That may seem like a very funny thing to talk about on a blog about making things stretch, but my husband loves motorcycles. It is one of the biggest things that has taught us some financial lessons about purchases and sort of steeled what I believe about big purchases.
My husband's first motorcycle was a basic Harley Davidson 883 Sportster. It was beautiful and classic, but after an hour his hands would be numb from the vibrations. It handled well on the curvy backroads near us, but my husband yearned for the open road. I think the appeal of the Harley was the name and some pride. It was beautiful =) Motorcycles can be, I think.
So, he traded it in.
For a BMW something or other. I think and RT something. Anyways, the dealer was 45 miles away and it was a pain to get any work done. When he traded his new 883 in for a used BMW, we knew it would come with some quirks, but we didn't realize how many! Within a day of bringing it home, he realized it wouldn't do what he wanted it to--ride the backroads great and the open highway/freeway. One of the hardest things about motorcycles is that you can't test drive bikes except at the Harley and BMW dealers. Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki...there isn't anywhere around here that will let you test drive--you'd be buying blind.
So, after a while, my husband realized the BMW was a bad bike for him and our family--the maintenance alone was crazy expensive. The frequency of required maintenance and repairs was going to be very costly. So, he sold it.
He waited a few months and wanted a new bike. We talked through all of it. We considered what we could afford and what we couldn't. We considered the new vs. used question. We ended up purchasing a Honda 919. It's really a bike in the middle of the Harley and BMW bikes that he had. It has the Honda name and not the Harley or BMW name. But, it has a reputation of reliability and lower maintenance. So, far a month and a half into it, he's still happy with it and I'm thankful.
So, what did I learn?
1) If you take out a loan for a bike, get both your names on it if you're married--even if it is only your spouse that rides it. The reason is that if you have to deal with any of the finances, the company will not talk to you if your name isn't on the papers. It isn't a matter of who it belongs to, it's really a matter of practicality.
2) The middle road is best =) If you can afford the lowest model of a great brand or a new model of a brand that isn't as much to brag about, but is a quality brand--go with quality, not bragging rights =)
3) New vs. Used: New if it can be afforded. When it comes to a vehicle, it's a safety issue with me. I find it a lot easier for me to trust a new vehicle than a used one--because I know how it's been taken care of by me =)
4) It's important for me to love my husband. I listen to my husband talk a lot about motorcycles--because I love him. It's not my thing, but that's okay. We met a couple at a housewarming party and she reminded me by her example of boating with her significant other of how important this is. She still boats with him and has grown to love it, despite the fact that on their first date they went through a storm while in his sailboat!
5) Were the bike purchases and trades the wisest use of our finances? Maybe not in many people's eyes--which I totally understand--but sometimes you have to learn by doing and I think in this case we did. And more than that--I saw God's graciousness to us in it and the blessing of his provision for something that my husband loves.
So, now, I hope we'll have the 919 for a long time! I'm praying that we will =)