I do admit that I am a pretty big fan of Dave Ramsey. I like his no-nonsense, common sense approach to personal finance and his Biblical/charitable perspective is no turn-off either. Still, I did break a cardinal rule a few months ago-- I bought a car using credit instead of cash. Here is why I believe Dave to be wrong in this particular case.
Dave would say I should have sold my car, bought a clunker, and saved for a newer car and paid in cash.
Here's the scenario-- I already drove a clunker. It looked decent, but it had who knows how many miles on it (the odometer broke 5 years ago at 144k+), everything leaked, and was getting *horrid* gas mileage. Our gas budget at the time was $600/month. Yikes! I was in school at the time and worked very little (the program I was in specifically forbade working); Hubby worked two jobs and our out-go was still 100% of our income. We had zero room to 'save up' for anything, even though I budgeted the blood out of every penny we got. Ask anyone who knows me-- if there was room to be saving, I would have been saving.
We had about enough money in the bank to pay for exactly the same car I already had or to make a pretty darn good down payment while leaving a $1,000 emergency fund. We shopped around for a while, found this car and got a payment of $103/month. The car gets decent gas mileage (24ish) and we were able to drop our gas budget in *half.*
So, we added $100 to our monthly bills, but saved $300 per month in gas. This means we could make 3x payments and be out of debt very soon. Plus, the sale of my old car brought an injection of cash roughly equivalent to 1/5 of the original balance.
I am very debt-averse and I grew up in a family that does not believe in car payments. No one is foolish enough to buy something that loses half it's value as soon as the deed is done, or so I thought. However, with some research, I was able to find a vehicle old enough to be price-stable and new enough to last a good long time, priced where I could sell it in a year for about the price I paid if I wanted to. We specifically got something family-friendly so that I could drive it for ten years if I so choose.
We are dumping this debt as soon as possible. We don't even own a credit card (although if we had longer to pay on the car I would consider a 0% for that purpose only...). Although I agree with Dave 99.9% of the time, I really believe that we made the best decision for us at the time. I will drive this thing into the ground and never have a car payment again.