I was a car fanatic in my early years. When I was a small child I wanted to be a race car driver. My favorite toys were my Hot Wheels cars. I had a little yellow Corvette Stingray that was my very favorite. That car raced around the house, inside and out. It raced on tracks, it performed daredevil stunts, and survived many death defying crashes. This love affair with cars started very early.
In my teenage years I had a subscription to Motor Trend. I kept up on all the latest car trends. I read about every new sports car, and even skimmed articles about sedans. I dreamed of all the cars I would own. I wanted a Corvette, and one day, when I was wealthy I would own a whole garage full of cars. A fleet of sports cars and exotics; Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and more.
My parents bought my first car. It was quite a battle, with me looking for something sporty and fast, and my parents wanting something reliable and safe. We compromised on a Honda Accord hatchback.
A few years later, I married Dream, and we were both working and making a small income. Our cars, old when we bought them, were slowly dying. I bought my first brand new car, a shiny black Isuzu pickup. It was awesome.
Soon after, Dream needed a new car. We really wanted something sporty and found a great deal on a used Nissan 300Z twin turbo. Man that car was fast. We both loved it. We kept it for a little over a year and overheated it due to a cracked radiator. Luckily it didn’t cause any permanent damage, but we realized we couldn’t afford to fix it if anything major happened.
In 1998 I traded in my Isuzu truck for a brand new Jeep Wrangler. It was the car I dreamed of, but never realized I dreamed of it. I had always been fascinated by Jeeps, but word on the street was they weren’t safe. That’s actually a myth based on some very old models from the 60s and 70s.
We owned a few other cars also, but in the early 2000s we decided it was time to get out of debt. We picked up a copy of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. After working Dave’s plan, we were able to pay off all our debt in about two or three years. We also vowed to never get another car loan. That was the beginning of my breakup with cars.
I still had a pretty good income, and my employer at the time gave out very hefty bonuses at the end of the year; enough to buy a pretty nice used car. I knew we really couldn’t afford new cars, and Dave Ramsey makes a good argument for buying used. We ended up buying a couple of used cars in the years that followed.
I bought a Chevy pickup. My daily commute was long and the mud tires I “needed” on the Jeep made the commute uncomfortable. Plus I wanted a tow vehicle to tow the Jeep to all the best Jeepin’ trails. (Yeah, I know, in hindsight it was a dumb and unneeded purchase.) At some point we sold Dream’s car and bought a nice used Lexus with cash.
Getting out of debt, buying used, and paying with cash were all parts of the breakup. The biggest part for me was canceling my Motor Trend subscription. I didn’t need that magazine filling my head and heart with wants. After unplugging from the constant source of “Look at these awesome new cars… you must buy them… they are so cool,” I became much less interested in new cars.
Then one day it just clicked. A car is transportation. Period. End of story. It doesn’t really matter what car you drive as long as it gets you where you need to go. I sold my truck and started driving the Jeep on a daily basis again. I found a used set of tires on craigslist to replace the mud tires to make the commute more pleasant. Even more so, I no longer feel like the Jeep is a part of me. I mean I still like it, and I enjoy driving it, but I could sell it and not feel bad about it. I feel like I could drive anything and be satisfied.
After breaking up with cars I feel much more level headed about the automobile. I still like to drive something nice, but I don’t NEED to drive something nice. My Jeep is now 14 years old and I’ll likely continue to drive it for many more years. Dream’s Lexus also 14 years old and is still running strong, but will likely need to be replaced in a few years. We are putting money into a savings account we dubbed the car fund, so that when the time comes, we’ll be able to buy a replacement with cash.
It feels good to not catch that new car fever anymore. It took a long time to break up with cars, but we finally did it. I no longer have that emotional attachment to cars. Breaking up meant one less financial burden pulling at my heart strings, making room for better use of my energy and better use of our money.
How do you feel about cars? If you are still in the throes of passion with the automobile, are you able consider a future breakup? Maybe you already managed to break up with cars; How did you handle the break up? I’d love to hear your story.
Breaking up with stuff is a series about the hold our stuff has on us. Over the past few years I have had to end many love affairs with stuff. It’s the path that every minimalist must take. At some point in your life, you find yourself with more stuff than you knew you needed… knew you wanted even. You’ll see that you have a house full of stuff and you’re running out space to store it. You might look at your paycheck and wonder where it all goes. At some point you’ll decide your stuff is no longer treating you well and you’ll decide it’s time to break up.
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