I’ve been writing about finances for a couple of years now. We’re pro cash and budgeting and against credit cards and loans. Basically. Yes, we have a mortgage payment. Yes, we have a credit card. No, we don’t use our credit card. No, we don’t normally use physical cash. *Yes, this applies to my family and I don’t care how your family handles finances. 🙂
In June, we made the biggest cash purchase we’ve ever made. We had our sights set on a new vehicle. Bryan’s car had entered its last leg earlier in the year but we forged through and continued to drive it. Bless Bryan’s hot, sweaty heart because the AC had broken last year and daycare pick up was less than enjoyable when the car had been baking all day. As he loves to do, my husband did a lot of research to determine which car would work for our situation. Last year we decided that we were replacing the car with a car because we already have a Nissan Pathfinder and that’s our “big” car. He narrowed it down to three cars that would fit a convertible forward-facing seat and an infant seat. We test drove one of each and decided any of them would do. Then we got serious about finding one in our range with the right kind of miles and minimal wear. Did I forget to mention, we were looking for used. We went on countless road trips. Filling the Pathfinder with two boys and all their junk. Driving cars and eating lunch around Quinten’s schedule. It was less than enjoyable, but we were doing it. Except we weren’t finding anything that met our criteria. (Read: maybe we’re a little too picky. It did take four years to buy living room furniture. :))
And then we bought a Chrysler Town & Country. We bought a mini van. One day we realized that we needed to make the smartest decision for our family and that wasn’t a four-door car. We needed something that allowed more space than the Pathfinder. We needed something that had storage space after the babies were tucked away in their seats. We wanted something that was big enough that Maximus couldn’t kick the driver seat when he got bored or angry. Bonuses were the automatic doors and DVD player. The Pathfinder has a DVD player, but we’ve only used it a few times. The T&C won’t get much DVD action either, but it’s nice to have the option if we’re in the middle of nap time and the car is a little whiny. Another major bonus is how comfortable it is! Bryan always comments on how nice the seats are. We keep reminding ourselves that it was built for us. It was built for a family and that’s why we love it so much. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Pathfinder. It just isn’t as easy to use right now. This is a crazy phase of our life. We don’t ever leave the house without a lot of stuff. The T&C helps us feel a little more put together and a little less frazzled. We’ve got cup holders for everyone, floor space for all the bags, leg room for everyone, and window shades for the little guys!
Saving hasn’t always been easy, but it wasn’t that hard either. Instead of saving up the equivalent to a monthly car payment, we saved up dependent care and tax return money for a couple of years. What made that hard was wanting to spend that big chunk on something else. We knew the waiting would pay off and we were right. It was an amazing high to test drive a car, write a check, and drive it home! They didn’t waste any time cashing our check, but that was fine by us. That made it FINAL.
What’s next you ask? Well, my husband is a planner. So, we’ve got a little more to save to pad our car repair fund. That means when we decide to put new tires on both vehicles, we’ll already have the money. I’ve said it before, budgeting and saving has been a marriage saver for us. Our house would be a stressful place if we spent time worrying about money when there is an ornery baby to watch and a whiny toddler to entertain. We need all the help we can get to lighten the stress in our home. Budgeting and paying with cash does that for us!
If you knew me at any other point in my life, I was not a mini van person. Not even close. The furthest from it. It turns out that you have to make sacrifices when you’re a parent. Saving up money for a giant SUV wasn’t realistic. We want to use that money on other things, like finishing our basement. Our family priorities are different from my materialistic wants. Maybe someday I’ll get that giant SUV, but it’ll be when my children can buckle themselves into their own seats. 🙂
*Disclaimer: I don’t judge you if you use credit cards or loans. I’m here to tell you there are other options if you want them. It works for our family, but it might not work for yours.