I get great satisfaction from reading personal finance stories from personal finance columnists. One columnist I usually like is Terri Cullen, who writes the Fiscally Fit column at the Wall Street Journal. Recently, her husband was offered a chance to buy his dream car, a like-new Chevrolet Corvette, for a too-good-to-be-true-but-is price.
Gerry and I never make big purchases unless we both agree, but this time I felt the decision to buy the car should be Gerry’s alone. This is a car he’s talked about for as long as I’ve known him — for years I’ve watched him gaze longingly at other Corvettes on the road. The car’s price tag had always stopped us from buying one — late-model Corvettes in good condition cost in the low $40,000s. “Too expensive for a car,” Gerry would say, mostly to convince himself. And now he had the opportunity to buy one, practically new, at half the price.
Terri and Gerry (seriously) discussed the pros and cons of taking advantage of what would likely be the best deal they would ever see on a material dream. They included their son in the discussions as well, not for his input, but to teach that major financial decisions are not made on a whim. When the dream-fulfilling option involves going into debt and comes at a time when there are other priorities, these discussions are even more important.
Whether or not Gerry purchased the car, their son, Gerald, has learned a valuable lesson about making decisions about money and setting priorities. As I realize the Wall Street Journal may not always be available for free, I will go ahead and say the Cullens decided not to purchase the car, despite the great deal due to their friend’s estate sale. Going into debt for a toy (admittedly a very nice toy) did not outweigh the necessary expenses like house repair.
Somewhat like the Cullens, I’m sticking with my Civic for the foreseeable future. I’m closing in on 80,000 miles, which isn’t too bad after purchasing the car in June 2004 and living with long commutes to work and to my girlfriend. I don’t have a “dream car,” though I have no experience driving sports cars. I could go test driving one weekend, but I don’t want to develop a taste for expensive cars.
Updated October 31, 2007 and originally published October 25, 2007.