I used to buy a new car every year or two. When I couldn’t afford something new, it was something newer than what I had or to fit a short term need. About 7 years ago, I bought the luxury car of my dreams, mostly on a loan. Not realizing that my job was about to cut my salary, I was in too deep financially and disposed of it a little more than a year later.
A few years later, I purchased a 30 year old truck on it’s last legs of drivability. It was fun for about 3 months. After that, I was done with it. Too much hassle. The last straw was a loud pop and a literal pain in my ass caused by a spring keeper failing, sending the end of a spring through the vinyl seat and digging into my posterior. It was traded in and I moved on to the next rig within days.
My expectation in buying a new (or really old) car was that it would fulfill me in some way. Perhaps something to talk about with the car-obsessed friends of mine (to which I have few) or a sense of fake status. Maybe it was that I solved some sort of short term logistics challenge by having a pickup. Whatever it was, it caused a state of euphoria. Buying a new car was a kin to a hit of a strong, addictive drug.
It wasn’t the need for better quality, features or even replacing something that was broken beyond fixing.
My expectation was that I swap out my four wheels for something different every few years.
I recently woke up from the hangover of this. Years of throwing hard earned money at over a dozen different vehicles had left me where I didn’t want to be: two car payments and no financial capacity to continue the new-every-two-year pattern I had been sucked into. Further, the embarrassment of being perceived as incapable of holding onto something was unbearable.
Then I did something I wish I had done a lot earlier. I added up how much I had spent on car payments, down payments and purchases in the last 17 years.
In hindsight, had I saved my money and paid cash back in 2000 for the SUV I have now new and in 2007 purchased a new truck when my wife came into the picture, I would have spent exactly half of what I’ve spent in that same time frame and I would have two paid for vehicles today.
I recently paid off one car and am determined to pay off the other quicker than what the bank requires as a minimum. After that, and hold me to this folks, I’m “toughing it out” and hanging onto these wheels until their usefulness is no more.
This is my rehab. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is.
Debt is always a drain, be it big or small. Choose wisely what debt you get into.