With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Wedding vows from The Book of Common Prayer

Where I work, we have this concept of Stupid Tax – when someone does something stupid and it costs them money. My wife and I thankfully haven’t had too much stupid tax, but we did have one big expense that came down to me stupidly holding on to something that was “mine”.

The dumbest thing we ever did with our money was to finance a car that we ultimately did not need.

We got married in 2006. At the time, we were living in Columbia, Missouri, and that winter was especially nasty. One day we had about 16 inches of snow, and the plows just gave up and went home. My wife is a nurse, and had worked a nigh shift while all of that snow came down. When that happens, the day shift has a hard time getting in, and the patients still need to be cared for, so she ended up working for over 16 hours.

At the time I drove a paid for SUV that had all-wheel-drive. She was driving a Chevy Malibu, which did not handle well at all in a little snow, much less 16 inches of it. I was able to go pick her up – a drive that should have taken 10 minutes on a good day took well over 40, even with very few other cars out on the snow-packed roads. After this event, we determined that she needed an all-wheel-drive vehicle as well, to make sure she was always able to get to work and back.

This is where I was stupid. With hindsight, I can see that I had a perfectly good all-wheel-drive vehicle that she could have driven when necessary. In fact, she worked fewer nights than I worked days, and worked lots of weekends, so she could have used the SUV all of the time.Also, my employer would regularly tell us to stay home in the event of a bad snowfall – it was not uncommon to have 2-3 snow days per year – so on these days I didn’t even need “my” SUV. I could have just as easily driven the Malibu. Looking back, there were actually only a handful of times that I ever drove the Malibu, or even rode in it with my wife after we got married. Instead of swapping cars though, I still had this idea that the SUV was mine, and the Malibu was hers. In order for her to have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, we would have to buy her one. Which is what we did.

So, after going through another winter in 2007, we bought her a certified pre-owned 2004 Honda CR-V EX. We had a down payment of about $4,000, and financed another $16,000 into payments of $311 per month for 60 months.

A year later she introduced me to a book called Financial Peace, and, after finishing student loan payments, we paid off our stupid tax by selling the CR-V.

Nowadays, trading cars is common place. We have five children, and purchased a used 12 passenger Nissan NV-3500 a couple years ago with cash. She drives it most of the time, but due to its 7’2″ clearance, it which won’t fit at her employer’s garage. When she works a night shift, I drive it to work and she picks it up on her way home.

Our cars finally are “our” cars. Not “mine”, not “hers”; “ours”.