Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's OK to buy used

A few weeks ago I posted an article here about the problems pastors face when they go into debt. Last Sunday morning while on my way to church I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast. Two individuals called his program with questions about the purchase of a car and a washer and dryer. As I listened to Ramsey's responses I thought that many of my readers might find his words helpful.

Both of these persons were trying to get out of debt. One had sold her car and bought an older car that had already needed two repairs and was not currently running. She was complaining that it was taking all their money until Ramsey finally got her to admit that so far she had spent about $300.00 on repairs, about one month's worth of payments she had been spending on the car she sold. In the meantime her family had been able to pay off about $10,000 worth of debt in eight months. I understand her frustration about having a car that needed repairs, but the math was working out very well for her. It shouldn't be too long before she can move up in car (one that is paid for), and she'll be out of debt.

The other caller was asking about the benefit of buying a washer and drier versus spending about $50.00 a month at the laundromat. While Ramsey said that made great financial sense, she didn't have the money to pay for a new washer and drier. He encouraged her to buy them used and save up enough money to purchase new ones later.

Two years ago our washer and drier needed replaced. We had them for years, and they were both worn out. We had looked at new ones, but I really didn't want to spend that much money. I was attending an auction when a washer and drier set came up for sale. They were nearly new. They would have cost about $800.00 if I bought them new. I paid $200.00 for them. We haven't had any problems.

About three years ago I obtained my auctioneer's license and needed something to haul things in. On a used car lot I found an old van that seemed perfect. I found out it had been previously owned by a local person I knew so I called and asked about the van. I returned to the lot and bought the van for a little over $2,000. Today, it has over 200,000 miles on it and is still running. Yes, I've had to spend a little money on it, but every time I wonder if I should spend any more money on repairs I just drive on the new car dealer's lot, look at the prices on the stickers, and head to the garage. Do I want to drive that van forever? No, but it's doing what I need it to do now, and one day I'll get something better (for cash).

As Ramsey explained to the callers, it's OK to buy used when you don't have the money to pay for the new product. In the previous post I wrote on pastors and debt, when you have debt you have a lot of problems that can impact your personal life, your family, and your ministry.

I had to learn this the hard way. I used to think I had to buy everything new. I never worried about going into debt because I had always been taught that debt was normal. When this country ran into the financial mess we were in a few years ago people found out just what a horrible master debt was and the pain it could cause.

I have seen solid wood dining tables and chairs in perfect condition sell for $50.00 at auctions. That doesn't happen at every auction, but it happens enough that it's worthwhile going to an auction if you need a new dining room set. I've seen very nice sofas sell for $2.00 at one auction and one just like it sell for $100.00 at the next auction. You never know, but if you need furniture and don't have the cash to pay for something new, I would be checking out auctions. Yard sales and Craigslist are two other good options. It's OK to buy used.

This blog is dedicated to helping ministers, especially bivocational ministers. You will have much less stress in your life if you can avoid debt as much as possible. Believe me when I say I write from experience. There is so much more freedom to enjoy life and ministry without worrying about having to make payments on consumer debt. One way to avoid a lot of debt is to be smart when you are buying the things you need. If you can pay cash for new items, great, but if not, it's OK to buy used. Then you can save your money and replace those items with new ones.


Rev. Luckett said...

Thank you for this blog Dennis. For the last few months I have been pondering the thought of trading my van in for a new one as opposed to paying for repairs to get it fixed. After doing the math the van would be paid off in a year if I keep it. With some front end work and a new fuel pump I think I will be far better off if I kept it. Really I cannot afford a new vehicle. $6000 as opposed to $30000 seems ok to me. Thanks for steering me back on the right track.

Dennis Bickers said...

That's what I'm talking about! Once you pay your van off you can save the payment each month, and since you won't be paying interest it will all go into your new van purchase. You'll be able to get a new one quicker than you may realize. I'm glad I could help.