The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives

3.28.2006

More outrage about cars

I hate to harp on this subject again, but I really need your help to figure out why people care so much about their cars.

"It's a form of transportation to get you from point A to point B," my husband remarked last night. I agree with him. I take a crappy, run-down metrobus to and from work everyday. I could care less what the bus looks like, but I'm relieved that it allows me to stare out the window and veg first thing in the morning.

Why do people spend huge amounts of money on cars, even paying extra for personalized plates and such, for what is essentially a heap of metal and plastic painted in pretty colors?

Since my brother places a scary priority on what he drives, I asked him numerous times why his car is so important to him. His answer never satisfies me. He tells me that everyone cares about different things, and cars are important to him because he spends a lot of time in them. That's true, he lives in the 'burbs and has to drive everywhere.

I think his response is a bit dishonest. Plain and simple, the car represents his financial success. When he pulls up to a family function in his fancy car, he is seeking the wow factor and an opportunity to brag a little. And for some unexplicable reason, people are in awe of it.

Aren't we smart enough to know that many people carry upside-down loans or lease their cars? Most people don't really own their luxury wheels, and it's likely their net worth is not a source of pride, but one of concern.

It all seems superficial to me, and frankly, immature.