Click bait title? Yep. Do I care? Nope. I actually did save $8,300 in one month. Except it’s not the way that you’re thinking. I saved that amount of money by making a single decision to not spend that amount of money.
I had 99 problems and my car was all of them
I’ve had three cars in my driving life. Two old Jeep Cherokees and my current ride, a 2004 Saturn Ion. The first two cars drove until the 300,000 mile range, eventually dying when their transmissions fell out. I then decided that I had had enough of paying $70+ at the pump to fill up (remember when gas was $4 a gallon… yeesh), so I chose a more manageable car. My Saturn Ion, named Frenchy, has been with me through thick and thin since 2011.
She’s been with me through my wedding, 1 tire blowout, 2 dogs, 3 colleges, 6 moves, and 9 jobs. Needless to say, she’s a little… on the worn side. This year, she’s been making strange noises, censors have been going off that shouldn’t be, and pine tree sap has completely destroyed the paint job. The real issue was when she began to accelerate without me pushing the gas. I started to really worry that she wouldn’t make it while we were still paying off debt.
When you graduate college, you’re expected to upgrade your material goods. After all, you’ve just spent the last 4 years eating Ramen, maybe it’s time to refuse hand-me-down cars that sound and look like crap. Maybe it’s time to look like the young professional you are – insert eye roll. This is what went through my head when a close family friend approached me about buying his 2012 Nissan Altima. It is in fantastic condition, with minimal mileage, meets my ‘used car’ requirement, and was within our price range – aka: we would be saving cash for it and paying in full.
I can’t tell you how many hours I obsessed over this new opportunity. Could we still pay off this medical debt while also saving for a car? How long would this delay our debt payoff date? Is it worth it to have a newer car? For weeks, I worried about it.
I often say that getting out of debt isn’t magic and it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s all about the small decisions that you make every single day. The intentional decisions add up to a lifestyle that supports paying off debt and building wealth. I finally decided that we’d put in no more than $500 to fix my $1200 Saturn Ion. After doing research, James and I determined that we could probably (fingers crossed) fix the issues ourselves. We went to Auto Zone, got my oil and fluids changed, tires rotated, and my car was completely detailed from ‘exhaust pipe to hood ornament.’ Overall, we spent well under $500 – fixing the issues without a mechanic.
The problems are fixed for now. My car looks better than it did when I got it. More importantly, I didn’t end up allocating $8,300 to a new car that I didn’t need.
Sometimes saving money is turning off the lights when you leave a room. Sometimes it’s deciding that paying off your debt is more important than a new car. It all counts and it all adds up. Make the right decisions and you’ll start making headway on your debt free journey!