Dave Ramsey is one of our inspirations and a great financial coach. I fully believe in everything he teaches. One of the “novelties” that gets mentioned when talking about being debt free and living within your means is the “Dave car.” People say it in jest saying their “Dave” car might be the car that has smoke coming out the back end and dragging the front bumper.
I wanted to share with you my experience I had today. Every year, my wife and I go on a trip for our anniversary. Sometimes it’s four days in the next state, but this year it was a whopping 7-day, 3,000 mile road trip. We’re still getting out of debt, but we saved up for it all year long, and took some long needed vacation. My mother was kind enough to gift us a rental car for the trip. We went to the airport and picked up a 2015 Nissan Altima. This car was so nice and smooth, we thought we were going 10 mph slower than what it looked like and felt like. It had so much room, did everything we wanted, and even was not the worst sleeping arrangement on the trip (cushioned seats at a rest stop vs. hard, cold, and wet ground at a campsite).
Today, we had to return the car. Now, I consider myself a gentleman, and I drove that Nissan the whole trip: all sixty hours of driving. When I dropped it off, and went back to my little 2001 Dodge Stratus, I have to admit I was disappointed. The car was smaller. It was definitely slower and didn’t have the “giddy-up” power. The wheels probably need an alignment because the smooth blacktop felt rough. The glass will never be crystal clear no matter how many times you clean it. The visors are broken, the AC has to be on full blast for the whole trip home, and the ugly brown interior is just… ugly.
I was pretty shocked at how bad we had it. For a moment, I felt the pang of envy and the I-wish-I-had-that-new-car feeling. My wife has been dying to have a second car in the family so she can do stuff and take our three-year-old son out places instead of being cooped up in our duplex for week after week.
Then I remembered, we bought that car. I made my way down to a used car dealership, paid $2,000 of my hard earned paycheck dollars for a deal and drove away in OUR car. It was ours. I don’t have to send anyone else money to keep this car (except the county). I don’t have to rent it for $39 a day. I don’t have to pay $200 in interest a month. I don’t even have to pay a zero percent loan off. It’s ours. My wife says I might spend more in maintenance and repairs than it’s worth, but that’s okay. It’s ours. And that’s our first “Dave” car.
Maybe one day she’ll be driving that 2015 Nissan Altima, but for now, she gets chauffeured by me in our very own “Dave” car.