- My Dollar Plan - https://www.mydollarplan.com -

How Do You Combat Spending Anxiety?

So many of you wrote helpful comments when I talked about needing to buy a new car [1]… but I still haven’t done it! My very generous grandparents have a pretty new car that mostly sits in their driveway. When they heard I was moving home and would be temporarily carless, they offered to let me borrow the car for as long as I needed. In fact, every time I offer to bring it back they insist they really haven’t missed it and that I shouldn’t rush to buy a car. This has been extremely helpful in allowing me time to really research cars and find the best deal on my dream vehicle (which BTW I have decided is a Hyundai Tucson). On the other hand, the ease of using this borrowed car has only strengthened the temporary paralysis I seem to have when it comes to actually buying a car of my own.

Spending Paralysis

I think I’ve mentioned before that I was a math major in college and work as a management consultant for a living…it’s in my nature to be analytical and logical in pretty much everything I do. Add in my interest in personal finance and it’s clear that I would never make a money decision lightly. Buying a car will be the biggest purchase I have ever made – by far! Since it’s such a big purchase, I want to be sure I get what I really want – but getting what I really want probably means spending more money than I’d like. I’ve worked myself into a circle that I’m having a hard time getting out of: do I settle on the type of vehicle and/or the features I want? Or do I stick to my budget guns and potentially end up regretting the purchase down the road?

At the heart of all my indecision is the fact that I have really become somewhat of a tightwad in the last few years. I honestly thought that I would be able to get a decent used car for under $10,000  (no way!) and a new one for somewhere in the ballpark of $15,000 (only if I want to drive something teeny tiny – not so good in Texas). Even those numbers kind of made my stomach hurt, so looking in the $20,000 and up range has been really hard on me. For all my circular logic and questions and indecision, what I know is this: I just don’t want to spend a large sum of money on a car. But I also know this: I really don’t have a choice – I can’t drive a borrowed car forever!

Focusing on the Facts

I don’t want to spend money on a car because I don’t want to give up any of my cash reserves OR take on a large car loan. I feel like I’m in a pretty good financial position for a 25-year-old…and this is going to derail that position by a cool $20k+. But these are the facts:

  • Nobody is giving me a car anytime soon – buying one is not optional
  • Buying a car is something I knew would come with taking this job [2] transfer and moving to Texas [3]
  • Knowing that I would eventually need to make a large purchase such as this one is precisely the reason I have tried to make good financial decisions [4] over the past few years
  • Buying a vehicle will not get any cheaper if I wait a few days, weeks or even months
  • Settling for something I don’t really want might save me a few thousand dollars – but will still cost me a large sum of money

My guess is that most people at their core are either savers or spenders – if you’re a saver at heart, or a spender who became a saver, it is just not in your nature to spend a large sum of money at one time. But I’ve realized that there is not really a reason to not buy the car I want – and continuing to avoid it might mean I’ve crossed the line between frugal and cheap [5]. Money is not infinite – I’ve worked hard for mine and want to make sure that it works hard for me. But at the same time…you can’t take it with you. And I need a vehicle to get to and from work. And it might as well be something that I like, is safe, gets decent mileage, and has good resale value – all qualifications that my current dream car meets.

In the middle of writing this post, I took the borrowed car back to my grandmother. I’m currently on a one-week trip back to DC to wrap up a few things – and when I get back I PROMISE I am going to buy a car. Wish me luck!

How do you combat spending anxiety? Give me some tips in the comments!