Guest Post: The 10-Year-Old Honda Civic Is the Only Status Symbol You’ll Ever Need to Show You’ve “Made It”
It truly is the pinnacle of financial success
Happy Friday, everyone, I have a special treat for you heading into the weekend; a guest post from my friend Charlie Brown who writes a Substack called Simple and Straightforward.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading Charlie’s work for years, first on Medium and now here on Substack. In her writing, Charlie focuses on three things; simplicity, slowing down, and sustainable living. I’ll be the first to admit I am a workaholic—but I don’t want to be forever. Charlie’s writing and philosophy to life is something of an inspiration to me.
If you haven’t already, go subscribe to Charlie’s Substack.
By: Charlie Brown
The air con packed up months ago. There is no USB plug, so my only source of entertainment was the sleeve of CDs ripped back in 2007 when laptops still had such an ability.
This was a 10-year-old Honda Civic —my brother’s car and shared with me for the summer.
It’s a sh*tbox and, thus, is glorious.
This car is the only status symbol my brother — a successful photographer —will ever need. It shows everyone everything they need to know about his success.
It shows he doesn’t give two hoots about looking successful — he’s much more interested in actually being successful.
Changing the perception of financial success
Back in the nineties, the Millionaire Next Door proved that most of the US’s millionaires don’t live fancy — they could literally live next door to you.
Even though most wealthy people don’t even drive luxury cars (61% are driving Hondas, Toyotas, and Fords — even Jeff Bezos drove a Honda Accord until 2013), that’s not how the likes of you and I often see it. Status is still very much assessed by what sort of hunk of junk you’re swanning around in.
But basic economics says that unless you’re a squillionaire (or in a ton of debt), every purchase you make is a trade-off. If you want to be wealthy — in the sense that you have plenty of disposable cash on hand — tying it up in physical, depreciating assets like fancy cars is not exactly sensible.
You’re trading your money — and thus your time — for a status symbol that does little more than make you look like you care way more about looking rich than actually being rich.
It’s basic math. Money tied up in expensive car = less money for everything else. That doesn’t exactly scream success to me.
When I see a fancy schmancy car roaming about, I don’t see success — I see a dick
There’s a Hummer parked in my current apartment’s communal garage. I saw the dude take it out the other day, zooming up the main street, cutting up another driver, and crossing a red light.
Friends, I can’t say I was surprised.
In the UK, we have fewer Hummers, more BMWs, and Audis. BMW has taken the top spot for the most dickish car in Britain. Surveys say “Beemer” drivers are thought of as rude, aggressive, and prone to road rage.
So, could it be fair to hypothesize that the fancier the car, the worse the human behind the wheel?
The evidence suggests yes. One study showed that expensive car owners feel more superior and are much less likely to stop for pedestrians:
Disengagement and a lower ability to interpret thoughts and feelings of others along with feelings of entitlement and narcissism may lead to a lack of empathy for pedestrians among costly car owners — CNN
I’m sure it’s #notallBMWs — or Porsches or Range Rovers — and yes, I’ve seen drivers of old, beat-up cars believe the rules of the road don’t apply to them.
But I’ve been cut up, cursed at, and flashed by more BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes on British motorways than I care to count. At that point, I’m not thinking, “wow, I’m so impressed by their car.”
I just think they’re a knob.
Ditch the fancy car, work less hard for more money
If you scrap that $1000+ a month car payment, your money will literally be worth more becuase you’re not losing a ton of it in that luxury car.
When you settle for a Toyota Camry, you don’t have to work so damn hard for money. With less time being spent earning money to pay a loan on an overpriced car you don’t need, you get the gift of time.
He’s talking about Camrys; I’m talking about Civics — tomayto tomarto. The point is, if you stop thinking about what makes you look successful, you may actually have a shot at becoming successful for real.
Success isn’t about spending all your cash (and going into debt) for external signifiers. It’s about having time. It’s about exchanging money for meaning. It’s about driving a Honda Civic so you can work a job you want and live a life that sustains you — much like that photographer brother of mine. If he had big car payments, every dollar he makes through his photography would actually be worth less — and his dream job would likely be shelved.
Again, it’s simple math. Small / no car payments = more money = more time = more meaningful experiences = happier you.
I want more Honda Civic drivers in my life, please
It’s not just about the money. In my experience, the best people I’ve met in life tend not to give much of a crap about fancy cars. Whilst some of the most dickish people I’ve known — I’m looking at you, first boss out of college — definitely do.
I want to befriend the Ford drivers, the Honda lovers. I want to hang out with people who don’t own a car at all. I want to know people who understand that cars are just a part of life, not a way to play at being wealthy. Because who gives a fuck about that? No one I want in my life, that’s for sure.
Give me the Honda Civic driver listening to Queens of the Stone Age CDs with the windows rolled right down any day of the week.
They sound much more fun.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.