About a month ago, I almost made a huge financial mistake on our path to financial independence and debt-freedom. I almost financed a newer car.
Since our second little baby guy Crab came along, it’s been a lot more difficult getting out the door every day with two kiddos in tow. For the first few months of his little life, while on family leave, I drove my oldest to school (or walked before my 6-week postpartum grace period, eeek!). In that time, I found myself envious of all the CRVs and minivans parked along the road, engines humming in the gorgeous fall air, waiting to pickup their cherubs.
How easy it looked to put your infant and toddler into their carseats at waist height. How simple my life would be if I just had a bit more room for strollers and a higher backseat so I didn’t have to bend over… A door that closes on it’s own? Cool.
We currently drive cars that aren’t that old, with about 60-80k miles each, both sedans. My car was “Betty Blue”, your average sedan with a normal trunk (which drives me crazy). Chris’ car was silver with a hatchback, about 10 inches shorter, but just as roomy inside.
Since buying both of these cars in 2011 and 2012, we made the decision to no longer finance any vehicle in the future. We purchased a brand new Betty Blue in full, and caught in an emergency we financed the brand new silver car for about 6 months before paying it completely off. See, we’re not perfect. We slip up from time to time.
Our future plans include buying only used cars outright. So, this is how this experience truly doesn’t fit into our goals.
Both of our cars get about 35-40mpg and that was our focus when buying them. These two smallish cars have been filled to the brim with items renovating two different homes and continue to do what we need them to do. With one child, it didn’t seem such a hassle. When one became two, whew, it seemed to become much more of a struggle.
Though, from seeing the other moms on a daily basis flow easily to and from school, I felt the need to fix my discomfort right then and there. I scoured the internet for cars I wanted, started online price wars with two dealerships, and then… I had a moment of clarity through reading Mr. Money Mustache and backed off.
We didn’t have the money to buy a new or used car outright, and we’re currently saving for some renovations to our home. Our cars work fine, probably even better than fine, and they’ve got years left on them. Betty Blue even snags us a few extra cents per mile because the company mislead buyers and we get a mileage check for the life of the car as long as we own it. Hence the weekly “trade-in your vehicle” letters!
After much discussion with Chris, I realized I didn’t need what everyone else had. I was frustrated hoping to find a quick fix. Though, that quick fix would’ve taken us off the path to financial independence for a few years. Years more of auto payments plus higher insurance.
I convinced Chris to swap cars with me. We spent a day and cleaned them both up for each other top to bottom. A detail job in the driveway. I got a slightly newer car with less miles and the hatchback I desperately wanted to fit the strollers we use. Now to name my silver car…
I wanted to fix a temporary six month problem (in that time Crab would be easier to get in and out of the car) by throwing thousands of dollars at it.
Sometimes we need to look away from what other people are doing and remember our journey and goals.
I used to impulse shop a lot. Then I learned about the 30 day rule. Often times, tired as a mom, I feel an impulse to correct a situation with a purchase.
With the 30 day rule, I write it down, research the heck out of the item, and then wait 30 days before making a final decision. Usually, 30 days later I’m in a completely different mindset and have forgotten what I wanted or needed so badly before.
In this case, I examined the newer car I was interested in online and even took a test drive, walking away to wait a month and see how I feel. Now a month later, I have no plans to get a newer car for at least a year or more.
When the weather is nice, I take Monkey’s bike, a stroller, or my own bike to get him, and now in the midst of warmer winter days I take the dog. Monkey never knows what his ride home will be, but it’s so much more enjoyable to be outdoors chatting our entire way home than in the car for a 2 second ride.
I know in about six months, I’ll be in tip top shape, ready to tackle even a bike pickup in the winter.
Be honest. Be real. Be you.