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Monday, March 9, 2009

Frugal shame. . .

The other night, I was watching TV with some friends (friends with cable are a wonderful thing!) and a commercial for a new car lease came on. For only $2,500 down and $199 a month, I could be driving a brand new car!!! Ironically, the brand of car that was being advertised is the same brand as the 14 year old beater I drive now. For free. As in, no car payments.

As I was silently contemplating this, and also feeling a little bit ashamed at the way my car looks (it's not shiny, someone stole a hubcap a few months ago, and the electronic locks no longer work, among other failures) my friend turned to me and said: "When are YOU going to get a new car"? I looked around the room and realized that with one exception, the friends I was hanging out with all drove newer cars.

I laughed it off by saying: "I'll drive a new car in about 15 years, when my student loans are paid off". The subject soon changed, but my mind stayed with the topic of cars. Three of the people in that room are living on student loans and part-time work, and the fourth is a stay-at-home mom whose husband makes a healthy salary.

Although one of my friends paid cash for her car, that $15,000 of her now-depleted savings could have been used to live on while she's finishing school, rather than taking out more student loans! Sure, I'd love to have a beautiful car. But if I had the choice between taking out student loans to help make my car payment, or driving a beater to avoid the debt, I'd choose the latter, every time. That doesn't help with the shame I sometimes feel at my old, beat up car, or the fantasies I have about walking onto an car lot and picking out the prettiest car there.

Luckily, my friend Dave Ramsey has a wonderful video on his website that deals with the very issue I struggle with: wanting (and not being able to afford) a new car. He calls it Drive Free. Retire Rich. I highly recommend it if you need a pick-me-up and some additional motivation after watching TV commercials that pressure you to get into a lease or to finance a new car. . .

8 comments:

Stephanie said...

What a frustrating attitude! I see it a lot, this "when are you going to get a new ___" thing, when the current solution is working just fine. I plan to keep my 1996 Oldsmobile for as long as humanly possible, unless I find myself in a life situation where I can ditch having a car completely. But I know that in a few years, my friends will be asking that question. I guess I'll just have to respond with "When are you going to start driving for free?"

Erin said...

I blogged about this topic (frugal embarrassment) last week. I'm glad you are able to keep your priorities straight...good for you!

Linda said...

Back when I was living way beyond my means, my ex and I got a new vehicle every other year. I actually thought a car was ready to break down at 60,000 miles and I should get a new one. Oh, if I had all that wasted money now. I love that video by Dave Ramsey. I think everyone should have to watch it. My current husband is a used car salesman and I will never, ever buy new again. I told my husband he should put Dave's books on his bookshelf in his office at work. I married an awesome,awesome guy this time around and I do get a better deal by sleeping with the salesman... grin
Seriously... I am proud of you for "sticking to your guns" with your friends. I love the response Stephanie has ready for her friends!! Oh, yeah, thank you so much for the book! It came in the mail today!!!

momstheword said...

We're getting a free fridge that is seven years old because someone we know upgraded to a new one (it's newer than our fridge, lol!). We got a free Bowflex because someone else we know upgraded. To bad people don't give away cars when they upgrade, lol!

I think that you should be proud of yourself. You're getting out of debt and this is how you do it. We don't buy new cars either. We maintain our cars for as long as it's cost-effective to do so, or they wear out...then we buy them used.

marci357 said...

Just respond with, "When are you going to get smart and NOT buy a new car?".... ok, so it's rude, but no more rude than them sticking their nose in your business :) Don't feel defensive - just say it does not fit in with your personal goals and lifeplan and you see no need for a new one at this point.

And don't watch the commercials - get up and take a break or something - one does not need to be bombarded by all that sales junk.

Finally Frugal said...

Wow! Thanks, everyone! I love the feedback, especially about such a potentially depressing and 'sticky' topic for me. . . .

BTW, if you're interested, Erin's post on Frugal Embarassment is here: http://nagle5.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-is-it-that-some-many-people-wont.html

Definitely a wonderful reminder that we don't HAVE to spend to make people like us or respect us. All that confidence comes from within, and is not dependent on the car we drive or the clothes we wear. Am trying to use this as my mantra these days. . .

Erin said...

Thanks! I've been receiving you via feed reader for quite some time now...definitely help reinforce my own commitment to our journey...

browngirl said...

no show or blame in that. i don't even have a car. but i won't get one until i can pay cash for it. ha!

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