Detaching From Material Possessions a Sign of Emotional and Financial Maturity

Here lately I’ve been in a reflective mood. Not sure why.  Maybe it’s because another school year is rolling around and my kids are growing up too fast.  Maybe it’s because my 31st birthday is right around the corner and I’ll officially be in my “thirties.”  Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about the past a lot.  Not necessarily dwelling on it, but thinking about how I got to where I am today.

My very first credit card purchase was a Sony Playstation.  I was a sophomore in college and had just received a brand new, shiny credit card with a whopping $500 credit limit compliments of Discover Card (trading a credit card application for a t-shirt was my first really dumb move).  At the time, Playstations were going for about $199, plus games, and I even tossed in an extra controller for my roommate.  I think I charged around $300 in that first transaction.  I’d pay it off over time.  Well, that was the only part of this plan I had right.  I would pay it off over time – years!

Young and Dumb

During my 20′s I was mostly “young and dumb,” especially when it came to money.  It’s not that I was downright irresponsible with money, but I just wasn’t making conscious decisions about my spending. For most of my 20′s I lived with a “monthly payment” mentality where I justified financing my lifestyle because I could afford the payments.  Looking back, this was an incredibly immature way of looking at finances.  I even remember being about 22 years old and pining for a new car.  My low status on the career totem pole meant the purchase consumed a large percentage of my annual salary–but that’s okay, I could afford the payment.  And then something happened and I was instantly cured of car fever, gadget envy, and all the other consumer cravings that had caused me problems up to that point.

Cars are Just Hunks of Metal Riding on Four Pieces of Rubber

I’ve never really been a car guy.  I didn’t grow up around car restorations, or mechanics, and my grandfather owned exactly two vehicles in 34 years.  But I did like cars, and when I was a teenager I wanted a “cool car.”  I didn’t get one, but I did inherit my grandmother’s car which was in pristine condition, mechanically.  In fact, I wish I still had that car!  When I finished college I needed a new car, because after all, I was working and earning a salary and I “deserved” it.  I leased an SUV, and several years later traded it in on a newer, used Chevy Silverado.  Oh, how I loved that truck–sport trim package, V-8, ice-cold air, CD player, great sound system, etc, etc.  It also came with a new monthly payment, and an increase to my insurance premium.  For a few months I drove that truck and loved it.  My grandfather had offered his old truck to drive, but I wanted a “cool truck.”

One day, after writing out the check for the monthly payment, and the increased monthly insurance premium, something hit me like a ton of bricks.  I sat there watching my kids play in our backyard, and then looked over at that “new” truck.  How much could their futures be improved by taking this $400 a month and applying it to our other debts, and then saving it for their future education?  How could I be so selfish.

A Cure to Car Fever

I got in my truck and drove to an office supply store, picked up a “For Sale” sign, and listed it for sale in our credit union bulletin the next day.  Two weeks later I got a call.  The prospective buyer loved the truck, offered what I was asking and left to arrange financing.  That Saturday morning he and his wife drove over to pick it up.  We exchanged a cashier’s check, and a bill of sale, and away they went.  As I stood there in the driveway watching my “dream truck” drive away I was forever cured of car fever.  It was if I could literally feel the transfer of the burden of car debt move from me to the new buyer–poor guy.

That was about four years ago.  I’ve been driving my grandfather’s “old” truck ever since that Saturday morning.  I will continue to drive it as long as it runs.  I’ve adopted a utilitarian view on automobiles (and other things).  They are literally hunks of metal pieced together, set on four tires, and sold to us for the purpose of transportation.  Cars don’t define our social status, and are horrible indicators of wealth.  Never again will I fall victim to worrying about what others think, or what marketers try to convince me to think.

Comments

  1. Agreed! It’s hard on us all sometimes, like when my hubby meets a new tennis buddy and he’s all about his new truck, his big house and how great they are doing financially, and he’s driving a 1986 F-150… sometimes DH gets really down about how we are doing – until I remind him our house and cars are all paid for, and figure out how much debt his new friend is probably swimming in.
    And you are right – a car is really a hunk of metal on wheels. Drive them until they can’t go anymore.

  2. Now that is not something I could ever do… Cars are the one indulgence that I place an extremely high priority on. After all, my very first tattoo was the Honda badge. :)

    However, neither of our current babies were bought new. We even used a cashier’s check to pay for the Miata outright when we picked her up last summer. (For bluebook price, amazingly. Almost unheard of for a convertible in summer.) My baby’s eleven years old, and our other darling girl’s seven.

    Funny enough, the next car we want to save up for is going to be the oldest yet. I’m thinking either a ’93 or a ’94, either way one of Honda’s NSX’s. ;) One of the most gorgeous cars ever, in my opinion. She should tide us over until I can start my own career and then being aggressively saving the $100k or so needed for the Ferrari I really want. (550 Maranello.)

    I’m just hoping we have the patience to save up either a very large chunk of cash for a down payment or enough for the whole thing… I’ve really enjoyed life without car payments for now, but for the right price I won’t pass one up. (I hope.)

    Oh, and for me, it isn’t about “status” or anything like that. I want the car because I love the car and because I absolutely love driving. There is no better feeling than sitting behind our S2000′s wheel and letting that girl run all the way to her 9k red line, listening to the engine working, the exhaust singing and the wind rushing by… There is absolutely no price tag I could put on that wonderful feeling. (Even if the insurance is atrocious. ;) Besides, status isn’t a $16k car, is it?)

    That and my husband and I both decided we’ll live in a tiny shack to own the cars we want to have. :) We’ve got our priorities! (And they go by names such as Porsche and Ferrari.)

  3. Great story FD, I’m currently going through some major gadget envy and this kind of stuff is a good reminder that it’ll pass and if I just hold on the feelings of wanting to spend will pass.

  4. Good story FD.

    A car or truck is just a way to get from one place to another. They don’t make you smarter, better looking or sexier. They definately don’t make you wealthier. I’ve got an eight year old Honda that has lots of miles left in it.

    Of course the same goes for things like the big house or the fancy gadgets.

    Real wealth comes from freedom and contentment.

  5. good for you! i’ve never understood the “car as status symbol” thing. i’ve owned a twice-handed down (among family) vega, a bare-bones toyota tercel (that i drove for 10 years), a 5-speed honda civic (that i drove for 10 years) and now a toyota minivan (that i will probably drive for 10 years). the last three were purchased new which i know isn’t the best way to drive a car, but at least i get my money’s worth.

  6. Excellent post!

    IF it gets me from Point A to Point B, has AirConditioning and a radio . . . then I’m pretty happy. I do mostly in city driving, no highways on my daily route, occasionally on weekends, but mostly . . . I’m an InCity Gal. (Who is also thinking of switching to a scooter . . . )

    I plan to drive my current car – a 98 Honda Accord, til it falls apart and dies on me. And then will pay cash for a new (used) car. I have a friend who has had lots of success going through CarMax. And another who goes to a Honda dealer and gets a refurbished card from them . . .

    Either way . . . that’s the route for me in the future. I don’t need a ‘new’ car. I need a reliable vehicle and you can get that easily used.

    Thanks again for great posts . . . You have really gotten me to rethink a lot of things in these past few months. ;-)

  7. I do comment a lot and am one of the masses that typically do agree with you, but in this one we won’t be able to see eye to eye. There is a HUGE grey area between tech/possession envy and skimping on everything just because you don’t want to pay for it. With the mentality of “it’s just a thing”, why not live in a shack somewhere fully paid for? Why not buy really cheap food — it’s all the same, just foodstuffs to fill your stomach. Why purchase clothes — they can be found at a donation place for nearly free or even in the garbage. When you try to lump things into a “it’s only stuff” category, then its a slippery slope into only purchasing things according to their price. Everyone has some sort of desire to have something better. It’s what makes us human and has gotten our society to the point where we are as comfortable as we are. It’s the ability for the individual to determine what they desire and whether or not it is something they should spend time pursuing. You desire a nice place to live — I would assume you and your family don’t live in a paid-for shack simply because it would be inexpensive — and so you are able to justify the expense of that. You do not desire a nice car enough to justify that expense. It is all relative.
    Personally, I have a nice house (I did not over-purchase) because I know I will be spending inordinate amounts of time in it. I want a nice car because I know that I will be spending lots of time driving it around (people can spend up to 1/10th of their life driving!) and I want to have a nice place to sit and a great driving experience. I have a nice TV because I had a cheap one and found that it just wasn’t worth it. I would agree in that I have found a maturity when it comes to purchasing things but I do not simplify it down to “it’s only four wheels and an engine” (which can be done for any purchasable item). If I get to the point of purchasing it, it already has some intrinsic value to it — it’s not always just a thing.

    As a side note — if you really loved that truck, you should look online at AutoTrader.com and see how much it would be if you purchased a used one (some people will haggle). Domestic vehicle values drop like rocks during the first 4 years. It’s probably stupid cheap by now and may be worth saving for. It’s not always “just a thing”, there is a state of mind behind it too which is why I can safely assume you don’t wear hand-me-down clothes that are decades old. One does feel better wearing nice clothes which is all part of the state of mind behind the “thing”.

  8. “…until I can start my own career and then being aggressively saving the $100k or so needed for the Ferrari I really want.”

    Foxie’s comments above worry me quite a bit. She has some positives going in that she at least seems to want to save the money first, rather than go into debt, for something that she really values, an (expensive) Ferrari. What worries me is I think her blog said she is only 20 years old – I hope that what she values at 30 years old doesn’t regret instead aggressively saving towards retirement, maybe having a home paid off, no debt for school, etc. I would definitely recommend the book “Your Money or Your Life”… if cars really do bring a lot of value into her life (and hopefully she knows this will hold true years from now too) then it could be worth it for her. I’m glad that she is saving, I just know as a 35 year old with a 1 year old, that a ton has changed as to what I value in life at 35 than when I was 20.

  9. We are definitely moving more towards this mentality. I don’t think I can take the car guy out of my husband, but I know that he has appreciated that we are trying to pay down our debt and maybe can later work towards a car with some more bells and whistles.

  10. I am with you on this one! I drive a 96 Mazda Protege that is paid off and still in great shape. All it costs me is gas and tires and oil changes.It has been paid off for years and now that I’m divorced I can’t even imagine adding a car payment to my list of responsibilities! I upgraded the stereo and speakers two years ago cause I love to listen to music and books on cd while I drive. I am happy every time I get in my car. I can’t help laughing now at all the SUV owners trying to unload their gas guzzlers…glad I didn’t get caught in that wave!!!
    I have to say that frugality in cars does run in my family, my sister drives a 92 Ford Taurus with a great stereo and no ac, my brother drove an early ’90′s Honda for YEARS, it actually got totaled 3 different times and he kept getting if fixed cause he couldn’t bear to part with it, it had well over 300k miles before he gave up on it. My last car was an ’88 Mazda 323 that had 227k miles and NEVER needed anything except tires and brakes!!! It bit the dust in 2000, my mechanic had warned me that since it had performed so well for so long that when it did die it would be multiple system failure and he was right. Needless to say I’m a Mazda girl all the way.

  11. I agree entirely. Utility is the key when buying a vehicle. Especially when you’re making a large purchase like that, listening to your common sense instead of a marketer’s message is imperative. I’ve talked about those insidious methods car manufactures use to lure you in. They’ve got the population at large hook line and sinker!

  12. Amazing. I’d love to see some of you people’s houses and the way you dress. I can just see it now:

    “I painted the concrete floor. It’s inexpensive and utilitarian.”

    “I made the second-largest purchase of my entire life based simply on how much utility the vehicle provides. It’s even a nice utilitarian primer gray.”

    “I wear basic shoes, the same jeans for 10 years and purchase shirts from Goodwill — they should be enough to make do. Why buy nice clothes or *gasp* a suit? Clothes are merely utilitarian objects to cover our nakedness.”

    Possessions and desired possessions are not a black and white issue. There is a huge expanse between utilitarian and completely without substance (flashy). An item’s worth to you is affected by how it displays our personality, what benefits it can provide to us and how we feel when we use or view said item. It is also affected by what we may have paid for the item and whether we feel we “got our money’s worth” for it.

    Our items do say more about us than many would like to believe. Who would you rather buy something from? A dirty, horribly dressed individual or a presentable, well-kept gentleman (not sleazy or flashy, just presentable)? Who would you be more likely to trust without prior knowledge? Someone’s appearance can say much about how much self-respect one has (and consequently how much respect they are likely to give you) and the care that they may take in interacting with you.

  13. I’m a huge “gadget man” and “car man” to boot – something I’m working hard on keeping at bay. In my twenties I spent money on things I’m too ashamed to even mention. I’ve just turned 30 a few weeks ago and the realization you referenced in this article hit me hard as well.

    Last week my wife and I realized not only do our vehicles occupy a majority of our garage, but a majority of our monthly spending as well. We would love to change that; however, we both have negative equity on the vehicles and would have a hard time getting what we owe out of them.

    Do you have any suggestions on how we can reverse our youthful mistakes?

  14. @David

    I think we’re getting back to the cheap vs frugal agrument again.

    Personally, I am willing to spend a litle more for good quality. I bought a Honda mostly for its reliability. The fact that it had nice features and still looks good after 8 years is a bonus. But, a flashy car wouldn’t change who I am. Same way when it comes to clothes, want good quality that can be worn and still look good for several years. Could go on, but you get the idea.

    There are some things like my bikes, I’m willing to splurge on though.

    Thats just me. Others have their own opinion.

  15. David, you contradicted yourself when you said having (or not having) possessions are not black and white and then compared a horribly dressed individual with a well-kept gentleman.

    I don’t think FD is suggesting we sacrifice cleanliness for saving a few dollars. It’s about detaching emotional value to material possessions and at the core, it’s about differentiating between needs and wants. For me, being presentable for work is a need. But buying a new car every three years is a want.

    This is different for every individual. I once met a guy who was trying to sell a fairly new Mazda hatchback. He loved the car but his boss wanted him to get a more prestigious vehicle because he was a wine salesman. If I were in his position, I’d consider that a need over a want.

  16. You know, today I was out doing errands and this guy pulls up next to me in his shiny new two-seater sports car all giving me the eye. And all I am thinking is — “dude, you are a fat old semi-bald man with clown hair and that stupid car is so not making you look sexy”. In fact you look like an idiot. Did you ever see that Friends episode where Ross gets a sports car and then a really gross guy (much like the one above) pulls up next to him in the same car? He realizes that his car is so not making him look cool.

    Oh and David? I have acid etched concrete floors in my house. I did them myself. They are so cool that my interior designer friend, who does all the local rich and famous, gets requests for them all the time when she shows pics of my floor. She charges a gajillion dollars to do them for her clients. Cost me about $100 total.

  17. @Unspending, it’s not a contradiction. It’s using an extreme example to get the point across. What you wear and/or use and how you look says a lot about you. It has been proven so many times, it can be taken as fact.

    As for the frugal vs cheap and needs vs wants points, my argument is that almost nothing we buy (on a personal level) is merely a utilitarian purchase. Where we live, what we drive, what we wear and even whether or not we have our hair styled all comes down to emotional involvement at some level. There is a HUGE difference between letting yourself be identified by what you own and owning things that express you and your personality. For example, someone could easily buy an overpriced and new-fangled cell phone just to look chic, while someone else will buy something a little more sensible because it makes more sense financially. While the more fiscally responsible person is not allowing themselves to be pulled into (what they may see as) an impulsive purchase, they will still find a less-expensive phone that they can feel good about. There is still some emotional attachment to the item and how it makes you feel when carrying it and using it. (Please note that this is just an example, as I know some people here will state that “they don’t care about a cell phone…it’s just a thing… etc,etc”.)
    I would be wary of someone who boils all personal purchases to a strict comparison of how useful it is and its ROI. I would think there could be a level of emotional detachment there which may not be healthy.

    I think the ultimate point is to not get caught up in impulsive or emotional purchases. Keep in mind that you have a budget or responsibility to being frugal but I don’t believe we need to take it to the point of “it’s just hunks of metal riding on four pieces of rubber”. If something like that is based entirely on unemotional logic, how can you feel good about owning it, using it and keeping it up?

  18. I’m actually about to pick up a 93′ Cadillac for $3k and sell my 2005 Toyota Highlander for this same reason :)

    IF i get lucky, i will be able to kill $20k on the spot. WOOHOO!

  19. Woohoo, break out the flamethrowers everyone!

    Anything I’ve said is not a personal attack. It’s a good debate.

    @Lisa, I have acid etched concrete myself in some areas of my home. I like it a lot as long as it is finished properly and looks nice and glossy. The example I used was to point out that people typically won’t do those sorts of things — i.e. live on bare or barely finished concrete. Do you NEED carpet or nicely finished floors? No, you want nice floors because of the way you want to feel while walking around your home. That is an emotional involvement on some level. No matter how you cut it, the list of our needs are short and our wants are long.

    @FrugalDad, I’m probably stirring up your readers a little too much, I think I’ll have a little lie down.

  20. @David: I appreciate your comments,and your point of view. Cars are not the only example of this utilitarian concept – some people feel this way about houses, too. “It’s just sticks and bricks” I’ve heard some people say. Or, “home is where you make it.” And that home could be in a mansion or a small log cabin, the point is that as long as it provides shelter from the elements it serves its purpose. You certainly can “feel good about owning” things that didn’t cost much money.

    I’m not advising everyone drive a junk yard car their entire lives. That said, there are too many young people starting out with the goal of driving a luxury car automobile, and hocking their financial futures while they’re at it. I’m guilty of that myself, but I hope that my story will inspire some other 20 year-old to take a different approach.

  21. While material possessions aren’t very important to me I do need a vehicle that I can find reliable and safe. Living out in the mountains with no cell phone reception for over 20 minutes of the drive makes me need a reliable car. I have two small children and if my car broke down it could be a very unsafe experience for me. My hubby however drives and old jeep wrangler that now has over 200k miles on it. I think for a woman, especially one with children, a reliable vehicle is very important.

  22. This was a great post FD!
    I married my honey two years ago when we were fresh out of college. His parents gave us their older car as a wedding gift (we didn’t have a car) and every time we drive it (95 Subaru Legacy) we feel so fortuante to have a set of wheels that are paid for. Their gift was just what we needed and I’m proud that we haven’t traded it in or upgraded (even though we now have great jobs now and last year made $98K). We are focused on paying off our debts (No CC’s, but student loans and mortgage) and we using our good financial position to get ahead instead of trying to keep up with the Jone’s.
    Remember – the best things in life are not things…

  23. What matters to you?

    I grew up in a huge house (almost 6000 sqft), but years later, after she died, I found out what it cost my mom.

    I realized the 10 years from her diagnosis until her death could have been much easier for her with just a modicum of restraint on what she spent on that white elephant of a house.

    So now I raise my family of 4 in a paid for, but under 1500 sqft. home.

    Cars?

    I’m rarely more than 5 miles from work or home, so I don’t care what I drive.

    Clothes?

    10 years ago, I used to wear $500 suits 5-6 days a week for the corporate job. They’re still in the closet for the occasional wedding or funeral.

    Freedom is what matters to me.

    I can pretty much work where I want, or go where I want when I want.

    A big chunk of getting to the above was strictly controlling consumption expenses over the last 15 years, and planning on living modestly in the future.

  24. Very good post! A hard lesson learned for some…myself included. I was raised by a Dad who wanted a new car every year…not just a new car but the FASTEST car. I remember wondering if the same passion he had for cars was somewhere hiding for me. He was a good gentle Dad who spent most of his time washing the cars. Investing your energy in time with family or friends is never a bad investment. If you can visualize how long you have to work to earn every dollar you are spending on the car, it will put the shiny chrome induced coma (or gadget greed) into perspective. If it is needed…earn the money first…. This is my first post…just found your site about a month ago. Rock on!

  25. After many years of being frugal and taking care of raising my kids and getting them off into college, being out of debt for several years and very happy about that, I’ve just rewarded myself by buying a Corvette.

    My husband is the coolest car guy ever, and he somehow managed to find a 1999 red convertible corvette with just one previous owner in his 60′s that rarely ever drove it (it only has 8000 miles on it!), and we just picked it up yesterday.

    I guess for me, now being 48, there came a time in my life where all my/our hard work at not being in debt would bring me to a point where I felt the need to do something nice for myself. I’d spent years and years driving the old beater family cars, vans, SUV’s, station wagons, and my previous Chevy Silverado pickup. Now it’s “my turn” to have some fun with my wheels. And the best part of it is, no car payment.

  26. Everybody has different priorities. I personally skimp on cars and home, but not clothes for example. Hopefully if you saw me walking down the street you wouldn’t realize I was on a tight budget, because I like to look sharp, fresh, and clean. But if you saw my car or my home there would be no question.

    IMHO an old vehicle (esp. truck) can be stylish. I can think of plenty of music videos or movies where an old car is part of a guy’s image. I think it projects a certain laid back, patient, and masculine quality.

  27. From 1983-2004 my wife and I spent over $134,500.00 on cars (15). That’s over $533/month over the past 20 years, not counting insurance, and maintenance. Just car payments. I drive a 94 del sol with over 219 thousand miles on it. I learned my lesson, well not really. I bought my retirement car last November a Honda Fit.

  28. 1974 Datsun pickup…handpainted with a paint brush a hunter green..with handpainted grey box and a little grey toolbox in it…Wheels spray painted black…. and it is just the CUTEST thing! Bought 5 months ago $400 and haven’t regretted it a minute. I needed something to get firewood in and go to the dump, sometimes to work to save mileage on my car, and it does that perfectly. And the best thing is – no computer stuff at all in it… and I have a spare 74 at work that I am grabbing parts off of in case of future need. :) My other car is a 2001 Forester that has 112,000 miles on it and I’ll run it til it drops – hopefully over 200,000 on it then.
    I myself have painted every square inch of my house, inside and out, and decorated how I want it, and not how fashion dictates – a happy little home. Wear jeans, discount store sneakers and shirts to work and at home, and have no self image problems that David mentioned. Rather, I know I can buy and sell most of the people I know… but they don’t need to know that. Save my money for important things like grandkids and retirement. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. I’m debt free, entirely including the house, and can work the hours I want at a part time job I enjoy, and not worry about keeping up with the Joneses! I couldn’t do that if I wasted my money on ‘flash’ .

  29. I’m loving the fiery comment debate! After all, purchases like cars and homes and even designer clothing should be carefully thought about.

    Buying a nice car because “that’s just what you do” is financially immature. Buying a nice car because you’ve accurately weighed the costs and benefits and decided it’s worth it to you is financially mature.

    Personally, I’m happier knowing that pretty much nothing of who I am is tied to my car. I’m sure I’ll fluctuate all over the spectrum at different times in my life, though.

  30. Yikes, big debate going on. :) Seems like a bit of chaos and mayhem, I love it. ;)

    @Shawn: I suppose I should have mentioned before that I really don’t want children. Not that I hate kids or anything, I’m just not the kind of person who could do it. I see way too many other wives my age on their first, second or even third child, and I just know I can’t do it. I have waaaaaaay too much I want to accomplish in my life, and I want to do it all for ME. Selfish, maybe, but I don’t want to have to delay all the things I want to do because I had children.

    That being said, my cars are my babies and are spoiled accordingly. :)

    @Lisa: Well, driving my S2000 definitely turn heads. Somewhere between the extremely sporty look, the uncommon model, top down, loud exhaust and the fact that I’m female, guys certainly seem to notice. Besides, few people know she’s a Honda! Almost wanted to buy another one when I found a ’01 New Formula Red for about $15k, but the premium gas would’ve killed me in commuter costs, and insurance for two wouldn’t be pretty I’m sure… (That and $15k is half of a gorgeous NSX, my absolute favorite Honda of all time.)

    Random side note: I wrote out more of my thoughts on spending and cars on my blog, if anyone wants to check it out. :) Just kind of elaborated on my first comment a little, so it goes with that…

  31. This is a great subject and there are lots of good data points in the discussions. Here are three that I want to share.

    I bought my first new car in 2000 and I have 133K on it. My goal is to hang onto it until about 250K, then I suppose the life will be out of it. It still looks like new and gets 38mpg on the highway, so I knew when I purchased it that it would be a good long term investment as well as a luxury item for me.

    Recently my sweetheart wanted to hang onto her SUV with $500 monthly payments. I convinced her to get rid of it and buy a nice used car with cash. She did, and she is very happy about it. She is now debt free and drives a nice Seville that is comfortable and reasonably good on gas. Her maintenance, repairs and fuel for more than a year now haven’t touched what she would have spent for only two monthly payments on the Pilot.

    I have a personal story to share that is too long to explain here, so I’ll point you to my website. The story is about a beater car that I drove when I was first starting out in my career, and the peer pressure I received from my supervisor to get a better set of wheels. I think this story punctuates what many have spoken about – don’t get caught up in the nice new car thing until you have the rest of your life squared away to your satisfaction. Here is the link directly to the page http://www.frugal-living-freedom.com/cheap.html

    Just about everything in life is a personal choice, and many of our choices are based on how we were raised, and what we value. The value we place on things often defines the difference between needs and wants.

    For me, I drive my car when I need to because it is a tool that is supposed to work for me. If we find ourselves driven to work in order to pay for the car, then perhaps we haven’t made a good choice.

    I have enjoyed the discussion. Good fortune to all,

    Clair

  32. I think you really do ahve to reach an age of maturity to begin thinking this way. In my opinion,it’s the first real step to financial freedom. Nice article.

  33. Luving this discussion.

    For me it all boils down to: Do I own it (possessions, ie house, car, etc) Or does it own Me? (payments etc)
    I luv my freedom from debt tooooo much to go back to payments!

  34. Haha – I’m currently living on bare, unfinished concrete in the house we just bought (going on 3 months now). For two months we had a mattress on the floor and 2 plastic chairs. Now we’ve upgraded to at least having a bed on a frame in one of the rooms. The catch is, we’re doing a gut renovation of a house that was pure 1978 inside. The carpet was so gross it made sense to rip it out right away. And we’ll be installing wood when we’re ready. (We’re doing most of the work ourselves.)

    We’re both car people too. We bought 2 BMWs used for less than what most people buy for what we consider to be “average” American cars new. One of them is paid off and one is on the way. They’re a 2000 and 2001. And we LOVE them. It’s not about status, but it is very much about the driving experience. With gas prices, we anticipate that we might need to get rid of one of them in a few years if the prices keep going up. But we’ll keep the convertible forever if we can. (We also carpool every day to work now too.)

    To us, it’s about balance. If we wanted to live in a less expensive home, maybe we’d have more money to spend on fun stuff. But since living in our dream home was more important to us, we are conserving on the cars, the gas, the groceries, clothes, and we don’t go out and spend a lot on entertainment any more. You just have to pick what’s most important to you.

  35. BB:

    Bingo! You know what is important to you (plural), and that is key. You value a nice home, and are working toward that in a focused and frugal manner. Good for you.

    It sounds like you are realistic and very much goal oriented, and that is very important for your success. You have the right idea – focus on what is important to you.

    Good for you,

    Clair

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