Bradford and I just bought a new-to-us minivan, and we paid cash. Unbelievable? Amazing? Can’t be done? Well, let me explain.
When Bradford was laid off back in 2009, we lost a pretty substantial job perk: his company car. So we went down to one car. Sharing one car wasn’t so bad, especially once he began working from home. That made it easier, but I know of other families in different situations who share one car in an effort to save. It can be done, with careful planning.
During this one-car phase we let our savings build up. It’s a good idea to have 4-6 months’ worth of savings in place. Anything we saved over and above that, we earmarked for an additional vehicle. After about a year, we decided life would be a little easier if we had the flexibility of a second car.
We were praying that God would bring us not just any car, but the right car. While we waited, some friends in our neighborhood offered us their car any time we were in a tight squeeze. Every once in a while, we took them up on it. Just knowing we could rely on that as a backup kept us from being too hasty in a buying decision.
Because we were still saving for what we really wanted, we used only part of our savings and got what Dave Ramsey likes to call a “beater.” It wasn’t gorgeous or sophisticated, but it definitely met our need. Bradford found the car on Craigslist. Turned out, the ad was actually placed by a guy in our neighborhood who worked with one of our extended family members! Small money-saving world!
The car was great, but after about a year and a half, it needed major repairs. It didn’t make financial sense to put more money into the beater. We knew it was time for us to go ahead and buy a car we really wanted.
We had been doing our homework for a while: talking with friends, researching online, and test-driving models we thought we would be interested in. We gave our dealer our budget and our preferences. I was very picky! Once again, patience came into play, and there was a lot of back-and-forth as we waited for a match.
Was it a perfect match? Well, we chose to compromise on a few things. For example, we chose to come down in total car value price because the perks inside the car were more important to us, especially having two kids and traveling a lot. So instead of getting a newer base model car, we got an older car with more features.
Here’s how we did it:
- Do without. Settle for a beater until you can get what you want.
- Be patient. We waited in order to get the car that we really wanted. If we had done it any other way, we would have gone into debt.
- Stay focused. I learned pretty quickly that you can’t be concerned about what other people think. Personally, I didn’t like being in the beater, especially when I saw other people driving newer, glitzy cars! LOL! It wasn’t my first choice, but I had to ask myself, What do I really want? Is it worth waiting for? Is it worth being different?
In this economy, times are tough. I know that everyone is not in a position to do this. But if you can, if you want to give it a try, then I just wanted to share this victory with you. I want you to know you can do it. For us, it all started with looking at where our money was going. Then there was the realization that we did not want debt hanging over us. This is simply our story. It’s why we make the choices we make.
I’d love for you to share your story today. Maybe you’ve made some tough sacrifices in order to make cash purchases. Maybe you’ve had some embarrassing moments in a not-too-glitzy car! Maybe you just want to say “thanks” to the folks, like our neighbors, that have supported you along the way. Please tell! We all love to be encouraged!