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Rent to Own


Like many women, I suppose, when I was a Mrs, it was my job to run the house and run the kids and run all over the place, and it was my husband’s job to earn the money and to pay the bills. It was not for lack of understanding (perhaps more for lack of time), but I was not involved in many financial decisions. Whether it was through blind faith or chronic fatigue, I can’t say, but the financial engine chugged along without much engagement on my part. Upon entering the kingdom of singledom, many financial decisions that I had heretofore ignored, suddenly became paramount.

I recently received a call from the car dealership suggesting I come in and discuss options for a new car. I wasn’t in the market for new wheels, but when the sales person told me over the phone that I could likely lower my monthly payment because interest rates had dropped and different models afforded different pricing plans, I made an appointment with an open mind. After pages of calculations and a mild sales pitch, I inked a deal that lowered my monthly payment, chopped a year off my indebtedness to the finance company, and allowed me, with no money down, the luxury of a new car with only 25 miles on it. On the way home, I got into a disagreement with my BF because I decided to lease, rather than purchase my new vehicle.

Ownership implies security, but it also carries a level of (long term?) responsibility and commitment. Leasing offers no long term security, no ownership, and a discounted level of responsibility and commitment. If you are unhappy for any reason at the end of the designated term, you walk away – no ownership, no commitment.

I did my financial homework. In black and white, and a little bit of red, the numbers for leasing were better in the both the short and long terms. (I’ll put in a financial services disclaimer here that this was based on my own particular set of circumstances, and what is good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander, blah, blah, blah…) The point here is the value which one ascribes to owning an asset. For the sake of discussion here, I am thinking of cars and homes. I own two homes. Trust me on this one, NEITHER is much of an asset these  days, and my car, depreciating at the rate of 20,000 miles per year, wasn’t feeling like too much of an asset either. Leasing has a built in level of security for me, because it provides me with an escape hatch. Following my disagreement with my BF, I took an informal straw poll, and interestingly, every woman I spoke with thought leasing was the way to go, and every man said owning was the only sound option.

I’m going out on a limb here, but it seems kind of ironic to me that men (in general) are so strident about owning a home and owning a car, but seem to have such hang-ups when it comes to committing to a relationship. Now that’s not all men, mind you, but I know more than my fair share of ladies who waited a long time to have the men in their lives cowboy up and put a ring on it. And why would women, in general, feel more comfortable renting or leasing significant property they can literally walk away from, but be so determined to enter into a committed relationship? You would think the desire for commitment would go hand in hand with owning property and vice versa.

What therefore, is the asset? The tangible thing you can touch, or the intangible thing that has no financial value?  Backed with no scientific evidence and a small pool of data, there are a million directions I could go with this theme, but I won’t! It does make me laugh to think about the billboard for a jewelry store, prominently displayed on the highway near the car dealership that reads:

“You Better Ask Her to Marry You Before She Breaks Up With You”

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With her fresh, uncensored take on fashion and life, SARA CORNELL tells it like it is. Her topics range from how her affair ruined her life—or maybe it didn’t—to how marriage, and being single, wasn’t what she thought it would be. She’s a woman who likes studded black leather, high heels and red lipstick and practices yoga and meditation each day, rarely in the aforementioned garb. Sara writes about things we’re all thinking, but are too afraid, or too self-conscious, to say out loud. Simply put, Sara is refreshing. Sara can also be found on her blog,

20 thoughts on “Rent to Own”

  1. Brilliant and insightful post! I only said to my husband the other day (about a couple we know), “So, he keeps buying all of these properties (he has several) but he won’t put a ring on my gorgeous friend’s finger because he’s afraid of commitment – it doesn’t make sense”. My own lovely husband was told to move in (as in commit to being my husband) or move on, because I believe women put up with too much. Maybe that’s because our own self-worth is too often tied up to things that don’t really matter either. Great reading, thank you! Esther xx

    • “… our own self-worth is too often tied up to things that don’t really matter either.” That’s an insightful analogy, Essie! xoxox, B

    • I love your comment – self worth being tied up in things that don’t really matter – that’s a novel in and of itself!

  2. OK I need to think about this more as the husband is an adamant lease car person and I am the owner!!
    I have pondered this before as he would never rent a home or apartment – – and I can’t figure out why the lease…

    • Can we agree that men are just weird about the whole car thing – even beyond the own/lease situation…!

  3. What an interesting analogy! I have had three husbands (one twice, actually) and afew boyfriends, and none leased cars. I think that I attract men who want commitment, which is wild because I am someone who loves my space. Food for thought.

  4. What a brilliant analogy! I have been married 37 years, and my husband is struggling with getting a new truck to replace one that has over 250,000 miles on it. I am grateful for his commitment to holding on to “old and well-traveled things!”

    • Like your husband and his truck, I agonize over buying practical footwear that needs to be replaced, like snow boots or hiking shoes; gortex or waterproof, low cut or ankle height, etc… when the purchase price might be $150. But ask me to drop $500+ on an impulse buy of unicorn fabric stiletto sandals and I’ll have my credit card out so fast it will make your head spin… I wonder what that says about me…!

      • Practical’s not sexy! Yesterday I bought two pairs of sexy shoes at Stuart Weiztman. Wearing them in the store may be the only time I’ll ever wear one of those pairs, but I’m happing knowing they’re in my closet.

  5. Haha! I’m an ownership girl now as after having the rug yanked out from under me several times, I like to think that I can go all Miss Havisham in my old age, and feel falsely secure as my property, vehicle, and other possessions crumble around me. I also happen to be getting married this year. Your analysis of ownership and commitment phobia is brilliant.

    • Good luck with your new home (and marriage)! My mother once told me I wasn’t responsible enough to own a home, and the older I get and the deeper I get into the details of owing one, I sadly have to agree with her. Despite my love of relationship commitment I’m a free spirit at heart…!

    • Thanks! Men are indeed strange creature when it comes to cars and other expensive toys… 😉

  6. I agree with everyone! Brilliant, simply brilliant, and it’s not something I’ve spent any time thinking about. I have, however, been thinking about the pros and cons of building a house versus renting. That’s a commitment on a whole other level. xoxox, Brenda

    • Wow – building a home does indeed take commitment to an entirely different level! Good luck with that decision…

  7. From the male perspective, the answer is easy- transaction costs! An owned car or house, or better yet a motorcycle or fast boat gives lots of satisfaction, but can be easily sold when one is bored- or injured. Marriage on the other hand (and I’ve had two) comes with massive transaction costs, one of which is, in fact, injury. I suspect, Sara, that you are entirely right in your gender analysis but I must defend the male perspective as entirely rational.

    • Ahh, the boredom card… I too hate it when I get tired of playing with the same old toys. Which is precisely why I prefer to lease my cars. I just hand in the keys and pick a new one… too bad trading in a boring or worn out husband isn’t as efficient… nor is finding a new model with better features quite as easy as one would think… I get bored when I have to go on too many test drives…

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