I had just been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, and after four years as an Administrative Specialist, I could not leave Dover, Delaware, fast enough. I drove towards Oregon in my hot, blood-red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, making record time. It took roughly two and a half days to cross the country, burning up 250 gallons of gas at $1.25 per gallon. But the cost of gas on this particular trip did not matter. All that mattered was getting home.
After settling back in Eugene, attending the University of Oregon, it felt pretty cool driving a Trans Am to school every day. It appealed to my sense of being a post-military man. I was a rebel with a red car. I was a road-warrior, an adventurer with a big engine. Oh yes, I was a sports car enthusiast. But ultimately, I was broke. Trying to keep the tank full in that gas guzzler was like trying to catch butterflies with your bare hands. After awhile it begins to look desperate.
It did not take long before my blood-red ’73 Firebird (blood-red for blood sucker) was replaced with a dull orange ’69 VW bug. My post-military status had taken a very practical turn. Having run out of margin, the VW bug had become the solution. I had to swallow my pride and admit I just could not afford the luxury of owning a fast car on a slow budget.
Looking back, I never really missed the Firebird as much as I thought I would. The big engine and its status had to be sacrificed for the small engine that could get me where I needed to go with a few extra dollars left in my pocket.
Have you had a similar experience? Do you recall a time when you downsized to a smaller car, a less-expensive house, or changed your life in some way in order to find margin?
Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com