The last thing I do for work each day is stop by the bank and make the day’s deposit.
The weather was beautiful last week, so I had my car windows down as I sat in the drive through at my local financial institution. I had pulled up behind a beautiful, shiny, new-looking black Lexus ES330. And while I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, I overheard the woman in the Lexus talking to the teller about accessing money in her line of credit.
When I see a Lexus, I always think of Wealth. Luxury. Money. And I suspect that’s what Lexus — and Lexus owners — want me to think. So it was rather amusing (in a sad sort of way) to hear this Lexus owner discuss getting deeper in debt.
The transaction between the teller and the owner of the ES330 was taking a while, and as I waited, another car pulled into the next lane. This one was a beautiful, shiny, new-looking black Lexus ES350.
The two Lexus owners seemed to know each other. They rolled down their windows and greeted one another. And again, while I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help but overhear part of their conversation. ES350 was talking to ES330 about some sort of bill (property taxes, perhaps?) and she said, “Oh, crap. It’s the 10th, isn’t it? Well, I’m late again.”
And it just struck me that here are two women, both owners of really nice cars. One is deepening her debt and the other doesn’t pay her bills on time.
And I sat there, in my 1999 Volkswagen with the cracked leather interior, the heated seats that don’t work, and the temperamental transmission sensor, knowing that we are paying our bills on time and reducing our debt as quickly as possible. We stick to a written budget. If we don’t have the money, we don’t spend the money.
I’m not trying to sound all arrogant here. We weren’t always so responsible with our finances. We have purchased things in the past that we really couldn’t afford, and we’ve paid more money in interest charges than I care to think about.
But we are done pretending to be rich people. Instead, we’re starting to ACT like rich people, which means that we’re getting rid of debt and figuring out ways to make money grow. We’re not going to buy fancy cars when serviceable cars do the job. Most of my clothes are several years old, and I’m not the best-dressed person around. I don’t get hundred-dollar haircuts (and if I can get them for free, even better!) and I don’t have a fancy cell phone.
But we’re making progress. And someday, when I can really, truly afford to buy a Lexus…
I’ll probably still be driving my old VW.