So I Ended Up Buying A Car

The myth about personal finance: that it's about sacrificing now, and enjoying later. It's not. Personally, I think it's about making smart choices all the time, and achieving goals and dreams when they're available. We should not be afraid of getting our dreams now, we should just be smart about it.
No, that's not the car that I bought.
This is a post I've tried to write for some time. I kept trying to think of a way to explain it without sounding defensive or sounding like I'm making excuses.

I haven't really found the perfect way, but I don't think I ever will. So I'll just say it anyway.

Just a few months after concluding I can't afford to own a car, I went ahead and bought one.

It's not a humblebrag; my dilemma was not buying the car but reconciling my mindset of being frugal and yet taking on significantly more expenses.

And not coincidentally, when my wife brought up the idea of buying a car (yes, I'm going to use my husband's right to just blame the wife:D - no not really; she might read it), I was a little bummed out at first.

But we're new parents and we live in an area where public transport is not that convenient nor readily available. It's not an ideal situation in case an emergency happens. And even during routine trips, I have a hard time rationalizing subjecting a newborn, toddler, or small child to the pollution of the big city solely because of cost reasons.

I know plenty of people aren't able to afford cars and do just that. So is my buying a car just a paternal reaction? An instinct to pamper my child? Am I just hiking up my lifestyle and taking on bigger costs so that I can reassure myself that I'm giving everything possible to my child?

While it is certainly arguable, my thinking is that isn't the case at all.

One of the tenets of personal finance is delayed gratification. I still firmly believe in delayed gratification, but I have come to realize that sacrificing today and enjoying later is a myth - brought about by taking an argument to it's logical extreme.

What do I mean? Well to explain it better, I'll try an analogy.

What if, for example, my greatest passion in life is food; not traveling or shopping, or anything other than food. And my all-time favorite foods are lechon, crispy pata, ice cream, chocolate and all kinds of pastries.

I am most definitely headed for a happy but short life, right? But I know enough about the dangers and I want to live a long life, so what do I do? I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits to counteract all the fats and sugars that I'm consuming. 

But given that scenario, which makes better sense?

That I eat nothing but fish, vegetables and fruits for 60 years and enjoy my lechon and crispy pata after retiring.

OR

I limit my guilt foods to once a month, but enjoy them throughout my life.

Which do you think is the better option?

Now let's consider that tomorrow I might get hit by a bus with malfunctioning brakes. Or by next January, get hit by a stray bullet. Or maybe die from a plane crash, sinking boat, earthquake or any number of untoward incidents.

The point is, in the end we're all dead.

And that's the myth about personal finance: that it's about sacrificing now, and enjoying later. It's not. Personally, I think it's about making smart choices all the time, and achieving goals and dreams when they're available. 

When I was a kid, I had relatively simple dreams: own a house, own a car or two, and have free time to do things I like (back then, it was of course playing video games).

I've got one of those now, and the house is about to come soon.

But my advice isn't to go all out now, YOLO, or anything of that sort. I'm just saying, be smart and work for your dreams.

When I looked for a car I looked for one of the cheapest, most fuel-efficient, and reliable cars out there that can accommodate a family. I paid for utility, not a status symbol.
The myth about personal finance: that it's about sacrificing now, and enjoying later. It's not. Personally, I think it's about making smart choices all the time, and achieving goals and dreams when they're available. We should not be afraid of getting our dreams now, we should just be smart about it.


And when I was looking for a car loan, I canvassed until I found the most affordable one out there.

And I didn't get any accessories - I can buy them later if I want to, but it would be unwise to let something that costs 5,000-10,000 pesos cost me 9.x% in annual interest payments to the bank.

And when I estimated the costs, our gasoline costs are actually lower than if we took the shuttle. Plus, my wife can get me free parking. So the actual extra costs are just for car insurance, registration, and occasional expenses of that nature.

(Okay, yeah I just failed at not sounding defensive:)

So I don't think we should be afraid of getting our dreams now, we should just be smart about it.


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photo credit: Bryce Womeldurf via photopin cc
photo credit: Ian Fuller via photopin cc

12 comments:

  1. What's the point of saving and saving when you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor. Jessica Zafra once said is similar to your analogy. I wan't to eat steak and die young rather than eat leafy green stuff til I'm 60 by that time I can no longer eat steak.

    As a new parent myself I to pamper my child as much as possible and protect her the best way I can. It's not you bought a car for your own satisfaction but for a need that you and your family needs. Want and need is total different thing right?

    As long as you can pay for it and have the other necessities not suffer I think it's fine. I myself just been thru that and btw it's a mutual decision with the wifey to buy the car. =D

    Antonio

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Obviously I really agree.

      I do have to say it really is a fine line though. Really easy to fall on either side.

      Delete
  2. Hey, Congrats! Financial responsible people really think tons of times before jumping into a huge decision that cost a lot of me , and , I think, you did your homework! You deserve it! :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! :D

      ...I really was not humble-bragging. (I just felt compelled to blurt that out loud again...)

      Delete
  4. Congratulations on your new car. I agree with Anonymous' comment. I think it is just right to give everything to your family, especially to your child. Can you imagine the cost if the your child gets sick every now and then because of the hassle of using the public transport? In this case, car now becomes a need not just a want.

    Again, congrats! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I so love the refreshing analogy and logical craftsmanship of this post.
    as a parent, you will be facing more "war" on this front. time is one of those. your child will grow so fast and you will try to keep up with his/her growing up and probably spend money to spend quality time together.
    its like an investment. what I said seem like a puzzle and unrelated to this post for now but you'll surely know what I mean.
    cheers!

    arnie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does seem like a puzzle.

      But you're talking to a guy who in highschool realized the window for doing stupid things was closing fast.

      And I feared the end of summer vacations when I learned to count in grade school.

      I've never felt time (or money for that matter) was on my side, but I think what you said will probably only hit home after a few years.

      Delete
    2. ...Unless it's the same "war" i was on the other side of over a decade ago. alas, no one wins in a war of attrition.

      Delete
  6. Yeah, right. My neighbour has an almost brand new car but is renting the small house that he's in. So instead of using the money to pay for a house and lot deposit, he splurged it on a car.

    Sounds stupid? It depends what mentality you have. I'd rather save and save, then sit back and relax later.

    ReplyDelete