Life isn’t fair. We all know that. Sometimes good things happen; sometimes bad things.
The following are the bad things I want to share:
- My husband totaled his car, resulting in a large fine (in spite of the fact that this was his first accident EVER!) and having to purchase a new car.
- I got a speeding ticket that cost almost $200.
- My computer crashed. The repair cost: $1150. Result: purchase a new computer.
- My washer died. The repair cost: $300 (could have been worse!).
This wouldn’t be worth relating if it weren’t for the ironic element: our church is studying Dave Ramsey’s book, “The Total Money Makeover.”
I listen to Dave (we’re almost on first name terms) regularly, usually on my way home from somewhere in the evening. I know what he says about handling money. I know I have failed in most elements.
Number 1 on my list of failures is my car. It’s a long (very sad!) story, not worth relating here, but, suffice it to say, I LOVE buying cars. I would probably buy a new car every year if I could figure out how to do it. My red Mazda Miata was a spur of the moment purchase. (NEVER a good thing!) Admittedly, it is a “cute” car, and I look adorable in it – especially in the summer with the top down and a colorful cap on my head. But, practically, it was one of the dumbest purchases I ever made. And I can NEVER call Dave and admit to my failing.
Error #1 on Dave’s list: NEVER buy a new car or a used one you can’t afford.
Number 2 on my list is this: we charge nearly everything and pay the credit card bill in total the first of the month.
Error #2 on Dave’s list: NEVER use charge cards.
Number 3 on my list: We are making payments on two cars (it could be more, but there are only TWO of us), furniture and other items. My take on the issue: if you can afford the payments, go for it!
Error #3 on Dave’s list: NEVER buy items on time. If it is something you NEED (notice here the word “need” as opposed to “want”), save up until you can pay for it.
I am troubled by my lack of adherence to Dave’s methods. I am troubled by the fact that at our ages, we are not debt free. We will never be able to call Dave, count down “3! 2! 1!” and shout, “WE ARE DEBT FREE!”
I am perplexed by those people who call Dave’s show and relate how they paid off thousands of dollars in a matter of months, so “because they lived like no one else, they can now live like no one else!” I am perplexed because Dave wasn’t around when we were a young couple starting out. Maybe, just maybe, things would be different.
I can see it all now. If only…
- We hadn’t moved to Australia in 1973, selling a four-bedroom, three-bath, two-story house for $32,000 – that would in six years increase in value to $250,000.
- We hadn’t sold my ’67 Ford Mustang for $600. Instead, we stayed in California, I kept that car, and sold it as a classic in 2010 for many thousands of dollars
- I didn’t thrive on shopping, looking for bargains, filling my closet with more clothes than I could possibly wear. I simply made do with the wardrobe I had.
- We hadn’t spent thousands of dollars for a vacation plan and a cruise to Alaska with our entire family.
- And if, when we moved to Salem, I had kept the car that was paid for, a green Honda Civic Del Sol. I had had it for 10 years and traded it in for a new Honda Civic – and that was three cars ago – it’s an ugly story!
So there it is, folks. There is what we possibly should have done or not done. But the whole story isn’t depressing. Here are the good things that came from the above list:
- We did move to Australia ion 1973. We lived there for almost six years, working in two churches, making many friends, allowing our children to have the experience of a lifetime, and doing what we believed was God’s will for us. We will never have a home paid for, but we wouldn’t trade having no mortgage for the experience.
- We have learned not to treasure “things.” When my husband totaled his car this past summer, he “mourned” – for the humiliation of causing an accident, for the cost, but mostly for the car he “loved.” His new pledge: I will never “love” a car.
- Our vacation plan allowed us to have several weeks with family: a week in Virginia with our son Kevin, his wife and her parents; a week in Wisconsin with the entire family, all 10 of us at that time; an Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary, with us paying for the our kids, their spouses and children to join us. It was a week of solid joy: dinner together every night in the dining room, stops and excursion in Alaskan cities, and more time together than we had had since the kids left home.
So, Dave, I’m sorry. I will never be debt free, and it’s mostly my fault.
But for you, my loyal readers, it is NOT too late. If we had practiced “The Total Money Makeover” when we were newlyweds, still in college, as some of you are, we would be able to join the “We Are Debt Free” shouters. And that would be a good thing.
It’s probably too late for us, but I will try to do a better job with our finances, so we can do a better job of spending wisely and with God’s plan in mind. I have pledged not to shop for clothes, and I am looking for an accountability partner to “hang in there with me.” (I asked one friend in my Sunday school class to be that partner and not shop for clothes; her response: “For how long?” So I’m on my own.) I want to be a better steward of my money with whatever time I have left. The past is behind me. I can’t undo the financial mistakes I’ve made. But the future is ahead, and I can strive to do a better job.
And as Dave ends every program, “To have financial peace, you must follow the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.” That part of his plan I can and do work with. In spite of past financial errors, that part of his plan provides an everlasting peace that is mine!