The Car You Drive Matters
written by Mike Ballew January 29, 2023

We have little control over many things that consume our financial resources such as utilities, food, and gasoline, but we do have control over the car we drive. When it comes to financial independence, the car you drive matters.

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

When you look back over your life, what memories warm your heart and bring a smile to your face? They’re likely outings, vacations, and other experiences with family and friends. Sure, there’s the thrill of buying that new house or car, but the excitement doesn’t last. Things do not enrich our lives, experiences do.

The less money you spend on things, the more you have to spend on experiences. Prioritizing experiences over things can have a positive impact on your life. The sooner you realize this, the happier you will be.

Cars By the Numbers

The financial ramifications of car buying decisions have been covered in detail on this blog. If you missed it, check out Automobiles New versus Used, How Often Should I Buy a New Car?, Top 5 Ways to Cut Car Costs, and Buying a Used Car

Through extensive analysis and real-world examples, we have demonstrated that you’re better off buying used cars and keeping them for long periods of time rather than buying a new car every few years. While it is true that older vehicles require more repairs and maintenance, those costs pale in comparison to new car depreciation and loan interest, not to mention years of monthly car payments. 

It’s one thing to know something in your head, and another to put it into action. When it comes to car buying, sometimes the thought process goes something like this: “I know this new ________ (fill in your dream car) will eat me alive financially, but I am going to look so cool driving it." That is the real issue.

Suddenly Popular

I’m always fascinated when life teaches me a lesson; when I discover something I held as true is the exact opposite of the truth. I recently painted the interior of our home, which was quite a job to say the least. Over the course of months that it took me to finish it, there were numerous occasions when I went out wearing my painting clothes. Imagine old, worn-out tee-shirts and shorts that are more paint than whatever color they used to be.

During those outings, people seemed friendlier than usual. I concluded I must be more relatable that way than the other me who shaves and dresses in polo shirts and khakis.

Could it be this paradigm extends to car ownership? What if instead of impressing people as you drive around in your brand new ________ (fill in your dream car), others see you as overindulgent, selfish, and arrogant?

I drive a 10-year-old Toyota with 150,000 miles on it. Other than routine maintenance, it costs very little to own. There’s no need to wash it and I don’t have to worry about anyone stealing it. 

Final Thoughts

Spending money you don't have to impress people you don't know is no way to live your life. Neither is committing huge portions of your income to automobiles. The car you drive matters. Rein in your car buying habits and you will see positive change in your life.

Photo credit: Pixabay The Eggstack Blog will never post an article influenced by an outside company or advertiser. Our mission is to help you overcome uncertainty about retirement planning and inspire confidence in your financial future.
Is Your Bank Safe?
March 26, 2023
Eggstack founder, Financial Planning Association member, engineer, and software developer.