Growing up, my father worked as a Correctional Officer in the Philadelphia prisons. He made a good wage and it provided him with a good benefit plan. One day, he decided he didn't want to own an ordinary automobile any longer. Armed with his federal income tax refund check, he proceeded to trade in his white 1982 Buick Skylark. Instead, he decided to purchase the most luxurious and extravagant automobile produced in 1984; a royal blue with blue interior Lincoln Town Car.
At this time the only large luxury automobiles on the road were Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac, but in 1984 the Lincoln Town Car was king. Now this car was more than just transportation, it was a status symbol of the highest degree. Riding in this car was like floating down the street in a living room with seats softer than a cloud. Everywhere we went he was no longer Sam London the Correctional Officer; but he was often referred to by his nickname “Smash”. “Smash with the Lincoln”, became a part of his identity. “I deserve this car”, he would exclaim. It was the first time I would witness someone being treated differently because of a possession. Those were some good times cruising around Philadelphia with my dad visiting family and enjoying the day.
One day, in what felt like a flash, the car was gone. At the end of the loan, he decided to trade the Lincoln in for another Buick, this time paying cash. He realized that there were better uses for his money than paying a car payment. When he no longer had the car, I don’t know who was sadder; him or me. That experience taught me that there is a constant struggle to maintain a balance with every major purchase in your life. My dad made a decision to own a car based solely on emotion and how it made him feel. He wanted to own an item, but not just any item, a Lincoln Town Car that justified the hard work he did every day and made him feel good about living life.
We all want to make good decisions with money; the practical decision is always the hardest choice to accept. Any decision based purely on how it makes you feel, has to be based in the reality of your financial picture, so you can continue to feel good about the decision.
When working towards a goal, whether it is a luxury car or a quality education, loans help make these things possible. You should always be in search of the balance to maintain the payments with your emotional choices.
This an excerpt from the book
"Save, Give, Live: The 3 Principles to Achieving Financial Freedom.