The Predator of Wealth: Your Car | SIXbirds Financial
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Predators of the Middle Class: Your Car

March 6, 2013 8 Comments

Holy Shit. Where are we going first? Mall or Apocalypse?

Holy Shit. Where are we going first? Mall or Apocalypse?

Pull up a chair, Friends.  I’m about to tell you about my fascination with automobiles – particularly big, muscle-bound machines that claim more cylinders than miles per gallon.  Vrooooom!!!!  Whooooosh!!!  What’s that sound?  That’s the sound of you getting poor, mother-effer!  Beep Beep.

Of course, now that I finally wised up and figured out that those cars were sucking the life out of my finances, I own a very wimpy and respectable 2003 Honda Hybrid.  It is so fabulously anonymous that I sometimes put my key in the wrong Anonymobile.  My wife refers to it as “The Corolla” even though it’s not a Toyota, and it’s definitely NOT a Corolla.  Yeah — it has no personality.

But, here’s the thing:  That little bastard is getting up to 52 mpg when I drive it just right.  Compared with my 1971 Chevelle that was shooting a 6 foot flame out of the 4-barrel Holley when I REALLY dug into the accelerator, I’ll take it.

Today I saw a late model Jeep rolling down the road with huge, knobby tires ala Mad Max.  It looked cool as hell, but stupid as hell too.  I guess I’m getting old because all I could see was a rolling price tag…

That Jeep must’ve cost close to $40,000.  The tires were at least $500 apiece.  The lift might have been $2000.

Now, Friends — I grew up in the great state of Montana where nobody in his right mind would take an expensive machine like this anywhere offroad.  If you showed up deep down a logging road with that thing, you’d mostly see some advanced pointing and laughing.  I had to wonder if that thing will EVER even be placed into 4WD while commuting home 22 miles everyday!

I’m the last to begrudge a beautiful machine.  I have a deep and sincere love/hate relationship with advanced engineering such as this.  I love it because it still represents a piece of American open-road, adrenaline filled freedom fantasy for me.  I hate it because the reality is completely different as you inch around everywhere in the United States at 45 mph.

The fact that a working class hero could even roll one of these beasts is a testament to just how much wealth the average American yields.

But, wait.  Is it wealth?  Or, more likely — is it debt?  And, is the debt considered leverage or just an advanced form of free-range slavery?  Is this Jeep on our list of productive assets?  Unless you’re selling these to a long line of suckers, then — NO.  Unless this bad boy is putting American Cash Dollars into your hind pocket, it’s a non-starter.

Even my ultra dorky Dorkusmobile Honda is a severe liability.  But, that’s the thing with liabilities… As we continue our journey, we’ll learn how to minimize the liabilities and wring the living crap out of our assets.  We’ll strategically place our dollar soldiers on the field to win and not to get mopped up by emotional non-investments.

If you’re wealthy as hell — then, by all means, rock the Jeep or whatever.  But, judging from the statistics on American and their wealth, I’m guessing the vast majority of high-end vehicle owners are in debt up to their occipital regions.

UPDATE: I totally forgot about this video I made years ago just for fun. Now, it seems fitting, plus you get to see the Chevelle in action.

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About the Author:

My goals in life are to not have a job and to work my ass off. I give your choice of virtual high five, cyber hug, or electronic fist bump for meaningful interaction.

Comments (8)

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  1. Patrick, this is so spot on, man…YOu probably know my story with the car I had. It made NO sense…I went off the deep end. And we all end up looking like losers. Cars=the biggest wealth killer out there!!

    • Patrick says:

      Yeah, Tony. I’ve probably flushed thousands in car lust transactions — that’s why I can’t become too Judgy McJudgyPants. Maybe its a uniquely American phenomenon because most of my international pals think we’re crazy.

  2. I never understood why so many people want to drive these giant fuel consuming cars. It just makes no sense to me when most of the time a smaller and more economical car would do just fine.

    • Patrick says:

      Hey Glen, I actually do understand it. Cars like this are powerful and fun, but that generally means stupid too. However, it’s also sort of a nonsense fantasy that ends up just being yet another distraction and diversion. It’s just not necessary.

      Thanks for the comment, Glen. I’m heading into to take a look. You get a cyber fist bump, my brother.

  3. I’m glad to be in the anonymous car club myself. I drive a black 2001 ford focus. It gets good gas millage, not as great as your’s. But I see so many of these on the road it’s almost comical.

    • Patrick says:

      Hey Justin… Sweet, another Anonymobile. I’m surprised by how many high end cars I see on the road, but I did see a distinctly crappy 1980′s sedan the other day with a bumper sticker that read, “I Survived Cash for Clunkers.” Ha! Love it.

      You, my friend, get a virtual high five. Thank you much for your comment, and I’m heading over to right now.

  4. snacks says:

    “As we continue our journey, we’ll learn how to minimize the liabilities and wring the living crap out of our assets.”

    My name is Snacks and I am a recovering caraholic… My man, I just did some embarrassing math that I will share so others new to the financial independence game will benefit. I just realized that I have been making car payments since 1997. Yes, 1997. Embarrassing yes… and I don’t want to think about what those payments would be in compounding interest for all that time. I could be retired now…

    When I ask myself the reasons for getting those cars, the responses ranged from “well, I’m graduating from grad school and will need a good car to get to work”, “this one’s needs some expensive repairs, cheaper to get a new one”, “gotta get rid of the negative equity and better loan”, “I deserve a new car for all my hard work”, gotta get a bigger car with 1,2,3 kids”, “gotta get a big suv to haul 3 kids and strollers and stuff”, “gotta get another big suv because they’re safer for the family and we need 2 cars b/c we both have to work to pay for the big suvs.”. Uggh, many lessons learned here. I realize now that I drank my fair share of the consumerism kool-aid BUT I, me, and I made the poor decisions in the past (after all, I walked into those dealerships on my own). It wouldn’t be a lesson learned if I didn’t take responsibility.

    But now, the missus and I have vowed that the cars we have now can drive us into early retirement and have agreed to never get a car loan again. When they go down for good, it’s bikes, buses, and bare and booted feet until cash is scraped up to buy something else. We are fiscally responsible now more than we ever were (emergency fund, stash of cash, investments, etc…), and are planning an early retirement in 5-7 (or 6-8) years. All this thanks to admitting where we went wrong and forgiving ourselves, understanding what really makes us happy, and wanting better lives for ourselves and children. Blogs like this one help keep us on our toes and on our feet (walking and enjoying the view)! Thanks and keep writing!

    • Patrick says:

      Hello Snacks.

      Man, takes some courage to get on the Interwebs and declare your dumbass mistakes for the benefit of others. The good news is that you’ve done it and are moving on. You are the new and improved Snacks as compared to the old, stale snacks found in the couch cushions.

      The better news is that out in the recovering over-consumerist wasteland, we’re providing the strategy, tactics, and benchmarks. I totally agree that blogging and real time interaction helps bolster self-control and encourage purposeful living. I sincerely appreciate your contribution.

      You are the man. Thank you for sharing — I have enough caraholic stories for a leatherbound tome of anti-wisdom. Being a recovering dumbass is a day-by-day venture, my friend.

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