Thursday, September 22, 2011
When I bought my car 3 years ago, I was unsure if I would really need it. It certainly didn't feel like I would at that time. I was working for a multi-national manufacturing company which was one of the biggest exporters of semiconductor products in the Philippines. This company was providing us (its employees) with daily shuttle services going to work and coming back home. This is why I didn't feel the need for a car and never bought one until after five years of being employed in it. I didn't think the company would shutdown its operations which it did on my sixth year of working there.
But looking back now, buying the car that time was one of the better decisions I made that time. Owning a car was one of the goals that I set for myself. It was one of my dreams when I was younger. That's why I worked hard to make sure it will come true so that I can move on to my other goals.
Before I bought the car, I had a very favorable assessment of my financial situation. I was still single and living with my parents. I had very few financial obligations. Other than my expense for food, clothing and entertainment, I rarely touched the money I earned. Sometimes, I would buy an electronic gadget even if I didn't really need it with the extra money I had. Although buying the car that time meant that I needed to take out a loan from the company, the favorable terms convinced me even more to push through with it. The interest rate for the loan which was very minimal and the long time duration meant my monthly payment was very affordable.
What Happens Now?
The dilemma came when I already had the car with me and the company suddenly decided to shutdown its operations in the country. I was stunned to find out I will be out of work very soon. And without a job, I would not have any salary to pay for my car. We were told that we're getting severance packages due to our involuntary separation from the company. I decided to pay the remainder of the loan with some of the money I got instead of selling the car. So in a year's time, I was able to pay the loan in full.
With my new line of work now, the car proved to be essential. We are a small Philippine team of a huge multi-national company that sells tools to other semiconductor manufacturers. Since we are small, we are not provided with shuttle services. Moreover, my job scope entailed that I work in the customer site when there is a need. Not having a car would have been very difficult for me going from the customer to our office when needed.
Nuggets of Learning
With this experience, I learned several things that are worth sharing. First, a good financial evaluation is needed before we decide to purchase something as expensive as a car since it will cause a serious strain in our finances. Second, we need to have contingency plans in place in case something unexpected happens. Last but not the least, we should evaluate not only our present need but also our financial future (as best as we can predict it) in making important decisions such as when is the best time to own a car and can we afford it.