Photo By: Andrea Chiu

I am usually a smart shopper. I don’t shop to kill time. I don’t shop without a list. I never pick up candy at the cashier. I don’t buy things impulsively except for one time. This one time, I bought a car.

I think it’s fair to say that of all things to buy without really thinking about it, a car ranks high up on the list of things NOT to buy. To be fair, I did test drive a number of models and thought about my options. I talked the the salesman down to a price I was comfortable with. In this respect, I was a good shopper. What I didn’t do was really think about how much I needed the car.

At the time, I was living at my parents in Markham, a suburb of Toronto. I was on a contract at a company in North York, at a location not accessible by public transportation 24 hours a day. This was important because I would often have to start as early as 6 am. It didn’t make sense to move into a downtown apartment. It made more sense to stay at my parents’ and get a car. I wanted to have a car and the freedom from driving my own car so badly that I didn’t think about which would be the best way to get one. I ended up signing a four-year lease.

If I had continued to work at the company, it would have made sense. I didn’t. Since I signed on the dotted line, I’ve worked downtown for a year. I’ve moved out of my parents’ house and now in addition to paying rent and student debt payments, I pay monthly car payments and insurance. I pay more than $400/month for a car I drive twice a week.

I needed a car for six months and I leased one for four years. Instead of leasing, I should have better examined car sharing programs, renting or buying a used car. My decision to lease a car lacked foresight.

Lesson learned: Don’t sign a long term contract for a short term need. Just don’t! Trust me.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the car. I love having it for weekend getaways, supermarket trips and visiting my parents. It’s fuel efficient, easy-to-drive and has a special place in my heart as my first car. Most importantly, it’s taught me to fully examine how much I need something before I purchase it. It’s a valueable lesson, and for me, a costly one.