Doin' Our Part to Stimulate
We live on one income, so we're used to pinching pennies and making do. We have our indulgences of course; high speed internet, lawn service, expensive Espresso Roast Coffee, dinner out now and then.
But we sacrifice to have those things.
In addition, about ten years ago, Husband I realized we were carrying way too much debt. We weren't at the point that we were delinquent, or using one card to pay another, but it was getting close. So we decided to undergo debt managment. We knew we needed to a third party to hold us accountable until we could develop the self discipline we needed to curb our spending.
After a lot of research, we decided on this company. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Other comapnies wanted to control every single penny that we earned. They wanted to create a budget for us, which I would normally consider a very constructive thing to do.
But the numbers were ridiculously prohibitive for a family of four. They were rigid and unyielding and in some cases, unreasonable. In particular, I remember they wanted us to pare down our grocery spending to $50 week. Not realistic, especially considering that I still had one child in diapers.
Whatever was left over once monthly expenses were covered, was to go to them for disbursement to the credit card companies. But we discovered that they took a very large percentage of our money for themselves. It struck me as a gross conflict of interest.
We were supposed to starve so they could get their cut? No thank you.
Auriton worked with us to come up with a payment that was doable. As long as they got their money, they didn't care what we did with the rest of our income. It was up to us to manage things so that we could make the payment each month. And we did. They took what we felt was a very reasonable percentage for their part in managing our debt problem.
This isn't meant to be a commerical for Auriton, or a commentary on the evils of debt. But debt can sometimes seem like an insurmountable problem, even if you don't have the amount we had. It can be stressful and overwhelming. But there is a solution, and this worked for us.
It took five long years, but we paid off all of our unsecured debt. Now, we don't use credit cards at all. If we don't have the cash, we don't buy it. Which really sucks sometimes, if you want the honest truth.
At our house, if something is still serviceable, it does not get replaced until necessary.
For example, my living room furniture is fifteen years old, and the most god-awful shade of teal green you've ever seen. But it is still in good condition (or was, until one of the cats suddenly and inexplicably decided to use it as a scratching post) so it stays.
This goes for cars as well. We buy used and drive them until they just won't go any further.
Such was the case recently with husband's trusty Jeep.
It was five years old when he bought it, but in good condition, with low mileage. Eleven years later, it is a sad, crumpled, oil guzzling heap with a faulty horn that goes off randomly, and a driver's seat that tilts precariously to one side due to a broken spring. The blinkers work only intermittently and the radio gave up the ghost about a month ago.
Husband has been waiting patiently, patching up the Jeep as best he could to keep it running until my van was paid off. In order to live on one income, we have to have limit ourselves to one car payment at a time.
Recently, the day finally came that the big blue cliche was paid off, and Husband could get himself something safe and reliable, which he really needs, since he commutes 40 miles each way to work. I've been worried about him in that jalopy.
Husband is very analytical and methodical. He chose a number for our monthly payment that was comfortable for us. Then he set about researching just what that would get us. The bottom line? Not very much. Certainly nothing sexy or sophisticated. But it would get him a solid, dependable vehicle that would last for a number of years.
Now you have to understand, husband is a car guy. His first car was a 70 something Camaro, blue with white racing stripes. His Dad helped him put in a gargantuan engine. It was, by every definition, a muscle car.
(I have been instructed to edit this post to specify that the car was a 1973 Camaro Z28, with a 350 4 barrell engine and that it was candy apple red with black racing stripes. I don't know why I thought it was blue.)
What happened to that car? It ended up wrapped around a tree, where it lodged after cresting a hill at a speed in excess of 100 miles per hour. Husband did not walk away from that accident, and for a while, it looked as if he might not walk at all.
But that did not end his love affair with cars or speed. It has tempered a bit over the years; age and common sense having crept up on him. But it's still an integral part of his male make-up. Cars are a guy thing, the way shoes are a woman thing, I guess.
For the last few years, husband has been drooling over the new Dodge Chargers and Challengers. Last Christmas, as a joke, we bought him a fairly large remote control model and parked it in the driveway. He knew that was likely the closest he'd ever get to having a Dodge Charger in the driveway.
He's a practical guy. And since our debt issues have resolved, a frugal one.
But astonishingly, during his search for a new vehicle, the Charger came up several times as a match within our search criteria. Not daring to believe, Husband decided to investigate further, certain he was going to find that it was a mistake.
But sure enough, the silly things have been so deeply discounted in this age of economic topsy-turvy-ness, that they really are well within our budget.
Still, Husband wrestled with himself. How silly is it for a 42 year old man to buy himself a muscle car? He should be more practical. He should get something more fuel efficient. He should get something that a self-respecting family man would drive. He should act his age.
But I knew the seed of hope had been planted. Never before had he allowed it to germinate, take root, and grow. But this time, he just couldn't help it.
Yesterday afternoon, husband called me from the dealership.
"White, black, red or silver?" he asked, breathlessly.
"What?" I had no idea he was going shopping.
"The car. White, black, red or silver?"
"Oh, uh, I don't know. Not white."
"No, not white." he agreed.
"What car are we talking about?"
There was a moment of silence.
"Um. The Charger."
"Is the red a cherry red, or that deep burgundy-ish red?"
"Not that then."
"You like black."
"Yeah. Black is tough."
"Are you really gonna buy that thing?"
"Why? You think I shouldn't?"
"No, I think you should."
"If you think I shouldn't, just say so, I won't be mad."
"No. I think you should. You never buy yourself anything and who knows when you'll be able to buy another new vehicle. You'll kick yourself if you don't."
"So you really think I should?"
"If they can meet my terms, I will. But if they can't, I'm going to have to walk away."
"Okay. Let me know."
They could meet his terms. They fell all over themselves trying to meet his terms. When all was said and done, he got such a good deal on the car that I fail to see how they could have made any money on the sale. We got a very good percentage rate, a rebate, AND they gave him a ridiculous amount of trade in on his rattletrap old Jeep.
So now, my husband is the proud owner of one of these:
I have to admit, it's pretty slick. And my fourteen year old son is already picturing himself behind the wheel.
When husband pulled into the drive, the boys, who knew nothing of the afternoon's goings on, raced downstairs and burst out the front door. They were BESIDE themselves when he finally convinced him that he had, indeed, bought it.
Husband loaded the very eager boys plus one friend into the car for a congratulatory spin. As they rode off into the sunset, windows down despite the winter chill, music blaring, I could smell the testosterone on the wind.
I sure hope that thing doesn't end up wrapped around a tree.