Tuesday, October 07, 2008

About Cars and Trucks

Dave Ramsey’s most common advice to his callers is, “Sell the car.”

Up until last year, I always told myself and others that I would always have a car payment. “I need one that is dependable.” Or “Now that I have kids, I want to make sure we are never stranded anywhere.” I know some of you may be using similar excuses. Those excuses may be what are dragging you down and keeping you from getting ahead financially.

It’s amazing to me how many people share their woes of financial stress, yet drive near-new vehicles with hefty monthly payments. I fully believe they do not see the irony in that, because I didn’t. Back in the day, I was spending almost $1000 per month in car payments, yet I couldn’t figure out why I was having to dip into savings every month to pay the bills. Granted, there were way more financially stupid things going on in our lives back then, but our vehicles were major players in that. Once I got on track, we sold my beloved SUV and worked our tails off to get the cars paid for. If we hadn’t done that, we would still be whittling away at the loans one month at a time.

I believe Dave says that if you can’t pay off your car in 18 months, to sell it and get a cheaper car. Personally, I would never wait 18 months to get it paid off.

Both of our vehicles are now paid for. They are not glamorous or cool, but they are paid for. I drive a Chrysler Pacifica that has a broken windshield. Pool Boy drives a Dodge Dakota 4-door truck that has many issues: steering wheel locked in one position, passenger window doesn’t roll down without beating the driver’s side door, the doors do not all unlock when they are supposed to, and so on. But you know what? We love these cars because they are paid for and we will never have to put the line item “car payment” in our budget ever again.

My Dad was not into cars. He always drove a car he bought for a few thousand dollars and drove it until it wouldn’t drive anymore – sometimes even beyond that! He was always getting made fun of for having pieces of junk even when he could afford a brand new one with cash. Last fall, he finally decided to buy a new car. However, it bothered him from the day he bought it and he was considering selling it when he died. If I had followed in his footsteps from the beginning and never had a car payment, I can only imagine where I would be today financially!