This may be a self imposed dilemma because my wife doesn’t necessarily see it the same way but it has been on my mind.
Background: We own two cars, a 1995 Chevy S10 and a 2003 Saab 9-3. My family is a part of the GM family first program due to by grandfathers both retiring from GM. This means I have access to reduced prices on all GM vehicles (Chevy, GMC, Saturn, Cadillac, Pontiac, Saab, Hummer, and Buick). New vehicles end up being $3000-$5000 off MSRP before any incentives, which can lead to almost $5000-$7000 off a vehicle. My truck is showing age: no AC (it leaks), loud muffler which has been fixed and continues to break, clutch is getting close to needing to be replaced, and not good for long trips outside 30 miles. In addition, the only car that all three of us can travel in safely and comfortable is the Saab but we, of course have more storage room in a truck.
Reasons for a new car: Now that we have a family the vision of the Saab being the family car is fading. There simply is not enough room to pack up the family and head on vacation. Plus, you always have to take two cars when grandparents come up because only one other person can ride in the car with a car seat in there. Then whenever child #2 comes, the family will be the only ones who can ride and no one else and the ability to carry stuff shrinks while the amount increases.
Dilemma: We don’t have a car payment right now and we are saving money for a nice down payment when the 2008s start to go on sale in the Fall. (We are estimating getting 0% and plus a couple $1000 off by then on a new vehicle) But our church is not doing well financially and I want to be better stewards of our money this time (longer story). I mention the church issue because I know the talk that will begin when the Preacher rolls in with a new car and then talks about the need for money from the pulpit.
First issue, the vehicle: The style of vehicle we are looking at is the GM’s crossover vehicle, especially the Saturn Outlook. It gets around 19 mpg, seats 7 and costs about $80ish to fill it up. It is built on a car chassis so that means it is built like a minivan but looks like an SUV. GM is cutting all their minivans now because of lack of sales and the popularity of the Outlook, Enclave, and Acadia. I do not get this discount on used cars and my wife and I agree that new is what we prefer. There tends to be more costs in a used car down the road then the one I drove, took care of and know all about. Plus the amount of money you lose when the vehicle pulls off the lot is usually made up with the discount we get. We have looked at the issue of hybrids but with the type of driving we do and where we do most of our driving, a hybrid would not be a financial benefit for us. We would end up paying more for less car.
Second issue, Church/God: My personal life and decisions should not become a committee decision. I am doing my part to give my financial support but the critiques and talk will start. I guess the best way to describe it, is a feeling of hypocrisy. Yet I know I’m not being hypocritical.
Consumer Guilt would be another phrase that comes to mind. Gen-X Rising’s post about the Global Rich List, informed me that I am in the Top 3.13% of the richest people in the world number 188,173,914. Now there is a lot that separates me from the .1% richest but there is an even tremendous amount that separates me from the bottom percentages. I am blessed to have a house over my head I don’t pay for and a nice salary on top of that. I have health care, food on my table, and the ability to put gas in the two vehicles I own out right. I am blessed and desire to be a faithful steward of what I have and what I have been blessed with.
My truck, although old, still runs and gets me and one other person where we need to go. Do I really need a new car? What type of car should I get? Should I worry about the reaction from church? Does anyone else have consumer guilt when they by big ticket items like cars, TVs, furniture or whatever else?