Thinking Out Loud

June 10, 2016

Christian Stewardship and the Used Car Market

I don't have a picture of our 'new' car yet, but this is the one we're trading in, taken on the day we got two flat tires in 30 seconds while driving home from camp.

I don’t have a picture of our ‘new’ car yet, but this is the one we’re trading in, taken on the day we got two flat tires in 30 seconds while driving home from camp.

When a Christian is trying to practice financial stewardship, there’s something counter intuitive about buying a motor vehicle of any type. The key word is depreciation, but I think it also has to do with high cost of owning and maintaining a car, van or truck versus the other uses to which those funds could be applied.

Today we’re picking up a domestic, 2009, 4-door sedan. The 2017s will be out in a few weeks — I think; I don’t tract the automotive market at all — which means we’re already model years behind, so this will be the oldest car we’ve ever purchase, but it is all our present bank account will allow us to buy. Even there, we are buying this with family help, given that my current vocation — i.e. missionary — is not providing any income at present; and by “not providing any” I do indeed mean nothing at all.

So we’re waiting for the call that this vehicle is waiting for us. It’s not my dream vehicle — also used; my dreams are modest — but this car will be primarily driven by Mrs. W. to replace the one she’s currently using which is simply not safe to drive.

Yes, there are hungry people in the third world. (Or two-thirds world, or majority world, or whatever it is we’re supposed to say.) But we live here. It’s hot in summer, cold in winter. Temperatures in Canada can vary between -40°C and +40°C. That’s an 80 degree range. 144 degrees in Fahrenheit. Distances are not near. Public transportation between communities is not as sophisticated in North America as it is in Europe. We don’t live in an urban center.

I’m not sure if my social justice friends would approve of my purchase. They might question whether we need a car at all. They might suggest we keep repairing the present one. Or, I hope, they might commend me for buying used.

Bottom line, with the measure of intelligence God has given us, we feel this is the right decision for today. And yes, the car will continue to depreciate until it is basically scrap, like the one we’re trading in today. And yes, it’s counter-intuitive to do this when things that appreciate or are a valid investment seem like better stewardship.

Mixed feelings. Ambivalence.

2 Comments »

  1. Of course you need a car. If you’re not going to buy a car because people in the Third World are hungry, then you shouldn’t have electricity or hot and cold running water either. As far as it depreciating, a car is not an investment, it’s a consumable good like shoes or a phone. You pay for it and then you use it until it wears out.

    Comment by Agellius — June 10, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

  2. Until you can drive your home to work then don’t worry about spending money on a car that depreciates. Gosh, as humans we all depreciate. PS, I assume your social justice friends walk or skateboard to work in the winter.

    Comment by The Purging Lutheran — June 10, 2016 @ 4:25 pm


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