A Shiny New Car is Not Always All It’s Cracked Up to Be

As most of you know, we finally replaced Old Blue Van and paid cash for a new-to-us car recently. We’ve never had a car with less than 60,000 miles on it (most of ours have been purchased at closer to 100,000 miles!) so buying a less-than-three-year-old car was a pretty monumental purchase for us.

When Jesse brought the car home, we were so excited for him to have reliable transportation. But I have to admit that we both were excited about more than the reliability of the transportation: we liked having such a beautiful car in impeccable condition.

A few nights later, we drove it to an event and when we parked and got out, a random stranger hollered from a few parking stalls over, “Nice car, man!” I looked over at my husband and said with a huge grin, “I bet that’s the first time someone’s ever said that about your car, isn’t it?”

However, our big bubble of pride was just about ready to be burst.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard Jesse pull into the garage but he didn’t come in the house like usual. Instead, he called my phone.

“This is weird,” I thought. “Why not just walk in and tell me instead of calling me from the garage?”

After answering the phone, I heard him say in very upset tones, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it!

I started getting worried at how frustrated he seemed. It’s very rare for him to get upset and he was really worked up about something.

But my heart went up into my throat when he said, “I just shut the garage door down on the back of the car!”

It was my turn to be upset now. “You what? How could you have done that?? Please tell me the car’s not ruined!” I exclaimed in harsh tones without waiting for him to answer.

The car’s back bumper was no longer in impeccable condition. Instead, it had an indentation and gash from our garage door imprinted on it.

I was angry at my husband. He was angry at himself. And we were both sick that our beautiful car was now marred.

After 30 minutes of huffing and puffing over it, we both finally stepped back and realized how stupid we were being. Here we were all upset over a dent on a vehicle when people all over the world are wondering where their next meal is going to come from or how they are going to pay the medical bills for their child with cancer. A dent in our shiny new car is very microscopic in comparison and it’s certainly not worth having a fight over or losing sleep over.

This incident has taught us a very important lesson: when you buy nicer things, it’s easier to become more attached to them. If we had shut the garage door down on Old Blue Van, we would have laughed and let it go because it would have just been one more flaw to add to the van’s character.

But our reaction was completely different when it came to our new car — and it made us realize how we’ve wrongly become too attached to this car. Three months ago, we were content to drive a clunker. But, after buying a new car, we were all of a sudden getting angry over a dent in the bumper!

It was just the reality check we needed to jolt us out of our selfishness and pride and remind us that things are just things. We can’t take them with us and they are all God’s anyway.

We likely can get the dent fixed on the car, but at this point, I’m not so sure we will. It’s serving as a constant reminder to us that it’s just a car. There are much more important things in life than driving a shiny new car in impeccable condition.

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh boy, the older you get the more this lesson really sinks in!
    Everything is in a state of decay and possessions are very fleeting. Whenever I would get upset about the “decay” of some possession, my son would always remind me, “It’s all gonna burn one day, mom~great reality check!

  2. says

    Can I add a hearty “AMEN!” to that post? I didn’t want to buy a brand new car, and get just a nicer used car, but my husband “claimed” that many of the used cars were just as expensive as the new ones, so what’s a few hundred more bucks?! I told him, “Fine, it’s your money.” U-G-H. Funny thing is, I’m the main driver of that new vehicle on most days anyway. lol However…. I can tell you that this car will remain ours until it falls apart (which is what happened to our old one – we got it brand new because of an accident, and we had it for nearly 9 years and m-a-n-y miles!), so it’ll eventually be paid for and then kept longer until then. So, our two oldest boys will have graduated, gone to college, and moved out by then. In my almost 20 years of marriage, we have only bought three brand new cars, the rest were used. My first car I bought in college was an old 1980 Honda Civic Hatchback (stickshift), and as ugly as it was, I loved it!!! ;-)

  3. Heather says

    I can COMPLETELY relate to this story! I closed the garage on my car a couple of years ago. I was mad at myself for being so careless. My husband now drives my old car and we love it. We know we can take the car anywhere we want without worrying about parking it next to the cart return or in a tight parking lot. On the other hand, I drive a new car that I am paranoid about taking anywhere. I park 20 miles from the door and avoid going anywhere in the car that might have a shortage of “approved” parking places. In my heart of hearts, I know it is silly and very petty, but I can’t help it. Reading this story helps me realize that I am not the only one that becomes overly attached to shiny new things. My husand claims I will never again have a new car (or couch, or appliance, or carpet…) because I become overly neurotic. I have to agree, I much prefer the comfort and enjoyment of a well loved beat up car.

  4. says

    Hi Crystal, I love reading your blog. Not sure what part of the country your in..my husband and I own the Charleston bumperman franchise. There are franchises all over the country. Bumperman is a christian franchise that uses a patented technique to repair bumpers at low cost. Bumpers that have to be replaced can cost 700 dollars. Which it sounds like the damage is minor. Most bumpermen charge 60-125 to take out dents, reatach or realign. Here is the website of the franchise.you should be able to find one in your area.
    http://www.bumperman.com

  5. kimme says

    I was like that too when I first bought my brand new car. It was my first new car ever so it was very special to me. When I saw the nasty door ding after only having it for a year I was so upset. I didn’t understand why someone could be so careless to do that! But then I quickly calmed down and thought to myself how I needed to get over it and not let it bother me. It IS just a car, it serves its purpose and yes we may choose a car for the appearance of it but I learned that we can’t avoid the little blemishes that it will have over time. I’m sure it was an accident and that person didn’t mean to door ding me so bad. There is so much going on in our lives right now that this is really nothing in the larger scheme of things :) I love reading your daily blogs!!

  6. Colleen says

    OH so true! My husband and I in our youth and stupidity bought a new car right before we got married. It was the cheapest new car you could buy but I regret it ever single day. We got a 8 year loan and have been paying it off for a while. At the time it seemed like a good idea but now with kids and a house I wish we hadn’t done it. We did learn though my car I had since High School just broke down and instead of taking a loan out for a car we bought a used car that we could pay out of pocket for. It was so the way to go!!!!

  7. says

    Thanks for your post. I struggle whenever I buy something I’ve been saving up for a long time for and my kids break it or mark it up somehow. I’ve been amazed how shopping at thrift stores has helped me relax. For example the other day my son had gotten hold of a permanent marker and I asked him what he had, he tried to hide it. In the process he wrote on my new pants. I couldn’t get the stain out. Luckily I had only paid $5 for them, had I paid the normal price of $30-$40, it would of been much harder to stay calm. Which is really sad when you risk ruining your relationship over material items or money. I’m striving to not let such insignificant things get in the way of building strong relationships with those around me. No matter how hard you try things will get broken and the test is really in how you react.

  8. Becky says

    I have not read all the previous posts, so this my have already been mentioned, but we have a sensor on our garage door that if something is in the way, it will stop going down before it hits it. I like this feature, mainly for the safety factor if a child or animal accidentally was in the way when the door was going down it would not crush them.

    • says

      Our bumper is *above* the sensor level — which we discovered after the fact! We’re thinking maybe we need to raise the sensor!

  9. Mary says

    That is funny!!!! Made me laugh because…well…. a few years ago, my aunt and uncle had brand new carpet put in their home. They were so stinkin’ excited about it — they had raised 5 girls, they were finally empty-nesters and they were splurging.

    Well, my husband was deployed to Iraq, and I was homeless with my then 1 year old. I was driving around the country staying with people who would have me until he returned. Me, my 1 year old, and our 2 dogs and 1 cat. My aunt and uncle happily invited us to stay for a while, and when we arrived and started carrying things up their stairs, we noticed that our dog had been there first. And pooped. Right on their brand new carpet.

    I fortunately have an aunt and uncle who are mature Christians and sat down on the stairs and laughed until they cried about the poop on the carpet. :)

  10. Denise says

    My father in law was a drag racer, and always had the coolest, most awesome cars around when my husband was growing up. But he said, and my husband always repeats to me: “Don’t fall in love with your paint job.”

    We have a beautiful shiny new car that we love, and due to my clumsiness or careless or just plain bad luck we’ve gotten some scratches. But where he’d usually flip out, my husband always repeats: “Don’t fall in love with your paint job.” I feel so blessed when he takes this tranquil attitude about it. :-)

  11. heidi says

    In the last few years I got to buy all new funiture. We had had old stuff – even stuff I had when I was single (I am in my 50′s). My newly adopted grandchildren came to visit and drove little cars all over everything. I found out later that all my new cherry tables have marks all over them. It wasn’t the 1st thing to happen to the new furniture, but it was the worst. Nothing stays new – the minute you get it it starts getting old – and it is worth less than it was the minute you paid for it. I wish they weren’t scratched, but so what. I love those kids and they had no idea what they were doing and neither did I. We will leave it all here when we leave this world – so who cares. Next visit I will cover the table.

  12. Leighann says

    I understand the point of your post, that we shouldn’t get attached to material things, but I would like to point out that damaging your car’s bumper could put the rest of your car into structural jeopardy.

    By driving a car with a damaged bumper, if you were to get into an accident and rear-ended, that damaged bumper is not going to provide you the protection that an undamaged bumper would be able to provide. That would increase the chance that you or your passenger(s) would be injured, severely or not.

    In addition, proper paint jobs on cars help protect the car itself from rust. Rusted cars are safety hazards to the person driving it as well as to other people on the road.

    If you’re going to have an automobile, you should make sure that automobile is properly maintained. That doesn’t mean expensive paint jobs constantly, but it does mean making sure that structural damage (such as seemed to have been done to your bumper) is repaired so that you are safe and protected. Unfortunately, when one owns an automobile, one has to accept that accidents happen and sometimes we must pay in order to have the automobiles running properly.

    Properly maintained automobiles will last you a long time and do you in good stead. They can even be passed on to children when the time comes. Not having to buy a teenager a new (even a new-to-them) car when they reach age? That’s a lot of money savings!

  13. Amanda says

    Thanks for the post Crystal! I too have been guilty of reacting negatively to my husbands mistakes instead of taking the opportunity to build him up and make him feel better with instant Christ-like forgiveness. I always feel so awful for it later, but it seems like it’s out before I can stop it! I am lucky that he is forgiving about it. And in a relatable story: last year we purchased a used but amazing to us SUV. We were so proud of it and all it’s cool features… until I went to pull it into the garage one night and scraped the whole passenger side against the garage opening. Completely tore off the siding over the back tire and left a 3 foot scratch down the side. I was horrified and also sat in my car lamenting my stupidity and being weary of owning up to what I had done to my husband. Luckily, he is much more gracious then me, and outside of some joking about my driving ability, was very supportive about the whole thing. I think if your insurance covers it you should get it fixed! Jesse has worked so hard and has been so humble even in a profession that typically brings out the urge to showboat… you both deserve something beautiful!

  14. Kate B says

    I drive a 2004 Olds Alero. It has a hood where the paint has been slowly peeling off. I tell people it has cancer. She has been a great car for me. When I see people smirk at her visual defects, I just giggle to myself because she is paid for. I laugh all the way to the bank, because when I sell her to my son later this winter, my next vehicle will be paid for in cash as well.
    Thanks for all the inspiration, Crystal. Some days it is hard to see God’s grace, and stay focused.

  15. says

    I read this post earlier and thought about it a bit. What really came to mind for me is that all the mistakes I’ve made in my life have made me a more understanding person, and I try to appreciate my mistakes in this way. What I mean is, had I been Jesse, I would be sooo mad at myself, as it sounds like he was. However, in a few years, should Crystal, or someone else make the same mistake, he’s likely to comfort you and say, it’s just a “thing” we all make mistakes, don’t worry!! I try to think of my mistakes as things that have made me a more sympathetic and empathetic person toward others. I might not have made the same mistakes as some, but I’ve certainly had my own, and felt horrible for it, so I try to use that to remember nobody is perfect! :) I hope Jesse doesn’t feel too badly, in the scheme of things, that was such a minor thing, he should lose no sleep!

  16. Becky says

    Oh my…i’m sorry…but that’s really funny. I’m sorry. That’d be the sort of thing I’d do. With my old car I kind of hit things a lot. Nothing serious, but I wasn’t that careful about parking so i tore the weather stripping on the garage and hit the curb a lot. Didn’t feel like taking time to care when there weren’t people around. I also didn’t wash it often.

    Now I have a new car and am so careful with it and am always checking for scratches. I even continuously wipe it down the first day or so after getting it washed. >.<

  17. Allison V. says

    Awww, that stinks. I’m sorry! It happens though. Ten years ago I backed my brand-new-just-bought-it-ten-days-ago car into a flatbed pickup…it was a small car so I thought I could squeeze through. Nope. Drove with that big dent and smashed taillight for a few years before I finally got it fixed. I did eventually end up with a leaky trunk, but at that point I didn’t care. It still took me from point A to point B, and never had any issues. The day I sold it, the guy didn’t even get home with it before something broke on it though!

  18. says

    Hey Crystal. Sorry to hear about your van. I haven’t read through the comments to see if anyone has mentioned this, but wanted to let you know that most garages have a motion sensor that will stop the garage door if something is there. I know this is hindsight now, but you might want to look into getting one for the safety of the kids.

    • says

      Our garage has that, but the bumper is *above* the sensor, unfortunately. We didn’t find that out until *after* this incident, though. :(

  19. Brooke says

    Crystal,
    I have, also, decided new isn’t as great as I thought. Several years ago we got to the point in our marriage where money wasn’t as tight as it once was and we began replacing all the cheap or used furniture with nicer, new items. In one 24 hour period, a child banged a fork into the new dining room table, another child wrote on the table with a permanent marker and a pan fell out of a cabinet over the glass stovetop and landed on the edge of the glass causing it to crack all the way across. I, also, realized I felt stressed when one of our friends kept loudly banging his domioes on the table each time it was his turn to play. I decided that I really don’t want a lot of new things around me to have to stress about. I really like being able to tell my friends of young children not to worry about things in my house because their children can’t hurt anything. As a side note, I have had one new car in my life. I discovered that it did not bring any more joy into my life than my used cars.

  20. says

    We did the EXACT SAME THING on our brand-new Town & Country last year! And when I say “brand-new”, I mean it had less than 1000 miles on it at the time. In our case, it was just a paint scratch, and we can easily touch it up ourselves, but guess what: we still haven’t fixed it! It is, as you said, such a great reminder of what the van is for: safe and roomy transportation for our (quickly growing!) family. It is NOT for showing off!

  21. says

    It is a good lesson to learn. New things don’t take long before they stop looking new. And things are just things anyway.

    I did the same thing too. Luckily I had recently replaced the garage door opener, and it has that sensor that goes back up when it feels anything. I can sleep much better knowing that some child isn’t going to get hit by the door now.

    • says

      @Shasta,
      yes, please get a sensor for the garage!!! We have one (I got hit on the head by the garage door before we had one), and it’s SO much safer. It will save all sorts of things. The car, the garbage cans, someone’s bike, etc.

  22. Rebecca says

    Don’t know if anyone else has already made this comment – if so, my apologies for being redundant – but here’s what I learned several years ago in Crown Ministries. If we consider all that we have as belonging to God, and we are just stewards of these items, then when we are doing our best to care for them (which of course we do because they belong to God), and He still allows something to happen to them, it’s okay, because He allowed it. If God wants a dent in his new vehicle, then He’ll put it there. If He doesn’t want a dent in it, then He’ll not put it there. The same can be applied to all we own.