Kris and I spent our Thanksgiving in Central Oregon, visiting my brother and his family.

Because Tony’s in-laws were out of town, we set up camp in their palatial home. To my delight, I was even allowed to drive the MINI Cooper S that belongs to Tony’s mother-in-law. Though I’ve done a fine job at suppressing my urge to buy a MINI, it’s still there, waiting for me to let me guard down. Driving the car didn’t help.

The MINI Cooper is everything I had hoped it would be. It’s everything my Ford Focus is not. It’s small, agile, and zippy. The car is amazingly responsive — it’s a blast to drive.

“I want one,” I told my brother when we returned to the house. “I want one bad.”

Fast-forward to last Tuesday. Tony gave me call. “My mother-in-law wants to sell the car,” he said. “It’s yours if you want it.”

Can you imagine the dilemma I faced? At almost the very moment that one GRS reader was placing a bet that I’d succumb and buy a car before I saved my emergency fund, I was being given the opportunity to do just that. It was like something out of a Greek myth: the Fates reaching out to tempt me.

But I have a little more perspective than I did in September. Back then, it was difficult for me to shake the new car itch — I knew that buying a new car ran counter to my goals, but my goals seemed abstract. Other than getting out of debt, my objectives were unclear. Now they’re very, very real.

If I were to spend $15,000 or $20,000 on a MINI Cooper, I’d be giving up the very same money that I need as a safety net when I quit my day job and begin to work from home. What’s more, I’d have to borrow money to afford the car. Suddenly I’d be $15,000 in debt again.

No surprise then that I thanked my brother for calling, but told him I wasn’t interested. “I still want a MINI Cooper,” I told him, “but I’m not ready to buy yet.” Maybe, if I can afford to pay cash, I’ll buy the car from his mother-in-law in a year or two. Maybe.

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