Life { Faith } Tea

and ramblings on everything in between

Am I Crazy Or Is This Crazy?

While perusing LinkedIn recently, I came across this article: Borrowing More to Buy a Car? You’re Not Alone. We’re trending towards $500+ car payment over a six year period here in the U.S. I did a quick Google search on how many years we drive our vehicles on average and I’m finding everything between six and 10 years. So let’s go with eight. That means there’s only a two year reprieve before we jump into the next car loan. Yikes.

It’s a little shocking that six years is the norm, but in 10 more years I’m sure that will jump to eight. Just like student loans went from a standard 10 year loan to a 20 year loan over time and we don’t give that a second thought anymore. It’s the norm, we tell ourselves. It’s what we have to do to get a car and an education. Everyone’s in the same boat so jump in and sit down and don’t do anything to rock it.

A few years ago something clicked within me and I decided I didn’t want to be a slave to my stuff anymore. I don’t want to owe anyone anything other than love {“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 8:13} so I worked extremely hard and paid off my debt. Now I’m saving diligently to pay cash for my next car.

Am I crazy for wanting to pay cash for a car, or is it crazy that it’s standard to take out a six-year loan to be able to drive around town?

I don’t want this post to come off as judgmental because that is not my intent at all. You work hard for your money and you get to spend it however you choose. I’m just worried that we’re letting all these loans dictate our lives. Perhaps that car you finance for 72 months is the exact thing that puts a smile on your face and why you took a second job. Maybe it’s what you’ve always dreamed of driving. That’s all well and good. I want that for you.

But maybe you don’t fall in that camp. Maybe you make the first 24 payments with a smile on your face but then the happiness turns to annoyance, and annoyance turns to anxiety. That’s when I start to worry about us – when our things keep us from enjoying life, when we have to work 60 hours a week to pay our bills, when we’re in a constant state of panic.

Around the same time I read the above article, I was reading the book of Ecclesiastes, which is believed to be Solomon’s account of his life and all that he found meaningless and trivial. The man was granted more wisdom than we can fathom from God, more wisdom than anyone before him, and he denied himself nothing in this world, yet he still looked over all of it with a heavy heart because it didn’t bring him true joy and fulfillment. One passage states,

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

Wow. So all these things I think I want in life to finally make me perfectly happy aren’t going to do it, eh? Then why did I ever start believing that in the first place? Who started spreading that lie?

Ironically, just moments after putting down Ecclesiastes, I started a new book, Long Way Home by Bill Barich. The author embarks on the journey John Steinbeck took in Travels with Charley in Search of America 48 years after the fact. Steinbeck was disappointed with the America he found on that journey after hoping it would restore his faith in man and revive his creativity. He found an America that was “in hock to the banks now for their mortgages, auto loans, and such material toys as a television set.”

Barich believes Steinbeck was hoping to find glimpses of the America he knew as a boy when FDR was in office. Roosevelt shared in his 1933 inaugural address, while the country was stricken by poverty during the Great Depression, that, “Our common difficulties concern, thank God, only material things.” Barich paraphrased FDR’s speech by saying, “Happiness doesn’t lie in the mere possession of money.” Or the mere possession of what your money can buy for you.

Going back to my initial ramble, I don’t think you’re crazy if you have a six-year car loan, and I hope you don’t think I’m crazy for saving to pay cash for a vehicle. What I hope we can both agree is crazy is when we let the things in our lives, the payments in our lives, keep us from truly living, from being joyful, from dreaming big dreams. After all, it’s just stuff. And do we really want to put that before other things in life?

Solomon warned us almost 3,000 years ago that all our stuff adds up to nothing. Steinbeck saw a world in the 1960s that was in bondage to their stuff and miserable because of it. It’s an ongoing, never-ending battle. Do we really want to let the stuff win? I sure don’t.

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One comment on “Am I Crazy Or Is This Crazy?

  1. Pingback: My Epic Fail | Life { Faith } Tea

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2014 by in Debt-free Living, Finances and tagged , , , , , .

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