Recently, as in the last year, I experienced two situations where my strong-willed self or opinions and use of the word “never” forced me to eat my words. While, I am sure this list goes well beyond these two, no others have left quite an impression. One left me overwhelmingly thankful I didn’t stick to this vow, while another left me wishing I could go back in time and keep my “never” vow.
Now, as you read the following, it may appear in some instances I am making these decisions on my own, but I did have an accomplice. Christjon and I are so much on the same page in our marriage that I think it may be to our detriment, like when it comes to someone stepping up to be the voice of reason when we want something that may not be entirely practical…
As in Exhibit A…
The time was end of summer when the new cars for the following year just hit dealers’ lots and the sweltering Texas heat had yet to toast the minty newness of their shiny coats. Especially, the black, leather interior, fully-loaded, premium Ford Mustang that caught my eye. Christjon had just sold his forest-green Mazda pick-up truck with 127,000 miles and Chili (my red Honda civic) was our only car. We needed it. Sharing a car is so…aberrant and abhorrent. So the seeds of wavering conviction began to grow.
To my pleasant surprise these sporty, sleek, yet strong muscle cars were affordable: and, they were having a sale. Sweet! There’s another tick under my “why I should break all rules of logic and buy this car” column. I had mentioned countless times what a waste of money purchasing a brand new car is and how paying cash is infinitely better than financing…blah, blah, blah. Ah, how quickly these words were forgotten after one test drive and an offer to knock off another $1500 from the already reduced price. I had convinced myself financing made sense: Instead of putting a large sum down on a car, we would invest the money and gain greater returns than the nearly non-existent interest rate we were getting on the new car. Sold!
Now, I have no bones about wheeling and dealing in situations like purchasing a car. In fact, I love it. I wanted to fight the non-essential $200 document fee dealers may or may not choose to pass along to the buyer. Their response was they have to charge me for it. I reiterated the fact they do not have to charge me for it and pointed to the fine print about how it is up to them to choose whether or not they want to pass this cost onto buyers. Back and forth we went, as my husband was, well let just say, less than supportive (we learned a valuable lesson from this incident – I get to fight as long as he is knows it’s coming). I was feeling pressure from them and him, so I just gave in.
This little incident ate at me until the next day and for several weeks later. Talk about buyer’s remorse. The injustice of being charged a stupid fee and then having to give in when they were obviously wrong. It was appalling! However, I realized it was more than just that $200 bucks and proving a point; it was going in without a plan and rushing through the entire process. Also, we had not stuck to our original plan of waiting to buy a car. It was clearly an emotional purchase.
Two weeks after purchasing the car someone (uh, hum…Christjon) scratched the hood of the car in a parking garage, an out-of-pocket expense just under our deductible. Two days after we moved into our new home, this same someone tore the front bumper off after pulling it out of our garage…cha…ching! At least the boys at the repair shop were happy to see us once again.
One week after we got it fixed and six months after purchasing the car, we sold it back. Truly, there are few things less degrading than selling back a car with a lien on it to the dealership you purchased it from. Only by the grace of God would I be led to endure something so awful. We did get the exact amount we owed on the car, which was a blessing among the profound shame. It was “good riddance” in Christjon’s mind – He hated that car. I, however, mourned our loss. That is until the next month came and we didn’t have to make a payment. This was a case where never should have stayed never.
The case where never became such a strong word…
Many have endured my passionate lectures about the absurdity of the following claim: The purchase of a home is a wise financial investment. Nonsense! Take that money you would put on a down payment and all the costs of owning a home and invest in mutual funds. Your returns will be exponentially greater. With that said many in my wake have witnessed the following flow from my mouth, “We will NEVER buy a home!” Yup, I said it (and not just once).
Well, guess who became a proud homeowner earlier this year? This girl!
Christjon and I have sat through many meetings with our financial advisor giving us a handful of great reasons for owning a home, and financial was not one of them. Why did we change our minds, you ask? Well, we think God had a little something to do with it. Only He (and obviously new shiny cars) can force such a profound flip in my decisions. However, Christjon does have a pretty good affect on me as well.
It was Thanksgiving Day and Christjon got a hit from a realtor he had subscribed to for updates. He actually signed up for the list when we had some friends looking to move into the area and remained on the list in case something with great leasing options popped up for us. We also had a definitive idea the area we wanted to live if we decided to move.
Well, this particular house piqued our interest because it was exactly where we wanted to be and at an unbelievable price. So for kicks, because surely there had to be something seriously wrong with this house at its price, we decided to shoot the realtor a note and check it out. He got back to us that same day and went to see it the following day. Note: We were still thinking of never owing a home.
We liked it as soon as we walked in. The layout was great with a loft for my office and a great sized kitchen (though poorly utilized) with new hardy-plank siding, roof, recently replaced air conditioning unit and newly installed dual-pane windows. There were a lot of things we would change cosmetically but like they say, it had great bones. Anyway, we just sort of shrugged it off because after all, we were never buying a home.
Then, there was the fire in our building after someone left a cigarette burning on the stairs that eventually lit the surrounding dry bush next to our building on fire (This was the same time all the fires were burning around Austin and people were losing their homes and lives). The fire had spread to the decking on the first floor apartments and it was then, only by the grace of God, did I wake up to the smell of smoke in the middle of the night and called 911 (see other post Fire @ the Falls for full story).
There was this incident and other burdens associated with sharing your neighbors’ walls. Plus, the fact we could never have more than two other people in our apartment at a time without feeling cramped. Also, we couldn’t really have anyone stay comfortably on a blow-up mattress and makeshift guestroom, also serving as my office; and, there was the dog poop, people being able to come and go into your home at anytime, and the party lifestyle many of our neighbors enjoyed. The list went on.
The more we talked about it. The more having something to call our own and do with what we wanted, making it exactly the way we wanted became more appealing. We prayed, talked, and prayed again, all the while deciding to check other houses for sale in the area just to see what was out there.
So for a couple months we continued to look, and had finally opened our minds to the possibility of home ownership. We decided to put a low-balling offer on another home to see if by some miracle they would accept. They didn’t and we were not to going to enter a bidding war with the other interested party.
Then, an opportunity presented itself with the first home we looked at where the seller’s came to us wanting to drop the price again. They were realtors who had purchased the home for resell and were looking to unload it before the end of the year. Also, sadly, were pretty preoccupied with a sick father who eventually passed away during this time.
After thought, discussion, prayer and wise counsel, we decided our absolute max offer. We went back and forth with the sellers and wouldn’t back down, even for a couple grand (much to our realtor’s discomfort as he is relaying our firmness to a guy who just lost his father – not only that, our realtor is also a full-time pastor with a caring heart, not a cut-throat, fast talking salesperson). Ultimately, we stuck to our guns and got the house for a great deal. If we had waited just one more month, we probably couldn’t have gotten it for the price we did.
Before moving in we scrapped the popcorn ceilings, re-textured the walls, painted and remodeled the upstairs. After moving in, we remodeled the kitchen and will begin work on the bathrooms next. We love doing projects around the house and the completion of a vision. We also enjoy being able to labor on projects with my parents, entertain people, host parties, and share our home with others. It has been such a wonderful blessing – I am so glad God made me eat my words.