Monday, December 1, 2008

Family Car? American vs. Korean: Want vs. Need

This is a conversation that C.J. and I had right after when we got married:
(American = C.J., Korean = Hyuna)

American : Honey, why don't we use our savings to buy a used car? We can trade in my old Lexus.
Korean : Yeah, your car is too old - 140,000 mileages, broken sunroof, false check-engine light. Why not? We have the cash. Do you have any specific type of car in your mind?
American: I was thinking buying a family car.
Korean: A family car? What is that?
American: Oh, in AMERICA, we call a minivan a family car. You know, a car for a family with kids.
Korean: Hmm...

(At CarMax)

American: How about this? Ponda Udyssey?
Korean: Yeah, it looks like it's one of the most popular minivans.
American: How about that one? That's known to be very safe.
Korean: (thinking................) Honey?
American: Yes.
Korean: In Korea, most families live with a small or mid-size passenger car. When I was growing up in Korea, my family of five people lived with a small passenger car. It was only after I and my brother and sister left home that my parents bought a SUV so that they could travel more.
American: But it's not convenient...with kids, you need a family car, I mean, a minivan.
Korean: Is it a need or a want? It's not like we cannot raise kids without a minivan, is it? It might not be the most convenient or comfortable choice, but I'm sure we can live with a passenger car.
American: Honey, but this is AMERICA!
Korean: And? I don't want us to live to keep up with the Joneses. No! I don't care what people think of us. I would rather have a 6-month emergency savings and drive your old car than use that money to drive a fancy minivan.
American: You are right. Lexus is old but it's still running. And securing a 6-month emergency fund is the priority. Honey, thank you for keeping me real.

Our old junky Lexus is still alive - Thank God! It takes me to and from work, running only about 100 miles a week. With the current economic turmoil and job insecurity, we know we made the right choice.