Earlier this week, I met up with a girlfriend for lunch. We get together for lunch every few weeks, and it’s always fun to catch up with her. She has always been more money-savvy than most people I know, and has done very well for herself. In college, she bought a trailer to live in, while the rest of us paid rent. She sold that when we graduated, and bought a house. That was eight years ago, several years before most of the rest of us bought houses. She got a job as a computer programmer for HP, and socked away a good chunk of her pay every month. After six years, she was tired of her job, and took 18 months off to go back to school for an MBA. She had more than enough savings to live on during that time, and also paid for the MBA without loans. That’s pretty amazing for a 28 year old – with no help from family – to have enough money saved to be able to live income-free for almost 2 years and pay for an education at the same time.
With the MBA, she got a job she loves, with much better hours, and a healthy paycheck. She still socks away a good chunk of change each month, and her accounts are in great shape. She definitely has the highest net-worth of any of my friends (trust fund people not withstanding, since getting money just because you were born doesn’t take much in the way of frugality or discipline).
Well this week, she showed up to lunch in a 2003 Volvo S60 that she had just bought. I love Volvos, and she’s the second close friend I have who has bought one in the past year. She had traded in her other car and bought the Volvo over the weekend. After the trade-in, it cost her $10,000. Not a bad deal. And while cars normally have no effect on me, for some reason I’ve always liked Volvos. As we were eating, I thought about my own car – a ’91 Civic wagon, light brown, with sweet tinted windows :) And although my friend’s new car was pretty sweet – and definitely affordable for her – it really wouldn’t make my life any better to have one. My Civic, with 207,000 miles on it, runs great and is in fantastic shape considering its age. J has a 1990 Oldsmobile, which is also in great shape. We keep them in the garage so they’re protected from the elements. We don’t drive much, since we work from home and I ride my bike to my second job at the library. They get us where we’re going every time. And we really don’t have that much in the way of repair bills. We replaced the brake pads on my car ourselves – with some phone consultation with my dad – and we always get the oil changed on time. Our vehicle registration costs about $25/year per car, and we only need to have liability insurance since the cars aren’t worth too much.
Someday when one of our cars is beyond repair, we’ll have to look at other options (maybe we could just have one car, since we work from home?). And who knows, maybe five years down the road a used Volvo might be just right. But for now, our cars do everything we need them to, and I’ll stick with my Civic as long as she’ll stick with me.