It doesn't matter what you think

Two years ago, I introduced you to my big ‘ole “Hunk O Junk.” While I thought that this blue beauty was a Good ‘enough Thing at the time, never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated that we would drive her for 23 more months.

Just last month, our family fondly parted with this piece of history, and her story needs to be told, since her life lessons have been many.

This is Part One (for those of you who have missed it when I first shared), and Part TWO will follow this week, since it’s truly the best of my Good ‘enough Things.

The comments shared, after my post, symbolize some of the best stories told. Pour yourself some coffee, get cozy, and chuckle along with us because if you don’t have a Hunk O’ Junk story, you can vicariously live through the rest of us. 🙂

The Amazing Journey to Debt Free Living. Sometimes it can be quite funny.

Oct. 2010 –  I’ve always scoffed at the childhood nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

I’d repeat it, embrace it, try and tell that inner child, “It really doesn’t matter what they think,” but somehow it did.

As a grown woman, those emotional days are gone, for the most part. The school of hard knocks has taught me that true riches don’t come from the pocket book, (but sound financial principles definitely help in the day to day).

Unfortunately, “keeping up appearances” have gotten many of us in trouble. We drive cars we can’t afford, buy “toys” we don’t need, and live in houses that carry a mortgage which keeps us  gasping for air each month. There’s got to be a better way, and the unfortunate reality is that sometimes, you have to let image go when it comes to getting your financial house in order.

It’s my opinion you can still be extremely classy while living on a budget or I wouldn’t be touting my $10 thrifted Frugal Fashionista outfits for all to see, but right now my car reality is just embarrassing, humbling, and…definitely building my character.

No other way to put it, it’s hard, but it’s our choice and is worth it in the end.

I’m proud to be a mommy mini van driver.

It speaks to the season of life that I am in, and I have no problem with the stigma, but one of the first things a family member said to me after my husband got his new job was, “Good, now you can finely get a new vehicle.”

That comment didn’t resonate well with me, and I let him know that our number one financial priority was not to replace it since it was running just fine. Six months ago, our transmission went out on this van, so we had to make the decision of whether to buy a new one or spend the money to get it fixed. The body of the van was fine (then) but with 170K miles already accumulated, we knew it could go either way. Committed to paying cash for our vehicles, I didn’t want one of our first steps after our year long season of unemployment to be stressing over a “new to us” car. We had a lot of catching up since we depleted our emergency fund, and continuing to drive this van was what I choose to do.

And then one day I walked outside to this (well, it wasn’t this big at first, but you can imagine.)

Noticing the paint was beginning to peel, a few of our helpful children decided to peel the layers because “it looks SO much better underneath, right Mom?”

Sigh…it’s ok, “I don’t care what other people think,” I tried replaying in my mind.

I got used to driving with this artwork on the front and realized it wasn’t that bad. The car is ours free and clear. We have no monthly expenses on it, and I need to enjoy that feeling.

In order to save more money, we canceled the comprehensive side of our insurance, and just kept the collision.  Making sure that if we hit anyone, that liability would be covered, but if something happened to our car and it was our fault, we’d just live with it.

So live with it we are…unfortunately, and I am truly understanding what it means to practice what I preach.

One month after we canceled the collision, bedlam (struck literally), and my husband made the call to not invest more money into this vehicle. We replaced the crushed light with one from a salvage yard, but ever since the transmission was fixed, it just doesn’t run quite well.

For four months now, I have been driving our “hunk “o” junk” (affectionately named by our children.) I wish I could tell you that it doesn’t bother me one little bit, but it does. I find myself wanting to share an excuse when someone in the parking lot gives me a raised eyebrow.  Americans put so much worth on vehicles, and cars are a status symbol. If this is my car, what does that say about me?

Yet this is my time to remind myself and commit myself to why we are doing what we are doing – living like no one else, so that later we can live like no one else. 

Remember my question, “How much do you want it? Being broke is normal. Be weird.”

When I start sharing our wealth building strategies, remember what it took for our family to get there.

This is it!

When my teen boys would rather be thirty minutes late to a party, waiting for their dad’s much nicer car, than drive the hunk o junk, I remind them that most people in the world don’t even own a car, and they are blessed to have any wheels at all.

When our daughters insist we purchase a really cool car they pass on the highway, I educate them with the fact that that car costs 1/4 of our house mortgage right now, and if we purchase that vehicle, we can’t finish off our attic space.

When I am tempted to agree with them, I remind myself that this is only for a season: a season of character building for everyone involved. I know our children are learning life lessons that have to be caught rather than taught, and this is just part of the process.

So the next time you see a “hunk o junk” vehicle on the highway, and you wonder how in the world anyone has the guts to drive that thing, be careful…it just might be me. 🙂

P.S If you were the nervous driver that happened to rear end me, and I told you not to worry about the small dent,  it’s because of this that I showed so much grace. 🙂

P.P. S. With all that being said, we ARE in the market for a “new to us” mini van, and I can’t wait to find it. Knowing our van is on its last leg, we do not want to be in the position where we have to buy something on the spot, without a good “used car” deal. We’d love a Toyota or Honda,  preferably around 50 or 60K miles, so I set my eye on that immediate goal and can’t wait to share our cash with someone who wants to sell. I admit, I’ll take a small raise in my status symbol. lol

Have you missed one of my “31 Days to more with Less” posts? Follow along here.