Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why we won't be buying a new car

A couple of weeks ago I was nodding along with Money Saving Mom's post about living like no one else (and the Frugal Homemaker's response).

If her husband is an attorney and they're having van trouble, why not go buy a new car?

Fast forward a week, and my husband receives a significant promotion. A couple of readers suggested I replace the old Volvo wagon, STAT! (We also have a Toyota.)

We've been so grateful that his work responsibilities have kept us one step ahead of inflation. To me, that means we have a GREATER duty to stretch his salary, to pay off our mortgage, and to give.

Will I feel guilty about nudging up the A/C this August? No.

But neither will I fritter away a paycheck a newly-married me would never dream we'd earn.

Our life choices are based on something more than money. Not everyone understands that, but that's okay.

42 comments:

Edi said...

I know where you are coming from...if we continue to spend more when our pay increases how are we better off?

I remember one time talking with an acquaintance over spending...her theory was if you got the money right now to do something, then do it! Problem is that is just a short-term look at your finances and future.

I don't get very excited about our savings/investments b/c you know what - it doesn't change the way we are living right now. We are not just living for the present - but for the future as well. The more we spend now - the less we will have later... We know that right now we don't NEED much money to live on - but we don't know what the future holds...job loss, loss of health, God calling us to some sort of unpaid mission work.

Anonymous said...

I get it, you GO girl.

Anonymous said...

But this gal understands....I say, good for you.

Brenda

Shannon@Idylwild said...

Exactly. We are facing the idea of replacing the camry - we don't all fit anymore, so hubby has to take his truck if we go anywhere together. With the price of gas.... And we do want to look ahead in the hope that (someday) there might be another one of us:) But if we replace the car we will probably sell the car and truck and replace them with one bigger vehicle. Since hubby doesn't work a regular 9-5 day it wouldn't be too huge an adjustment (I think). All our friends and family think we're nuts.

Anonymous said...

With the way prices are rising, you are right to say that you need to keep being wise about spending your money carefully, and trying to pay off your mortgage. Our dollars seem to buy less every day, so we need more of them just to stay in the same place that we were! But I would be one voice that would still encourage you to think about replacing your car if it has become a liability. When you mentioned the "newly married" you, I got to thinking how we can get by with less than optimal situations when we don't have any kids, including cars that are tempramental and unreliable. But with a new baby, two other children already, and a husband with a new job/expanded work obligations, I think a new/different car might be a wise purchase in the long run, especially now that God has provided the means for you to do so. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree. We are busy trying to pay off Sallie Mae. I don't want to live pay check to paycheck. It just isn't my idea of the "American Dream". We pay cash, or have the cash in the bank for our purchases. We buy used everything, except food of course. We live 10 miles from any store, gas station or civilization for that matter. We know several people that make good money, especially for our area. They make 40 thousand more than my husband but don't have two nickels to rub together they are so maxed out on credit! NOT WORTH IT! In the last 6 months we have paid 10,000 off in debt. Will have Sallie mae gone in January and we already have two paid for cars.
Dave Ramsey is our financial hero!
Love your blog, Meredith. Please keep up the wonderful job you do. You are such an inspiration!

Elise said...

Good for you!! More money doesn't have to mean a bigger lifestyle.
Elise

Kacie said...

Hooray! My husband is going to be having a promotion soon and we know he'll move up the pay scale, though we don't know by how much.

We're going to do our best to not fritter away those extras, and use the raise to increase retirement contributions, increase savings and other responsible things.

Janel said...

I appreciate that. Some folks just don't get it.

We just spent $4200 to replace the engine in a ten year old car. Absolutely scandelous by today's throw away standards... We looked at replacement options but didn't find any close to what we could afford to spend. Our current car is otherwise mechanically sound and paid for, so we went for it. With any luck (and blessings from above!), it will run another 60-80 thousand miles with little trouble.

Julie said...

I understand.
We all need to do what is right for our own families. For some, that means getting the new car. For others, it means no new car. I think it's unfair to think everyone should do the same thing just because it's the right choice for one of us.

Amy said...

Our lives have so many parallels, it seems. Ryan got a better job, but we are now dealing with a car with troubles. Ryan's car has no a/c, my car has a "check the engine light" that came on again today. We will repair it and continue to live the thrifty life we love, but I am sure others would just replace the cars.

Mary Ellen (Carolina Momma) said...

I totally agree. I'm thankful two years ago when DH was given his own store to manage, we didn't go out and buy a bunch of new toys. In fact, the only expenses we added were part-time preschool for DD (which we would have done anyway)and cell phones (needed for DH's job). Instead, we used every bonus check to aggressively pay down our HELOC. And it's a good thing we did, because DH is no longer a store manager and we're making considerably less than we were before.

Marsha said...

My husband just did a test drive at a dealership to earn a $50 Target card. The salesman suggested to my husband that he lease the car for 3 years, and then buy it on time with 5 years of payments. This would keep the monthly payments "low." We got a good laugh about this when he got home. There are seriously people who would pay on a car for 8 years! The feature I like best about our current cars is the "paid for" feature. We hope/plan to pay cash for any "new to us" vehicles we get in the future.

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

Well said, Meredith! The Lord has given you wisdom beyond your years in the realm of money management.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

It really goes back to an individual's reasons for living frugally. I cut corners on some things (like not buying chips and sodas often) so I don't have to cut corners on other things (like giving and yearly vacations).

As a mom with children ages 5, 3, 2 & due another one in October I can understand what anon. is saying about an unreliable car being a problem with small children. BUT I also know that a family can live with the inconvenience of only one car. I've lived it. WITH the children - all 3 of them.

For my two cents, I suggest re-examining your family's changing needs (as well as wants)and financial goals in light of the new salary. Then work a new-to-you vehicle into the savings plan and pay cash when you have enough; assuming you believe a newer vehicle is necessary.

Anonymous said...

I totally get it, but I just wonder how you get things done without a car? Perhaps you could do a post on that? My husband and I both work (and in opposite directions!), so I don't think we have the option of just one car, but the possibility is very alluring for the cost savings amongst other reasons.

Anonymous said...

I think paying off the mortgage is a wonderful goal but don't forget to have some little luxuries, too. I had a friend who loved raspberries but would never buy them out of season because they were too expensive. She worked hard all her life and died a couple of years ago with a nice bank account, but all I could think about was how very sad she had not eaten all the raspberries she wanted. So, my two cents is you should spend money wisely, but have raspberries, too!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I understand completely.

Alison @ This Wasn't In The Plan said...

Bravo Meredith! That last sentence especially is so wise and so true.

GrnMtnGirl said...

Applause!!!!

It takes a lot of resolve to "live like no one else now" and not cave into society's pressures. Our friends, family and coworkers shake their heads at us and mock our choices. But we congratulate you on being strong enough to make the right decision for your family.

Jane said...

One quote that you said a few months ago that has stuck with me sums up my feelings on this and my own current situation. You said, "My children have everything they need and some of what they want." If everyone could live by this motto think about how much healthier we all would be. From less stress, to greater community, to a healthier Earth- this philosophy is my new motto!

Carrien said...

Have you seen this NYT Op-Ed piece by David Brooks yet?
The Great Seduction

It speaks to this issue quite nicely.

Sandy said...

I totally get what you are saying. We are different people today than when we got married. Being involved in ministry means sacrifice and giving in new ways. Not always easy. But we know what is right!
Great post. Love you, girl!
(PS How ya feeling?)

Anonymous said...

MEREDITH, THE BEST ADVICE MY MAMA GAVE ME WAS TO ALWAYS KEEP UP WITH WHAT MY FAMILY NEEDS AND THAT I NEVER SHOULD WORRY ABOUT KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES... I AM SO GLAD THAT I HAVE TAKEN THAT TO HEART OVER THE 9 WONDERFUL YEARS OF MY MARRIAGE -- I'VE HAD GIRLFRIENDS TO LOSE SIGHT OF HER FAMILY'S GOALS AND TRIED TO LIVE ACCORDING TO SOMEONE ELSE'S RULES/LIFESTYLE --- LOSING FOCUS OF WHAT YOUR FAMILY'S NEEDS ARE ISN'T WISE - MAMA WAS RIGHT, A WIFE/MOM MUST DO WHAT IS BEST FOR HER FAMILY - SHE PREDICTS, PRAYS AND TRUSTS... OVER THESE YEARS, IT HAS WORKED FOR US TO PAY OFF ALL THREE OF OUR VEHICLES AND BE CONTENT WITH OUR LIFESTYLE, ALTHOUGH MY HUBBY ISN'T WORKING RIGHT NOW. I AM TRULY GRATEFUL TO BE GAINFULLY EMPLOYED TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAM - GOD HAS SEEN US THROUGH - YOUR SITE HAS LIFTED ME FROM A FEW DARK PLACES TO CONTINUE TO BELIEVE IN MY DUTIES AS A WIFE AND MOM - I'M VERY TRADITIONAL IN THAT SENSE AND ONE DAY LONG TO BE AT SAHM! MEANWHILE, CONTINUE TO DO 'YOU' - THAT'S WHAT REALLY COUNTS, AND WE LOVE YOU FOR MAKING EACH OF US PART OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY --- YOU ROCK...
'WORKING MAMA IN THE NW'

Amy G said...

I get it! My mother doesn't understand why we don't get all new appliances for the kitchen. These work fine, and we're using them up before getting rid of them--even though they are all nearly 20 years old. Our appliances will let us know when it's time to say goodbye, and so will your car!!

Dana said...

This was a wise decision.

I know that in the past whenever we get extra money we blow more then 50% of it (sometimes all of it) Now, it all goes paying off debt. Our stimulus check went to pay off our property taxes - fun, eh?

Jennifer F. said...

Our life choices are based on something more than money. Not everyone understands that, but that's okay.

Amen, amen!

My husband is an attorney with undergrad and graduate degrees from Ivy League schools, and when people see that we struggle financially we frequently get eye-rolling comments that he could obviously go get some job where he got a big paycheck. That may or may not be true, but all of those jobs would require moving and/or him working 70 - 80 hrs/week. In order to put down roots in our area and have him involved in our family, we've had to make a big paycheck sacrifice. People don't understand that but, like you say, that's okay. :)

*j-u-l-e-s* said...

hey meredith! good for you.

our wagon is nearing the end of it's life and we just added a 3rd child.

we were in a very similar situation and did indeed have to buy a van because our volvo wagon was not working with 3 carseats on the back bench. (we tried it!!)
i appreciate your point of view!
best of luck with those 3 kids on the back seat - i am sure you'll handle it with more grace and patience than i did, i for one just could not stand them all crammed in like that any longer! :lol

congrats again on the promo.

*j-u-l-e-s* said...

p.s.

we paid cash for the new "used" van :o)

so, yes, we "get it."

thanks again gor your daily reminders and encouragement.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Meredith, you are wise beyond your years, my dear. You will always do well with that way of thinking, so kudos to you & your hubby.

Rhoda

Triple P said...

Wise words well spoken. Being good stewards of what God has given us is lost on a lot people these days. It sickens me to see all the mansions people are living in while working 18 hour days to pay for them and the brand new cars in their 3 car garages.
I have been subscribed to your blog for awhile now; enjoy it very much.
God bless you and your family as you strive to honor Him by being good stewards of His provisions.

Jenny S said...

I am finally catching up with you. After reading this post feel a need to leave a comment for what may be my first time on you blog. Which I think is cute and most enjoyable to read.

We just got a pay increase also. It is such a blessing. I am with you!

Lu said...

I love the last line.... :) Good for you!

jessica @pianomomsicle said...

i'm newly married, well, almost two years ago. Pretty sure that's still new.

Anyway, good for you. If you guys are doing ok without a new car, then don't buy one! It sounds like you're being a true example of the woman whose Proverb your blog names.

In the end, it makes sense to spend more now on your future and retirement. At that point, you won't care about whether you had a new car, if it means you're comfortable financially through the end of your lifetime.

Jennifer said...

I understand where you are coming from. I am fighting with myself over the big (to us) increase my dh is getting in Sept. I have talked myself out of almost every way I had imagined spending it. This is a good thing. We don't need more stuff and we don't need to sign the kids up for more. We need to save more and this will finally allow us to do it.

congrats on the new job and raise.

Anonymous said...

The next time you are asked that rather pushy question, remember: older Volvos are built to run (at least) 200,000 miles. Our 1967 Volvo is still going strong and being driven by our 36 year old son. The newer ones, sadly, are not as sturdy. It makes sense to keep something that works and to consider it a blessing, Besides, it is transportation...it is supposed to get you from point A to point B. If it is sturdy, somewhat gas efficient (ours gets 27 miles per) and runs well, what purpose is served by buying something newer, and less well built? How you spend your money is your business but I thnk you are dong a terrific job of managing your resources.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

I agree with you; the econ times are just too iffy right now. And, even if things were rosy, rosy, it's best to think of the future while living today.

I appreciate your blog...not sure if I've ever commented. Just wanted you to know that you are a help to me.

Tubo Family said...

Thanks for the update and sharing your thought process, it's inspiring.

Domestic Accident said...

Amen, sister. No matter what my hubby makes, I am driving my minivan until it dies. No way am I putting money into something that depreciates in value the second you drive it off the lot.

Stephanie in SC said...

I know exactly what you are saying! I live 20 miles from the nearest stoplight and have 165,423 miles on my 1999 van. The engine light has been on for the last 4 years , the engine knocks ( people turn their heads when i crank up!!)and the oil light comes on when I stop at a light after the car has warmed up (some kind of sensor) and dings at us( we like to tese kids when they ride with us and tell them someone is about to be ejected from their seat!). We are looking for a new to us Honda CRV . We have looked at and passed up 2 already. They were in great shape but not what we wanted to pay.
I have gotten a HUGE amont of grief over this....since we have 3 kids(from 11 to 16,oldest has a 1991 toyota corolla we drive to save gas on that her grandmother gave to her!!) they think we NEED a van. My dad the mechanic is the worst one on this issue.
Stay true to what you know is right.My husband still can't believe we paid $16,000 for this 8 years ago and now we'd be lucky to get $1,000 out of it!

The Nester said...

BRAVO M!!!

I love this and agree!! We go to the Salvation Army now for our clothes and yard sales and I always have, even when my husband was making the big bucks. It frees us up to be able to spend what we have with more thought.

We haven't always made great financial decisions but I have learned great lessons while cutting coupons and paying 25 cents for a new pair of shorts. It's a necessity when we are making a little, and fun, a calling, and a choice when we are making much.

Hats off to you!

Stephanie said...

Boy, can I relate?! We are in the midst of figuring out what to do with our failing cars, and yet they're not "dead" yet. We continue to pray that God will give us the answer to whether to put the $$$$ into the vehicle(s) or purchase a newer car/van. The more we give it to Him, the easier it becomes to live without A/C in FLORIDA!!!... but really, He knows best for us, and it's all in his hands. We too would like to put our money to further His kingdom rather than another monthly payment.