Borrowing, Change The Way You Spend

Buying A Car Is Not An Accomplishment

I logged into Facebook and, surprisingly, was not bombarded with baby pictures. What I saw was much worse.

One of my “Facebook friends” (in other words: we met once) posted a picture of the 2013 Toyota Rav4 that she just purchased. This baby looked brand-spankin’ new! Obviously, a new mommy is going to be proud of her beautiful baby and will need to show her off. I’m not the least bit upset about the picture or the purchase.

What upsets me is the collective response from those that commented on her photo.

Awesome!!! SOO PROUD OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

I actually had to scroll back up to the picture because I wasn’t sure we were all viewing the same image.

I was thinking, “Wait…did she ¬†just graduate with a Master’s Degree?”

I quickly transformed myself into Detective Elliot Stabler and this poor girl’s Facebook wall was my crime scene. After¬†carefully reviewing her recent photos and statuses, I can confidently say that there was no evidence of a major life event. The only “accomplishment” to speak of was this car purchase.

She was not a victim of the SVU. She was a victim of the SUV.

My amazement continued as I read further…

CONGRATS!!! Ugh, I’m so jealous!

Jealous of her new car payment?

OMG! I love the color! Is it red?

Um…it’s clearly black, so do you no longer love it?

(I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to include this last comment. Although it has nothing to do with the car purchase being an achievement, I couldn’t believe someone asked if the black car was red. The picture was taken in broad daylight.)

Five comments and 27 Likes later, I found myself thoroughly confused.

Do people really consider buying a car to be an accomplishment? Is buying a car a sign that you’re growing up, getting wiser, or moving forward? Am I crazy or is everyone else crazy?

(The last question should not be answered.)

I cannot understand how a new car purchase is IN ANY WAY an accomplish and an achievement.

I invite you to join me through this discovery process so that, together, we can decide if congratulations are necessary when a friend buys a car.

Is It Difficult To Buy A Car?

If it’s difficult to buy a car, then I could understand why buying a car would warrant congratulatory remarks. Since I used to approve people for car loans, I can confidently say that it is extremely easy to get approved for a car loan. For instance, if you have a credit score of 640 and your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is below 50%, you will likely be approved to finance a car. Therefore, if you make $15,000 a year, you can (somehow) buy a nice car (depending on other debts).

Is it difficult to buy a car? No.

Is Buying A Car A Sign Of Growing Up Or Growing Wiser?

Kids can’t buy cars. In that sense, buying a car shows that you have at least hit a certain age. Also, showing your ability to repay borrowed money (establishing credit) shows some level of maturity. But, you can achieve this by responsibly using credit cards. Therefore, I do not think that unnecessarily spending $20,000-$30,000 shows signs of growing older. Furthermore, I recall my college finance professor driving a beat-down car worth less than $1000. He understood the value of money better than anyone I have met. I also recall my father’s good friend who is a brain surgeon. He is arguable the smartest person I have met. He has LOADS of MONEY and drives a mini van that is 30 years old.

Is buying a car a sign of growing up or growing wiser? No.

Is Buying A Car A Sign Of Moving Forward?

I suppose that, physically, you may be “moving forward” after a car purchase. But, you will be taking a step backwards in every other aspect of life if you purchase a new car. If you are making a $300 monthly car payment, then you must make a sacrifice of $300 elsewhere. If you were setting money aside to advance your education, you now must set aside less money. If you had high hopes of paying for your child’s education, that dream is driving away (all pun intended).

Is buying a car a sign of moving forward? No.

Conclusion

STOP TREATING CAR PURCHASES AS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

I would go out on a limb and say that MOST PEOPLE (I could make up a percentage to sound more credible) know that buying a new car is one of the worst financial decisions you can make. If you notice, I purposefully didn’t use the word “investment” as people rarely buy cars thinking that they’ll appreciate in value.

If MOST PEOPLE know that buying a new car is a horrible decision, why do MOST PEOPLE continue to treat buying a car as an accomplishment?

Apparently, (to answer my last question) I am crazy.

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7 thoughts on “Buying A Car Is Not An Accomplishment

  1. Funny. We were at a pre-graduation event and people were “ohh/ahhh” about a girl who received scholarship offers from 18 colleges! Then I realized that the girl had to apply to all those schools ($60+ application fee at most) to even be considered for a scholarship. This girl shouldn’t be applauded! She couldn’t narrow her search a little before wasting over $1k? Often things aren’t what they seem at first. New car? No thanks ;-)

  2. I have wanted to post a new car buying rant eventually but glad I could read this and know that others feel the same. I have a bunch of people on Facebook as well that just graduated university and somehow managed to buy a new car. All I have to say is I hope they don’t have a ton of student loans as well. I have a year left of school and will definitely be walking, biking and taking good old public transit for a while before I purchase a used, inexpensive car.

  3. I definitely enjoyed the rant, because it is one I have wanted to make for a long time. I work on a college campus and I see the effects of our feelings of entitlement that control our spending. It’s sad, but unfortunately our culture is pushing it. You deserve a new car, you deserve a bigger house, a boat, trendy clothes, high-priced organic food, an iPhone, you name it. Encouraging someone to take part in this is not helping them at all!

  4. I hope to purchase a used car by the time I am 18, although it may take me longer than that to save up the money. It will be an accomplishment to me (to save up for a big purchase) and something that I will be proud of but the expenses of maintaining the car and insurance alone will also make it a burden. Unfortunately my parents won’t let me use public transport for safety issues and to be honest – I will really enjoy having a car by then!

    • In your case, that WILL be an accomplishment (because it’s not easy). Saving money over a long period of time in order to purchase something that you want is exactly how it should be done. Financing something that you can’t afford, however, is not an accomplishment.

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