I have had three cars in my life. My first car I got right after I finished my undergraduate degree. I’d spent the spring tree planting and had enough money to buy a car…I bought a Dodge Stratus…maybe a 1996…it was Forest Green.
The first time I took it in for a repair the mechanic told me that I needed new brakes and that it was going to cost $1000. I hung up the phone and immediately called both of my parents to confirm that I ACTUALLY needed to spend the money on the brakes. I’m a little bit…er, frugal, so yes, I HATE spending money on things that are unnecessary. So, after my parents both said that the car needed the brakes fixed (in retrospect: duh!). I called the mechanic back and told him to go ahead. Then I sobbed…for a long time. $1000 is a lot of money. TWO weeks pay from my first “real” job. It was heart breaking and I hated every minute.
I had the Stratus for just over a year. My newish boyfriend (and now husband) had dropped me off at a camp reunion and was returning to his parent’s place for the weekend. On the last hill before he made it home, the poor Stratus died. Completely.
By that time I was in grad school at Waterloo and had NO extra money. I figured I’d just learn to take the bus and that was that. But thankfully, my mom, realizing how much I depended on my car, bought me a new one. Yes, I know. It was so thoughtful.
That was the beginning of the “snow pea” era. My new ride was a TINY little Dae Woo Lanos that looked like a toy. It was standard and I loved it. When Snow Pea had a problem that ended with a $600 bill, there were more tears. Less than the $1000 brakes, but still tears.
My great uncle Alec passed away later that year and my Dad fixed up his old 1997 Buick for me. The car had 40,000km on it.
Since then, I’ve mostly loved the Buick. My parent’s in law kindly paid for a few repairs last year when we got the Buick looked at by their mechanic.
We’ve put a little bit of money into the car…like the $300 to fix the window (it fell off it’s track and was rolled completely down in the winter!) No tears followed. Just annoyance that cars are such a costly expense.
Today we found out that we need to put $800 more dollars to fix the car. It had been making some weird noises so Matt took it in today. $800 is a lot of money for us…probably for most people!
But there were no tears at all today. Mostly because of Matt. He knows my sensitive history with cars and money and is always very careful to give me all of the information, to ask me how I feel, and to see what I think we should do. This partnership calms me. I no longer cry because I know that we need the car. I no longer cry because my loathing towards spending money is over shaddowed by my gratefulness for having a partner that knows my weird sensitivities. And, like Matt said, it really could be worse. We’re fortunate to have the means to fix our car. And when I look at what I’ve written, I’m so grateful too see all of the help I’ve received from ALL of my parents. Sheesh!
I’ve been thinking about the idea of having “enough” lately…mostly because of the anatomy course I am taking. We need a 60% to pass…no more and no less. So while I want to do much better than a 60% I often remind myself that I just need what I need. No more, no less. It’s the same way with money…at least for right now. We only need what we need. And as for today? We have enough.