I am a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) flunkie. If you are not familiar with Dave Ramsey, I highly recommend you check out his website from the links to the right of my blog. I love Dave’s message, and I have seen his get out of debt program work for a wonderful friend of mine when the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. She and her husband followed the program, got out of debt, and then her husband lost his job. They were able to get by for several months before he found employment again, all because they successfully followed Dave’s advice in getting out of debt and socking away an emergency fund. I am really proud of her. Unfortunately his new job took them to Arizona, so I do not get to see her cheerful, smiling face any more. I miss her.
Anyway, I tried following the program with my friend a few years ago, but I just couldn’t seem to get it going. Then this year, we were taken by surprise, when things fell just right and we were able to pay off the majority of our debt (minus the house and my husband’s car). What a glorious feeling! Still, we didn’t strictly follow Dave’s plan. By his accounts, we should have paid off my husband’s car by now and started working on paying off the house. Instead, we had a little fun this summer. I was able to fulfill one of my dreams of traveling out of the country (although it was only as far as Mexico this time) without the financial stress we have had for so many years. We replaced some things in our home that needed to be replaced. Clothes that have been worn out over the years were replaced. I have been able to cross some things off off my needs and wants lists. But still we have been doing well.
Then this weekend came. Since my 9 and 11 year old were baby/toddler age, I have driven a minivan, after all, it was the convenient way to go at the time. I’ve outgrown that thought process. Perhaps it’s true that the course of events in my life over the past year are a mid-life crisis, even though I still like to think they aren’t. Either way, I’ve grown tired of the minivan. I’ve kept it around mostly because it was paid for. I know it would be stupid to take on another car payment, especially after having gotten out of debt. But every time I got in the van, my gut would twist and tell me that this didn’t feel right. It’s not who I am. Well yes, I am a mom, but I’m not really “that” mom. Now my dream car is the new Chevy Camaro – gun metal gray. It greatly resembles the dream car of my youth, a 1969 Chevy Camaro. But while I love the Camaro, I’d really just love to own one, not to drive one. Yes, I know that sounds weird. I’d rather have my husband drive me around in it, but he has a car he loves. So, being that I am a practical person, I know that while there are kids in the home, I need to stick with a “practical dream car” that I WANT to drive. Yes, I have one of those too. An SUV of sorts. I have always wanted an SUV, perhaps because I learned to drive at the age of 16 with an SUV. It’s comfortable for me. So I started throwing subtle hints to my husband about wanting a different car. When he would ask me if I wanted to get rid of the van, I’d say no, and again, I would reiterate the logical aspect of taking on a car payment being foolish. My brain and my mouth betrayed my heart.
Now my husband is a smart guy. He can read me quite well, and he knew where my heart was, even if my brain tried to take over. So this weekend, as we decided to venture out for a family fun day, he made a turn toward the car lots. Ok, it was supposed to be just to get an idea of what types of vehicles could achieve replacing the convenience of the mini-van without portraying the “mom” image, and what we would be facing should we decide to take on another car payment. We first stopped somewhere (a lot whose name I won’t mention) we knew we would never buy a car, because we knew their “scams”. But we chose to go there, because they carried all makes of cars, and this way we could see what the various makes held without having to drive all over town from car lot to car lot. Amazingly, with this first stop, I found the perfect vehicle for our family’s needs. Not only did it suit all of our needs, but it had many extras. I sat in the car drooling. I wanted this car. It broke my heart to know they had such a vehicle, but there was no way in hell were we going to buy it here. My brain was still in charge.
We drove off the lot, and directly into a lot across the street…the manufacturer of the car we just looked at. Uh oh. They had several pre-owned versions of this perfect-for-our-family car. Oh, my heart was starting to take over. Still, the price was a little high, so my brain could remain in charge, say no and walk away. But then we decided to play with the salesman, just to see what sort of price we could drop the car down to. I watched as my husband engaged the salesperson in his little haggling hobby. The price slightly dropped. The haggling continued. The price dropped a little more. The haggling continued a little more. An hour later. I was getting bored. The kids were getting bored. Could we end this thing now? The dealer apparently didn’t want to deal. Finally, my husband said no and we got up and walked to the minivan. Just as I opened the door to get in, my husband called to me. The salesperson stood beside him. They were finally willing to give us the original price my husband asked for. Go figure. My heart skipped a beat. Oh my. Was I really going to finally get out of the minivan era? Was I really going to give myself some more debt? As we completed the loan documents, my brain and heart were engaged in a battle over the stupidity of a car payment vs. the want of change. My heart won. All logic went out the window that day.
So now I am in my practical dream car, and yes I do realize that it is still a “mom car” of sorts. But at least it isn’t a minivan. Do I regret this purchase. Of course not. Will I regret this purchase? I don’t think so, but I may not be too happy when the first car payment arrives in my mailbox. And hey, if it were truly a mid-life crisis, I would have that Camaro right now.