We started talking more about our quest for solar panels last night. Our local energy company does some pretty huge rebates when you install panels, and that’s a great big plus. We started contemplating the possibility of financing the panels in order to start using them sooner, but eventually decided to continue on our current path of saving the money first. I’m not promising that this won’t change down the road a ways, but for now, we’re sticking with plan A.
Our solar panel fund is at ING. So the money is very liquid and works as a back up emergency fund. Let’s say that a year from now we have some emergency that costs more than we have in our emergency fund. We could take money out of the solar panel fund to cover it. And if we come upon hard times and can’t afford to put $300/month into the solar panel fund, we can just stop putting money into it for a while. But if we finance the solar panels, we’re stuck. We have to keep making payments until they’re paid off – regardless of our financial situation at the time. And since we’d be making payments to them instead of to our ING account, the money could not be used for anything else in the event of an emergency. Yes, we’d have the benefits of the solar panels right now, and would likely not have our $100+ monthly electricity bill, but there are a lot of drawbacks. We don’t want to be in debt is pretty much the long and short of it. We didn’t mind financing our kitchen remodel through Home Depot, because the interest rate is zero as long as we pay it off by next February, and we only charged $2000. We had the money (and still do) to pay it all off at once, but we figured we might as well let the money work for us in savings accounts over the year, and just pay the Home Depot account off little by little. But in the case of solar panels, we do not have the money in savings to pay for them now. We would truly be going into debt to do it, and it’s just not something we’re comfortable with. So for now we’re going to continue saving for them. We might start with a solar hot water system, which is much cheaper than setting up solar for the whole house, so it would give us some instant gratification. I’ll keep you posted!