By: Alex Cook
For most people, a car is considered the second biggest expense after housing. This four-wheeled product of human ingenuity has become a sure-fire status symbol and a consistent part of every working adult’s wish list.
The automotive industry is spending billions of dollars on traditional and digital advertising to entice you in getting their newest sedan, SUV, or truck with a small down payment and an affordable monthly fee.
Thus, you come to the crux of the matter: Should you borrow to buy a car?
Here are several points to seriously consider before you sign on that dotted line and drive that shiny new car out of the lot.
1. Check Your Reasons Intently
Making significant decisions mean asking tough questions. Here are some of them:
- What is your primary reason for purchasing a car in the first place?
- Are you getting a car out of necessity and not as an accessory?
- Do you feel the pressure to fit in or to keep up with the Joneses?
- Was the statement “I deserve it” mentioned at least once as a reason to get a car?
- If you already own a car, why need a second one?
I am sure there are more, but I think you can see where we are driving at (no pun intended). No sugar coating needed:
A car is a significant financial responsibility. Should you borrow? You need to check your motives first before you check your credit. Make sure you are getting a car out of the most purest and practical intentions. Never let your emotions take over. Forget your ego. Never fall into the trap of self-entitlement. You may be driving in luxury but living in poverty.
This is not to discourage you from buying a car. On the contrary, it is to encourage you to consider the very core of the purchase, which prepares you for the second step.
2. Counting the Cost, Literally
You hear this statement aplenty, especially when making huge decisions. No exceptions here. You do need to consider how much is involved in this purchase. When you take a loan, you are using someone else’s money to buy that car. However, what pressures will you face in availing a loan? Do you have the ability to pay? Not your parents. Not your siblings. You. Are you liquid enough in making the monthly payments and with margin left for other expenses? How much will your monthly payments affect your bottom line?
However, this is what counting the cost means. It is to see the potential effects of the purchase on your bottom line.
One obvious fact. If you are strapped financially, taking a car loan will enslave you even more and can lead you to further financial ruin. It will be good to set your financial affairs in order so you can be liquid enough to make a loan commitment. Until then, the only thing you will need to strap today is your budget.
Debt is not sinful, but the bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of debt. Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.“
3. Cash is Still King
Ask anyone and chances are, this is what they will tell you: It is still better to pay in cash. One obvious reason? Paying in cash means, you can afford to buy a car right now. Since you will not avail of a loan, it also means you will not pay any interest. That is savings for you. Plus, you may be able to get a discount with some dealers when paying in cash.
Now a loan may be lighter on your monthly budget compared to one big withdrawal, however, you do get to experience intangible benefits that are worth more than money:
- No monthly payments which lead you to more financial margin.
- No pressure to pay creditors which relieve you of stress and worry.
- No debt means a better credit record should you need it in the future.
If you do not have the cash right now, perhaps it is time to consider saving for a car. There are ways to create wealth properly. You just have to be creative enough to do so. If there is a will, there is a way.
4. Pray for Wisdom
Now, before you start visiting your nearest dealership, laying hands on your desired model, and start claiming it, I strongly encourage you to start praying for God’s wisdom first.
One of my favourite passages, James 1: 5 (NIV), says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.“
Some Christians may think of this as foolish or even funny. Praying for the right car to buy? Asking divine wisdom? Are you serious?
Look deeper. It is not about the car but the person behind the wheel: you. God is more concerned about you and how a loan can affect your life. Will this loan enslave you and bring unneeded stress? Will it become a burden?
Earlier, we spoke about finding real intentions and counting the cost. The Holy Spirit can provide that and more. Be it small or big decisions, God wants to get involved in guiding you towards the right choices by giving you wisdom.
In conclusion, let us read Matthew [10:16] (NASV): “Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore, be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.”
Being shrewd means being wise, skilful, and careful, considering that we are addressing a big financial commitment. As Christians, we have been given the ability to produce wealth and the responsibility to be good stewards of God’s blessing. Do not put years of struggle for a few minutes of false joy. It is not worth it.
Should you borrow to buy a car?
Simply put: If you are financially incapable of handling a loan, then do not buy a car. For now, you prepare. Get your finances in order. Perhaps even a lifestyle check. Are you living within your means?
At the end of it all, God owns everything (see Psalm 24:1). If God wants to bless you with a car, He will make a way, give you wisdom to help make it happen, and permit you to enjoy it properly.
Article supplied with thanks to Wealth with Purpose.
About the Author: Alex is a licensed financial planner and the founder of Wealth with Purpose a Stewardship Ministry that helps Christians handle their money God’s way.