It’s Just A Car!

“What’s up with the downgrade?” asks the 72-year-old man at work, motioning towards the window. My heart falls a little at the notion of downgrade. “No car payment” I respond. “Ah. Makes sense” he shrugs, and goes back to his work.

I knew that people weren’t going to understand my decision to sell my 2011 Nissan Versa and purchase a 2000 Honda Accord. But honestly, I didn’t see it as that big of a deal. I guess maybe it’s because I’m not a car person. I’m lucky to know what type of car I’m driving. To me, a car is just something to get you from point A to point B. Dependability, heat, air conditioning, and an easy to use radio are a must. Outside that, well, I could care less.

The company I work for does heavy highway construction. It’s a male dominated industry, which stereo-typically explains the obsession with vehicles. Of the 15 people who work in our office, 12 are provided a company vehicle. Mostly trucks, but one person has an SUV, and another a car. They all get replaced every couple of years. Apparently they’re all different. To me, it’s a sea of big white trucks. The BF works at the same company, so one of those trucks is his. Don’t bother asking me which one… I mean, they’re all white trucks! I think they’re all Fords? I have no idea!

Of the remaining 3 of us who drive our own vehicles, the other 2 women drive SUV’s. My boss has a Volvo SUV that I don’t think is more than a few years old. The girl below me bought a new SUV the same weekend I sold my Nissan. She says her’s is a 2014. Are those even out yet? It’s electric blue, and reminds me of an insect, though I’m not sure why. Obviously I have no idea what the make/model is.

It’s been an ongoing point of frustration between my BF and I. Every time he thinks about my car, he starts in about replacing it. Seriously, I just bought it! After weeks of hearing how I could get a “great deal through the company”, and could probably work it out so I’d only be paying “about $150 a month”, I’d finally had enough. Last night, we had the talk.

The hard part of working towards financial freedom is that the American way of life is so ingrained in people’s minds, they have a really hard time understanding anything outside of that. To my BF, $150 a month on a car payment is nothing. Heck, to him $450 a month on a car payment is no big deal! “You’re always going to have a car payment” he said one night, in a tone that made me think he was mimicking Dave Ramsey. I had to remind myself he has no idea who Dave Ramsey is. Saying that I didn’t want to spend money on a car freaked him out. In his mind, that meant I was broke. Unable to make ends meet! OMG, did he need to lend me money? Was I able to buy food? Was the dog gonna starve?

We’ve talked vaguely about our plans. Right now, we aren’t to the point of building a life together. There’s a large age difference between us, which makes him uncomfortable. He has kids who are just getting out on their own, and is still unraveling some past baggage. We’re still deciding if we want the same things in life. Is he willing to have another child? Where would we live? We’re both enjoying what we have together right now, and aren’t in a big hurry to push things forward.

When you’ve been a single girl for a long time, you realize that if you want a certain type of life, you’re on your own for providing it. I want a nicer house someday, in a nicer neighborhood. I may want to have a child. I definitely want to retire before I’m 80. Hopefully before I’m 60. In the words of Bethany Frankel, “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” I have to choose what is important to me, and be willing to make some sacrifices along the way. I can’t spend all my money on nice things today, like new cars and clothes, and still expect to have what I want tomorrow. And I can’t depend on the idea that a man is going to “save” me. If I want something, it has to be important enough for me to work for it. Otherwise, how much do I really want it?

Maybe someday a nice, new car will fit into my life. Right now, I don’t really care about the car. It’s just a piece of equipment to me, a tool that makes my life easier. Sure, if I had endless amounts of money all my tools would match and come in pretty colors. But that’s just not the reality of my life.

So, I’m keeping the Honda. I’ll drive it until it no longer works in my life, whether that be because it no longer works, or because I’m soo ridiculously wealthy it makes sense to buy something else. We’ll see what the future brings. One thing I’ve learned about personal finance is that you have to be flexible enough to make adjustments along the way. But I’m not willing to compromise what I value to create a life that fits someone else’s ideals.

Are you making choices in your journey to financial independence that other people don’t understand? Do you feel like other people’s opinions are holding you back?

– Ms. W


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