Saturday, January 4, 2014

Status - buying things you don't need to impress people you don't care about

It's been a busy month for us. RLB is medically retired from the Army and we've moved back to our home state.

Two days before we were going to start our thousand mile journey, RLB took our Suburban to the mechanic to make sure it was ready for the trip and could haul his RX7. The mechanic called back with bad news, the coolant leak RLB had noticed was a cracked head gasket which would cost $2600 to repair and wouldn't be able to be done until after we planned on leaving.

We left that truck behind with my sister to sell it for whatever she could get for it and we rented another for the trip. Before we left, RLB located another Suburban for sale near our new home. And within a week we wrote a check for it.

God was involved in all of this, there's no way to deny that. See, the old Suburban was a rear wheel drive and would have been completely useless to us where we live now. The new-to-us Suburban has four-wheel drive and we've put it to good use already.

Meanwhile, my sister took the old Suburban to her mechanic. Turns out the gaskets are just fine, it was the water pump that needed to be replaced. $150 repair and now we can sell it for more than what we paid for the four-wheel drive.

RLB and I don't have status when it comes to our vehicles. We see them as tools. I've been driving Suburbans for six years now because of two reasons; safety, and hauling capacity. Yes, it costs more in fuel than an economy car would. However RLB doesn't count that cost when it comes to the safety of his wife and children.

We've been driving older vehicles for our entire marriage. My first Suburban was a 2000 that we bought in 2008 and drove it in the ground, it had 220,000 miles on it. The last one was a 2002 and has 150,000 miles on it and this one we now have is a 1996. We hate car payments. It is less stressful for RLB for us to save $300/month and for me to budget a couple days of time for repairs a couple times a year than to straddle ourselves with debt on a depreciating vehicle.That $300/month savings adds up fast when there are long periods of time where no repairs are necessary. In fact, that is why we could write a check for this last Suburban (all told it cost $4200).

No doubt about it, I love the newest Suburban on the market. It's gorgeous! It has all the latest gadgets and conveniences now available in vehicles. It just doesn't make sense to us economically. There are people it does make sense for. If $50,000 to a breadwinner is equivalent to $4000 to RLB it makes sense. And good for them. But I will not ask or beg my husband to sign a bank note so I can pretend we live at that lifestyle while burdening his future time.

When we covet, what we are doing is saying: "I have an expectation from you, God, and you're not delivering."


  1. The mechanic called back with bad news, the coolant leak RLB had noticed was a cracked head gasket which would cost $2600 to repair and wouldn't be able to be done until after we planned on leaving.

    Now you know what mechanic in your old neighborhood is a scammer. Water pumps are designed to drip coolant out of a weep hole when they start to go bad. This dishonest scum tried to make you guys pay for a head gasket job, and he would have simply replaced the water pump and maybe cleaned up the engine a little bit to make ya'all think he did the big job.

    You are surely blessed that you folks didn't fall for this common scam! This is why I have a long time friend who is a mechanic, and when he does work for me, I always pay him more than he asks for. You just can't underestimate the value of a mechanic that you can trust!

    1. Thankfully he wasn't going to be able to "fix" it until after we planned on leaving. Like I said, it was a God thing. It forced us to leave it behind and get the four-wheel drive up here where we have been met with nonstop snow.

      As for the mechanic, I'm very sad for him. A man given to coveting and dishonest gain. And with all things, there must be a reason God calls it sin.

    2. There is a reason God calls it sin, I just heard this week that he is closing his shop and a new restaurant is opening in that space...

  2. I was "set" on getting a brand newish Mitshubishi Outlander before SD/RLB moved and now am quite happy with the smaller truck they left behind. (We are going to the lender on Monday) I have purchased new vehicles in the past and have been sorely disappointed with them. Status in life should not be how shiny your "stuff" is but how you live your life. I am very glad that I did take the truck to my mechanic and am blessed that I have the opportunity to meet people who are willing to be honest and help.

  3. Congratulations on moving to your forever (this life) home. I hope you enjoy retirement and living in the great white north. I spoke to my family that lives a bit east of you and they said that it is supposed to snow clear into Feb. They were already bringing in heavy equip to move the snow piles they had off to make room for more.

    1. Thanks Res.
      We're about to get hit with a crazy kind of cold. Nothing like complete immersion in getting climatized! We do love the snow, I'm excited to teach the kids how to ski once the bitter cold lets up.

  4. So glad you and yours are doing well!

    We have the same philosophy on cars. People will tell me their car is "new" and I just laugh and point out we are both driving "used" cars, they are just way over paying. Depreciating assets are best bought used :)

  5. I'm with you on the old car thing. My minivan is almost nine years old. Sure it has scuffs and a few dings and dents, and yes there are repairs to be made now and again, but the alternative is a $500/mo car payment. Since I don't give a rat's patootie about car-derived status, I have no problem driving my old minivan.


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