Disclosure: This article is written for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or any other type of professional advice.
“Do you have reliable transportation to get to work?” was the question on the job application that made me hesitate. I had been offered a job but needed to complete the application and pass a final round of scrutiny. Truthfully, I didn’t have reliable transportation. But I felt confident that I could buy a car between the time that I completed the application and the time I was supposed to show up for my first day at work.
As a rule follower (now reformed), I felt a twinge of guilt. I justified my response by telling myself that the spirit of the question indicated that I could and should say “yes.”
I had driven to this interview with a borrowed car from my parents. The proposed place of employment was about an hour and a half from their home. Public transportation wasn’t available in my new town so I couldn’t rely on that. There was no housing nearby so I couldn’t walk or ride my bike. So I needed to get a car and soon.
I didn’t know how to buy a car but I resolved to fix that quickly.
I needed a loan and that seemed easy given that I had just accepted a job with a bank.
However, the bank that was to trust me with analyzing its financial statements and providing guidance to field operations didn’t trust me with a car loan. So I turned to another bank, where my parents did business, in hopes that its larger scope would offer room for someone like me who needed a car to start a career. I was still young and naive, so I didn’t see the catch-22-ness in my dilemma.
Good fortune came in two forms. First, my parents helped me. They had paid my college tuition and fees (about $3,000 per year at the time) so I graduated without student loan debt; plus they had good credit and were willing to co-sign the auto loan for me. Second, my innate tendency to save money came through for me. Though I had failed to establish credit by getting a credit card in college (and thus needed a co-signer), I had saved $500 from my college job. This money allowed me to put a down payment on the car and lower the car payment to a level acceptable to the bank’s underwriting guidelines.
So, this money that I saved — just because I thought it was a good idea and not for any purpose — helped me start a career.
There are many times that I wonder if saving a few dollars here or there really matters. Then I remember how $500 meant so much to me.
How did saving just a little help you?