I bought a car the other day, specifically a 2004 Honda Civic ex that was listed at $15,995. After a test drive and the obligatory bargaining session I came away agreeing to pay around 14 grand with no money down. About 20 minutes was all it took to reach a deal, and, after a check on my credit and on my word that I was gainfully employed, we sealed the deal.
I couldn't believe how easy it was. Alex and I had been unemployed for almost two months. What we have in the bank could be called meager at best. I only three days ago started working. Alex started yesterday. It perplexes me that I was able to buy something as huge and expensive as a car when our assets are so few. In fact, whatever assets we have are largely a mirage, as we owe spectacular amounts in student loans. When I told my cousin I had bought a car, she asked me "with what money?" It seems the auto dealership might have asked the same at some point. They didn't bother.
Luckily our expenses right now are minimal. We can afford the car, even with our modest incomes. The thing that gets me is how typical it is as Americans to live so heavily dependent on credit. We drive this car with the understanding that a bank loan at 6.6% will be faithfully paid by the first day of each of the next 60 months. This is the way people function, and our multi-trillion dollar national dept is perhaps the most poignant reminder of how acceptable and expected it is in this country to live beyond one's means.
I'm not so sure where this is going, other than to say that, even though we boast constantly that we are the richest country in the world, so much of American weath seems, well, bogus. I wonder if the wheels will someday fall off?