Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Waste of money"

On Sunday at church, following the worship service, we had a brief financial planning presentation. I'm sure it was to make people think about their expenditures, budgets, savings, etc., going into a new year. It was presented by two retired gentlemen who are members of our congregation. Both had very successful careers (one an accountant / small business owner, the other an insurance guy).

The insurance guy asked, "What's the biggest waste of money - no, second biggest waste of money - that most people spend money on?

A few guesses from people in the audience.

The answer - "Your car." ("The first biggest waste of money is your second car.")

Wow! You'd a-thunk I wrote the script! (Haha!)

This fella doesn't hate cars - in fact, he said he and his wife are finally down to two cars for two licensed drivers. He was just making the point that cars are a major and unending source of expenses. And perhaps our society is so car-centric that a large percentage feel they just couldn't survive without one.

I don't hate cars, either. In fact, I love some cars. For 20 or 25 years of my life, beginning around age 10, I was obsessed with cars. I'd get kicked out of class for drawing pictures of cars rather than paying attention. When I was 18, a buddy and I visited the Harrah car collection in Reno... I was shooed away from a row of brand-new Ferrari 375GTB Daytona sports cars, by a couple of burly security guys. I was sitting in one, behind the wheel. (Harrah was also the west coast Ferrari importer.) I've owned a few really nice cars, mostly earlier in life, including a '73 BMW 2002, an El Camino, a '72 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. (Golly! I wish I still had 'em!) I like to watch Formula 1 Ferrari onboard camera videos on YouTube. (Try it! Amazing!)

But at this point in my life, I'm so very happy that the wife and I make do with one car between us, and that I am able to bicycle (and occasionally motorcycle) for my transportation. That saves A BUNDLE on car payments, insurance, fuel, maintenance. It gives me a bit of wiggle-room in a middle-income family budget that would otherwise be stretched tight like an overinflated balloon.

(If I were to buy another car, it would be something eminently practical - a Camry, or Accord, or maybe a Honda Element or small pickup. And almost certainly used - I'm not willing to pay the 25% premium for brand-new. I'm also amazed that some people willingly cough up another $300 or $500 or $800 a month for prestige/image, or "big" that will rarely be useful.)

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