In still having many years to look forward to before reaching the monumental goal that this blog is tracing, I consider this to be one of the greatest feats achieved in my life: I have not owned or used a car as a mode of daily transportation for eight years. Now of course I have gone on the occasional vacation here and there and whenever I am visiting my home state of California I will book a rental. But for my day to day commute to work, and even dating back to college, this eight year stretch (and counting) is one of the talking points that I am most proud of. Yes I have been fortunate enough to live in places with excellent and reliable public transportation systems, and for that my monthly budget greatly appreciates not having had or continue to pay for car maintenance, gas fill-ups, parking garages at work, parking garages at home, nor stupid taxes to my local county government for registration, for the past 2,920 days. Yes eventually this streak will come to an end. But when it does I plan to pay cash for a used vehicle. Knowing my overall feelings toward all forms of debt, you can piece together that I disdain car notes and (being a Ramsey disciple) have found that car leases are the most expensive way to operate a vehicle. Nor will I ever purchase a new car. I have no interest whatsoever in putting money into an item that will drop 80% in value over a five year period. I mean, if you were to give me $10,000 to put into a savings account, but the only condition is that in five years the value would be $2,000 and the $8,000 simply disappears never to be seen again, I would promptly show you to the nearest exit. So why in the world would I be interested in owning a new car, even when I’m a millionaire?
I know that I rag on the area of Southern California a lot (get used to it) but growing up there, I had extremely warped views of what wealth and success meant. On the topic of cars, especially in Los Angeles, it is basically your identity and representation of your social status. If you drove (and I won’t say owned because when you lease or carry a note you do not own it) the latest model car that resembled anything in the fast and the furious movie series, you felt like you were somebody, because people treated you like somebody. The “elite” social circles in LA have got superficiality down to a science and since I never reasoned for myself or found someone to teach me what wealth really meant, I left myself open to letting those goobers teach me about wealth, and it couldn’t be further from the truth of what wealth and financial security really are. I do not find my financial peace of mind nor success in any material possession, with the exception of my wedding ring (which symbolizes the greatest love of my life and looks like the ring from lord of the rings) I take no solace, comfort nor find support in any of the material possessions that I own. Growing up I allowed other people to dictate to me where real value comes from. And this path led me to desire, feel and need the approval and superficial commendations from others, never looking internally for my own approval of myself. Once I understood what real wealth and success meant, and began walking the same lines of those that had been there, I began to find the most incredible thing: self-worth. And this translated to just about everything else in my life. I found security and value in trading debt for 6 months expenses saved in the bank, and that led me to feel less pressure at work, and I actually enjoyed and continue to look forward to going to work. And the biggest driver of that is not carrying with me the stresses that go along with that popular children’s song, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” So for now I will continue to roll on the el trains, knowing that my goals and dreams are good enough because I believe in them.