It’s been a little less than 10 years since I finished graduate school. Like many people, I got a new job when I got out of graduate school. I was offered $42,000 per year, and it took me about 3 seconds to consider the offer. “Yes,” I said. “That’s fine.”
I didn’t negotiate.
I didn’t ask for details.
I just told the recruiter yes.
I couldn’t believe the amount of money that they offered me. My previous job had paid about $24,000 — and that was after I’d worked my way up over a period of 10 years from a starting salary of about $15,000. I started the new job almost immediately, and loved everything about it.
I then did what most new graduates did: I went out looking for a new car. I figured, oh, I’m making all this money now, and my car is 9 years old now, it’s probably going to start to have problems soon, so I’ll look for a new one. There were only two cars at the time that I had any interest in (other than the one I already owned.) They were a Dodge Viper and a BMW Z3.
I didn’t even test drive the Viper, but seriously considered the Z3. First I drove the 4 cylinder version, which was a total dog. So I tried out the 6 cylinder, and it had a little more pep, along with a little more added to the price tag. I think it was about $40,000. In 1999. I seriously considered buying it. (And there was NOTHING wrong with my current car, which I loved.)
That’s right, I thought about spending an amount equal to nearly my entire pre-tax salary on a car. After all, the payments weren’t that much. And, maybe insurance wouldn’t be that much more. Those thoughts actually went through my head! Oh, and we were in debt.
Why was I doing this? When it came right down to it, I didn’t know. It just seemed like what people did. Get a better job? Get a better car!
Two things stopped me. One, I really loved my current car, and I didn’t see the point in spending a huge amount of money for basically the same thing. (Except newer, more expensive, and with a fancy name on the back end.) Two, I took a step back and thought. What if something happened and I had to pay for the car without the same income? I didn’t want to be working for a THING. Or to potentially have to choose between things like somewhere to live or something to drive.
As it happens, about a year later my then-husband and I started divorce proceedings. Then the dot-com bust happened. I ended up working at the company for less than 2 years.
It’s the best car I never bought.