Pay As You Go

We bought a new car couple of months ago. Before Congress passed the Cash for Clunkers program. So now they're handing us $4,500 to buy a new car. You don't need a blackbelt in shopping to know this is a good deal. So my Handsome Husband and I decided we'll hand over our clunker, trade in our mid-life Accord, then we'd be halfway to a new car! Good deal, right?


A house payment plus two car payments, divided by one working adult is not a good equation for me. Giving up a perfectly good car to buy a new car would require me to count my lattes. You know, the conventional wisdom of grown-ups is that you should save up your money and buy important and significant Things. Grown-up Things. A sofa. A house. A luxury car.

I was a dismal failure at this. I felt irresponsible. Not that I tried to change my ways or anything. I never had a great sofa, my own house or an impressive car to show for my earnings. Instead, I enjoyed my life in other ways, day to day: I took classes. Went on bicycling trips. I flew to the beach. Ate good food. Drank a latte. Or two. This was the way I enjoyed my life.

When I actually became a grown-up, I decided to stop buying into this supposed grown-up way. I'm not interested in a hardwood sofa to pass down to the next generation. Or a new car to primp over. I don't want to scrimp and save so I can appear "grown-up." I want to enjoy being with my friends or sit and read a book over a latte. Or two. Not at home sitting on my sofa. Or writing a check to Honda.

I want to pay my way. Each day. As I go.


Anonymous said...

My feelings EXACTLY! We're driving a 2001 Accord and a 2001 CRV- both paid for and a new car payment does not sound as appealing as going to the beach with the family, going away with friends for a spur of the moment trip or getting away for a long weekend with my husband for our anniversary- May not be anything exotic, but it's something we couldn't do if we added a car payment to the multiple school loans, mortgage etc...Besides, I don't WANT to work full-time!

Donna said...

That was from me, Grace!

Amy said...

agreed. We're driving a 1999 minivan and will until it's no longer safe or costs more to fix it than it's worth. We hardly own any furniture at all, as our rented home came mostly furnished. I also like the idea of spending my money on fun rather than Things. We're certainly not extravagant, especially with Chris as a postdoc, but I'd rather order a drink when we go out to eat than put that $6 toward a real dining set or a fancy decorated nursery. Just me.

Julie said...

Amen! I think of all the things we "should" have and roll my eyes. Back when I was first married I thought that because I had married a lawyer that I should be driving an image car and so should he. Now I could care less. I drive my minivan around and it's not even the "cool" one to have. I will drive it until it falls apart. Why do I do this? Because then I can take my daughter on a date day and not have to worry about how much I have to spend. I spent $50 today without thought to if I needed that money to pay a bill. I got quality one on one time with my child that is priceless.

I think being a grownup is more about having experiences than having things. I want to be in the nursing home thinking about how wonderful it was that I got to go back to China with my daughters to show them their birthplace. I won't care whether or not I had an expensive couch.

Nicole Feliciano said...

Lovely! We paid for our car in cash (also a Honda) a few years ago. Makes me nuts this churn and burn mentality. When I blog, I try to focus on the "more style, less tuff" mentality.

Timothy J Russell said...

Oh so wise Grace. I wish everyone used your reasoning. Maybe we would not be in the situation that we are today If everyone were as wise.