We live on 3.5 acres which we purchased 21 years ago. Hubby used to actually cut the grass with a self-pushed lawn mower. It took him 3 days to cut the grass (if you want to call it grass. I call it cultivated weeds) When we first cleared the land, hubby bought a chipper. As he cut down trees to clear the property, his little chipper took care of the branches and such. When he finished clearing out as much land as he could, he didn’t need the chipper any longer.

Enter our next door neighbor. He needed a chipper. We needed a riding lawn mower. He had a riding lawn mower he no longer wanted. So, hubby and our neighbor did an exchange. We got his unwanted (but still working and in good condition) lawn mower. He got our no longer wanted or needed chipper.

That was twenty years ago. Over all these years since that exchange (neighbor is long gone now) hubby has been cutting the grass/lawn/weeds here with that ‘free’ riding lawn mower. Sadly, last summer we knew our now 21 year old lawn mower’s life had come to an end. Hubby could no longer fix ‘er up because parts for the now discontinued model were no longer available. Hubby had cracked that mower’s deck for like umpteen times. It was now time to trade ‘er in (or at least sell her for used parts, on the side).

We knew last summer we needed to buy a new riding lawn mower. We looked over several models and based on our requirements hubby settled on a John Deere model at a cost of $1850. (yes! riding mowers are expensive!) And here’s where hubby and I made our mistake. Rather than buy the riding lawn mower last summer and put it on a zero interest loan, we decided we would save the money all winter and then buy it debt free this spring. WRONG! What we didn’t calculate nor figure in to our financial equation was inflation. When we went to go purchase said John Deere riding lawn mower, the price was now $2600. OUCH!

If we had purchased the $1850 model last end of summer and put it on a zero interest loan, we would have had all winter long to pay it off and by this spring (which is now) the darn thing would have been paid off. But nooooooooooo. We foolishly saved towards the purchase only to find out we don’t have enough money saved to pay the new inflated price. We now had to buy the much needed riding lawn mower, put it on a zero interest loan anyway and now take longer to pay it off than before. And no, we’re not going to spend any of the money we saved because thanks to record inflation, we decided it’s best to keep whatever money we saved in a bank for fear of not satisfying other higher costs that might come our way (such as energy prices).

We also decided that the John Deere hubby had originally considered might now be too expensive for us, so he set out to search and research for a less expensive model.

After two weeks of extensive trial and error, hubby found a Cub Cadet model that will work very well on our rugged terrain. The original price was $2599 but hubby found the model $100 cheaper at another store. Since he also has a professional license, he got a $200 credit off the machine, making the final price $2299. With tax (free shipping) the grand total came to $2485.68. OUCH!! We put it on a zero interest payment plan and at $100 a month, it will take us two years to pay this baby off! Double ouch!

For what it’s worth, I really shouldn’t be complaining about anything. For twenty-one (21) years hubby used a riding lawn mower that literally cost us nothing. We technically got it for free and hubby diligently respected our ‘gift’ riding lawn mower and kept it well maintained and in constant working condition. (It takes hubby three hours to cut the grass with a riding lawn mower vs the three days it used to take him with a self-propelled, hand-pushed, walking lawn mower) Sadly, the 21 year old riding lawn mower’s mechanical life has come to an end. We put it up for sale specifically for its used parts value. Perhaps another professional will see its worth and hubby and I will get back a little bit of cash in the transaction.

Moral of story: if you need something, buy it! You can’t save up your money to purchase big ticket items anymore because of the constant price fluctuations. Our CPA advises that a retirees’ best friend right now are those zero interest loans. Granted, you have to have sterling credit to even qualify for them nowadays but they can help out those on a fixed income. Just make sure you pay all your bills on time and you’ll be fine. We can handle one zero interest loan at a time, based on our income. We just wrapped up paying off our pellet stove and new couch utilizing zero interest loans. And life goes on.

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