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The car I didn’t buy

The car I didn’t buy

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.

View Comments (5)
  • That was a great story! Well, besides the dot-com bust and the divorce part, sorry ’bout them…

    Way to have some self-control! Wish I had done that….

  • Great story about having self control! I ended up on the other end having a car and a lot of shiny debt around the time of the dot com implosion. I now wish I had some of that self control.

  • Get a better job? Get a better car!

    You said it all.

    When we make more money, we instantly upgrade our lifestyle. For no apparent reason at all.

    We have to let the world know that we are making MONEY !!

  • By longing for which we do not have, we often lose appreciation for what we do have! I believe there is nothing wrong with striving for more, to advance, and to have, but we need to be patient and let things happen in their own time. Status symbols are nice, but do they make us any better?

  • I saw this on PaidTwice!

    As a about to be graduate (May cannot come soon enough!!!) my husband and I are facing these little temptations every day. I have a wonderful almost 10 year old car my parents gave when I came college 4 years ago and I am very thankful for that. (it has its quirks, but just needs good loving and a to find that silly oil leak!). I must admit I have to avoid looking that the amazing yellow Toyota FJ’s when I drive by the car dealerships!

    Hubby and I bought a (gently used) truck a little over a year ago because we live on a farm and putting horse feed in a SUV got old really fast! Thankfully hubby wants to move somewhere he can commute by bicycle and get rid of the truck! Yeah for a little sensibility on our family!

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