Mrs. Accountability Driving a Chevy Cruze

I Felt Embarrassed to Be Driving a Brand New Car

It’s started in earnest.

UPDATE: Actually we think it may be sabotage.

The car trouble which seems to come in cycles for old vehicles.  Aside from my Pathfinder catching on fire last year, we actually had a pretty long stretch of time where we haven’t had to do any major repairs.  Thank goodness since we haven’t had the extra money to put toward auto repairs.  I’m always waiting for this other shoe to drop and I hate the thought of our credit card debt going up, but I guess I can only be thankful that we have credit cards.  Some people, even members of my own family (my mother and some of my siblings) would just be without a vehicle since they have either no credit, or ruined credit, and are living at poverty level.

Mrs. Accountability Driving a Chevy Cruze
But back to car trouble.  Last Wednesday night, Mr. A had to go into the big city and while there, his van broke down.  It just stopped running while he was at a stoplight.  He tried a few different things as he is very handy with auto repair and had some of his tools with him, but he was unable to solve the problem so he called Triple A and had it towed home.  It’s the vehicle I’ve been using most often for my commute to work because it has air conditioning. The next day I took Mr. A’s truck to work… it has no air conditioning.  It’s gotten very hot here in Arizona and it’s extremely uncomfortable driving 50 miles in 110°F temperatures.  But it didn’t stop there.

Our son AJ also has an older vehicle, which he really loves… it broke down a couple of weeks ago, but Mr. A was able to get it back on the road within a day.  Then on Thursday, the day I took Mr. A’s truck to work, AJ’s car broke down at his job. So he called Triple A and had it brought home.  From the problems it was having, Mr. A suspected it was the fuel pump, so I bought those parts for AJ on my way home from work.

Mr. A worked on AJ’s car for most of the night, and AJ was up and outside helping him at 2:30am. But by the time AJ needed to get going to make it to work the car was not yet running.  So AJ and I carpooled into town and AJ decided to rent a car for two days.  He found that Triple A is in partnership with Hertz, and he rented a Chevy Cruze.

I was glad to learn that AJ didn’t like the way it drives.  I thought he might fall in love with it and impulsively decide he wanted a brand new car.  I’ve always cautioned him against buying a brand new car as they lose value by the thousands once you drive them off the auto lot.

We have one more vehicle that runs, but the tabs were not current.  It gets horrendous gas mileage, so we have only used it to drive around our property.  But now that we only have one running vehicle for three people, I realized we needed to get the tab situation resolved.  I went online to Service Arizona, which is the online portal for Arizona Motor Vehicles and you can get many things done easily, like registration, 3 Day permits, etc. It’s extremely convenient, and if you’ve ever spent any time at a Motor Vehicle Department office in Arizona you would understand exactly how convenient.  We’re talking 2-3 hours easy in one of those places.

Unfortunately, since this vehicle had been de-insured a few years ago, there was a $100 penalty required if renewing online, along with the $18 for tabs.  Well, I wasn’t about to pay $100 when I could drive to Motor Vehicles and sign a waiver.

So I drove AJ’s rental car, which came with unlimited mileage.  I felt so weird driving that new vehicle.  I felt like I hoped no one I knows sees me in it.  And it occurred to me how it seems most people want to be seen in a new vehicle, because they want to make it seem as if they are wealthy and have plenty of money.

Part of the feelings I was having – I didn’t want people assuming I have lots of money, because I don’t.  And then I realized that must be how I view people with nice brand new cars.  Even though I would never consider buying a brand new car… apparently I look at people with new cars and assume they have lots of money.  When the real story is probably more likely that they are living from paycheck to paycheck.  Well, I guess depending on the kind of vehicle they are driving. I would hope someone driving a Mercedes-Benz is not living from paycheck to paycheck driving a vehicle with what I’m assuming would be a rather costly monthly payment, not to mention the auto insurance would likely be expensive.

But then I also realized, do I want people to think I’m poor?  Am I creating this life of poverty and struggle for myself by my thoughts?

What do you think about the effect of our thoughts on our financial situation?  Do you think we can talk ourselves into being rich or poor?

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12 thoughts on “I Felt Embarrassed to Be Driving a Brand New Car

  1. I think you’re right in that we’re quick to judge someone by the car they drive. I posted some time ago about excellent gas mileage hubby and I got on a five hour drive. Then someone asked what kind of car we have, and I was almost ashamed to admit that we have a Buick Lucerne. It’s a rather nice car, and in relation to the amount of debt I have, not really practical. But, hubby had it before we married last fall so there’s not much I can do about that. I did feel a bit like a hypocrite writing a debt blog and having such nice things.
    Alice recently posted..Mutually Beneficial SituationMy Profile


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Alice, back in the years when I was on welfare I was driving a Mercury Gran Marquis. Granted it was an older car, but it looked new and like you say, people wondered. Well, it turns out that when my father in law passed away he left it to my husband and I in his will. So when my husband and I divorced, he let me have the car since it was paid for. It’s okay to have nice things. I say as long as we are still working at driving down the debt we are doing the best we can so it has to be good enough. I have lived at poverty level and it was tough living that way. I think we can pay down our debt and have a few nice things along the way. Thanks for commenting! 🙂


  2. I think there are two different ways people think of cars:

    1) Status symbol
    2) A tool

    I fall into the second category. A car is a way to get from point A to point B. If it’s comfortable, safe, and gets decent gas mileage, I’m happy. The nameplate means nothing to me. I don’t want to drive a rusted out junker with black smoke gasping out the exhaust and various noises coming from under the hood, but those are safety/durability/pollution concerns.

    Our “family” car is a 2006 Taurus with about 70K miles on it. We bough it as a program car with about 9500 miles on it. We have two kids (4 and 2) and you can pack quite a bit of stuff into a Taurus. It gets pretty decent mileage for a car its size (28 mpg on longer trips).

    Last year, I bought a 2007 Elanatra from a co-worker. It had 66K miles at the time and has about 80K now. It’s a great commuter car, getting 35-38 mpg.

    I’m sure the people who drive Lexus and Mercedes get some sort of perceived value out of the brand, but I can’t see what it would do for me personally. The car wouldn’t get me from point A to point B any faster. Maybe they are more comfortable, but I’m a pretty low maintenence guy that doesn’t need much in order to be comfortable.

    A friend of mine buys damaged cars and fixes them up. He and his wife have never owned a new car, but their vehicles have always been mechanically sound (and look decent when he is done with them) and they have saved a fortune on cars over the years – money they can out toward other expenses.

    So, my thought? Drive whatever makes sense for you and don’t think about how other people might perceive your choice of cars.
    Kosmo recently posted..Why Is The Book Always Better Than The Movie?My Profile


  3. the word is TAGS for the motor vehicle dept. And wouldn’t you feel better having newer cars that you don’t have to keep fixing? I was in that situation. My last car was 19 years old when I finally got rid of it. All those break downs and repairs really stressed me out. I know new(er) cars have problems too..but believe me my car was great the first 16 or so years.


  4. Hello Pamma, thanks for stopping by and participating in the conversation. Actually, in Arizona, the month/year sticker that goes in the top right hand corner of our license plates are referred to as TABS. See here for yourself:

    I see that you can definitely relate to our situation, and yes I sure would feel better having newer cars that were in perfect running condition but unfortunately it’s not that simple. I wish it were…


  5. When I see a nice, new car…I see debt.

    Sure, it’s possible that person has a lot of money, but the odds do not lean that way.

    Of course, I see the same when most people pull out a credit card. Lots of people who use them pay them off each month…but most don’t.

    I guess I’m more of a pessimist. I admit it, I have a debt bias.
    Dave recently posted..Eureka! You’re Rich In The Multiverse!My Profile


  6. Wow, I don’t understand why you want people to think you are poor. When I see someone drive a nice car, I don’t assume they are living paycheck to paycheck, I think that they are doing well with their lives. There are a lot of people in the world who are smart, well educated, earning good money doing what they love and not in debt. These people drive nice cars.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Ellen, it was a question that occurred to me as I was doing some self-examination of myself and my inner thoughts. I used to assume that everyone driving a nice car was doing great, out of debt and had loads of money, but I’m finding more and more that isn’t the case. Also, most people don’t like to talk about their debt and they may be struggling but they wouldn’t want anyone to know that was the case. It reminds me of that commercial with the guy in debt up to his eyeballs:


  7. Hi Mrs A! What would you say to someone who felt weird driving around in an old, beat up car? You’d probably tell them to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and be happy with what you have. Well this is the reverse situation but you’re still worrying about how others are viewing you. The only difference is that instead of being afraid to be judged as inferior to the Joneses, you’re afraid of being judged as superior.

    There’s nothing wrong with having something nice if you can afford it. And in this situation its only a rental anyway…and it’s a Cruze, not a Lamborghini. You have nothing to be ashamed of. 
    Mike Collins recently posted..Are You Sure Your Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations Are Set Up Properly?My Profile


  8. These comments reminded me of a part time employee I had years ago. She was a college student and single mother. She lived on her own and did a fine job of providing for herself and her little girl. Her car broke down and she had to drive her moms car for a week while it was being fixed. Her mom had a really nice car – I don’t remember exactly, but it may have been a Jaguar. People said very rude things to her as she was dropping her daughter off at daycare one day. So yes, people judge very quickly.
    Alice recently posted..Keep Your CommitmentsMy Profile


  9. I don’t think you can actually talk yourself into being rich or poor. But you can talk yourself into actions that lead in the direction of your thoughts. Same thing? Maybe. But you just need to realize that your actions add up, and eventually lead to results.
    Kris recently posted..CPA-Exam-ResourcesMy Profile


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