Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Driving Our Money, 2

I asked for some time to be alone with Tima. (Yes, the car had a name.) (Yes, I know.) I said I needed another month. (Sick, isn't it? It was just a car!) (Right?) During that month, every time I drove Tima, I stroked her steering wheel, looked at her shiny hood, and relaxed in her perfect, contoured seat as I allowed thoughts of her impending departure. Eventually, the voice in my heart took me to the point that I knew we had to sell this car ASAP. Why make payments just to look nice while I drove? Tima and I had enough goodbye time.

"OK," I sighed to my husband, "I'm ready to sell it."

After calling several dealerships in search for a buyer and being told that dealerships were no longer purchasing vehicles from private parties, we found one willing to take our full asking price. The buyer at the dealership happened to be a man who was present when we bought this silver car at a different dealership! He remembered us and said that this was a good car and he trusted his gut in purchasing from us. Coincidence? I don't believe in coincidence.

We replaced that car with a 1996 Mitsubishi bought from my mother for $800. Really, it was in good condition and could have sold for 5 times our purchase price back then, but it was still a bit of a culture shock (for me) going back to a very visibly used car. My teenage brothers had driven it and had done who-knows-what to it (the large bumps and dents on the hood alone were evidence of rowdy times hanging out with friends).

I still drive this car today. Between it and the one David drives (the first car I ever bought by myself, a 1997 Nissan bearing scars from multiple rear-endings), we have learned a lot of lessons on withstanding the natural tendency to buy to impress.

We have been teased by friends, and I have seen how strangers and acquaintances look or don't look at our cars. I can sense when someone is using our cars help create their judgment about our money situation. This used to bother me some in the beginning because I felt the need to prove my financial standing and, when I dissected the core of the matter, my earthly worth.

Referencing Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Of the Seventy wrote,
"Each of us has a lifetime—although no one knows the length of that span—to determine where our real treasure is. It may be money, clothes, jewels, recognition, self-gratification, or a multitude of other things we seek throughout our lives. The only treasure worth seeking—the only one we can keep eternally—is righteousness.

"... our pursuit of perfection must be a constant endeavor if we are to overcome the forces seeking to turn our values toward earthly things."
Certainly, it is perfectly fine to have beautiful things (my patriarchal blessing even makes mention of this), but they must not be in exchange of better things. In our case, the commitment to a financed car was robbing us of a healthy emergency fund. Keeping our family uninsured from "rainy days" in order to look good on the road was a selfish desire.

A few months after sending off the shiny car, I began feeling free in my new old car. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I remember finding myself smiling while driving in my $800 car thinking about how wealthy we were becoming. The money that was previously tied up in a depreciating item was going towards things that grow in value. (Before you think me a saintly woman, know that it still took me about a year to become fully confident in my car.)

Today, this baptism by rusty car is where I mark the beginning of my happy, bumpy journey to "weird and at peace." I don't mind looking "broke" to other people because I know that David and I are good stewards of the blessings showered upon us. I am not living to the visual expectations of my peers. I am secure enough to drive a rusty tin can. Though it wasn't easy at first, I now enjoy being weird and free from societal expectations.

You, too, can experience that kind of fresh and rejuvenating freedom.

I won't always drive a 14-year-old car. When we purchase pretty cars in the future, they will be a joy and a blessing because we will have bought them in sound financial order. All good things must be done in order. I trust the order of peace and truth.

"The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all of our money. That worth depends on how we live, not on what we have."

(LeGrand R. Curtis, “Perfection: A Daily Process,” Ensign, Jul 1995, 30)


  1. A valuable lesson to learn and be reminded of over and over and over again. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post! I really like the quote at the end from LeGrand Curtis.

  3. Love that story! We paid off our van 2 years ago and we bought our other car with cash. It wasn't easy to do with just one income and kids, but we did it. I love the PEACE that comes with knowing that we own our vehicles. Now, onto the mortgage. :)

  4. Thank you for your comments!

    Janet, thank you for sharing a little bit of your story.

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