I remember the day like it was yesterday. We were living in South Florida. The year was 2006 and I was pregnant with my youngest son. We were knee deep in determining our new baby needs. Top of the line car seats, double strollers, new diaper bags…
Things were going swimmingly. Then, it happened. My car broke down at the local library in the middle of summer. I was pregnant, with a toddler and a car that wouldn’t start at 11:45 in the morning. (Read 15 minutes past toddler and pregnant Mom lunch time) The 25 minutes it took for my husband to get me felt like HOURS.
My husband’s car was approaching 200,000 miles and on it’s last legs. I had just finished paying off my sedan about a year prior. We were basking in “no car payment land”. It’s a great place to be BUT we are not mechanic. When you are not mechanic and your car won’t start, it’s an uncomfortable situation. You never know when the next thing will happen. Do you fix the issue only to have another arise months later? Do you take that money you would have used to fix the car and just get a new one? We made a snap judgement and bought a new Toyota Sienna off the lot before we even had the broken car looked at.
We just couldn’t have anything like that happen again! I mean, I had to wait 25 minutes! It was HOT outside. What if it happened on the highway?! I have a TODDLER. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have a toddler?! Weeks after we bought the new car, we finally had the broken one towed to our mechanic and told him to “just sell it”. He called us about 2 hours later and told us it was a $20 disconnected wire fix. Oh… my… are… you… kidding me?!
We just purchased a car for over $20,000 and it was a $20 fix?! I was beside myself. I was not giving my beautiful car back. We weren’t going to sell it and take a huge hit when factoring the depreciation. So we sold my husband’s aging car to the teenager down the road and he kept my sedan. I swore I would drive that minivan until it died and hated making every payment. We also agreed to always pay cash for cars from then on. Cash in my mind means under $3,000. That was not a huge sacrifice on my part since I knew my husband’s car was going to go first. It did and we replaced it with “Blue Betty”. We don’t actually call the car anything, but I felt like I needed to for this project. It’s a navy blue Cadillac Deville. It’s huge and I have refused to drive it. I mean… that would be embarrassing.
Well. It’s my turn. My car is in the shop and will be for almost two weeks. It needs several things done to it. Several expensive things. So I will be without a car. I am not renting one. I will be sharing Blue Betty with my husband. I can barely see over the dashboard and it smells a bit like “old lady”. The air conditioning is broken and our guy can’t fit us in to fix it. I’m dying. I get frustrated when people around me (including myself) think we NEED so much. It’s easy to get frustrated when you have it all. I always like to think that I am grateful for what I have.
If I am embarrassed, I am not grateful.
Tweet: If I am embarrassed, I am not grateful. #BGratefulProject
So I am looking at this as an opportunity to be grateful. For the next few weeks (I’m praying for 1 week) I will be walking the walk, for the talk that I have talked. I am going to be creative with the car schedule. Make the most of our time with the car, proudly drive up to places where I will be meeting people and pray that I don’t smell like old lady.
This is also going to be an experiment to find out if we “need” two cars. I know I WANT two cars!
The unfortunate truth is that I can walk to the grocery store, town hall, the library, 3 parks, Wal Mart, Chic-fil-A, my hairdresser and our dentist from where we live.
Here’s where things get real. Does the average American family “need” two cars?
Let’s break this down.
First Level Needs: Housing, food, water, clothing, heat in the winter.
Yup- these are the things that will actually keep you alive. The rest are things to make your life easier and more comfortable.
2nd Level Needs: Electricity, car, phone, internet, air conditioning.
According to AAA, the cost to own a minivan has gone down for 2014. It is estimated to cost about $9,753 a year.
Obviously there are several factors that play into whether or not your family needs a car.
Do you live in a city with public transportation?
Do both adults in the house have jobs outside the home?
Are you a single adult household?
How old are your kids?
Follow me though Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #BGratefulProject while I live out this experiment and learn to be truly grateful. Do you have something you need to stop being embarrassed by and learn to be grateful for instead? Post it using the hashtag #BGratefulProject and tag me in the picture!