Friday, June 22, 2012

Frugal Fridays - Wheels or Status Symbol?

To live a frugal lifestyle and/or save for a goal, you may have to change the way you think!  It seems to me that today's society is so self-involved, craving instant gratification and never thinking about the "big picture".  The world is full of "consumers", and the marketing aimed at them has been incredibly successful!  The majority of our nation seems to find validation in what they own, and people often forget the real purpose of many things.  A phone is for communication, shoes and clothes are for necessity, and a vehicle is for transportation!

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a great looking dress and I often drool at those Mercedes convertibles!  However, I'm not rich and if I want to really enjoy life and have some great experiences I have to appreciate these things, but not own them.  After all, I can still feel feminine and good about myself in a dress that's already in my closet and great experiences in a car are usually for teenagers!  (I do have fond memories of cruising the boulevard on a Friday night).  

I drive a 2005 Toyota ... a boring, beige Camry!   When I bought the car, I wasn't giddy with excitement.  I was buying a practical car with a good reputation for fuel efficiency and safety.  I was buying a car that I could eventually pay off and continue to drive for many more years.  It's been 3 years since I've had a car note, and that's exciting to me!  The Camry now has a big dent in the bumper, a few scratches inside and out, and the locks don't work properly.  However, I know that this car will get me where I need to go and should still be a great car when the time comes to sell it and "sail away".

There are some beautiful cars (and trucks) out there but remember that song, "The Thrill Is Gone" ... that will probably be the case within 5-6 months after you purchase one of those gorgeous vehicles!  However, you'll probably be writing a check for that thrill for many years later.  I believe a lot of people choose their mode of transportation for the status it will provide them ... not the car itself.  My car is definitely not a status symbol or anything sexy, but I'm almost proud of the fact that it's not.  I think it makes me look smart, and I think smart is sexy!

 Randy Pausch, diagnosed with terminal cancer, talked about his car in "The Last Lecture".**   He told the story of how he just purchased a brand new car, and his nephew accidentally spilled his soda on the seat.  His nephew felt terrible, but not for long.  "Uncle Randy" grabbed the can of soda and began to pour it all over the seat.  He did this because he wanted to let his nephew know that it was okay ... it was just a car that was going to be used and worn!  Randy told another story about how the family car was hit and dented.  His wife was planning on getting it repaired, but Randy didn't agree.  He felt that life was about living, and why waste money on something like a dent in a car?!  After all, life is about experiences ... not material things!  The car was for transportation, nothing else.

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”   Randy Pausch

 Make a vow to not be one of those "consumers" that those marketing gurus are aiming to brainwash.  Have pride in knowing that you're smarter than them!

  Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

**If you're not familiar with Randy and "The Last Lecture", please do yourself a favor and click on the link above!  This was literally "the last lecture" for Randy and he knew it would be.  It's a great speech about what's really important in life ... from a man that knew he had very little time left to live.  His speech should be seen by everyone!

*For those that missed the other posts of this series, check them out below:


Emily said...

I LOVE this blog post! I know I am in the minority (in the US, at least), but this is EXACTLY how I feel about cars. I wish more people shared our views, but sadly, Americans love their cars and all too often, their egos are really tied up in them. I just don't get that at all, but then again, I've always marched to the beat of a different drummer...just like you. Keep up the good work! said...

You know I agree with this! I drive a Camry even older than yours, as I explained in my recent post

When my kids were young we always played a game where we would see if they could find the 'lies' in advertisements. It was a game filled with disillusionment, but it made them better consumers.

Andy said...

Great post!!

Claire said...

Nice Article!

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