On New Cars, Entitlement, and Making Sense of Income

Bought a new car this weekend.

Yep… there it is: my big news is that I single-handedly bought a brand new car this weekend.  It was a strange thing, walking into the showroom (a woman all by herself), knowing that for the first time in my life I had the financial power to buy a car.

Just think of how extraordinary that is.  A car.  A huge piece of machinery that we Americans associate with prosperity, independence and position, and we don’t often realize is an incredible luxury.  In a world when millions have to walk over a mile to get to fresh water, just having a car is a bit ludicrous (much less a new one).

And still, I bought one.  So what does that say about me?

It was a struggle to come to this decision.  For months now, I’ve wanted a new car.  Not “needed,” mind you: wanted.  My old car was eight years old, and though still running well (enough), she was threatening needing some big repairs that I doubted would add more than a few years of life to her.  It was more likely that I could get a good trade-in value for her if I bought a new car now than if I waited another six months.  I knew that if there was any time for me to buy a new car, it would be soon.

But there wasn’t some lightening strike that pushed me to buy a car yesterday.  My old car was still in good enough condition, and there weren’t any crazy “end of the model year” sales going on.  But I knew it would be a good decision that I happened to be in the position to make.  I would have called it an impulse buy if I hadn’t spent months researching vehicles, budgeting out monthly payments, and wrestling with what it means to be able to afford a new car.

I shy away from language such as “I’m blessed to be able to afford this,” because it’s theologically unsound.  What does that statement say about all the people who can’t go out and buy a new car… are they somehow less “blessed” than I?  Surely not.

No, it was just a good decision for the stage of life in which I find myself.  Twenty seven years old and gainfully employed, getting a new car that will be in excellent condition and under warranty until I am at least thirty three is a good idea (so long as I could afford it).  I also chose a fuel-efficient car (can’t quite afford a hybrid at this stage in my life) that is small and practical.

It’s still utterly strange to me that I could afford this big new purchase.  Given that I waited for months and months to decide to buy a new car, I’m settled that it was a wise decision.

For better or worse, I bought a car this weekend.

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