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The Patience to Pay Cash for a Car


Paying Cash for a Car

My in-laws don’t drive flashy cars. They’ve never bought a brand new one, and they don’t mess with car payments. They go for something good and reliable, and they have the patience to pay cash for a car.

I knew this about them, but I hadn’t seen their process in action until recently: they need a new car now, but they’re patiently waiting until they can pay for it without an auto loan.

My mother-in-law drives a beloved minivan (#swaggerwagon) and my father-in-law an old Taurus, but the Taurus is fading. They live in a super remote area, and they can’t keep having their car break down in the middle of nowhere.

My father-in-law retired a few years ago, and they’re living on a fixed, tight income. They’ve been saving for this next car when they can, but it’s been a slow process. But they still won’t consider financing it.

Selling to Save

Last month they asked for my help selling a few things. They live about 90 minutes north of us. They are not tech savvy, so I’ve helped them sell things on Craigslist before. It can be tricky in their area because people have to drive out to the boonies to buy from them. Things like yard sales and Facebook Marketplace don’t work great there.

So they asked me to list two major things: their WaveRunners (with trailer) and their 2007 Taurus.

The WaveRunners sold right away. They live right near a lake, so they bought them used from her sister about 6 years ago. They were 1998s, but they worked and we were all excited to use them when we came to visit. They were great the first summer. But the next year? The nightmare began. They’d act up every time we tried to use them! We all helped to replace spark plugs and batteries, tweaking this and that. It was a battle every summer. Sometimes we couldn’t even get them away from the dock.

My in-laws didn’t want to keep pouring money into repairing them. We tried to use them one last time last summer, but alas they were dead in the water (literally). They then sat in their garage this whole past year.

They sent me the images and info, and I posted the WaveRunners on a Friday. By Saturday morning, I had a short list of people for them to contact. And by Saturday night, some nice people with mechanical skills drove off with them. We were all elated! The nightmare was over, they were out of the garage, and my in-laws had $4,000 to put towards their car.

Making the Patient Purchase

The Taurus… we’re still working on. She’s got some problems, so they won’t make much. But they’re still planning to put whatever they make off it towards their next car.

I think what impresses me most is their patience. They’re down to one car, but they aren’t pressuring themselves into making an impulse purchase.

A few weeks ago I saw that Hertz is selling their cars at a discount because they’re going bankrupt. I know my in-laws had considered buying a car from them, so I sent them an article about it. The deal won’t last forever, but they’re still not feeling rushedthey know they can’t pay cash for a car from them yet.

They are sticking to their goal and making sure they get the car they want without using a car loan. What a good example.



I work in a bit of a niche field. I work for the government but there aren’t a lot of folks who do what I do. It’s good and bad in that if a city needs someone to do my job, they have a limited number of folks to choose from. If there is an opening, I’d have to mess up an interview pretty badly not to get it. It’s bad in that I don’t have a lot of opportunities to choose from and I’m somewhat limited to large cities.

An opportunity popped up in San Antonio this week. My husband has been desperate to get out of California for a while. He’s been asking if I’d consider a move to Texas. The best we can afford right now is 1,200 sq ft and we have four kids who aren’t getting any smaller.

I love my state. I love the weather.

I hate the taxes. I hate the crazy cost of living. I hate the insanely restrictive policies. I hate the politics.

I also worry about my kids being able to live here long term. When a starter home is over half a million in 2020, why would anyone stay? In 15 years, what crazy price will they have to pay to stay here?

We hopped on a plane and flew to Texas over the weekend. We masked up and drove all over the city. We drove through neighborhoods and by houses to see what we could afford. I was shocked to find out we could nearly pay cash for a new house in San Antonio. We could move and be completely debt free – mortgage and all. My dream.

We drove by campgrounds. We walked through parks. We drove hours and hours. We hiked 14 miles. We saw a handful of people. We haven’t hiked in California for a couple months on our favorite trails because there are simply too many people and we feel it’s not particularly safe. It felt good to be outside.

There’s an offer on the table. 20% more than I’m making. Lower cost of living and I’d be making 20% more. By the end of the weekend, I was ready to move.

I cried the whole flight home. It’d a hard decision. We would have no family in the area. My sister in Kansas would be the closest and it’d take ten hours by car to get to her. My husband’s parents and my parents live 30 minutes from our home in San Diego. My brother lives walking distance from me right now. My sister is 20 minutes away.

Am I willing to leave all that because my house is small?

I called my sister. She moved to Kansas 15 years ago. I asked if she had regrets. “Do you ever wish you stayed here?”

“I’d never come back. This is where I feel at home. I was never really ‘California’. It never felt right. I was always the square peg in the round hole. If I need California weather, I visit. But Kansas is home.”

She bloomed in the place that felt right.

Have you made a big move from family? Do you have regrets?

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