the horrible 16' steelies. But even this model is the only one I could rationally afford. I did a 5 year loan. Now, I have the Jeep fever and want to mod up my stock so bad but can't. Man, I'm saving up just to get tires. Meanwhile, I see videos/pictures of people who have BOUGHT Rubicons to use as a trail-monsters, all souped-up ready to go. The Rubicon is expensive! Lots of the mods done are expensive! But what gets me is that its not an elitist hobby...say like, Yachting. Jeep is a hobby embraced by almost every type of American. But yet, its still one of the more expensive hobbies. I'm curious how people can afford such an expensive vehicle, rig it, and then even use it on some of the most dangerous trails in the world and not worry? I worry when my dog jumps in the back! I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this...
I have often wondered the same thing. I believe it all comes down to priorities. For some their Jeep is their life, instead of house, family, etc. they choose to pour their money into a rig. They may or may not be saving for retirement, college or college loans. Location/cost of living has impacts, I live outside of DC 1 bed room apartments start at 1500, 50 miles away it's $150.

I probably have $25K worth of records in my basement from when I was younger, I couldn't do that today ( or build that rig) but I did and could of when I was 18-20 years old

Is it better to be carefree, unstressed and have the rig of your dreams or to be stressed live paycheck to paycheck because your saving for retirement, children, college, future awesome vacations, long term health care???

I figure ether way it's a crap shoot but it's a choice we all have to make.

BTW I couldn't rationalize spending $15k to 30k on a jeep so I searched for two years and stumbled upon a 01 TJ in mint condition mostly stock that I got for a few thousand. I had planned to spend $2k on a rig and build as a project over time. Some days I wish I had gone the project route but............

Jeep On!
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:26 PM   #17
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Besides making or inheriting an obscene amount of money, most who can pour a ton of money into a hobby vehicle probably fall into 2 other categories. Either they have no kids (married or not), or they have kids (or not) and a double income. I suppose there's a 4th group who are in huge debt and don't outright own any of their toys. One expensive hobby is easy to do, what floors me though are the people who are into everything and have it all and do it no problem. I'm talking about the ones with luxury cars for getting around, big fast boats and a big truck to pull it, motorcycles, dirt bikes, quads, a cabin in the woods, a cottage on a lake, new $15K snowmachines every 2-3 years.

...and then there's the retired people with $1-3 million dollar, class A, diesel bus pusher motorhomes towing a 2013 Lexus SUV (as that is their beater car) that has a paint job matching the motorhome. They driving back and forth across the country aimlessly for 6 months/year getting 3-5 mpg. Beyond these people, there's the mega rich of the middle east, have you seen what they do to their cars? all gold body panels, diamond encrusted, etc.

It might seem expensive but it's all relative, we all do it at some level. For every one out there, there's someone less fortunate who thinks what they we is wasteful or extravagant.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:26 PM   #18
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11K for parts and labor...for a millionaire? Tell him he needs to think bigger! I'm over that mark but none of it involves labor


uhmmmm your number is missing a digit.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:34 PM   #19
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uhmmmm your number is missing a digit.
Doh! Ok I take it back. He's on the right path...
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:37 PM   #20
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Is it better to be carefree, unstressed and have the rig of your dreams or

I figure ether way it's a crap shoot but it's a choice we all have to make.

I was out fishing for silvers last season and started talking to 2 travellers up from Seattle. I said this very thing to them. For most people it's and either/or situation. You can either live it up when you're younger, or when you're older but probably not both. Most cannot do both due to either finances or failing health. I chose to do what i want at a younger age and I hope to be able to keep it up as i get older. If i chose to save everything for the future by doing nothing now, who knows what might happen and i could live and work a lifetime saving for nothing if i should lose my mobility or health. Then it's all regrets about what I could have done or should have done. The other thing too is a lot of lifes dreams have a window period. My example is mountain climbing. If you want to climb the himalayas, the ONLY time to do it when you're young. The opportunity to realize some dreams expire as you get older.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:40 PM   #21
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I am blessed with a job I love and do well.
I still work full time and overtime every week.
Sold the motorhome and some of the quads, so I bought a Jeep to play with.
It's my 4th Jeep and I love it. I am slowly getting it set up a way I like.

Do the best you can do at what you do. Then do a little better than the last guy.
I am not rich, but do ok.
I am now 52, so I hope I can do a little more of what I want in life.
Love having a Jeep in So. Cal.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:51 PM   #22
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I am single, no family, and rent a back room at a friends house. I am just cheap all around. Hardly spend any money on anything and if there is no food around I sometimes just don't eat. I have one weeks worth of clothing and work on the road all week where most of the time my expenses are covered by the company I work for, depending on how far away from home I am working. I bought a 24 year old project jeep with no transmission and have been spending money on it ever since. I have money to spend on the jeep but I have no life outside of work. I will be moving on soon though because there is more to life than money.

It does baffle me though to see new jeeps all modded up and offroaded. $$$$$
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:56 PM   #23
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I have a wife who does not work and two kids but , my kids are grown . I quit my great job and sold my house to move to Reno Nv. We wanted to be close to the Rubicon and wheeling .It is a life style and it's good clean fun .You can find a way where there is a will .I own a 2008 JKUR with lots of mods and a 1961 Willys wagon I am in the middle of a full on suspension replacement , one ton axles , hydro assist steering and brakes just to mention a few mods.We moved here with no job in sight and bought a house .It took a couple of years to get it together but it is working .We are not rich but , you only live once and what are your plans ?To work your life away and die ?That is not living . Do what ever you enjoy and do it with abandon !Like I said , you only live once , better enjoy it .I think alot of Jeepers are just like others that are passionate about their sport and can't live without it , I know we are .By the way to liveanlearn , There is no sense in modding a Jeep and not go off road. If you mod your Jeep and not off road , I guess you are just trying to impress someone !I don't get it !I would not own a Jeep if I did not off road . They are just not that much fun on road !
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:40 PM   #24
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I saved for twenty years, being good and paying off my debts. Be realistic about what you are really going to do with it. I wanted a rubicon but would never use it to anywhere near its potential. For me leveling the JKU and 285/75/17s with spacers was it. With the leveling kit and spacers I have less than 500.00 in it. Front bumper was 179.00 on Amazon and Superwinch 9500 was 330.00. You can go a very long way with a grand if you are judicious about the use of it. Tires you will have to buy no manner what. I sold the take off parts and tires and made back about 600 of what I spent. I turn all my own wrenches that's half the fun with my kid.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:49 PM   #25
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I'm a single school teacher myself - haven't been married in about 5 years. I'm NOT making a great income from teaching, lol. (Protip - don't move to Oklahoma to teach if you need an actual REAL income....) Of course once the wife and I split, any and all extra money I had disappeared in a hurry.

I bought my JK this summer because I have always wanted a Jeep and, well, dang it I deserved it. I went through my years of "kid friendly" vehicles, so to justify the expense - holy crap for 5 years! - I call it my mid life crisis.

I can't afford to do mods either, though I'd love to have new wheels and tires and a lift. Hell, I work THREE jobs (teaching, tutoring and Autozone) just to pay for the damn thing, lol! I'm doing the cheap little things for now - plastidipped the wheels, stubby antenna, parachord "oh shit" handles, a new tire cover and a little Yankees emblem is all Ive been able to afford so far. Oh and a lift in the garage to raise my top off. Its cool, though. Just having her is an awesome feeling and I love to drive it!
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:18 PM   #26
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It's just a little bit at a time for my wife and I. We enjoy caring for the vehicles rather than the nights out in the Sports Bars-been there done that with not much more than the hangover and less cash. Nothing better than an early morning ride with a cup of coffee. Good luck with your Jeep and hang in there-plenty of affordable tips here on the forum.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:26 AM   #27
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By the way , I'm cheap , don't do drugs or drink and save like you would not believe . I don't buy stuff I don't need and try to pay for stuff with cash.
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:19 AM   #28
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I feel your pain. I'm only 19, only about a year out of highschool and I'm working a shop job with pretty good pay(pretty good for a kid with no college education... Ok for someone who owns a jeep :lol: ). Me and my girlfriend are looking at moving in together next year, and she's one of the biggest misers I know. So she wouldn't be too thrilled to spend money on a rig.
I've come to terms that if I save my money well, I may be able to afford an 06 TJ sport in a few years and to put a 2" suspension and 1.25" body to fit 33s, maybe a budget winch eventually. Just the bare essentials to be effective on the trails. In the grand scheme of things, this will just be a toy. My family will be my life in the future. But my jeep will be right there with me through my life and that's what matters. No matter how close she is to stock
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:49 AM   #29
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It's not necessarily an inexpensive hobby, but neither is owning a boat, RV, or a hundred other things you can spend money on. Living in Florida, I have friends that have a couple thousand dollars in golf clubs, then they spend several hundred a month on club memberships, green fees, cart fees, liquor at the 19th hole, etc. I have other friends with $15,000-20,000 in their boats and they spend an ungodly amount of money on fuel and maintaining their boats.

I'd rather spend my money fixing up and going Jeepin'. First, it was paid off before I spent any real money on it. I figure when I do my lockers and gears in a couple of months when Santa pays a visit, I'll have about 8K in mods in my Jeep. Still cheaper than a higher-end SUV. I waited most of my adult life to own a jeep and now I'm having a blast. I joined a jeep club and we go out a couple times a month. A few times a year we go on more adventurous trips out of the state.

If you're asking how to do it if you have no disposable income? Well, I waited until I could afford it and had some free time with kids mostly grown up. Looking back, I wish I had started sooner, maybe with a TJ or YJ and just used it for camping and light offroading, and I wouldn't have had to spend much money on it. But that's water under the bridge, and I'm making up for lost time. It's October, the weather is perfect for being topless and doorless, and I have 2 great jeep trips coming up next weekend and in 3 weeks, and I can't wait.
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:50 AM   #30
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Great post and great questions.

I think a lot of it has to do with how people define "afford." There is a huge difference between paying for modifications and improvements out of your surplus cash (the stuff left over after meeting your budget needs, saving for retirement, saving for home repairs, etc.) and throwing the mods on the credit card. While I could put a brand new AEV Brute Double Cab on plastic right now, I surely cannot claim to be able to "afford" one. Instead, I keep up on (or ahead of) preventative maintenance on my 2002 TJ with 135k, and revel in never having had a loan on this vehicle since new.

There is also the question of budgeting for prudent and useful modifications. Simply ordering a bunch of Smittybilt or RuggedRidge crap out of Quadratec because you think you need to is not a good idea. Pick your modifications carefully, doing what is needed to address actual needs and don't waste money servicing your imaginary needs.

In your case, there is NOTHING wrong with steel wheels; in fact, they have quite a bit going for them. So when the time comes to replace your tires or change tread pattern, don't feel compelled to throw in the expense of new bling-bling rims simply because that's what the off-road magazines and catalogs would have you think. Instead, spend your money on replacing and upgrading functional parts. As I recall, the ball joints on the JK are crap from the factory, with poor metallurgy and plastic inserts (or at least they were this way a couple years back). So instead of wasting money on bling-bling rims, put some of that money towards high-quality non-OEM greaseable ball joints and a nice grease gun when the time comes. This sort of investment will help keep your Jeep running and driving well for many, many years to come.

As a corollary, fabricating your own parts or buying used accessories or bartering with friends is not a bad plan to consider, too. My first winch was a used Ramsey REP8000, complete with TJ-specific mounting plate, that I picked up for $200; its replacement was a free-shipping sale-price Warn M8000. A friend does rope splicing as a side business, so we spliced up a length of Amsteel Blue for wholesale cost, so now the winch wears synthetic rope for 1/3 the cost of ordering a premade winch line. Another example is my roof rack - I wanted a roof rack to carry a ladder, pole saws, kayak, etc., but didn't want to pay $600 for one. With a bit of patience and by keeping some cash around, when a used one comes up for $125 locally I was able jump on it. Are you going to have the coolest, fresh out of the off-road magazine sort of gear this way? No, but who cares? A Jeep is made to be used and enjoyed, not to be oogled at in a mall parking lot.

Lastly, there is the lifestyle issue, and how it represents a cost-shifting away from other expenses for many Jeep owners. My wife and I like to camp and hike and snow-shoe in the more remote back-country. The Jeep comes in handy for that. We can throw our camping gear in the Jeep, and for $150 in food and some gas we can live like kings for a week. How much would that week-long cruise, or trip to Vegas, or that vacation to Hawaii cost?


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