Thursday, August 25, 2005

You Should Drive a Clunker, Young Feller

Sometimes it seems that the younger you catch the "Agrarain Vision" the better. By the time your in your 30's or 40's it seems you have made so many mistakes in life that you'll have to settle for building a farm for the kids and not yourself. Lets face it, debt is the norm in our culture. If your debt free, your the oddball. If you want the kind of farm we talk about here, you better plan on being a real oddball in your youth. Sure some folks will come in later in life and pull it off, but we need to really aim a lot of our teaching to the 20 something crowd. If we can drive home the No Debt message to the kids we'll really start seeing the fruit of this "movement" in a few generations. This leads me to todays thoughts on New Cars.

Don't do it. Don't buy a new car if you want to get started in farming. A used car will do you fine, you don't need to rammin' all over the countryside anyway. Joel Salatin says that in his 17 years of marriage they have spent a total of $6000 on cars. Heres the deal. One of his costomers who is in real estate says that the average couple spends enough money on car payments in the first 10 years of marraige to buy a small home with cash. Buy a $15,000 car and you will make $20,000 in payments. Most regular folks get a new one every five years. Wow, just think of the money that could go toward land or critters, that is instead buying something that loses value every day you own it! If we can teach the younger folks that they don't "need" a new car, we would hear a lot less of the "I want to farm but don't have the money to get started" crying.........crying that most of us have heard out of our own mouths, unfortunately.


At 8/25/2005 5:03 PM, Anonymous gwen said...

I agree with you, to a point. It's not to say that people shouldn't get a new car, but that they shouldn't go into debt to get a new car. If you really feel you "need" one, make the car payments to yourself for a few years and then get the car.

However, who needs a new car - they ever so quickly become old cars.

I guess we are part of the 20-something odd balls, keeping ourselves out of debt while my husband finishes his PhD, and then we hope to have a homestead. It is a dream that more and more of the younger people I know have, I just don't know how many of them are anywhere close to it.

At 8/25/2005 5:36 PM, Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Very well said Scott! Most of my life I was looked at as an "oddball" because I wouldn't borrow on toys and cars and such. Now these same people call me lucky to have what I have or "times were different back then",while they're still in the whirlpool of debt. All I can say is no they were not. What worked then works now.
Another thing is after living a life like that, building a farm, a person keeps the spendthrift habits the rest of their life. Why? Because it's a much better way to live.
I should have blogged that, oh well...


At 8/25/2005 9:16 PM, Blogger KSmilkmaid said...

Fantastic post. A part of our homeschool studies is training the children to live debt free. We have used Larry Burketts stuff and No Debt No sweat. My 15 year old is purchasing his first truck for 300.00. It needs a new water pump and a carburator (sp?) but if he puts work in it maybe he will be more apt to take care of it. Plus fixing up a truck is great homeschooling. We have some beautiful old clunkers. I have written about big red. The extra bonus is low property taxes and insurance. We have some friends who bought a van the same time we did. Their folks gave them 20 grand to buy a van. They bought a new one complete with bun warmers, auto doors etc. They wouldn't even drive it on our dirt roads to visit us. The rocks would damage it too much. They used up the 20 grand and traded a truck in and still took out a loan to pay for the rest of the van. They had the gall to laugh at us and call our van a tin can on wheels. I am snickering here though cause we aren't loaded down with debt. They suggested we buy a three year old van because of break down possibilities. Our van has been in the shop twice and theirs has been in four times. What we paid for repairs they pay in tags and taxes three times over. 20 grand would have made a wonderful payment on land. Sad to say that van will be worthless to pass on to the kids. Land won't depreciate that much. Funny what we American's place value on.

At 8/26/2005 7:07 AM, Anonymous Amy Scott said...

The difference is in spending your money on appreciating vs. depreciating assets. I was not taught this, but I, thankfully, have learned the lesson before the 3-0 birthday. We will have a farm, an inheritance, to pass on to our kids, but the exciting thing to think about is this: my children will begin their marriages debt-free (part of our larger vision) because they will have land and materials to do that. Lord willing. It is good to plan our steps and have the Lord direct them.

At 8/26/2005 9:15 AM, Blogger Randall Gerard said...


As one who is currently saddled with car payments, I can testify to the wisdom of this post. It's no fun paying interest on a depreciating money-pit, plus the repairs and maintenance you have with any vehicle, plus higher insurance in order to protect the banker. If I could manage on a bicycle, I'd do it in a heart-beat.

I'm going to embrace my inner junk-man and get rid of the payments. I just need to find a restorable family truckster that I can actually work on myself. Still looking.

At 8/27/2005 9:21 PM, Blogger JM said...


I'm almost 40 and, while we've never had a car payment, we are, for now, pretty well mortgaged up on the house. This will be changing soon, and I'll blog it when it does. However, your post is right on! I was raised as you were, but I drifted ever so slightly into the "modern" world, complete with debt, and now, it's a fight to get back... TO build something for the kids.



At 9/04/2005 5:14 PM, Blogger The Jersey Homesteader said...

I just catching up to all the writings from some experienced farmers. My son also wants to farm and wants a new vehicle. My how what you said hit me hard. I am hoping he will see the light and not worry about that new vehicle. His love of horses may take over. If that is the way God wants him to go I am all for it. May God bless the next generation.


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