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We Paid Cash: A Minivan!

We paid cash!A testimony from Kim from

We are big fans of paying cash for items. We use a cash envelope system (though for larger envelopes we actually keep the cash in our savings account) and we use a spreadsheet to keep track of how much is in each specific envelope.

We started using this system five years ago. And after we realized debt was going to limit our long term goals, we went to work on paying off our debt and changing our habits.

We paid off each account and celebrated our financial successes along the way. After working tirelessly for eighteen months, we paid off everything but our mortgage. And just in time, too! Our first child was born and we were so excited.

Because we were both committed to living debt free from then on, I was able to cut back my hours and stay home with our child.

Now we were debt free, but we didn’t have anything in savings.

Our vehicles, while still reliable, were already 7 years old. We wanted to be financially prepared for potential malfunctions or to replace the vehicles when the time came. So we pretended we still had a car payment – only we paid our “car payment” into our savings account and kept track.

When we began to seriously discuss having a second child, we realized we would have to replace my truck. We started researching cars and listed my truck for sale. We (thank the Lord!) managed to sell it for more than we had anticipated. That money went straight into the car envelope.

After some time we looked at our spreadsheet and we realized that we had met our goal. So we kept an eye out on local ads for a used minivan and found one that had the features we wanted – and it was in our price range!


We called up the seller (a small used car dealership) and took the van for a test drive. After it passed inspection, we went to the bank and withdrew our car payment money. The dealer was so excited to be paid in cash that he gave us a discount!

All in all, it took us three years to save enough for our minivan. The discipline and happiness we have gotten from paying with cash has been worth every tear and penny. And our long term goals? They’re happening!

Kim is a wife, mother of two happy little boys, writer, family chef, and a whole lot more. She works in healthcare and blogs about finding fulfillment and better ways to serve in the variety of roles that life gives each of us at

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • Jennifer H says:

    I wish we had done this. We saved for a serious down payment for my husband’s new (used) car, but decided on a car with a loan amount that would keep our payment under $200/month. Because of all the paperwork involved in financing, my husband was at the dealership for 3 hours! to buy this car.

    My car is paid off – I’m going to start saving now for a cash replacement purchase. I think I have at least 5 more years on this one.

    • Kim says:

      Jennifer H – one thing we’ve done is also had a car maintenance envelope, so that we have enough money for new tires, unexpected repairs, and yearly inspection without having to dip into savings. I hope that your car lasts you at least 5 more years!

  • Miranda says:

    This is so inspiring!! Thanks for sharing this with us. We are just getting on track to paying off our debt using the envelope system. We struggled and have fallen short through Christmas with our plan but we aren’t going to let that stop us!! Thanks again for this – It was much needed!!

  • Kim says:

    Thank you for your kind comments. We have *LOVED* this system!

    And thank you, Crystal, for your continued encouragement.

  • Rachel says:

    This is inspiring, and they did a great job saving up for a needed expense. But the part in bold, “Now we were debt free, but we didn’t have anything in savings” really stands out to me and is the reason I am converted from the belief that all debt is bad. If you pay off debt and have no emergency savings, that could set you back even further when something does happen. Not all debt is bad, and I am actually a believer that a reasonable car payment can be a good thing. The key is balance and prudence. Debt free is not the end all be all. In this economy, it’s more important than ever to have emergency savings (and for most families, $1000 is not enough by any means).

    • Kim says:

      Rachel, I would have to agree that $1000 isn’t enough of a safety net for savings or emergencies.

      Thankfully, by using the skills that come with trying to live a debt-free life it is easier and faster to grow that emergency fund once the debts are paid. We may not have had savings for a very brief time, but we do now. In fact, we have several emergency funds: one for car repairs, one for medical emergencies, and now we are working on another savings envelope to pay for several months’ expenditures – just in case.

      Everyone has to start somewhere, and for us it was learning to stay out of debt.

  • Donita says:

    Wonderful! My husband and I are now retired, but I love reading testimonies from young people who are making wise money decisions. If you have a smartphone, you may be interested in the free app from Goodbudget (formerly EEBA), since it’s based on envelope budgeting. It could replace your spreadsheets. My husband and I have been using it for over a year now and we really love it.

    • Kim says:

      Always love to hear about new apps, thanks! I can’t guarantee it’ll replace our current system, but you can be sure that I will check it out!

  • Terri | Sugar Free Glow says:

    So inspiring, Kim!
    I’m sharing this with my stepson and his wife who are just starting out.

  • Samantha says:

    Me and my husband are working on being debt free and I’ve thought about the envelope system but just can’t grasp how to get started?

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