We’ve all had one, the moment you realize you made a financial mistake. Mine came from a car, as does most financial mistakes. To this day I still dislike cars because of my experience and their depreciating qualities (although I did sell one of my cars for more than I paid for it, but that is a story for another day).
I was in college and thought to myself I have the money why not get a car, not just any car but a Volkswagen 1971 bus.
Something appealed to me about them, the lifestyle and the image. It was more important that I looked good riding in my car then about the cost to own the vehicle. So when I started looking for a bus I immediately told myself it needed to have a newer engine and transmission as I didn’t really have cash to fix anything major. A couple weeks went by and I finally found one I thought would be a winner, so I took my friend and went to see it. I test drove it and the owner told us how the engine had been rebuilt along with the transmission, but he didn’t have any receipts. Being naive I believed him as the car felt strong during the test drive.
I was so excited I found a bus within my price range with all the features I wanted that I went home that day, got the money out of my bank and was off the next morning to buy the bus. I thought about how great of deal this was because of all the rebuilt components the bus had.
There I was driving my used bus, new to me back to my house windows down so excited how this would change my life. My parents couldn’t believe I had bought this bright orange bus as it was so eccentric which is something I am normally not. We went for a ride and they could barely breath as gas fumes filled up the cab, although we later found this was normal for the bus. None of that mattered to me as I had what I always wanted.
Well, I wish that was the end of the story but about two months later was when I first started having problems. First the bus needed new tires, $250. Then it was the CV boots, $400. Next came the transmission $1,600 and finally the engine, I’ve erased it from my memory due to overload in cost.
By this time my money was gone, in fact I remember the last time I took it in and heard the news of the engine needing repair. I was standing in the shop and the mechanic came to me with the news. I remember him telling me the cost and I just stood there stunned. I thought about how I didn’t have that money but I would have no car if I didn’t do the repair. I walked outside just so I could breathe. The burden and weight of my decision seemed to have a physical toll, as my dad walked over to talk to me. He said he would cover the cost for me. I wanted to say no, but I had no choice, I agreed and the car was repaired. I had already made it up in mind after it was fixed to sell it.
My dad was upset because I had a new car as everything had been rebuilt. I was over it, over the lifestyle, the headache and ready to move on. I sold it for more than what I paid and but less than the amount I had put into it rebuilding it. It was enough though to pay my parents back for the money they had lent to me.
We all make financial mistakes, I was lucky mine was on a smaller scale, even though it was a big deal for me. I couldn’t get over the feeling I had for what I thought I wanted. I was driven to get that car no matter what. I didn’t listen to reason; I just knew I wanted that feeling of ownership and lifestyle. I could have walked away once the owner told me he didn’t have the receipts but I wanted to believe him so badly. I didn’t want to be denied my dream of having a bus, after all I couldn’t wait any longer.
What financial fantasy are you chasing? Millions of people play the lottery yet those who win are few and of those that win even fewer are better off for it. We wish to believe that a new car or new home will change our life for the better, but does it make financial sense? Maybe it’s not being honest with yourself such as reviewing your financial picture for fear of what it looks like. It didn’t make sense for me to buy a really old car that would need a lot of repairs with money I didn’t have. I was living a financial fantasy thinking the car wouldn’t need repairs.
We all make financial mistakes but are you learning from yours? What fantasy are you hoping for or living?