Ramsey vs. Razgaitis: round 13

A year ago I had a Mercedes sedan. Loved it. One of six that I’ve owned. In fact, I’ve loved each one of them. But my most recent sedan was in the shop about half the year. The Mercedes dealer just couldn’t fix whatever was wrong (though had no problems continuing to charge me). I finally got so frustrated that I threatened the service manager  that I was going to trade my Mercedes in on a Prius if they couldn’t fix it.

A month later I was driving a Prius.

Part of it was my frustration with Mercedes dealers. Part of it was driven by my newfound learning’s from Dave Ramsey. Round one of my Dave Ramsey experience years ago was taking the 12-week course and making some dramatic changes in our finances and moving to more of a cash based system (even though I hate carrying cash). You might not agree with all of his beliefs, but it is really hard to disagree with most of his fundamentals. Where I net out is that I’m an 80% solution kind of guy. If you can find a plan and just stick with it, even if it’s not perfect but you execute against it brilliantly, you’ll win. I’ve gone through many rounds with Dave Ramsey financial decision making and it’s been a big help in our life.

So round 13. It’s three weeks ago. I sold the Company I was running (not a great outcome, but solid enough all things considered and am happy) and decided to take a pilgrimage to Colorado to decompress and figure out what to do next. And I wanted to drive, not fly.

And I didn’t want to drive the Prius 3,500 miles in one week. My back and butt didn’t want me to do that either. It’s a great car for cities and short trips. It’s a torture chamber for long road trips for big dudes like myself.

Plus, I have Mercedes fever. And let me say it before it annoys anybody, even though I’m going to rail a bit on my Prius I am fortunate to have a car at all, so this isn’t a post about my vanity (hopefully) but rather how people can change how you think. So here’s the short story. I’ve been looking for six months at buying a car. A few weeks ago I was close to buying a CLK550 convertible, but the Ramsey side of my brain just kept gnawing at me that I shouldn’t drop that much money (even though it was used and still less than the price of a new fully loaded Passat).

So I stepped down my aspirations and a few days before I left found a great (used, always used–I will never buy a new car) E55 AMG up in Portland. Perfect color combination. Great condition. Called the guy selling it who I really liked, did the CarFax, even had it thoroughly inspected at the MB dealership and it checked out, structured the deal, and was an hour away from wiring the money. Was going to fly up to Portland, pick it up, and start my Colorado road trip the next day.

Thirty minutes before I was to send the wire, I called the deal off. Just couldn’t do it. And the difference in price between what I’d get for selling my Prius and buying the Mercedes was less than five grand. And I’m not trying to suggest, “Five grand, that’s nothing!” but it’s not that indulgent either. I was going to pay cash. I could afford it. Most of the depreciation on the car had worn off…I think (THINK!) even Dave might’ve said “Heck Raz, you should go and buy that car!” But I just didn’t want to spend the money and make that quick of a decision. Ten years ago, I would’ve hit the “buy now” button within 30-seconds of seeing the car (not really, but close). And ultimately maybe I’ll end up getting another car–but for now I’m writing this from the tail end of my Colorado road trip in Telluride with a snow covered Prius, an aching back, a happier pocketbook, and some thrilling adventures (see my last sentence of this post).

This is what happens when someone changes your life. You think differently. You see the world from a totally new lens. And it’s generally impossible to reverse it. You can try to drown it out, but you just can’t eliminate it from how you think and who you are. Various people have done that throughout my life, and Dave Ramsey is one of them. And I’m really grateful for it, especially for my latest round 13 of financial decision making.

And, let’s be real, while driving a V8 with 391 lb/ft of torque throughout Colorado would’ve been a lot of fun, there’s nothing quite as exciting as trying to pass a semi truck on a mountain highway with oncoming traffic in the distance when you’re driving a four-cylinder hybrid. That, my friends, is truly a thrill. 🙂

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