Perhaps one of the most prolific stereotypes about those who join the US military is that when they get their first paycheck from Uncle Sam, they run to the sleazy car dealership on closer, who invariably sells them a snake-oil-like sports car at an annual percentage. rate so high, it will keep them eating a Top Ramen diet for years.
And while that’s true in many cases, it doesn’t have to be.
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Paul Garcia, who joined in 2004 and now serves with the 535th Airlift Squadron, has managed to finance a number of dream cars – including a McLaren and a Nissan Skyline – without a ridiculous interest rate.
His secret? Expect.
“You always see these memes, this 20% Camaro and Mustang,” he told the Military Times. “Everything takes time. And it’s a matter of patience, understanding, and knowing that you can achieve what you want in due time.
Garcia started small after enlisting at age 18. His first car was a Honda Prelude. Choosing to buy it used and for less helped him establish a relationship with the bank that allowed him to eventually increase his auto purchases.
“I kind of stayed with the same credit union, which ended up continuing to fund,” Garcia said. “As my credit grew, better interest rates appeared and higher financing amounts.”
Garcia bought the McLaren in 2016, worth $160,000. He deposited $30,000, while the bank funded the remaining $130,000. But he soon set his sights on another car: a 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec R34, which is not available in the United States.
“Being a car enthusiast, I love so many vehicles,” he said. “This one was definitely a dream considering they’ve only made 282 in the world. And that was mostly in Japan that you know, that’s where the car is from, and that’s so rare.
Along with carefully increasing his car selections from a $10,000 used Honda over the past 18 years, Garcia has made a few other savvy financial decisions. He bought a multi-bedroom house and rented rooms to other airmen, and he invested in a franchise of Capriotti’s sub-store.
“I bought a house from Edwards, and ended up selling, and bought another house from Travis,” he noted. “I ended up renting that one and buying another one. When the time came, I ended up selling those two houses and invested in opening a Capriotti sandwich franchise.
And while Garcia is happy with his Nissan Skyline, he plans to join the McLaren family again one day.
“I want to keep chasing the sequel,” he said. “I think I like the McLaren brand. I like what it stands for, the ideology of its racial roots. So I would love to be able to go back to a McLaren.
Observation Post is the Military Times’ one-stop-shop for everything off-duty. Stories may reflect the author’s observations.
Sarah Sicard is an editor at the Military Times. Previously, she served as Digital Editor of the Military Times and Editor-in-Chief of the Army Times. Other work can be found in National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose and Defense News.