I bought a new car last week.
I’ve mentioned it to a few people close to me, and some of those have actually seen it and ridden in it. And, in fact, while I was waiting for the paperwork to be ready for me, I was thinking about how I would announce it on Facebook and Instagram, what I would say about it, how much I would divulge about the decision process… and I eventually made a bold decision.
I decided I wouldn’t announce it at all.
A few reasons.
(1) It is possible to live your life and not announce everything on social media. That’s what we all did until about 2007. Gender reveal parties, cute little professional photos asking someone to be your prom date or bridesmaid, selfies every thirteen seconds, none of that existed until very recently. Shocking, I know.
(2) More importantly, it’s really not anyone’s business, especially not people who are going to criticize my decision. I just didn’t feel like opening myself up to that kind of criticism.
I know some people who are fierce devotees of the kind of financial experts who make a living telling people how to get out of debt and save money. Dave Ramsey in particular comes to mind, although I’m sure there are other financial experts who do this as well. Before I continue, I should say that if you are reading this, and you are a follower of Mr. Ramsey or any other well-known financial expert, good for you. I haven’t studied his works, so I might be mischaracterizing some of what I say here. I’m sure he and others in his business give a lot of good advice, and if that works for you, if you are making progress toward getting out of debt and getting your finances in order, that’s great.
But I am not you. Everyone’s situation is different, and while some things are just generally good advice, not everyone can, or should, or will follow all of the same principles exactly. Some time ago, the church I was attending was hosting Financial Peace University, a Christian-based class on finances using curriculum developed by Dave Ramsey. I remember someone was telling me how I should sign up, it’ll be really good for my future financial planning, there’s a lot I’ll learn, and it’s only $100. My first thought was, thanks but no thanks, I’m doing okay financially right now. And I certainly didn’t get where I am by blowing $100 to learn things that everyone learns about in math class… or at least they would if they didn’t waste so much time hating math class.
Now, that is an oversimplification, of course. There are other subjects covered in the Financial Peace curriculum, and I’m sure I would have some things to learn. But most of the people I knew who had taken this class were talking about paying off their credit card debt. I have no credit card debt. I don’t run up a balance big enough that I can’t pay it off when the next monthly bill comes. I don’t have that mentality that if I have money in the bank, I have to spend it, or the mentality that I can keep sliding the card and not worry about it until later. And that right there is already the most important step in getting one’s finances under control, the way I see it.
I have my reasons for buying a new car instead of buying a less expensive gently used car. And I have my reasons for financing the majority of it rather than paying it off all at once, a big part of which included the fact that it was a holiday week and they were offering 0% financing. I sat down and thought about the situation from many different angles before I made my decision. And that, really, is how one should approach major decisions. This is how learning and thinking works, rather than regurgitating something that an expert said that may be totally out of context for the particular decision at hand.
If you know me personally and have questions, thoughts, or comments, I might be willing to discuss this a little more specifically.
And again, for those of you who are applying Dave Ramsey’s principles to your own lives, like I said, good for you. But please, use those to think about situations from multiple angles and make a decision, rather than just assuming that he’s right all the time.