Yesterday I took a big step and got rid of something that has been getting in my way, and weighing on my mind, for quite a long time. I have been driving a van on my 84-miles-a-day commute for about six years, burning up a bunch of gas and, in the last couple of years, worrying about the day when the van would leave me stranded.
I'd like to say that I got smart and took the step boldly, but the fact is that the van made the decision for me and actually did abandon me when the lug bolts on one of the wheels started to shear off.
But I did take bold action after that. I took a day off work, and in that day I located a car, bought it, registered it, and took it home. I still have to get rid of the old one, which is sitting on someone else's property, but that will probably be little more than a phone call to a junk yard or charity; the car is unsafe to drive and its time is up.
I did this without adding debt burden. At first I considered a new car, but then I thought about the financial side of that. First, I just didn't want to add monthly payments in this uncertain life, a move that would have obligated us further and made it harder to be flexible.
Second, I did some simple math. If you buy a car for $14,000 (which is pretty low-end these days once you have an automatic transmission and air conditioning, both of which my family needs), and you manage to keep it running for ten years, then it costs $1,400 each year just to purchase the car. Add interest to that and it's more like $2,000 a year.
I just bought a car for less than $2,000 including the day I had to take off work to get it, and if it only lasts me a year I'm even, without the obligation. And I think that the car will probably go longer.
It's nice, for a change, to be doing something so completely sane.