A few weeks ago I was visiting a well-known website and something caught my eye about new vehicles. It was a comparison of three different vehicles, which included a family sedan, an SUV, and a pick up truck. As I read the article, it was clear the author really liked these vehicles and had chosen them to be the top choices in the appropriate fields. At the end of the article the prices were revealed...they ranged from $35,000 to $55,000! Now to me that is an absurd amount of money for a vehicle; others may not blink an eye over the prices.  

In today's environment, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements that have the same message, "You want it, you need it, you deserve it, buy it now and we'll have it there tomorrow morning!" This instant-gratification-needing society has been fueled by technology, ease of communication, and the availability of easy credit over the past several years. No longer is saving your money for purchases with cash or adding extra to your 401K hip or fashionable, it's almost frowned upon. "Why save? You need to drive that $45,000 BMW!" 

Some of you may be getting the feeling that I am charging the creditors and advertisers for our nation's current debt problem. I am not, I blame us! Too many times I read or hear about someone saying, "The banks kept giving me credit cards or increasing my credit limits, so it's their fault!" Just because the credit is available doesn't mean you have to use it! Just because the items are available and are wrapped in an appealing and snazzy advertising package, doesn't mean you have to buy them!  

Many of our customers say they used their credit cards for emergencies or for everyday items to make up where their paychecks fell short. Sit down, take a look at your credit card receipts, and cross out the following: 

Restaurants

Movies

Expensive clothing and accessories

Bar tabs

Hair and nails

Spas

Tickets to sporting events

Etc... 

All that should be left is groceries, medicine, gas, and clothing. Now add those up and find out how much you really spent on necessities and how much was spent on "other." I know when I racked up $15,000 in credit card debt, not much of it was used for necessities, even though that's what I told myself. Instead, it was for entertainment, travel, golf clubs, and a bunch of other stuff that I didn't need, I just wanted.  

When you buy a vehicle, what is the most important thing? Is it price, functionality, durability or is it which one looks the best? I used to work at a car dealership, both as a sales person and in the Finance and Insurance office. It used to blow my mind how people justified spending thirty or forty thousand dollars on a car. 

I am not a self proclaimed financial whiz; I still make bad choices with money and I am sure I will continue to. The point is I have learned from my mistakes and, for the most part, make choices to keep myself from being in that situation again. I have had the collectors calling, an over withdrawn checking account, zero savings, no assets, and only had debt. That is not somewhere I ever want to be again.  

In Summary: 

  • Take responsibility for your debt
  • It's your money. You worked for it; don't part with it so easily
  • Wait twenty-four hours before you make a large purchase
  • Separate what are needs and what are wants, and then purchase accordingly