My life has changed drastically in the past year, and one of the things that has changed is my relationship to buying and credit. I am now learning to live without credit.
Living without credit does not mean however not buying. I still buy things, though I aim to maximize quality and minimize cost and I work hard to keep purchases to a minimum.
In the past months, I have committed myself to two relatively large purchases. A vacuum cleaner and a bicycle.
The vacuum had become a necessity. I had bought a cheap vacuum for $50, but it was worthless. I would vacuum and vacuum and the dirt and hair remained. I decided that I need a vacuum that would actually work and actually clean my carpet.
At first, I have to confess that I was attracted to Dyson as my friends had recommended it as a good vacuum. I researched and researched and finally found a better solution: a Miele vacuum. In reading all the reviews, the one thing that comes through is their durability. I did not encounter any complaints as to quality and durability. Also, if anything breaks with the Dyson, it cannot be fixed locally. It has to be shipped across the country. Finally, I came to conclusion that the vacuum was overhyped: it is an expensive vacuum made of cheap plastic parts. The Miele allowed me to buy locally where repairs can be made in my city. The Miele had an exceptional warranty: the vacuum is covered for one year and the motor for 7 years. These vacuums are also made to last: they are designed with 20 years in mind and, from all that I have read, they do last two decades or more.
As luck would have it, I found a nice Miele that was on sale locally ($699 as opposed to the regular price of $999). It was a good price for a quality vacuum. However, I did not have all the cash for the vacuum. I negotiated with the dealer. I gave them half of the price up front and they agreed to wait up to a month for the rest of the payment at no extra cost. I scrimped and saved and cut back on my other expenses and bought the vacuum (a great vacuum by the way) at a good price. No need for credit.
My second purchase: a bicycle. One of my joys in life is mountain biking. I love hiting the trails around our city and I need a relatively good bicycle as I do go up and down forest trails on a regular basis. It was time for a new bicycle and I wanted a quality bicycle at a good price. Of course, the best time to buy a bicycle is at the end of the season: in my city, that means end of September. This allows you to save up to 40% on the cost of a bicycle. There is one small shop in town that offers great service: if you buy a biccyle from them, they will service it for you for as long as you own the bicycle. Given the long-terms savings of this shop and because I believe in buying locally in small businesses, I decided that I would buy my next bike from them.
I had one small problem. I would have the money for the bicycle in the spring when prices would be a lot higher. Of course, I wanted to buy the bicycle with savings and not credit. What could I do? Well, I spoke to the guys at the store and they offered me this option: if I put down 10% of the price of the bicycle on sale, they would give me 6 months to pay the rest at no extra cost. With more scrimping and saving, I could thereby pay off the bicycle in a few months. This would allow me to get a good bicycle at a great cost without credit and without any hidden charges or fees.
What have I learned? It is possible to live without credit and it makes life more enjoyable. By delaying purchases, you avoid impulse buys and this allows you to do the research to find the good deals. Also, by not having easy credit, you are forced to look for other options that save you money in the long run. This allows you to make better purchases and know that you are digging yourself deeper into debt.