Actually, I have no idea what you’re thinking. Who are you? Do I even know you? Is anyone actually reading this? I don’t even care. I have a big glass of red wine and a couple of dogs laying at my feet. Life is good.
Anyway, every couple of years I like to spend a few agonizing hours playing “what if?” I’m sure we all do it. I like to do it right as I’m about to fall asleep, or better yet, when I wake up for no reason at 2 a.m. The game is quite simple: just imagine the outcome of your life if you would have done this and done that. How much better it would have been. Because that’s all we can focus on, right? How much better it would have been? What we’re missing out on? It’s probably not accurate to think that way. I just finished an intriguing book called The Post Birthday World, which explores both sides of “what would happen if she did” and “what would happen if she didn’t” one chapter at a time. I won’t spoil it because I highly recommend it, but I’ll just say there was no right decision. There were pluses and minuses to each life she could have lived. And that’s a pretty smart way of handling it.
ANYWAY. Regrets, I have a few. I wish I had gotten my shit together in high school and figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wish I had never wasted my time and money on a worthless school like The Art Institute of Philadelphia (damn con artists). I wish I had started writing sooner, I wish I was writing more now. I wish I never signed up for a credit card. I wish, I wish, I wish. But in a more tangible way, I really wish I never bought that car in June.
I swear, no single decision has more completely and swiftly impacted my financial life. I remember, for one second while sitting at the dealership, hesitating. And I could have just walked away right then. I should have. I didn’t.
Why did I buy the car? I wish I could say because my trusty old Blue Civic finally died. But no – she’s still chugging away. If I’m being honest (and why would I not be honest rambling to myself?) it was sheer vanity. I look around and I see my peers with new-ish cars. I talked myself into believing that I deserved it. And so, with my arrogant head held high, I plunged us from a comfortable existence into counting every penny. From spending without thinking to logging into my bank account before stopping at Wawa for coffee. One car payment can do that? Seriously? Yes, yes it can.
I went from having a $0 car payment to having one I’m too ashamed to disclose. And the worst part? I just have to live with it. It’s not like they have an exchange policy. I seriously hate myself a little bit every time I slide behind the wheel. But damn, the built-in Bluetooth is nice. I am definitely in love with that.
Silver linings: well, I have learned to be a lot more conscious of my spending, simply because I have to be. Gone are the days of aimlessly wandering through Target and leaving with $200 worth of “What the hell did I just buy?” I don’t whip out a credit card to pay for whatever I need; I don’t even carry credit cards anymore. And Eric and I finally got rid of our personal accounts and joined forces 100%, so I’m a little self-conscious about spending what I used to spend on trivial shit. It’s just not worth the fight justifying $50 visits to the nail salon.
We’ll bounce back, of course. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh. In the grand scheme of bad financial decisions, I don’t think buying a car ranks up there with bankruptcy and such. But I’ve learned an important lesson about biting off more than I can chew, and I learned it the hard way. Target…. I miss you.