Owning a car is almost like a right of passage. There's a love obsession with cars in every part of the world, despite the cost of ownership and the hassles of maintenance. Here's how to buy any car you want guilt-free. It is that guilt that makes us feel annoyingly bad whenever we purchase something.
Cars Are Extremely Expensive Outside Of America
In some parts of Asia, simple cars like a Honda Civic can cost up to $80,000 due to import taxes. Yet, Singaporeans and Malaysians still spend such a fortune because they just love their cars.
We're lucky in America where a Honda Civic costs a more reasonable $20,000. We don't have crazy import tariffs on luxury automobiles like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and Range Rover. Those cars costs hundreds of thousands of dollars more in Asia.
That said, Americans still spend way too much on a car for their own financial well-being. The median car price is roughly $39,000 after-tax. This is extremely high compared to the median household gross income of $68,703 in 2021.
If you're afraid of feeling guilty when buying a car, let me share with you seven ways to buy a car guilt-free. After all, I bought a $60,000 Rover Rover with cash two years ago and feel zero guilt at all. This is after driving beater cars worth less than $8,000 for 14 years.
How to Buy Any Car You Want Guilt-Free
After the the pandemic, used car prices are shooting through the roof. The average new car price is also about $39,000. Crazy right? But let me share with you how to buy any car you want without too much guilt.
1) Know the streets are dangerous.
Within the past two years I've witnessed five car accidents and driven by at least a dozen more. About 70% of the time I drive somewhere, I experience or witness a close call: drivers running red lights, speeding, sideswipes, distracted cellphone driving, road rage, drunk driving, and more.
There is only so much defensive driving you can do. If there is a reckless driver on the road, they might plow into your vehicle and cause serious harm. Therefore, you might as well buy the safest car you can buy, which is generally more expensive. Here are some of the safest cars to buy.
2) What would you pay to save a life?
To buy any car you want, you must quantify that value of life.
Let's say you got into an accident and your loved one died because the airbag was too old and didn't deploy or the crumple zone needed to be six inches larger. I'm absolutely sure you would give EVERYTHING you have to save their life.
Given this is the case, spending an extra $20,000+ above the median new car price of $39,000 is a bargain for added safety, comfort, and performance. Chances are these benefits will leave you guilt-free about buying a car with those added expenses.
3) Could you live with yourself if something bad happened?
One of life's biggest tragedies is experiencing regret. Bad things happen all the time. But if you did all you could and a bad thing still occurred, at least you could more easily console yourself in the aftermath.
On the other hand, if you could have done more, you will most likely beat yourself up for it after.
This goes along with the previous reason: do all you can and pay the necessary funds before so that after, if something bad happens, you won't look back and regret not doing all that you could.
4) Spend no more than 1/10th your gross income on a car.
When you buy a vehicle equal to 1/10th your gross income or less, you do not feel guilty. Instead, you start feeling great about how frugal you are. Ideally, you can earn a high enough income to afford the safest vehicle on the market. If that's not possible, it's worth violating the 1/10th rule in order to get a safer vehicle especially if you have little ones.
Buyer's remorse comes from being unable to comfortably afford the car. You've got to find a counterbalance of accomplishment for the extra money spent on a luxury vehicle.
For me, I followed the 1/10th rule, turned 40, waited 14 years since my last luxury vehicle, built a lifestyle business, and was about to become a father. Thus, I figured it was now or never to finally live it up some and bought my car guilt-free.
5) A business expense reduces costs.
One of the benefits of running a business and owning a 6,000 lb gross weight vehicle or more is that you can deduct the entire cost of the vehicle as a business expense. Therefore, if the cost of the SUV is $70,000 and you pay an effective 30% tax rate, your real cost is only $49,000.
If you don't want to buy the car outright and wish to avoid “depreciation recapture,” you can always just lease the vehicle. By leasing, you still can expense the rental payments under your business according to your percentage usage, and at the end of the lease, you simply return the vehicle.
Related: How Much Car Expense Can You Deduct
6) The longer you own your car, the more guilt-free you will feel.
During the first few months of ownership, you will likely feel a mix of excitement and a little bit of buyer's remorse. But over time, this buyer's remorse dissipates as your vehicle's utility increases.
If you have an especially great winter family vacation, your appreciation of your vehicle's stability through the snowy mountains will go up. If you were able to transport clients to a fun boondoggle and won more business as a result, you'll certainly love your vehicle even more.
Shoot for 10 years of car ownership before getting a new one. It's the same concept as buying a forever home and living in it for at least 10 years. The longer you can own your splurge purchase, the more you'll get out of your purchase.
7) You're going to die with millions.
For those of you who are steady earners and investors, you'll most likely die with an excess of funds. If this is the case, there's no reason you shouldn't get any vehicle you can afford that is fun, safe, and comfortable.
Everybody should spend time with an estate planning lawyer. If you don't have time, then you can read my three takeaways from my estate planning lawyer everybody should follow.
Just being a regular reader of Financial Samurai puts you in the top 1% for financial savviness. You will put your financial know-how to good use.
Buy A Car Guilt-Free
The key to buying a car guilt-free is being able to comfortably afford a car. The guilt comes from knowing you could have spent your money in a more productive manner.
For example, if you sacrifice the quality of food at home for a car, you're going to feel guilty. If you want the best education for your children, but decide to buy a $80,000 Range Rover equivalent to four years of private grade school tuition, you'll feel guilty.
But if you are feeding your family the healthiest food and have 12 years of private grade school tuition saved up and a comfortable home that's paid off, you aren't going to feel guilty buying a Tesla. You've got your priorities down.
Finally, if you've got great car insurance that protects your loved ones and belongings, you'll feel better about your car purchase as well. Check out Allstate, one of the best car insurance providers today if you're looking for an affordable policy.