Let’s go back in time 12 years to the year 2001. I was at one of my first real jobs out of college. At work one morning, my boss announced that she had purchased a new, $40,000 german luxury car. She was clearly excited and thought that I should have one too:
Boss: Mr. 1500, I LOVE my car; you should get one too!
Me (trying to politely deflect): The car I have works just fine and it’s paid off. I just don’t need a new car.
Boss: Don’t you want to get married someday?
Me (not liking the direction this was going at all): Ummmmmmmmmmmm, sure?!?
Boss: How are you going to get married if you don’t have a nice car?
Me: What do you mean?
Boss: This car projects financial success. Women love it! If you want to get married, you need to get one.
The conversation made me angry, but more than that, it made me sad. I wasn’t sad for myself, but for her and her pathetic view of the world. From this conversation and others, it was clear that she wasn’t going to consider any guy who didn’t look like he was off the cover of GQ and had all of the expensive accoutrements that go along.
In a very small way, I could see her point. Finding a life partner who has financial stability is important. However, I’ve come to learn that most folks driving fancy cars are far from financial stability (see this book for an awesome study on the subject). Often, the car is financed for 5 or maybe 7 years to keep the payment down. They tend to have a lot of other debt and live paycheck to paycheck. Even if they make a lot of money, they have found ways to spend every single, last, friggin’ dollar.
A nice car may very well have helped me meet someone, but that person would have been incompatible with my value system. That person may well have been materialistic and a spendaholic. It gives me shivers just thinking about it: I could have been dragged to the mall (uggggg) for hours while she bought $500 purses on credit. My 401(k) would have been sacrificed for new wardrobes every year. I would have been driven nuts. Divorce would have been quick and she probably would have gone after every cent I had. No thanks.
I never bought the luxury car, but I did find a wife who is perfect for me. When I met her, I had an old used car and she had an even older one. Even better, she liked to bike, rollerblade, spend time outside and even tolerated my lengthy discussions about computers (and cars). We just celebrated our 11th anniversary.
I later found out that my old boss was going through a divorce when we had the “car” conversation. No surprise there.
Stay true to your beliefs, and don’t let anyone sway you. If you don’t think you need it, you don’t. One of the biggest causes of consumerism is peer pressure. Is it worth working until you are 70, just so your co-workers approve of your car?
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