Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thinking Inside the Box

One of our big goals - with a plan and a deadline - is to get out of debt.

And yet, we just bought a used car on a payment plan.

Is this a contradiction? Well, it took some thinking, some looking at conditions, some stress, and lots of prayer, to make this decision, but I think it was a good decision.

My husband has a good job, but works lots of hours, and I have a part-time job. Our hours and our work locations do not even begin to overlap. Juggling one car for several weeks has been challenging, tiring, and yes, expensive. We have spent more on meals out and meals delivered, as well as more on gasoline. But besides the extra gasoline (on the days I took him to work and picked him up after work), we were putting extra miles on his already-high-mileage car. And, we were not getting it in for an oil change or other service.

We always thought we better get another car soon, but it was a matter of logistics.

We had some cash to spend on a car, but we couldn't spend it all. I was getting stressed because the cars I felt we could afford were almost non-existent (especially as we feel safer dealing through a dealer, and dealer prices are always higher). Yet if we were able to get a loan and buy a car that was, say, two years old, then our monthly payments would be higher than I'd be comfortable with...and this would not compatible with our goal to get out of debt.

I kept trying to think outside the box, but what I think I needed to do was think inside the box, give up the fear for a minute and find out what was possible.

One of our sons made a recommendation that had not occurred to me: Get a loan for an inexpensive car (under ten thousand). "Can you do that?" Turns out, yes, you can. Our credit not being pristine, the bank asked us to make a down payment of about half the price. "Works for me"...and it keeps the monthly payments low, which to my way of thinking is the best of both worlds. We only spend the cash we can afford to spend at the moment and we have wiggle room in our monthly payments. On top of that, we can rebuild our credit scores.

Of course, we plan to pay more than the monthly payments on most months...because we will continue on course to get out of debt!