I Bought a Dented Car {aka Why Buddhists are Frugal}

“Everything is suffering.”

I promise I’m not going to get morbid on you, but this is a Buddhist concept (completely oversimplified, for my purposes, here). In the Buddhist tradition, samsara refers to the endless cycle of death and rebirth, which is laden with suffering. Until you escape the cycle and reach Nirvana.

I’m not a pessimistic person, but I wholeheartedly believe that almost everything is suffering.

Think about the happiest thing that you can, and you will find that there it contains some aspect of suffering. For example, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate this “happiest thing” or “happiest moment” if you didn’t know the feeling of unhappiness. The most amazing mountain views are the ones that you earn with your own two feet.

How about the coolest thing you own? Think about the first time it got a scratch or when it became outdated or completely broken: That was suffering. Brought about because of your initial happiness when you first bought or received the item.

How about your closest relationship? Think about the first time you disagreed or misunderstood each other: That was suffering. Brought about because of your joy to have the other person in your life and your disappointment when having that person in your life means that you have to go outside of your comfort zone.

Because of samsara, I don’t worship the perfect. I love imperfections. It makes it easier when it gets scratched or wears out or, in the case of relationships, when screw up — because I know that the other person isn’t perfect either, so I can be myself 😉

People in some cultures believe that the “evil eye,” a curse, is attracted to perfection and beauty. For that reason, the people I lived with during my time in the Peace Corps believed that carpet weavers and other artisans should purposefully add a mistake in order to ward away the evil eye.

When I buy new clothes, I’m sad when the first wash puckers the fabric or makes the design look dull or the fabric pills a little. I’ve been shopping for Little Stapler’s clothes at consignment sales lately and I love the worn look of a well-loved t-shirt. As long as it’s not stained or ripped, that pre-wearing makes it softer and shows me that the design isn’t going to wash off.

I recently shopped around for a used car. I scoured websites, photos, and Consumer Reports. So when I carefully chose the car to test drive and buy, and opened the trunk to see it all scratched up, I was disappointed for a few seconds. Then I thought, “well, at least I won’t have to worry about the kids scratching it up.”

Why I drive a dented car

This was a mess, though, so you bet I wasn’t going to buy it unless it was an amazing deal.

Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t going to pay full price for a scratched up car. But the cosmetic problems were practically a bonus. It saved me from the suffering that would come with the first scratch or spill. In the end, the salesperson wouldn’t lower the price below the online price, and I walked away from that car.

Later in the day, I test drove a car that was in excellent condition. Except for one scratch and dent on the side.

Why I Drive a Dented Car

Sold! To the lady who doesn’t want to be responsible for marring a pristine car!

So, there you have it folks: I bought a dented car and I couldn’t be happier.

4 thoughts on “I Bought a Dented Car {aka Why Buddhists are Frugal}

  1. Yea, I love getting discounts on items with imperfections. Who cares about a little cosmetic imperfection? Often times you don’t really notice it and living in NYC (street parking) and having a toddler…if I bought a brand new car it will soon have cosmetic imperfections anyway, except I wouldn’t have had the benefit of the discount!

  2. We did the same thing! We bought a car with some dents and scratches. Not only did it save us some serious $$$ but I liked the peace of mind you desribed– we don’t have to worry about scratching it up ourselves. 🙂

  3. This is a really interesting concept. I hadn’t ever viewed a purchasing decision from this perspective, but it does make sense. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been disappointed because I brought something and in less than a few days use something happens to it.

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