By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Imagine buying a brand new car every couple months. It may sound like a lot of work and a lot of money, but a Minnesota man has practiced the buy-trade philosophy for more than a decade.

“I love this Avalanche, but I love this Denali. And once I’m driving the Denali, I forget about the Avalanche,” said Gary Monn.

In relationship terms, Monn has been going steady with a Chevy Avalanche for the past three months. But a new Denali is about to take its place. It’s a love affair that plays out half a dozen times a year at Luther Brookdale in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

“You remember Norm from ‘Cheers’? When Gary walks in … everyone knows his name whether it’s the service department or the show floor,” said General Manager Curt Johnson.

Monn is making his 58th purchase in 10 years. The Denali will be his fifth buy just this year. So how does this tool company manager do it? And why?

“I’ve done my homework and when the incentives are good enough I trade usually for very little money,” said Monn.

They call it Gary Monn “math.” He finds out what vehicles are hot now, and which ones will be hot in a few months for resale value. He then checks rebates and bonuses, customer loyalty incentives, and takes advantage of his GM dollars with his GM card.

“I stack all those incentives to almost be like women who do the grocery coupon clipping,” said Monn.

And it pays off — he never has an oil change, and he’s always under warranty. He does a down payment in cash and only has to pay sales tax on the trade-in difference. And the dealer comes out OK because the vehicle he’s trading in is always newer, with just a few thousand miles on it.

Monn thinks he loses about $4,000 a year, but he still thinks it’s cheaper than leasing and he always has a new vehicle to drive. And he said there are times when he actually makes money on a deal, especially when he stacks the incentives and times it just right.

“There’s been a few times when I’ve traded in an Equinox and actually gotten more than I paid for it because demand was so high,” said Monn.

The constant buying and trading isn’t for everyone, and Monn admits at times his wife thinks he’s crazy.

It’s become a bit of a hobby and it’s a car-buying strategy he won’t put the brakes on any time soon.

“I haven’t gotten one free yet, but I pay very little, surprisingly low. And if you just do your homework, anyone can do it,” said Monn.

His best piece of advice is to get to know one salesman really well.

The Luther Brookdale dealership said Monn is easily their highest volume customer of all time. They call him a one-man stimulus package.

John Lauritsen

Comments (30)
  1. Dr J. Anderson says:

    Why is WCCO exploiting obsessive compulsive personality disorder for a news story. This is irresponsible. cmon guys… really.

  2. Terry Glop says:

    There is nothing obsessive OR compulsive about this article. News stories also have entertainment value, and this is indeed a pretty neat story. Now go back to obsessing about something else, Dr. Anderson. Thanks ‘CCO – keep it up! J. Lauritsen has become one of my favorite reporters!

    1. Mrs Monn says:

      Actaully, he is a bit. Hmmmm quite a bit…..

      1. Mrs. Monn says:

        Who is pretending to be me?? I am the real Mrs. Monn and Gary is far from compulsive about anything!!! Trust me!!! We just call Luther Brookdale his home away from home :))))

        1. Mrs. Monn says:

          Who is pretending to be the pretending me?? I am really the real Mrs. Monn, and Gary loves his trucks. I figure if it keeps him out of the bars and casino and gentlemens club, then I say Go For It! See you tonight darling, I have a plan for dinner, so don’t stop at White Castle again:)

          1. Mrs. Monn says:

            I love that new car smell! Makes me randy.

  3. Mike says:

    Shelling out an average $4000 a year is significant and the fact that you have to put in hours and hours talking to salespeople would be enough to make me jump off a cliff. The other obvious downfall is the fact that anywhere you park you car in public is a liability with odds against you. I like new cars, but after that first ding, all the rest are less traumatic and they usually happen in a public parking area.

    1. Steph says:

      Its sounds like he’s more than a welcome customer at that dealership and I highly doubt he has to put in hours and hours of talking to salespeople. He must enjoy his visits since he keeps going back to the same place every time.

      1. Evie says:

        Yes, he enjoys it, so chill out negative responders.

  4. Willow says:

    It’s nice to be rich enough to do that, isn’t it? Not all of us are.

    1. Steph says:

      He didn’t state anywhere that he was rich. And if you read his comment below he clearly states that he doesn’t have to make any payments and the worst case scenario was $333 a month for a $50,000 vehicle. His ‘worst case scenario’ is better than my current truck payment and my truck was only 10k. However, I prefer to drive the same vehicle until there is literally nothing left of it 🙂 This is the 3rd vehicle I’ve ever had in my 15 years of having a license.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Losing $4000 a year at his age means he’s losing out on quite a bit of retirement savings/earnings. $40,000 lost after ten years is akin to someone with a mild gambling problem. Nothing wrong with wanting a new car, but this seems somewhat extreme.

    1. Steph says:

      $40,000 over 10 years and getting 58 cars is nothing! Technically he’s not ‘losing’ that money either. Think about it, if you want a nice brand new pickup they usually start around $20,000 and if you were to buy 2 in 10 years that would be the same as this man getting a new one every few months for 10 years. He’s saving himself money on oil changes and repairs because he never has to do them. Think about your own vehicle, what did you pay for it? How many oil changes and other repairs have you had to do and what did it cost you? He’s got the right idea, but people like me tend to stick to our every day driver.

      1. Bert says:

        Steph, you are right. When I first saw this story, I thought this guy had to be crazy or rich or both! But if he can do this for $4000 a year, or $300 a month, and he has no car payment and he’s driving a GMC Denali, I want to know the formula. My 8 year old beater cost me more that $300 a month. This guy seems like he’s beating the car dealers at their own game!!!! I want to buy this guy lunch and pick his brain!

  6. jackactionhero says:

    My partner Bruce is obsessive/compulsive when it comes to collecting flower vases & antique doll clothing..But because I cherish our relationship so much I support my man.

  7. branden says:

    is that $4,000 on top of car payments? or in addition to buying the car.

    1. Gary from the Story says:

      No Payments, Worst case scenario has been it cost me $4000 a year ($333 month) to drive a $50,000 vehicle, and did I mention I drive about 40,000 miles a year. . . . Hmmm, Can someone show me how I can drive ANY cheaper? I bet Dr Anderson’s payments on his 5 year old Mercedes is a heck of a lot more than that!

  8. CJ says:

    Ok Id like to know how he doesnt become Upside down..I tried trading off a vehicle every year and ended up being upside down. Was told to hold off for like 2 years.

  9. Ellen says:

    We trade for a new car about every 3 years, and it usually costs up about $10,000.
    So in that time we don’t have concerns about batteries, tires, and of course the
    bumper to bumper warranty is a huge plus. But I sure wouldn’t want the stress of
    wheeling and dealing like this guy!

    And I agree with Terry that John Lauritsen is a great reporter! I could be prejudiced
    cause I’m from the Montevideo area myself! Go John!

  10. DJ says:

    Anybody know what “stacking” incentives means? This man used that term in the story, and did you see the paperwork he had? There was a list of 10 or more discounts, I was trying to freeze the dvr and see what these discounts were for. This was a fantastic story, and I for one say thank you WCCO TV for showing some good news about a guy prospering in this economy. BTW, I too think John Lauritsen is the best reporter on WCCO TV!!!

  11. IWonderIF says:

    Gary – Care to share any more details on how you are doing this – Care to elaborate on how you are identifying the “hot” model cars and “stacking ” incentives

    Thank you in Advance

  12. Don says:

    “Stacking” incentives means he takes advantage of the different types of incentives, both customer – which are advertised, and dealer – which generally are not.

  13. Gary from the Story says:

    I’m Gary, the guy in the story. Hard to lay it all out here, but this is my advice.
    The best advice I can give you is never, NEVER buy on emotion. This is a numbers game and the number MUST be right, or you walk. First find a salesperson you can totally trust, this is the most difficult part of the formula. Next find the vehicles that are in high demand when used, the cars that dealers are looking for. If you have a good salesman, they should help you identify. Some salesmen will tell you what you want to hear, you don’t want that, you want the TRUTH! Next find the rebates, and ask the dealer to help you find other “stackable” incentives. Ask the dealer to look for these; bonus cash, customer loyalty, manifest money, targeted incentives, private offers, dealer incentives, conquest, etc. Have dealer “stack” as many of these as you qualify for, some may not be “compatible”. I also ask about dealer demos, you can usually save $1000 or more for a demo that has a few thousand miles on it. After that I redeem my GM Credit Card dollars. Once you establish what you can buy the new vehicle for, you are halfway done. Now you need to establish what your trade is worth, you MUST do your homework, this is where most people LOSE! Be realistic, you are not selling retail, but don’t assume your trade is worthless. Check and use the “trade” number, again, you cannot expect retail. Finally, the ONLY number you care about is the DIFFERENCE. Do not be romanced by a big “trade” number, or a “low” buy number. Do your homework and know what you should be able to buy the new car for and what your trade is worth. Once you have the “difference” in your head, who cares how they assign the numbers. For example; If I did my homework and know my trade is worth $20000 and the car I’m buying is $25000 and I found $4000 worth of incentives, I know my “magic number” is $1000 DIFFERENCE. I don’t care what I pay for the new one, or what they give me for mine if the difference is $1000. Do not fight with the salesman, get him on your side, let him know what your are doing and get him to help you. Remember that the salesman wants to sell you a car so he gets his commission, make him find the incentive money. Note that you have to get ahead of the game and OWN the car, if you finance, you are usually gonna lose, cause most people who finance buy cars they can’t afford and make it happen by financing way too much and too long. Financing a car is always a looser.

  14. MattGMD says:

    Hope he is buying from the fleet sales department at the dealership. All the cash bonuses and credit card money earned still apply. I prefer it because the fleet sales reps earn their bonus based on volume sold rather than what price they can tweak out of each unit. Typically they cut $3-7k off the sticker, then factor for trade and cash incentive. The wife is on her 3rd Expedition. Sadly any money saved probably went in the gas tank LoL. But FYI any regular customer can use fleet dept, it is geared for businesses buying multiple vehicles but personal buyers like us prefer it.

  15. A. Harwood says:

    I have a friend that has purchased 116 vehicles in the last 9 years. He has never bought tires or paid for vehicle maintenance. He is wealthy and just likes to rub the new off one and get another. Always high line vehicles. He once told me he did not care if gas was $25.00 per gallon he would still buy vehicles this way, it’s his hobby.

    1. Deep Thinker says:

      Your friend certainly has the right to do as he pleases, if he really enjoys new vehicles I think it’s like a hobby for him. Personally I couldn’t stand talking to a car salesman more than once every 5 years, but everyone is different, I’m boring.

  16. SmellThatBS says:

    He ‘thinks’ he loses $4000.00 a year. That sounds a lot like my friend who’s only “slightly’ behind playing scratch-off lottery tickets. Yeah, right.

    1. CadMan says:

      Funny how some guys just have to kick a guy for doing well. Maybe ‘CCO could do a story on your 98 Plymouth, take another hit my friend!