I’ve been lying to you all. I’m not quite 100% debt free.
Here’s why I am still paying off my car.
If you’ve been anywhere near this blog in the last year, it’s no secret that I lost my job over the summer of 2018. I’ve mentioned it in plenty of my finance videos, speeches, and probably every single blog post I’ve written since my public declaration last August. My job loss isn’t an embarrassing secret anymore… it’s probably an entire chapter in my life story now.
It’s not even much of a secret that I’m still making car payments on that pesky 2014 Honda Accord of mine, because I have been posting about it on Instagram every month since March, and openly talking about my payment progress.
I can’t even say that it’s a secret on ManVsCash.com that I didn’t pay this car off when I concluded my debt freedom journey last year, because I wrote an entire post about why it made financial sense to do so.
The big secret that I told very few about is that I ended the race to payoff my car because I made the conscious decision in the spring of 2019 to quit my job.
And that’s why I didn’t pay off my car. Stay with me. It will make sense shortly.
Unfulfilling Loan Fulfillment
Money can’t buy happiness. That’s what they say, and I generally agree. Money can buy peace of mind, security, and time–but never happiness.
Before I was a mortgage lender, and before that job I worked at for a small blip of time before being let go, I worked in the operations department of another mortgage lender. It was a cushy 9 to 5 cubicle job with good benefits, job security, a gorgeous office with a view, and the ability to leave my work and stress behind at the end of the day (something I took for granted). Things were fine.
However, my best and worst quality is my ambition. So, “fine” wasn’t enough for me.
I will try anything and aim for success, but that trait often has me walking a fine line between being viewed as confident…or arrogant.
I’ve been working almost nonstop since I was 14, so I have ruffled a feather or two in my day due to my ambition. At this job, however, I went to the other end of the pendulum and retreated into a highly stoic version of myself where I essentially outright refused to step on anybody’s toes. I came in, did my work, collected my salary, and left.
But that’s not good enough for Adrian Hall.
I tried to channel my ambition into other tasks, corporate committees, events, and conferences–but it was always in vain. Every day at work started feeling like a hollow version of myself where I worked quietly and made zero friends, and every night at 5:01pm I would find the loudest trap music I could play to de-stress on my ride home.
Basically, I wasn’t happy.
I had been job hunting for a year, and even interviewed for other positions (internally and externally) but they weren’t good fits for me. I might have been feeling neutered, but humans are loss adverse by nature, so I wasn’t going to leave a predictable and safe job that I hated for something new that I might also hate. Being calculated in my new employment choices was going to be crucial for my overall gameplan.
As the months burned by, my resentment in my position continued to grow and I honestly and truthfully assumed that the day would come when I would just pack up my desk and leave my keycard on my supervisor’s desk on my way out–no fanfare, no explanation, and no other employment lined up.
Secretly, in tandem to my public debt freedom journey, I was privately saving an “F you” fund for this moment.
Over the course of a year, I saved and stacked up well over 6 months of our paychecks into a separate (interest bearing, of course) savings account to prepare for the day that I potentially walked out. Nobody except for my husband knew about this savings account, and I had no way to openly discuss or blog about this without creating turmoil with my employer. Because, let’s be real… there’s no way I could talk about saving money to quit my job and post it to my social media pages while being connected with so many coworkers.
A coworker would inevitably see it, innocently share it, word would spread, and absolutely nothing good would ever come from that.
Anywho. When I was doing the debt snowball (paying off your lowest balance loans first), my Honda loan got skipped because it was my highest balance loan. Later when I began the debt avalanche (paying off your highest interest rate loans first)…my Honda descended into purgatory once again, because it was my lowest interest rate loan.
Racing to pay it off never made mathematical sense, so while all of my other debts vanished…there it sat, taking up 192 inches of physical space in my garage and a line item on my budget.
If we stayed on course with paying off my car after the other debts were paid off, this car would have been paid off at some point early last year. Hell, there was even a point when I could have just written a check and dropped it on my loan in exchange for my car title…and I thought about it. However, I just could not stomach the idea of paying it off and tying myself to my employer for longer than I had already invested. Sure, I could save up my money once again after eliminating my car payment…but to suggest that solution would make light on how truly unhappy I was at the time.
For me and my financial freedom journey at that very moment, prioritizing my happiness over my debt was the best solution. If I was debt free but hated the place I spent the majority of my day…how happy could I truly be?
So, I kept my car loan for a while longer, stacked my cash, and prepared for a much larger journey of the career kind. Eventually, my time came and I quit my job.
Then I got let go from my new job.
Then I fell into situational depression.
Then I started draining my savings account to stay afloat.
Then I started my current job.
…and now, over a year later, here I am.
RIP AUTO LOAN 2K19
I decided in March of 2019 that it was time to start paying my car off…for real this time.
I’m no longer on shaky financial ground, nor am I feeling psychologically unsafe at work. We’ve got a healthy savings once again, our expenses are very low due to the cuts we made during my unemployment, and I’m making good money. It’s a perfect storm of financial strengths in my household right now. So, it’s time to get back on board.
Enter stage left, the 2014 Honda Accord.
I’ve had this car for 5 years and I wrote previously about how I spent $20,000 (plus tax, minus my tiny down payment to equal $22,616.15 financed in September 2014) to buy it brand new because I was trying to avoid making a $3,400 car repair. Since then, I have learned the error of my ways…but epiphanies don’t erase debt and grant fresh starts.
I’ve got to do that all by myself.
Thus, here is my actual loan balance on the 2014 Honda Accord–taken right off of my online banking. If you’re counting my math at home, my interest rate is 2.24%.
|MONTH||Jul 1, 2018||Aug 1, 2018||Sep 1, 2018||Oct 1, 2018
Nov 1, 2018
Dec 1, 2018
Jan 1, 2019
Feb 1, 2019
Mar 1, 2019
Apr 1, 2019
May 1, 2019
Jun 1, 2019
Jul 1, 2019
|MONTHS TO GO||30||29||28||27
If I kept making regularly scheduled minimum payments, the car will be paid off in February of 2021.
If I keep my current pace, the car will be paid off around September of 2019….shaving off 16 months, or 1 year and 4 months, of car payments from my life and my paychecks.
In other words…
- I will have 16 months of pay back in my pocket. The money I earn over the next 16 months will be mine and not automatically go to pay for a decision I made in 2014.
- I will have 16 more months that I can do other things with my $345 (plus extra payments).
- I will save no less than $5,520 in money that i’d otherwise spend on car payments.
- I will keep over $200 in my pocket that would otherwise be lost to auto loan interest.
Let’s be totally real, too. I have some various ideas on how I can spend my auto loan payments once the car is paid off this summer…but do you know all the things I could do with $5,520?
- I could repeat our trip to Malaysia and our Caribbean cruise from last year, in cash, with tips included and money left over when I am done.
- I could buy my husband’s car for a second time, in cash, with $1,500 left over.
- I could make 3 of my mortgage payments with just my car payment savings alone.
- I could buy brand new living room furniture, with a television and wall paint, in cash, and have money left over.
- I could have $5,520 in my savings account to use however the “F” I want.
I don’t regret not paying off the Honda last year. I thought I would, but honestly… I don’t. Having that money sitting in my account last year helped shelter our finances in a way I didn’t expect nor could I have planned for… my job loss.
At this present moment, we have much more than enough money in our accounts to write a check and pay off the car….and I’ve thought about it a few times, too. Who knows, I might just do it.
But this year’s circumstance is very different from last year. This year, I have more than I owe. In 2018, we had enough saved to pay off the car, but would probably have a few hundred sitting around when we were done.
Thankfully, I didn’t write that check… because having that cash on hand meant that we got to keep our house. We stayed fed, clothed, heated/cooled, and comfortable. Life went on and we maintained while I got established in my current job.
Money fights are one of the leading causes for divorce over the last few decades, and not having a savings would have absolutely strained our marriage. I came out of my unemployment from last year as a totally different man because it was literally a soul searching, shape shifting B.C. / A.D. moment in my life.
My husband was supportive in the strongest ways possible, but my job loss was highly personal, ego blowing, and an emotionally jarring situation that I had to come to terms and rebuild by myself—truthfully. He kept his job. He continued to go to work. He came home to me…just as before.
I sat at home, feeling like my existence was a burden, sitting in a house that felt like a burden…while maintaining myself and my duties as a husband. If circumstances were different and we had a paid off car but zero dollars in savings, we wouldn’t have been able to maintain. Basically, what I am saying is that it’s a lot easier to cry when you aren’t hungry too.
…and my ability to do that was invaluable.
Since having my debt reform in 2016, I changed my mentality. If I can’t afford to buy it twice… I can’t afford it yet. Any purchase I make needs to be done on solid ground with money that has already been deposited to my account—not with money that I intend to earn over the next few months/years or anticipate to have soon.
Making monthly payments is not proof that I can afford it. Spending every single penny I have is not proof that I can afford it. Working overtime, anticipating an upcoming bonus, or having a good month at work is not proof that I can afford it.
Having enough money to buy it without being broke is proof that I can afford it, and I will never forget this.
P.S., I probably won’t write about my month-by-month progress on the auto loan here…because it’s so close to $0. I’ve been doing updates on my Instagram page, so follow me there if you want to keep up and celebrate with me.