I love letting my husband get the things that he enjoys, but marriage is a partnership. Like any partnership, sometimes you have to make unbiased decisions on behalf of the other person. That means that, occasionally, I’ve got to be Bad Cop to keep our goals in check.
After some discussion, I told him that he can get a new car under three, non-negotiable, conditions.
The new car must be arguably better than his current car.
The new car must bring more to the table than his current car does. As much as we love cars, we can’t trade in his (perfectly fine) car for another car that is, fundamentally, the same as his current car. If he doesn’t love his current ride, he won’t love a substantially similar ride for very long.
The new car must not be a compromise.
There will be none of this “it doesn’t have every feature I wanted, but I can learn to love it” talk under my watch. No sir. Newness fades, but features are forever. If we’re going to OK this purchase, it needs to be for an indisputable reason that doesn’t fade over time. That means that “it’s pretty” isn’t a reason.
The new car must not accrue new debt.
We owe a little over $5,000 on his current car. It’s scheduled to be paid off in eight months. If he wants a new car, we cannot finance more than $5,000 on it. That means that he can either:
Find a car under $5,000. Save up and pay cash for the difference above $5,000.
Sneaky Trick: With each passing month, we will owe less on his used car. Thus, the amount he’s allowed to finance is going to be lower and lower. It won’t take long before the $5,000 loan turns into a $0 loan, at which point his only option will be to save up and pay cash for a car. Yes, I am devious sometimes.
Had I OK’d the “new debt” for the new car, he would have found some great car that he became infatuated with…and we would be tied to a car payment for another 3 to 5 years. Instead, the husband was back to finding love for old reliable. I breathed a sigh of relief. The sun began to set, the fireflies flickered.
He had just avoided another self-inflicted a budget crisis
A few weeks later, I was working on laundry when my mother called. She informed me that my father was getting a new used car this weekend, and asked if my husband wanted to buy my dad’s old whip. Before I could object, she told me how much they’d sell it to us for. And it was a dozy…. Here’s the math.
His Current Car
Retail Price to buy today: $9,000
Amount we owed: $5,500 My father’s car: 2006 Acura MDX
Amount we’d owe (after selling his car): $1,500
I told her that we would think about it, and my husband and I re-visited our “new car” conditions.
The new used car must be arguably better than his current car.
Reality: His current car was in cosmetically nicer condition, one year newer, and got better fuel economy. The MDX was cheaper to insure, had less miles, comparable features, and brought one thing to the table that we’ve wanted, but never had: Hauling & Towing.
The new used car must not be a compromise.
Of the numerous features he wanted on his next car… neither his current car, nor the MDX offered one of his “nice to haves”: Wireless Bluetooth streaming of music.
In the past, we looked at installing an aftermarket stereo that could stream music in his car, but the stereo is heavily integrated with the air conditioning controls, so installing one wasn’t going to be easy. We did some research and found that the MDX didn’t have this obstacle. He could get this feature if we bought the new stereo.
The new used car must not accrue new debt.
We owe a little over $5,000 on his current car and it’s scheduled to be paid off in eight months. If we sold his car and used the equity to pay for his new car, this means that we would only have to come out-of- pocket by about $1,500. This was a savings of approximately $4,000, and shortened our debt-payoff schedule by 6 months.
I set three tight conditions, and he met all three.
The answer is, yes… we have ferociously been working on getting out of debt, and my husband just bought himself a new car. Happy spouse, happy house…right?
This decision wasn’t made lightly, however. After some deep conversations on wants/needs, pricing of fuel and insurance, and a thorough review of our long-term plan, we decided that the deal made sense.
He got to scratch his “new car itch”, we gained the ability to haul large items without scrambling to rent a truck, and we chopped our auto loan debt on his car by over 73%!