I’m great at saving for one thing. Singular focus is my best financial quality, hands down. Save for a vacation? DONE. Save a down-payment? DONE. This also works for paying off debt. $10,000 of medical debt? No problem, consider it done! You may be able to sense the a hint of something more sinister lurking in these proclamations of excellence, and you would be right. Being ultra focused on one thing is great… until it isn’t. Let me explain.
Four years ago I decided I wanted to buy a house so I scrimped and saved a down-payment. Go me. Except, about a day after I bought the house I realized I had no furniture. I didn’t even own a single kitchen utensil, pot, pan, or plate. Cut to me paying off a $3,000 credit card bill for the next six months. No good.
Then there was the time two years ago when I scrimped and saved for a month long stay in Europe. All was good until I tripped and severed the nerve in my hand resulting in nearly $10,000 of medical debt from hand surgery (yes, this was after insurance covered their portion). It took me nearly 14 months to pay off the surgery.
Seeing a trend? I’m GREAT at saving for the one thing. I desperately want the one thing, so much so I don’t even want to consider what could happen afterwards.
I am trying to change though.
Take for example my recent car purchase. Oh yeah, I guess I owe you an update. Actually, it’s all a little too fresh to detail. It’s been a wild couple of weeks in my world. Let me just lay it out this way, in the last seven months I have purchased two cars, sold two cars, broken down on the interstate during rush hour four times, broken down 6 times not on the interstate, driven 8 vehicles, and overall completely lost my mind. Amidst all this I purchase a new-to-me used car which died 10 hours after I bought it. It is now in the shop for the second time in 12 days. I can’t make this stuff up. To say it’s been a rough time is an understatement. I’m not here to complain though, I’m beyond complaining. I’m functioning in a hyper dead inside place called adulthood. I’m dealing with this situation in a cold-hearted, bottom-line way. Is this healthy, you may ask. Why are you asking me? I’m the least qualified person to answer. All I know is, I’m making the best of a ridiculous situation.
Here is how the finances shook out for my new used car:
I purchased the car and a deluxe extended warranty for around $12,500. I had to borrow $6,481.50 which I’m hoping to pay off in the next 6-8 months. There are two things about this situation I’m proud of: 1) I left $3,000 in my emergency fund. Old Jasmin would have dumped every single penny into my immediate financial goal (buying the car), but New and Improved Jasmin knows how important having back-up funds is. 2) I bought an extended warranty which I have already used twice in 12 days. Considering the bad car juju I have, I would say a car warranty is about the most important thing I own right now.
I hate that I have debt outside of my mortgage again. It bums me out. Though I’m trying to focus on the bright side which is I have an emergency fund, my car is getting fixed (in theory), and I can now turn my incredible singular focus to paying off my car loan. (Though in all seriousness, if you are religious or something send me some good car vibes, girlfriend can use any help she can get.)
Jasmin is Vice President of Marketing & Operations for Pete the Planner®. Jasmin runs special projects, manages programming for clients, and stews over new and creative ways to engage people with their finances. In her downtime you can find Jasmin hanging a light fixture or painting a room at her fixer upper.