Thursday, May 23, 2013

Never a Car Payment - Reflections on Poverty

Wall Street Crash, 1929

Mr. White and I received our first car as a wedding present. It was an old car given to us by an Aunt. She had decided to buy a new one, and gave us hers.  Over the years, we have been driving beat up cars, that were beyond second-hand. 

One of our vehicles had doors that wouldn't open.  We would be all dressed up, with our two little girls (at the time).  Mr. White would hand me one of the children (a toddler or a preschooler) through an open window, and I would reach back and buckle them in.   We certainly had our dignity and a sense of humor!

I remember once, in the early 1990's, getting a few thousand dollars as a tax refund.   We used most of this money to actually buy a decent vehicle from the friend of a relative.  It was a small, cream colored, station wagon. I was amazed!  It was old, but beautiful to me.   It lasted a few years, before it was totalled in an accident.  (A drunk driver had crashed into my husband and put him in the hospital. His recovery took several months.)

Insurance money provided us with another used car.  This one was an old mini-van.   By the time we were forced to give it up, it required a screwdriver to start!

One year, my husband bought a large, old conversion van for under $100.  We loved going for rides in it, with all of our (by then) five children.  My husband used it for commuting to work. I never drove it.  I was too afraid to drive a large van!

At one point, we had one dead car, and one barely running car.  I became very ill and couldn't walk without assistance for a month.  After some weeks, my husband's co-worker mentioned he was getting a new car, and did we want his old one for free?  That was such a great blessing!

I remember, a few years ago, my husband came home with a beautiful pastel purple Cadillac with white leather seats.  It was very old and cost under two grand.  We had our tax refund money and he wanted to ask me if we should buy it? I didn't hesitate. Of course! It was lovely and seemed like such a treat!  I loved riding in that car with him.  He used it for commuting. I never drove it, myself, because I am terrified of driving large vehicles. But I loved having him as my chauffeur.  This car now sits in a carport. . . Pretty to look at. . . but worn down so much that it can't be driven.

We've certainly had our fun adventures with cars, but we've never had a car payment.  We could never afford it.  To us, that is for those "rich" people. (gentle smiles) Or, the middle class.  It is a way of life for them.  As for the White House,  we have no idea what will happen to us tomorrow, financially, and can't promise to make those monthly payments.  This is poverty.  But it is also an adventure in faith.

Why am I writing all this out?  We have been having major car trouble, and it is only getting worse.  My current car was bought by one of my children in early 2008.  It was old then.  She bought it for me to drive her to college and to do errands with her. At the time, we had no money, but she did.  She paid cash from a year of hard work.   This precious child gave that car to me after a couple of years.  But now it is needing to be replaced.

The last few months, I have been wavering in my faith.  How will I drive the children to church and their activities?   How will I take them to appointments and do our grocery shopping? We live in a rural area with no public transportation.  A running car is an absolute necessity.  It is a basic need.

This morning, an answer came. . . I must take care of the car I have, even if it is falling apart, and making alarming noises (gentle smiles).  Today, when we do an errand, we will stop and get it all vacuumed out.  We will polish the dashboard and the windows and keep it as nice as we can.  We will take care of it, and continue to drive it, and do the best we can with the repairs, until the Lord brings our next vehicle.  Our faith in Him is the hope for those of us in poverty.  We know He can do all things. We know He is the one who feeds the sparrows and watches over us. . . In the meantime, I will love the car I have, and I will take care of it.  . . and I will wait upon my Lord.

Mrs. White


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Kat said...

We do the same with our car purchases! It is important to us to only buy what we can afford to pay for and not go into debt, we can not afford car payments! I have an old white station wagon with blue interior. Sometimes the inside panel falls off one of the doors when you open it. It tries my patience from time to time. I am still trying different methods to make it stay in place. Your post brought a smile to my face knowing I am not the only one patiently caring for an older car. Thank you Mrs. White.

Laura Lane said...

I have had car payments and not had car payments. Not having them is much much better.

I do have a thought. Have you considered trying to sell the old Cadillac? I know you said it doesn't run, but there are some folks who enjoy restoring old cars like Cadillacs. It might be worth listing on Craig's List or even on Ebay. One never knows. Pray, speak with your husband. Perhaps it would be an avenue for obtaining funds for repairs for your current vehicle or to help pay for new transportation.

Just something to think about, I shall pray for you. I too live at the poverty level for my family size. Praying to Father God for things we need is a way of life that makes us far richer than our husbands' incomes.

Bless you dear Mrs. White,
Mrs. Lane
Harvest Lane Cottage

Angie Abella said...

I've been in both boats, with and without car payments. I purchased my current car in 2005 by way of workman's comp suit--I won a tidy sum that allowed me to purchase a brand new smaller car plus have plenty extra. 8 years later, I still have it, it has lots of miles, but is well tended to. Since marrying, I've had a small car payment on older trucks that hubby enjoys using for "his" vehicle. We have 3 special needs children and lots of appointments, plus his love of fishing and outdoors activities, so it works. I will admit, I liked the days sans payments. But, God has provided the funds to tend to the vehicles, and while there's newer and nicer, our old ones are fine. The truck is over 20 years old, held together with duct tape in some areas and rusting in others, but it runs.

The Machinist's Wife said...

Mrs White, I had to smile when I read your long history with motor vehicles! It is the story of my life, too. Yesterday, I had to deliver 6 large linen trolleys to the powder-coaters. As I was traveling the road next to the lake, it started chugging. Then, going up the hill, it lost all power and I had to pull over. Huge semis were passing me by. I could feel the 'wind' from their might. I phoned the Machinist and he talked me through the ute's operation. Eventually on the road again, then I needed peevale, but oh no, I was not going to stop! Next minute - the fuel light started beeping and so on arriving in town - straight to the petrol station, park, dart in to the bathroom. Then fill. Aaah.. the joys of old vehicles...

Anonymous said...

Yes! I total "get" this. Just tonight my husband and I laid hands on his car with 176,000 miles on it and prayed that it would run for 18 more months. Just long enough for us to finish paying the mortgage.



Sew Blessed Maw said...

Just found your blog.. Sending prayers that your car holds up a little longer and provides your needs. And I know God will provide, He always does.
God bless.

Kathy said...

There are a lot of us driving older cars...our durango has 198,000 miles on it, and I hope it will last a while longer. I like your answer of taking care of the car...I need to do that and trust in the Lord.

nancy said...

I've been back and forth with cars. I found, in the long run, it's better to keep one car running than to be spending money on other cars that too will die. If you invest some, when you have it, the car will last longer. Then... reliable car.

Deanna said...

Thinking of you this week-end.

About 6 years ago we had our old Cadillac hauled off to the salvage yard. It was dove grey and I loved it! Very used, but enjoyed it so much. Wish I still had it.


susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

We are a one car family and our car is nearing the 100,000 mile mark. In our past experiences, that is when the high-dollar items start wearing out and needing to be replaced. This car (Ford Taurus) has been very dependable and I hate to get rid of it and gamble on the dependability of a different car, but I don't know how much longer we can count on it.

My Dad buys a new car every two or three years. All of the gadgets they come out with on the new cars are amazing, though not necessities. My husband and I laugh about it and are pretty sure that we will have them on our car, too; in about fifteen years from now!

Just yesterday my husband and I were discussing whether we should keep our current car or get a new used car. It was interesting to read other people do a lot of pondering about their cars also.

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