I have this old truck – a 1994 Ford. (It’s not THAT old, but at 15 years, it has its share of scrapes and dings.) I use it, mainly, to haul off the trash, but it’s also good for towing a trailer or bringing home supplies from the lumber yard.
I bought the truck, used, almost 10 years ago. I really like my old truck. It’s not much to look at, but it’s fun to drive and it gets me where I need to go.
Recently, I had a couple of truck-related. It needed some pretty major engine work, several other parts (like the brakes and belts) needed to be replaced, and it needed new tires. I thought, very briefly, about replacing the truck with a newer model – but quickly decided not do so.
Instead of replacing the truck, I had it repaired. A good friend of mine is a mechanic, and he fixed the engine and replaced the worn out belts and brakes. Two days ago, I had a new set of tires put on it. It’s now running, in my opinion, better than it has in years.
The best thing about my truck – honestly – is the fact that it’s paid for. It’s mine. I own it. Sure, it’s old, a little beat up, and requires some attention, but, again, it’s paid for. For the cost of two, maybe three, car payments, I was able to get my old truck fixed, put a good set of tires on it, and keep it road-ready for another five, maybe ten, years.
To put things in a bit of perspective, let me tell you a quick story-
Several years ago, long before No Credit Needed time, I owned a little blue car, a sedan. It was a nice car, it handled well, and had no major mechanical issues. One day, as I was driving down the road, I heard a strange noise. When I arrived home and inspected the car, I found that there was a problem with the rear tire on the passenger’s side. I also noticed that the right-rear brake-light had gone out. Instead of fixing the tire (or just buying a whole new set) and replacing the brake-light (a 5-minute job that might have cost me $5) – I traded the car and financed the purchase of a brand new SUV.
That’s right. I didn’t want to deal with two very minor repairs – so I went into debt – simply to avoid a little hassle. It makes me cringe, even now, thinking about the foolishness of that decision. Alas, I was young, convinced that I could make the payments, and looking for excuses to upgrade. I found the excuses (very lame excuses), and I made a poor financial decision.
The good news is, after years of not-so-bright decision making, I managed to get my act together, turn things around, get out of debt, and move forward. I don’t want to even think about where I’d be, right now, had I not come to my senses.
By the way – I’m not saying that I’ll never buy a newer (or even new) automobile. In fact, a few years ago, I purchased a slightly used minivan for our family. However, there was a major difference between the SUV purchase and the minivan purchase. The SUV purchase was ill-planned, silly, and required taking on an unwise amount of debt. The minivan purchase was well-planned, justified, and made with cash. The day after I purchased the SUV – I felt immediate buyer’s remorse. The day after I purchased the minivan – I felt a sense of accomplishment.
Each time I take it for a spin, I’m reminded of the fact that my old truck is paid for. The title, tucked away safely, has my name on it. Humble though it may be, it gets me safely from point A to point B, and that’s really what’s important. Divorced from any notion that I-am-what-I-drive, I’m free to focus my time (and my finances) on more important things.