Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saving for the Swagger Wagon

A while back, I did something incredibly stupid.  On a whim, I stopped into a car dealership in Madison, Wisconsin and test drove a 2006 Honda Odyssey.  It was glorious, but all it did was make me discouraged that I would never be able to get one.  Why?  Because the first thing out of the salesman mouth was a series of questions about what kind of monthly payment I was looking to obtain.  In our debt-riddled society, it's just an assumption that we now buy a vehicle based not on the sticker price, but on the monthly payment we can squeak out.  After driving the van, getting my butt warmed by the heaters under the leather seat, and falling madly in love, I had to make it painfully clear to this salesman that there was absolutely no way, no how that this van was going home with me today.  I think we both left feeling a bit cheated and in addition I felt frustrated and broke.

Fast forward a few months to where we are today, undergoing a Total Money Makeover.  Isn't it somewhat ironic that being on a strict budget now makes me much more optimistic about being able to purchase a vehicle in a reasonable amount of time?  How is that possible?  Allow me to explain:
  1. Realisitc Expectations - I test drove a van that was way over my head.  The sticker price was more than $21,000!  I was crazy to even drive it, plain and simple.  I now understand that I can purchase a van that will suit our needs without splurging on the butt-warming seats.  As it turns out, the models I am interested in are notorious for going up into the high mileages so buying something with 100,000 plus miles is not out of the question!  For example, the blue Toyota Sienna you see above is listed at less than $10,000 and I found a 2000 Honda Odyssey for $7645!
  2. Paying Cash is Exciting - Just picture this with me for a moment.  You've picked out the car you want and instead of having to jump through the hoops with the salesman, you can actually say something along the lines of, "How about I give you $x,xxx cash for that car today or I go somewhere who's ready to sell it to me?"  And then you get to count out Benjamin after Benjamin and drive off the lot with a car that is yours, free and clear.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
  3. Saving is Possible - Before I read Dave Ramsey's book, I never would have imagined I could actually save up money to buy a car.  Make the goal a priority, figure how much you need to set aside every month, and then make it happen.  We're doing this right now to save up for a roof and I'm encouraged that we'll be able to do the same thing when it comes time to work on the new vehicle! 
I've started researching the vans we might be interested in to get a better idea of how much we're going to need to save up and then make our saving plan.  As exciting as it is to be able to share photos of cutting up credit cards, it's going to put me through the roof to be able to show you the van we bought with cash!!!  Doesn't that sound like fun??

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