We did it.
We finally bought a van!!
We are in full celebration mode over here, and I can’t rave about it enough. I never thought I’d be a van mom, but, boy, is it convenient!! The sliding doors, the third row, the push to start, allllll the space…need I say more? But, while we love the van, the biggest win we’re celebrating is paying for it in cash.
About a year into our marriage, Nate and I attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Both of our parents had instilled sound money principles into our childhood, but we were your average young adults that did your average young adult things: went to college, used credit cards, bought a car, bought a house . . . And while money had never been a hot button topic for us, we couldn’t believe the difference this class made in our relationship. Nate and I began to communicate in ways we hadn’t before, as we discussed what our future might look like.
During the class, we immediately started putting Dave’s principles to action. Gone was the feeling of floundering or lack of direction; following his baby steps gave us a common goal. We were a team, in it for the long haul (because that’s what marriage is all about, right?).
Within a year and a half, we were able to pay off $50,000 in debt. We kept chugging away and soon we had saved 6 months of our expenses in the bank. I decided to go back to school, and because we were debt-free, we were able to pay for my Bachelor’s of Nursing degree upfront (month by month) with zero debt added. Needless to say, we’re hooked. We’ve seen Dave’s process and concepts at work in our lives. And we’ve put hard work into paying off debt and keeping it that way.
Over the last year and a half, we’ve been saving for a van. After having two kids, I was begging for more space, despite the fact I had previously sworn that I would remain an SUV driver forever. Was it hard to keep our eye on the prize for 18 months? Yes. Did we ever consider using our emergency fund for the van rather than save up little by little? Yes. Did we ever feel like throwing in the towel and getting a loan? Yes.
Saving takes discipline. Self-control. Restraint. And patience.
In our months of looking at vans, we were pressured into getting a loan every time we couldn’t settle on a price with the various salesmen. And each time, Nate reminded me that we had to be willing to walk away, which we did (talk about HARD). When Nate and I finally found our van, it took us three days to decide whether or not we wanted to take the plunge. We talked with the salesmen, did research on fair prices, asked for advice from parents and friends, and talked to God on repeat. We labored over our decision because we wanted to be one hundred percent sure that this was the one. And when we finally decided it was a go, Nate and I were confident that we had made the right choice.
I think most families have mottos. For us, they include being kind, always rinsing your plate after dinner, and eating as much ice cream as is humanly possible just to name a few. On a more serious note, we’ve also chosen to remain a debt-free family. While some of our mottos might go against the grain, we want to be counter-culture when it comes to debt.
Too often us mamas fight to show others that we have it all together, and we do it by buying stuff. Big stuff. But, hear me when I say that the outward portrayal of your life is not worth the turmoil inside your home. Your relationship with your husband, your kids, and your self should be vibrant, and if money is in the way, something has to change. Don’t let the world’s idea of wealth encroach on your freedom.
So, what does change look like?
Start saving your money instead of buying another fancy pillow (I’m preaching to the choir here).
Cook more meals rather than eating out.
Talk to your spouse about your long-term financial goals.
Start a budget.
Take a few days to make big purchases.
Sign up for Financial Peace University.
Start withdrawing cash for easy purchases like groceries, gifts, or gas so that you don’t spend more than what you have.
Buying our oh-so-cool minivan with cash didn’t just happen. It took hard work and determination to stick with the plan. And about a thousand reminders to stop buying more pillows. But I know that if we can do it, so can you.