Putting a Car Before the Purse

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, January 22, 2006

I did it. I agreed to the purchase of a new car.

I'm still shaking a bit. I hate spending any money, especially on a car. But my husband needed one because we decided to give his 1996 Toyota Camry to my niece, who is attending Spelman College in Atlanta. We are so proud of how well she's doing that we surprised her with the car for Christmas.

To replace the Camry, we had every intention of buying a late-model used car with a good reliability record and good gas mileage.

We narrowed our choices to another Camry or a Honda Accord.

Just for fun we decided to test-drive a new, smoky gray 2006 Honda Accord with black leather interior and an awesome navigational system. What a sweet and sporty car. I think the new-car smell started to cloud my judgment because I began to actually consider buying it.

But my frugal side kept nagging, "Girl, get a used car. Save money."

Then I thought about a sermon I had recently heard. Pastor Steve Jamison of Eastridge Christian Assembly in Issaquah, Wash., was guest-preaching at my church, and he talked about the importance of showing your loved ones you care. Sometimes, Jamison said, that means buying them something they want .

Jamison recounted how his wife has never asked for much. But several months before their 25th wedding anniversary, she strongly hinted she wanted to upgrade her wedding ring.

Jamison admitted he really wasn't a great gift-giver. He and his wife are practical folks who save fervently, so lavish gifts weren't all that important to them.

Not this time, however.

"I couldn't wait until the day I could give her that ring," Jamison said during his sermon. "I wanted to give her something nice because she has been so good to me."

I've always clung to the belief that you don't need to give anybody anything to prove your love. "You can't buy love" is one of my personal mantras. But Jamison reminded me that giving can be good for the soul.

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