A testimony from Karen
After six years of living cash-only on a modest salary, I thought I had learned all the lessons this way of life had to teach.
I was wrong.
Two years ago we decided that with two aging cars, we needed to begin saving. After a year we were close to having enough for a decent used car.
However, while refinancing our house we discovered an outstanding credit card debt that somehow had fallen through the cracks. We needed to use the car savings to pay that debt.
While that was difficult, we knew for certain at that point that after three years of hard work we had paid off over $200,000 in debt and were now debt free except our mortgage.
With my teacher husband home for the summer, I took on a full time summer job so we could save more; and in 4 months we were able to save $4,000!
We began to get excited and projected that in a few months we would be able to buy a car.
And then we learned our daughter needed braces. Not the vanity kind of braces to make good teeth perfect, but the palette-expanding-there’s-not-enough-room kind of braces. After insurance we owed $4.700.
My husband and I had meltdowns. It wasn’t pretty. You see, along with a car there are many things on our wish-list. House projects. Vacations. Retirement funds. College Savings. Not braces.
We outlined our options and made the difficult decision to use the car savings to pay for the braces.
- The orthodontist offers an 18 month no-interest payment option, but because they also offer a discount if you pay in full, that option really costs $250 – the amount of the discount. Technically, this is borrowing.
- We could pay for the braces out of our emergency fund and keep the car savings on track, but this wasn’t an emergency. We don’t need a car, we want one. If one of our cars breaks down, then we’ll have a real emergency and can consider those funds.
So we start again at ground zero, armed with two valuable lessons.
It was through the experience that I was able to make a mental/spiritual shift from focusing on what I didn’t have to an honest, deep contentment for what I did have.
I realized that if I never had anything more than I had at that moment I would be happy because I was blessed beyond measure in so many ways. How could I truly think I needed more?
Living Our Values
Making the tough decision to delay buying a car forced us to examine our values and make the choice that supported those values.
We have done it for years every month when we make our budget, but had never thought about the fact that we were doing it.
It feels good.
Much better than a new car would!
Karen Lasher is a chef and writer who teaches how to bring peace, calm and serious creativity to everyday meal preparation at Joyful Dinners.
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