A Car As The Ultimate Status Symbol For Insecure People

Have you been big wigged by someone with a fancy car?

A car is the ultimate status symbol for insecure people. Let me explain why not following my 1/10th rule for car buying is more due to the unhealthy desire for status rather than the inability to be frugal.

As I was returning home in Rhino, my 2015 Honda Fit, a late model Porsche Cayenne SUV came zooming towards me. We were on a quiet and narrow residential street so I was going slowly. I've driven the street hundreds of times before and have never had a problem passing a car going the other way.

Instead of slowing down, the driver in the Porsche SUV started honking her horn for me to pull over to make way for her, as if she owned the road.

There was no need for me to do anything since I was well on my side. But if you're going fast, it's harder to calibrate the space you have between cars. I slowly kept on going and she slammed on her breaks and started screaming.

The Car As A Status Symbol

Of course, I curiously rolled down my window to hear what she was saying because I LOVE to talk to emotionally crazy people! It's so much fun to try and figure out why some people go berserk over their own wrong doing.

“What are you doing?!” she screamed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You're supposed to make way. Don't you see I'm coming?” she continued.

“You want me to move even more into my lane you mean?” I asked. “There's plenty of room for both of us to pass. Just slow down.”

Then she got even more pissed and began talking nonsensical. “YOU HAVE NO IDEA! NO IDEA!”

“Huh? What are you talking about?” I responded calmly.

“This is why I drive a $70,000 car and you drive that!” she blurted out . And then she rolled up her window and sped off, perfectly fitting through the lane without me moving as I had explained.

Dang, why did she have to big-wig me like that?

Why Do People Lash Out?

Speed kills. I didn't take the statement to heart until I saw one too many careless auto accidents that either destroyed a vehicle or left someone dead.

Just last week, I saw a woman driving a brand new Audi Q5 t-bone the Honda hybrid vehicle that was literally right in front of me at a neighborhood four-way stop because she somehow didn't see the other vehicle going. Slow down people!

I'm trying to understand why the crazy woman in the Porsche said what she said to me. I've thought of several plausible reasons.

Road Rage And Insecurity

1) She was in a rush to go to work. It was 8:30am when the incident happened. Perhaps she was stressed because she was running late for an important 9am meeting. Anything slowing her down would face her wrath.

2) She's insecure. Nobody needs a SUV in the city. Nobody needs a sports car in a city either. If you drive a sports SUV then you're at the top of driving an unnecessary vehicle. Therefore, a reasonable explanation could be that she's using her vehicle to make up for some type of insecurity. The insecurity could be as simple as being extremely unattractive. Or, maybe she's using her car as a reason to make up for her inability to buy a single family home in San Francisco. Who knows for sure. She needs a car as a status symbol.

3) She believes bigger, more expensive cars have more authority on the road. I've noticed one very obvious difference driving a compact car versus driving a Land Rover. I get bulled over by larger cars who aggressively try and push me off the road when making turns or passes. Now I know exactly how it feels to be a smaller person walking in a crowd. It must get so annoying to get pushed and shoved by bullies or colleagues who feel more powerful than you because they are looking down.

4) She's a bad driver. If you're a bad driver, it's hard to relax on the road because you know your lack of driving skills could cause damage to your car. The more expensive your car, the more stressed out you'll be when you even park your car, let alone fix the car after an accident. If you're a good driver who drives an inexpensive car, you're as stress-free as you can be.

5) She's financially overextended. When you're stressed out about money, you're simply more unpleasant to be around. Looking back at my post, “What Does Financial Independence Feel Like?“, the number one feeling I write about is no longer getting as annoyed or as pissed off at people. If you'r financially overextended, in a rush, and a bad driver, I can see why you might snap.

I really can't think of any other logical reason why she'd be so rude to me other than the fact that she's a nasty person. But I don't think anybody is inherently bad. Usually something else is bothering them to lash out. It's kind of like reading the occassional nasty comment. Comments are a reflection of the individual, because we always see the world in our own way.

A Car As A Status Symbol

If you're saying to other people, “This is why I drive a $70,000 car and you drive that!,” it's clear you believe a car is an important status symbol. I can understand putting a greater emphasis on the value of your car as a 20-something-year-old or even if you're a late blooming 30-something-year-old because it may take up a greater portion of your net worth.

But if you're over 40, happy, and financially secure, what's the point of big wigging somebody?

Related: There's No Need To Win A Financial Argument, Just Win By Getting Rich

I don't go around telling people who cut me off, “Hey jerk! This is why I own multiple properties in San Francisco and you still rent!” That would be obnoxious, especially given only about 11% of San Franciscans can afford to own a median home right now.

But owning a median-priced $1.9M home in San Francisco in 2021+ is financially way harder than owning a $70,000 vehicle.

Percentage of people who can afford homes - status symbol
Wouldn't bragging about owning property be more effective than bragging about a depreciating asset?

Easier To Lash Out Than Be Disciplined

I've come to the conclusion that Americans believe the car is the ultimate status symbol. It's the reason why there is so much backlash against my 1/10th rule for car buying.

If you're spending way more than 10% of your gross income on the value of a car, you will defend your decision to the end! It's like paying $250/person for a meal if you're not rich.

To not feel completely stupid for paying so much, you crow about how amazing your dining experience was and share all your food pics over social media.

If you've got a very expensive car status symbol, but it's well less than 1/10th your income, you're not insecure at all. You're big balling and couldn't give two shits about what other people think about your car. Nor would you ever try and big-wig someone who drives a less expensive vehicle.

What To Do If You've Been Big-Wigged?

As someone who is now 43, I found the whole incident amusing. It was an absolute joy to drive a $19,200 pre-tax compact car because I don't have to worry about dings or fitting into tight spaces.

Rhino was the perfect city car that can park in 20% more spots than a mid-size car. Further, it's much more gratifying picking up someone in an economy car and convincing them you're someone worth spending time with, than picking up someone in a luxury car and having them admire you for your money.

If you've ever been big-wigged, just know there's something wrong with them, not you. The people who are truly happy with their lives would never try and big-wig someone else.

They don't need a car as a status symbol. Instead, they'd show more kindness than the average person because they are so appreciative of what they have.

Vehicle Insurance Recommendation

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Safety First: Finally Bought A Family Car

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161 thoughts on “A Car As The Ultimate Status Symbol For Insecure People”

  1. I’m 47 with a high six figure income. I’m in complete agreement with you. I drive a 17 year-old Honda which I purchased new. It has 155K miles on it. I can afford something much more luxurious, but I find satisfaction driving a car with no payments and doesn’t cost me much to own. I’d rather put my money into things that appreciate in value. And I know plenty of people who barely have two nickels in their pocket who have several hundred dollar per month car payments. And they always complain that they have no money. No crap, a lot of your money is going into something that will soon be worthless.

  2. Two things came to mind when reading your post.
    First, it reminded how nice it is to drive a 14 year old car with 150k miles on it, I don’t really have to worry as much about crashing it or having it damaged while parked. I’ve been in several situations like you described and I found the best approach is to simply point out that my $4k car is perfectly capable of totaling their $60k car if they try to push me off the road.
    Second thing that came to mind is the line between buying a sports car because you enjoy driving it and buying a sports car as a status symbol. Where would you say that line exists and what would you advise prospective sports car buyers to keep in mind (assuming they follow the 1/10 rule) to avoid buying something for status?

    1. The line is hard to draw with cars because much of what they are and provide for the consumer is image. Frankly, I think sports cars that are similar in price to the aforementioned Honda would be suitable. The type of cars that are cheap and have lower expectations. Like a Miata.

  3. “I don’t go around telling people who cut me off, “Hey jerk! This is why I own multiple properties in San Francisco and you still rent!” That would be obnoxious”
    – (you sure are telling us now!!)

    Perhaps you need to check your self?

    Also, you could have also move a little bit aside if you really want to prevent an accident,
    But your ego couldn’t let you.

    Interesting article, but I think it says more about you done anything else.

    1. It sure is, because this is my article. But you don’t know who I am, so I’m happy to share. Sharing in this article doesn’t help me in any way.

      The question is: how did you end up on this article that I wrote so long ago? Surely you must’ve googled the term about cars as a status symbol or something.

      1. It is true I don’t know you. But you didn’t know the woman you wrote this article about.

        How I found you?
        I have been working hard for the last 10 years. I’m now 38. I was looking for a reason not to treat my self with this new RR suv. Because I hate the fact that people connect it with some kind of a status. I just live the car. But all your article did was confirm what already known. Ego is the sickness of the haves and have-nots.

        Conclusion: doesn’t really matter whether you have nice car or not.

        1. Agreed. Follow my 1/10th rule for car buying and you’re good e.g. if you want a $78,000 Range Rover Sport, shoot to make $780,000+.

          Otherwise, you’re going to be stressed and short circuit your financial freedom. I can already tell you’re pretty frustrated and want to buy the RR but can’t comfortably do so. Hence your frustration toward me.

          Bottom line: Don’t buy what you can’t afford. A luxury car is not a right. Too many people waste their money on a car. There’s nothing wrong with a Honda Civic.

          BTW: The woman has received multiple speeding tickets in my neighborhood. Many parents have complained. I have a RR Sport

          1. Andy Orellana

            If you need yo make 700k a year to buy a 70k most people you see walking in the USA shouldn’t even have a bicycle. In fact whats is a 70k car? 900 to 1000 a month? Thats chump change. If you make 15k and your income usually goes up with a 3k to 5 k mortgage you can have vacations and whatever you want and live life and die happy.
            What you are saying to. Women and men its have 1 child at age of 60 because that’s when you can afford it. A child cost supposedly 250k … so technically people should own a child until they make 2.5 million a year lol. That’s one stupid way to put it.

              1. Andy Orellana

                Nothing is wrong. I am buying a used truck for 6k today. Could I buy a 70k truck that I like yes.. but I choose not to because I have other priorities that I want to take care of.
                Plus I believe there will be a huge correction in the real estate market and want to have money ready for it.

  4. “Nobody needs a SUV in the city.”

    I was enjoying the article until I saw that, because that’s just straight up wrong. If you have 3+ kids, you need an SUV. My mom had a Suburban when I was a kid, not because she wanted one, but because she needed it. She needed it for road trips and carpools, and other parents refused to let their kids sit in the death trap reverse seats of her station wagon (despite the fact their kids loved those seats). She hated the car, and sold it the moment it was no longer necessary. She also hated that it was a ‘status symbol’ of the time, but she didn’t want a minivan and there weren’t many options for 3 row SUV’s back then.

    1. I grew up as one of four kids and my parents never drove an SUV. We had a few Toyota minivans that they drove until they were 250,000 miles or above. We live in Minnesota. Unless you’re getting groceries in 8 inches of snow, I don’t understand the need.

  5. Love this topic! I struggle with people everyday and see true colours in people.

    I own two modern classics; 1) Ferrari F355 Spider in black, and, 2) POrsche 911 996 C4S also in black.

    When I’m driving these cars (if in daytime hours) I find people are extremely courteous to me and I get let out of junctions and given priority even when it’s not mine. If anything I tend to feel quite shy driving them especially when it comes to filling them up with fuel as the cars do attract a lot of attention. Mostly I drive them at night as they give me quality thinking time. My favourite journey is from Birmingham to London (approx 1h 45mins) and I usually head to Leicester Square McDonalds to grab a milkshake (yes I know – I’m a saddo) & to enjoy the busy lights of London then I’ll drive back home all content. What I am trying to point out here is that I purchased these cars because I REALLY like them. I bump into people all the time who purchase cars to ‘keep up with the neighbours’ – that is totally not me – If I can take a journey by bus, train, bicycle or train I will – there’s no stress there!!!

    My daily drive is my late fathers 2010 Vauxhall Astra Van. It has super low mileage, starts first time, excellent on fuel, (for some reason) has an excellent radio / CD / speaker set up and drives like a dream. In his van I can go along to my destination in complete peace with no hassle.

    Here’s the contrast, in my cars people show a lot of envy (even though that’s genuinely not why I bought them – they each have several reasons why I wanted them mostly to do with history and / or engineering excellence) – people let me have way, say hello etc etc

    When I’m in my late fathers van people look down on me so so badly like I’m a nobody and there’s a lot of bullying tactics to either not give me way even when it is legitimately my right of way, or just to be in front (as if the vehicle is offending their eyes so much that they just need to be in front) Then there’s the typical stiff neck at traffic lights where people will absolutely not make eye communication as I’m a ‘lower form of life’

    It makes me chuckle how is human beings behave!!!

  6. I have a 2016 Toyota Avalon CLE and A 2009 Subaru Forester. Neither one is a status symbol but they are luxury. I don’t need A Cadarac or A Saburbin or a Lessus. The Avalon is 286 HP opposed to an Audie with 178 HP. I have no need to style and profile or lowrider. I paid cash for both and own my home plus half a mil in the bank. Im not insecure just smart and diligent. I don’t need a status symbol. I know Im better than the next person…..

  7. The author himself is insecure and he’s jealous. Why do you wear a suite? Why not ear the same T-shirts from Walmart? Why not living in a cheapest house you can get? Should I go on?

    1. Ohhhkayyy….. *hands Joe a Snickers.* I’ve met Sam, and he’s neither insecure, nor jealous, nor was he wearing a suit. Maybe take a nap, buddy?

  8. I’m want to get a car that would typically be seen as a status symbol. Not only that I still look like a young guy in my early 20’s (I’m in my mid 30’s) so if people saw me driving it they would think I’m just some punk kid trying to show off.

    However, I’m one of those guys that just wants car because he really likes it (BMW I8). I have no desire to “show off” to strangers on the road. I prefer that people admire me for my morality, excellent common sense, my balanced worldview etc. then some lifeless object. Other then the I8 I really don’t have any desire for expensive vehicles. Therefore, right now I drive a 13 year old vehicle with a blue book value of about $7K.

    Even though my net worth is in the 7 figures and I have enough money to buy a new I8 with cash; I’m trying to be disciplined and wait. Much of the things you mention in your blog that lead to financial success are things I have been practicing for over 15 years. So its really hard for me to just go out and make such an expensive purchase that is a depreciating asset. So I’m going to wait another 3 years, invest some more and then buy the I8.

  9. Hi Sam,

    I grew up admiring cars and going to the SCCA autocrosses on the weekend with my father. I love getting into my BMW M3 on the weekends and taking it for a quick drive to play tennis or to the gym. I have been driving the M3 for over 13 years now. I only drive it on rare occasions now as my children require more of my time. Getting into my car and cruising along winding roads is my escape from the busy world and allows me time to unwind and recharge. My daily driver is a 7 seat Acura MDX that I use to shuttle my daughter and her basketball teammates around in. I would love to upgrade to a Porsche 911 S, which is my dream car. I cannot seem to justify spending the money on a car that I will only drive around on the weekends. Maybe one day when they have graduated from college I may reconsider my dream purchase. Why work hard if you cannot enjoy your money? I like to find a balance between saving and spending. I live a very frugal life for he most part.

    1. I think the problem why I am came to this post is because material doesn’t bring me persistent happiness , it is a high that fades quickly. So, financially (as this website targets) you can certainly use money to fill up your needs, but spiritually ” Enjoy your money” does not bring satisfaction.

  10. Here in Germany people buy luxury cars because of the horsepowers to enjoy the performance on the autobahn more.
    Germans appreciate the driving experience more than showing off their wealth compared to most Americans like the woman in the story.
    The drivers in luxury cars with 250-300 horsepowers going 200-300km/hr feel more entitled to drive on the left lane and flash lights at you to move out of their way. I don’t have a problem with this behavior anymore as I come to understand that some people are addicted to speed and not out there to make me feel inadequate.
    I am simply glad when they zoom past me.

    1. It’s funny because so many luxury cars come from Germany, so I wonder whether you guys see MB, BMW, Porsche as luxury vehicles at all?

      We certainly don’t view Fords, Chryslers, and Buicks luxury cars here in the US! Do you?

  11. Sam,
    This is just another example of someone who assumes that what type of car is what defines you as a person. She probably is over-extended and you are sitting pretty.

    1. Exactly! I see these people all the time, because we live in an affluent area.

      I grew up in SoCal and cars are everything to the many vacuous people who live there. I moved out of SoCal almost 25 years ago. When I was single and went out to bars/night clubs the first question women would ask me in Ca is what car do I drive.

      I would tell them I drove some old Buick or Chrysler and I was a trash collector. Then I’d ask what they did for work. At the time I owned my own business at 22 years old and they were secretaries. Nothing wrong with secretaries, though I had secretaries working for me, along with a publicist and full time accountant among my team. I didn’t buy the BMW to impress, because I was perfectly happy with my paid for Nissan Sentra.

      Others grew up without money and attempting to prove their value. It’s really quite sad.

      It’s all really like high school all over again. These people never matured and have no clue about what’s really important.

      I own my business with my wife in the software industry. We do well and live in a very nice/expensive home we could afford and it will be paid off this year. Because we don’t flaunt our wealth, it’s humorous and at times annoying how people act like we’re below them financially and lacking status.

      We’ve saved a lot for retirement and our kids college funds. I could easily afford to write a check for over 100k car from my checking account if that was really something stupid I wanted to do. I say stupid, because I don’t need a car that expensive. Besides, most luxury German cars break down a lot and I have better things to do than trek back and forth to the dealership for repairs.

      I’ve often joked that people driving those luxury cars who act very special should have a scrolling LED on the side of their car stating their net worth minus all debts. :)

      I didn’t come from money and went to a wealthy high school and college. The car issue has always been a difficult subject for me, because so many people judge you based on your car and other material things. I’ve dealt with it the best I can, though sometimes I do think about buying an expensive car to get it out of my system.

  12. christophhh

    I agree that a really expensive car is often a status symbol, but definitely for younger folks. When I see a guy in his fifties cruising in a Porsche I just assume that he has been smart with his finances and finally earned himself his dream car. I on the other hand, being 25, drive my dad’s Porsche around occasionally and immediately feel as if I am somehow better than everyone else on the road. Same feeling comes from flying first-class (from free upgrades) and watching all those “average” people walk by. I hate that feeling and hence I drive a 98 4Runner that is well within the 1/10th rule for my income. It does everything I want it to do, I don’t worry about scratch marks, people profiling me or gold diggers trying to date me. When I eventually have a lot of money AND don’t feel better than other people I don’t know, then and only then will I buy a nice car.

  13. The best idea is to buy a sustainable nice car. I recently purchased a 2016 Honda Civic EX. Most people say that it is unwise to buy a new car as they are more expensive. However a high rated car like such will last 15 years or so making the use worth the money. Additionally buying new will create a higher resale value if I plan to sell in the next 8 years. Luxury cars are not needed! A Chevrolet Tahoe and a Cadillac Escalade are virtually the same car as they are made by the same overarching company (GM). However they are $40,000 apart. Be cautious about your purchases and invest your money elsewhere in something that will appreciate.

    1. christophhh

      How does buying new create a higher resale value? You lose a huge chunk of money as soon as you drive it off the lot and then most cars generally depreciate the most over the first four years. You are taking all of that loss. If instead you buy a car that is at least a few years old you can get a great car without a ton of miles for a huge discount and then have a great resale value if it’s a reliable car (Honda, Toyota, Subaru, etc.). Looking forward to your perspective!

  14. Luxury cars are bought by obnoxious people as well as people who actually value the vehicle. I drive fast, but never cut people or tail gate them. I never ever speed in neighborhoods or would dream of crowding others out. I have noticed more aggressive driving in people who drive Kia Souls and little Honda fits (and the likes) than Corvettes or Porsche Cayenne’s. Maybe there are more people driving Kia Souls? Yes luxury cars are silly because most people who own them cant afford them. Also because they are, unfortunately, a very visible symbol of wealth (ever seen a music video?) I make a good living and thought very hard before I bought my G37S. I didn’t want to be branded a “poser” (even though an Infiniti is not super fancy). I can proudly say that even 4 years later, I get a huge thrill driving it daily. Paid it off under 16 months. I plan on driving it for another few years and then maybe “upgrading”. I am, for some odd reason, fascinated by cars. I drive a luxury car not for show, because I truly appreciate the fine details. I also wax/wash and do my own oil changes. Cars are not the best financial decision but whenever I am having a bad day, the thought of driving my car makes it all better. It really pains me when people see a certain car and pin it to being a snob or “compensating”. The need for stealth wealth might restrict my future car buying decisions. :-(

  15. I am so looking forward to driverless cars. Replacing economic sink holes with an on demand transportation utility will be biggest economic boost in decades. Not only will lives and property be saved, but resources will be much better allocated. There will be significant economic turmoil, but the gains will more than make up for it.

    1. Driverless cars are in development but the legal issue of who is responsible for a crash remains.

  16. This one is simple. This woman has a sense of superiority. Why? 1). She felt an entitlement of some sort to a larger portion of the road than you. This is typical of wealthy people. They also typically tailgate and speed…obnoxious habits. 2) She stated you have no idea…meaning you are less informed/educated on perhaps many things than she is based on your lower car value…which is linked to your socioeconomic status in her view. 3) she is better than you because her car costs more (the 70000 comment).

    she is also probably materialistic and lives in disconnected fantasy world.

    You should have no concerns, this woman needs therapy. :o)

  17. It’s really true that people use cars as a status symbol. It’s especially true in many Asian countries.

  18. You feel like getting bullied when driving a smaller car. Think about folks like me who ride a bike and get run over all the time.

  19. let me have her whereabouts. i will pay her a visit in my 200k R8 which i paid cash for and show her what she gets for messin with my favorite blogger

  20. It’s funny that she bigwigged you considering your net worth is most likely way higher than hers. As the book “The Millionaire Next Door” states and your blog confirms, expensive cars and outward displays of wealth do not accurately portray the net worth of an individual.

    You never know what the net worth of someone next to you is since the rich like to practice stealth wealth.

  21. I don’t know if I’ve seen a correlation between car value and entitled driving. I know I drove like an asshole when I had my beat-up VW Jetta because I simply didn’t care if it got dinged up! But maybe I’m in the minority…

    I probably have been big-wigged but didn’t notice because I didn’t care.

  22. seattlemike

    as a bicycle commuter in seattle for the past 12 years (year round), i am constantly amused by the supposed power someone in a car has. yes, i realize an automobile driver could run me off the road or kill me, but the thing that stands out most is that the gas pedal, and its false sense of power, is something that feeds people’s rage, or even creates the rage in the first place. the gas pedal seems to act as some great equalizer among people from a power standpoint. were this 200 years ago, most of these people would be cowering or beaten down under similar circumstances.

    lesson: don’t think you have power when you really don’t.

  23. When I was living on the reservation in my younger years, my boyfriend and I were walking along the roadside and discussing a movie we had just seen. These two dudes drive by and yell out the window, “Hey! If you had a car, you wouldn’t have to walk!” We laughed and laughed about this. It is still one of my favorite stories. Honestly, they couldn’t have been driving a nice car, but they out-did us!

  24. Many may not agree with my comments: I think if you can afford to and are responsible, you should own a nice luxury car. A nice cars generally instills confidence in people, makes them positive, and like they have achieved a milestone in their life. Clearly this does not mean that can be unkind to people and break the law. I own an Infiniti truck and I know the difference, at least to me, is that the ride is more pleasurable and rewarding, is made of better quality materials, and looks more attractive than some other mainstream cars. Therefore I make a deliberate mental effort to enjoy the whole driving experience and savor it each time I drive it.

  25. Oh my goodness. People are crazy. I’m glad you didn’t get in an accident! I almost got t-boned a few months ago when someone ran a stop sign on me. Their car was literally inches away from smashing into me. Terrifying. Too many people just don’t pay attention to their surroundings when they’re driving. I try to drive slow because you’re exactly right that speed kills.

  26. Lots of things in life are status symbols. Just owning anything in San Francisco to many is a status symbol. Whenever you meet a new person in a social setting you’re invariably asked where in the city you live. For example, the tech elite are obsessed with living in Noe Valley.

    A car is very much the same thing. I wanna buy a Porsche Macan. Can I afford it? Yes. Do I need it? No.

    Same thing with eating out… A $15 cocktail downtown SF is just nuts but people do it all the time. It’s about cache for many.

    I remember when I was working in investment banking in the 90’s every guy was buying a $800 Hugo Boss suit. Oh how things have changed. The idea of wearing a suit and tie just seems crazy to me. The older you get the less stuff you tend to want.

  27. Hey Sam, thanks for sharing your story.

    Sadly, I would say that she believes that by having a more expensive car, she believes that she is more important than you (and anyone with a less expensive car) and she is a better human than you. She has more rights to the road than you do.

    I think anyone who drives an SUV in a city is making a bad choice. Most people don’t need a car that big. It uses so much more fuel and costs so much more. There are so many SUVs in Melbourne. They will probably never see a field, dirty road or be off-road ever. It’s nearly always a tiny woman who is driving one of these cars.

    I find it utterly bizarre why people think they should be give the rule of the road because of their car or attitude. Maybe they just want to show off how much money they can waste on depreciation of their car?

    I’m surprised you both didn’t get out your guns and shoot each other. (Don’t you love stereotypes? :) )


  28. PatientWealthBuilder

    great story and what a ridiculous reaction. People at work don’t understand my car. I think they would respect it more if they understood that instead of buying a status symbol, I invested my money wisely. Because of that I could buy several cars with cash. But why? Cars as a status symbol is such an American thing and it so foolish. There would be more millionaires out there if people were more logical with their car choices. http://www.patientwealth.com/why-only-a-million/ is something I wrote about that. A porsche SUV is what $80,000? That’s worth $1.4M in 30 years at 10% growth. all for a status symbol. I just ignore people who try to big wig me because I know I work harder and smarter and they aren’t helping me achieve my goals. Great Article Sam.

  29. Hilarious. Sam, isn’t your Rhino on a lease right now? What’s going to be your next car? I know that you’ve listed some nice ones in your mid-life crisis cars.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if you did follow her only to find that she does live in a $10 million pad in Pacific Heights? ;-)

  30. ADVICE from an LEO professional: take out your phone and record/photograph the person and vehicle, time and location. People act completely differently when they know they are being recorded, and the crazy aggression that might work with their husband, neighbors or occasional strangers takes on a whole different context when it is recorded.

    Haven’t heard the term ‘big wig’ before, but it is perfect and needs no explanation! Sam, sorry this happened to you, it sounds upsetting and unfair. This woman obviously has ‘control issues’ as well as ‘entitlement issues’. SF sounds like a hostile place to drive, with Taxis spitting on your hood, Porsches honking at oncoming properly-laned vehicles, rich Chinese kids revving their illegally muffled engines and setting off car alarms, windows broken to steal golf clubs, SFPD speed traps on improperly speed-rated boulevards, etc.

    Seriously, this woman actually reminds me of some of the PF bloggers and commenters who use money as a short-hand for their values. There was a commenter not long ago on this site, who stated something like “I wear an $18,000 watch, because it tells me who I am.” OKAY!:-)

    I do admire the way you handled it, but am not sure why you rolled down the window to ‘talk’. Have you ever had an encounter like that turn out better than expected? It puts the emotionally committed maniac in a position where they will either have to back-down (never happens!) or double-down on their aggression. At least you didn’t get out of the car, that is a sure way to escalation.

    1. If I don’t talk to her, how can I find such great dialogue and experiences for me post? I can’t make this stuff up. It’s golden!

      Good idea about recording or fake recording with my phone next time! Maybe I can capture something cool and post it here for us to discuss the why!

      1. Record, fake record, watch their behavior change!

        Was this a White woman? Sounds like it.

        And the guy who told you he didn’t want “to live in the Asian Ghetto!”, was he Asian? Sounds like it!

        Just curious, wanna see if my race-entitlement meter is still fine-tuned!;-)

        1. Nope. Wrong on both counts. The woman driving the Porsche SUV was a 40-something yo black woman.

          The Asian ghetto person was American, but with Persian ancestry.

          I think your race-entitlement meter is broken!

  31. I’m with you, Sam. I’m in the “slow drivers club”, not just for my safety but for the safety of animals and pedestrians who always seem to dart out instantly (in the first case) and carelessly (in the second).

    I want to add one more reason your confrontational driver may have been rude.

    After a particularly harrowing drive through SF’s Union Square in clogged afternoon traffic with horns honking and people screaming out their windows at each other, I was drained.

    When I mentioned this to someone and asked why he thought everyone was so rude that day, he jingled the spare change in his pocket. “They don’t have enough of this,” he said. *

    And, it’s true. Whenever I’ve been under financial pressure, I have no patience. When I’m financially comfortable, patience is much easier even when I’m up against deadlines or rude people.

    * This rule, however, does not apply to spoiled rich kids, even the grown-up variety.

    1. Indeed. The more stressed out about your finances, the more unpleasant you will be to your loved ones and other people around you. I’m going to add this as the 5th point. Makes a lot of sense.

  32. We have a 12 year old honda civic, probably worth about 1% – 2% of household income. I really like BMWs, but I like the idea of retiring before 40 even more than BMWs.

    People who spend all their money on luxury cars, keep the economy moving. Helps all of us in our investments. I wouldn’t discourage it, as long as they don’t default they can stay wage slaves all their life. And continue to use the “I need the SUV space”, “I need my pickup truck to carry things once every 2 years”, and the best “I work hard, I deserve this”.

    1. “We have a 12 year old honda civic, probably worth about 1% – 2% of household income. I really like BMWs, but I like the idea of retiring before 40 even more than BMWs.”

      Yup–I went Used Lumina -> New Kia Spectra -> New Honda Civic -> New Infiniti in 7-8 years. I finally realized it wasnt’ worth it. When my infiniti got totaled, I “downgraded” to a new Acura TL on a lease that I was planning on buying at the end of the lease (effectively got 0% interest on the lease). I got my wife a new 2014 Hyundai Sonata a couple of years ago and I’m going to switch to driving that until it won’t drive anymore after further reflection the last year on cars. Given that I only drive around 8k miles a year, it should last me at least 15 more years. Promised the wife a new CRV unfortunately. Still, in one year I’ll only have 1 car payment at $275/month vs 2 today at $700/month. The difference is going straight to retirement fund.

      “People who spend all their money on luxury cars, keep the economy moving. Helps all of us in our investments. I wouldn’t discourage it, as long as they don’t default they can stay wage slaves all their life. And continue to use the “I need the SUV space”, “I need my pickup truck to carry things once every 2 years”, and the best “I work hard, I deserve this”.”

      I LOLed – especially the second excuse. My brother and I played club soccer for eyars and had huge soccer bags and we did tournaments out of state with those + parents luggage in a traditional sedan (which are the size of today’s civics) all of the time and survived just fine (plus weekend trips to other cities just about every weekend). People just rationalize it. I was doing that even though I could afford it. Early retirement is even better though.

  33. This is a great way to get gunned down in a road rage incident!

    “Of course, I curiously rolled down my window to hear what she was saying because I LOVE to talk to emotionally crazy people! It’s so much fun to try and figure out why some people go berserk over their own wrong doing.”

    I’m glad you were lucky enough to walk away without being shot. #Murrica

  34. I laughed out loud when I read the “Hey jerk! This is why I own multiple properties in San Francisco and you still rent!”

    People are insane and forget that cars as really just to get you from point A to point B. I’m perfectly content with my ’09 Malibu and I’ll drive that thing until it dies. And at that point, I’m going to buy used (probably a year old). Cars are the biggest waste of money and most drivers are completely whacked out of their minds.

    — Jim

  35. Boy, reading your story gets my blood boiling as I recently had an encounter similar to yours. I was driving on the highway going about 20 km over the speed limit at about 120 km/hr, like everyone else. All of a sudden I saw a Porche SUV gunning it from a distance, probably going 140 or 150 km/hr. I was in the inner lane and tried to move out. But there was no chance for me to move out as there was quite a bit of traffic. The SUV ended up tail gating me for a few minutes and the guy even honked at me. When I eventually moved out of the way once there was enough space I could see the guy gibing me the finger as he drove by.

    It’s pretty amazing how aggressive ppl drive when they’re behind the wheel of a luxury car.

  36. This is interesting port. Irrespective of where the lady was going or what she was stressed about she had no reason to talk about the car you drive.

    Personally I have never been big into cars and have been against buying very expensive cars. We drive a 11 year old Lexus right now. We are in the process of deciding to buy a new car and we were thinking of going a little more expensive this time. Porsche/Audi Suv is one of the cars we are considering (don’t live in the SF). We would be paying cash for the car (my mid life crisis fund) and we are close enough to the 1/10 income for us. But it is still hard for us to buy cars which we know will be depreciating and a post like this makes me wonder if people will judge us negatively for driving one. I have to say your post had made me pause and we need to think harder before we buy.

  37. People put way too much of their self worth in their cars, a depreciating asset. Bigger and more expensive cars usually require more expensive parts, insurance and gas. That little boost to your self worth is not worth an eternal drain on your finances. I’m perfectly content with my Corolla and don’t see a real reason to get anything bigger. It transports my wife in the front and son in his car seat in the back comfortably along with a trunk full of groceries. And it even has room for another car seat if needed!

    As far as that slightly uncomfortable situation with the screaming lady, she was probably going through something, but then again that might have just been her nature. I might have a little more sympathy for her if she didn’t add her little $70,000 car comment at the end. Everyone has gone through loss and/or his stress in their life, but not everyone lashes out like that, so I don’t feel TOO sorry for her.

    1. It does feel AMAZING to only have to spend $30 vs. $85 to go up and back from Lake Tahoe w/ my small car nowadays.

      The best car is where I feel I’m getting the most bang for my buck, where it is fully utilized.

  38. Reformed statusist

    She reminds me off an incident that I had in my younger ignorant days.
    I was in my beater $2000 civic. An elderly man in his beat-up car passed me and cut me off. This is not a big deal, it happens. But I was with a friend in my beat-up car, I said to him if you driving a car like that in your old age, then you have failed at life. I said that when I enraged but I still feel ashamed of having said it.
    My friend agreed and sadly upgraded his car in a few months. I could not afford to buy a new car, and felt like shit driving in it.
    Now when I see someone driving an old car, I usually think they must be smart and spend their money on things that matter.

    1. Ha! I can understand why you said that. We have this reptilian brain that goes off during road rage, and I’m sure the Porsche SUV driving woman has a more normal, rational, softer side to her in different circumstances. Glad you’ve reformed!

  39. Love this post! I just bought a “new” (to me) 2013 Toyota Corolla. My husband and I were in the dealership and we could overhear the couple sitting next to us negotiating their financing. They had a small down payment and couldn’t afford a 60 month term on their loan, so the finance manager encouraged them to consider an 84 month loan term! When it came time to run their credit, they couldn’t qualify for the loan, so the woman (who looked to be in her mid-40’s) called her mother to ask her to co-sign. I overheard her say that her credit score was about 650, which she thought was pretty good. They were doing whatever they could to get into this car that they CLEARLY could not afford!

    At the risk of making this post way too long (your post got me really thinking!), the last car I had was also bought used, and was a 2004 Honda Accord that I put 235,000 miles on. She has been well maintained and still runs like a champ for her new owner. I bought her when I was 24 years old and working as a waitress. I paid $20,000 (plus loan interest over 36 months). In retrospect, I feel like a fool for spending that much money. My salary has doubled since then, but yet the $13,000 I spent on the Corolla feels like a fortune.

    Why are we as a society so willing to spend money we don’t have? I am a financial consultant by trade, and it makes me feel sick when I see people sink so much money into depreciating assets. Good job on keeping your cool by the way; I probably would’ve given her a mouthful and the one finger salute, hehe.

    1. Howdy Kate – That salesman really must be good! He clearly did not give a damn about the financial well being of his customer. Call your mom! Call your uncle! Get the money however you can, “YOU DESERVE IT!”

      84 month term loan on a car is ridiculous.

      Funny how the older we get, and the more we work for our money, the more we appreciate money and become more sensitive to the cost of things.

  40. Ten Bucks a Week

    I notice the same trend in Irvine. The more expensive cars are more likely to run stop signs and zoom around the neighborhood.
    I am loving our Camry, only complaint is that it has a bunch of road noise, has anyone dampened the sound themself?

    1. Try better tires / different tires. Look at Tirerack.com and see what they have that fits your car and read the reviews. You’d be amazed at how big a difference tires can make on the road noise in your vehicle.

  41. Getting To One Million

    In 2008 I paid $15,000 cash for a new Toyota Yaris hatchback which I still own and it only has 29,500 miles on it because I hate driving mainly because of people like the woman you described. When I retire I don’t plan on having a car at all so cars never really mattered to me. I do prefer renting an apartment rather than owning a home because I don’t want the upkeep and I like having my utilities included in my rent for easy budgeting. Also, I like not having to worry about paying for unexpected maintenance bills.

  42. As a self admitted Porsche nut, it is possible you want to drive a beautiful car simply because you enjoy driving so much. I have a hour commute to and from work daily and having something fun to drive makes it far less taxing.
    Having said that, many people really aren’t car nuts and do buy cars for the same reason as Chanel handbags, Rolex watches and other items of extravagance. As long as you aren’t a jerk about it towards others, I really don’t have any issue with people that spend money on material things that make them feel good. I do take issue however with the woman’s driving behavior which sounds quite reckless and her obvious desire to attempt to feel socially elite by calling out the price of her car.

    1. Yes, exactly. Everybody feel free to go nuts on material items. Just don’t make others pay for your decisions in the future and definitely don’t try and put people down for living the way they live.

  43. One of the best things my father always said growing up was “the best car is the one that gets you from point A to point B the cheapest”.

    That is a little oversimplified but the premise is solid and has served me well in my life.

  44. Ugh. People need to get a life.

    I used to be like you in your 20’s — I would have followed her.

    But these days who knows what the person will do. Do they have a gun? Mace? Taser? Knife? Bat? Are they a black belt? It’s crazy out there! I simply ignore any issues and move on.

    Drivers are so discourteous these days as a whole. Let’s work together people! Let’s drive so that we all make it there safe, on time, and happy.

    As for the car she owned and the one you own: we know you are doing well. Odds are (if she’s like most Americans) she’s paying a fortune in monthly payments for that car and has other debts that she’s barely able to sustain.

  45. FS,

    There was actually a study done in the Bay Area by a professor at UC Berkeley a few years ago that showed that the rich drive differently and less ethically than less wealthy people. Essentially, people who drove more costly cars were less likely to yield to the pedestrians as required by law. It looks like the study captured the same sense of entitlement that you encountered. Might be worth adding to your post but I respectfully leave that to your discretion.

    Here’s the NYTimes little blurb on the study.


    Here’s the actual study.



    1. This is a great study, and something I absolutely believe to be true about people who drive nicer cards being more entitled on the road.

      I forgot about this study, so thanks for mentioning it. Go Bears!

  46. Dividend Hustler

    Thanks for sharing Sam. That lady definitely has a bad attitude. No matter how bad your day was or what the excuse is, there is no reason to ever say nasty remarks such as that. She’s just spoiled.
    No matter what you drive, it’s a personal choice and whatever you’re happy with but your vehicle is simply a tool. If you like nice things like myself, why not? Whatever makes you happy right but when you “try to” bully and showoff, you come across as unattracting and insecure for sure.

  47. Boocoo Money

    Cars are a status symbol because that’s the only thing people can see that you own. You won’t take a random person back to your house and say “hey, I’m living in this million dollar house with boat access to the ocean and a beautiful view of the city, where do you live?” So having an expensive car is the easiest and best way to showcase your status in life. Think of it like a moving billboard that advertises what you want people to know about you.

    Personal, I don’t believe that a car should define who you are because it is a liability wether its paid off or not. But, there is nothing wrong with riding in a little luxury if you can afford. Don’t have the expense consume your budget, but if its no problem, then why not. Hell, you only live life once right?

  48. Sounds painfully annoying…too bad there was no other solution than just moving on.

    I’m sure it’s been beaten to death here, but I too disagree with the 1/10 rule as I think you are too focused on cars as the ultimate detriment to wealth building. High-earning folks around here are just as susceptible to overspending on housing and food as they are on toys. It really isn’t about how much you spend on a car, it’s how little you use it and how long you keep it. Regardless of your income, if you drive a brand new car until it makes zero sense to repair it, you’re still probably doing just fine financially. I know it wouldn’t really make sense for you to do posts on how to be frugal, but that’s why the car rule in general always feels a little out of place to me.

    1. Turn the 1/10th rule upside down and see it as a motivator to MAKE MORE MONEY.

      If you want a $35,000 car, figure out how to make $350,000+. Too many folks see the rule as an inhibitor. It makes people uncomfortable to spend within their means.

      But the people who see it as a motivator do so much better b/c they have the abundance mentality.

  49. Every time I see a luxury vehicle on the road, I like to play a game with myself. I start doing the mental gymnastics required to calculate the opportunity cost of owning and operating the extravagant vehicle in front of me.

    Most people do not understand the true cost of operating their luxury vehicle. Particularly in the US, the questions “how much down?” and “how much per month?” are the only questions the average person asks before pulling the trigger on a new vehicle. Most people do not realize that their car obsession is literally the biggest separation from becoming a millionaire.

    In some sense, I get it. I like nice things, especially cars. I own two – a 2008 Honda Accord with all of the bells and whistles, and a 2013 Hyundai Sonata. They are far from status symbols to me, however. I enjoy driving them due to their fuel efficiency and comfort. I also enjoy maintaining them and plan to drive both vehicles for at least the next five years.

  50. Some people do consider a car as a status symbol. I don’t. A car is simply a tool to allow you to get from point A to point B. I see it as a necessity when public transportation is not reliable. But what I do know is that many people will use their cars to hide their insecurities.

    I know a couple of people who flash car to avoid problems that they have in their lives. They want people to talk about what cars they drive not what’s going on with their lives.

  51. Kevin @ thebeatercar.com

    The most content and financially stable people I know ironically drive the most average and modest of vehicles.

    And I suppose that isn’t surprising, as they most likely achieved this level of success in part by not wasting money on $80,000 depreciation machines.

    The truly free man can sit in the slow lane with his cruise control set at the speed limit, while those enslaved to the world fly by honking at 85 mph.

    This frequently happens to me, and then I’m asked how limiting and constraining it must be to mostly drive the speed limit, and I’d love to ask them how stressful it must be to always feel required to anxiously speed to your destination.

    You tell me which person is more happy?

    I’m just over here in the slow lane like…”let it go, let it goooo, can’t hold me back anymoooo…!”

    1. I’ve definitely noticed the same thing about financially stable people and their more modest cars.

      And again, if you can comfortably afford a luxury vehicle, fantastic. Just don’t big wig other people on the road.

  52. My wife spent time in Italy and one of the observations she formed was Italians dress like GQ models compared to Americans. However, she noted that cars (even luxury SUVs) weren’t taken care of very well over there. There would be significant scratches/dings and significant dirt/grime built up on even the nicer cars. It seems like a contradiction that Italians would take care of their clothing appearance but wouldn’t put as much effort into their cars. Now, I know you see beat up/dirty cars over here in the States, but not so much on luxury cars. The best conclusion we could come up with is that they view the car as more of an appliance over there. Plus, with the emphasis on walking and public transportation, more people are likely to view your clothes and not as likely to view your car, if you own them at all.

    1. This is a GREAT observation and fantastic cultural difference between Americans and Italians, and perhaps many other Europeans. Many of the cars in Europe are also much smaller due to congestion, parking, and high petrol prices.

      In Asia, cars are absolutely a huge status symbol due the higher prices due to the import tariffs.

      1. Very true in Asia. When I lived in Singapore 10 years ago, I remember the cars looking as though they were in mint condition. I believe a Corolla was something like 60k USD back then too so it makes sense that 1) You would take care of it given you paid so much and 2) If you had the money to own one, you would have the money to pay for car washes/waxes as well.

  53. You are absolutely correct in saying insecure people drive expensive cars…I’d also add- that they can barely afford! We have acquaintances who short sold a house and walked away from $400k in debt from a bank when the housing marketing crashed. He’s a doctor and he’s married to a woman that can’t stop spending money. They just went out and leased a Range Rover for $100K! Plus they lease cars for their teenagers! We are disgusted and sickened by their ability to just keep spending after making a huge financial mistake. We continue to pay our bills and would never consider defaulting on a mortgage. We own cars that were paid for years ago and we continue to drive them well over 100k miles! Are we crazy to not want to be friends with them? The girl in the Porsche??? I’d say karma is a b*tch….

    1. I agree on “barely afford.” I really don’t care if someone buys a luxury car, so long as they don’t think they are more special than less expensive cars. Everybody can spend money the way they want. Just don’t come begging me or the government for a bailout.

      Welching on mortgage debt, and then going out and getting a $100K car is disgusting. There should be a law against that.

  54. While I agree the lady driving the car made an ass out of herself, I am calling you out on #2. There are many reason why you would have an SUV in the city, listed below:
    * You don’t live in the city, but are only commuting there.
    * You cannot, don’t afford more than 1 car to do the things you need to do. Thus you compromise on 1 car to do all the tasks you need. Towing, going off-roading, etc. maybe things you do only a few times a year, but you cannot take a small car doing them.
    * The obsession of driving a small car for 90% of the time and rent or whatever another car when you need it those few times a year is expensive. I am looking to rent a car, and drive route 66 this summer. Want to know how much that is going to set me back? $1300 for a compact and $1500 for a full sized pickup truck. I can pay for one for a year’s worth of payments for that one trip.
    * Some people don’t fit in small cars. I am 6’3″, and am big, tall, and wide. I have sat in over 100 cars while trying to search for my new vehicle. You would be surprised at how many I fit in. I mean, the number is 5. 5 cars I could physically fit in to drive when I bought my new car in 2015. Subaru Outback, Subaru Forester, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram, and Toyota 4Runner. That is the list of all model year 2015-2016 cars I physically felt comfortable enough to drive in multiple hours a day for my commute. All the rest had too high of center consoles, too low of a steering wheel, I could not operate the pedals because I hit the steering wheel with my knees, etc.
    * There is something to be said for nice, well designed, powerful cars. I am not saying this lady didn’t take it to an extreme, but there is something about being able to put your foot down and having some power.

    You may not have the driving bug, and like to drive nice cars, however that is not how many other feel. One of the great things about America, Choice. We all have choices we can make, and she chose to drive like an ass.

    1. Agree. I am not into cars as status symbols, but I drive a used 2014 Ram for a lot of reasons:

      1. Convenience for doing work around the house. You buy stuff, get rid of stuff… you need something to move it.

      2. Towing.

      3. Safety. I have a 1 year old son. If I’m involved in an accident, I want to be the one in a large, heavy vehicle. Not the one in a Honda Fit.

      4. 4 wheel drive… Having a 4 wheel drive in the snow is awesome to have. I appreciate this so much due to not ever having on my previous vehicles.

      5. Helping friends out. I periodically help friends move things using the truck.

      6. Comfort. I’m not a really big guy, but I feel crammed in little weenie cars. I feel relaxed in a full size pickup.

      7. Road trips. The truck is perfect vehicle for taking my family on vacations within driving distance.

      After having the truck for a while, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to justify spending my hard-earned money on a compact car that has only a single purpose. The truck is just too great of a tool to not have now. An added bonus is the current low gas prices.

    2. I hear you on size, comfort, and safety. If I was your size, I would definitely buy a larger car. I wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic in my vehicle.

      I’m pretty sure the woman driving the Porsche SUV is smaller than me, and lives in the city. I really don’t care what other people drive. It’s their choice. I do care if you feel entitled on the road and make my driving experience worse, especially if I’m on my side of the road driving responsibly!

    3. I’m not undermining your challenges of finding a car that fits you, size-wise, but I just wanted to tell you something funny, because it’s related. My grandpa was 6’7″, but for some reason he had an obsession with tiny cars. He loved Citroens, and his last car that he owned was a Smart car (which he actually fit in!).

      My grandpa and my also-giant uncle (6’5″, I think) took a 100-mile trip in the Smart car, and halfway through grandpa decided to pull over and buy a cactus, over my uncle’s strenuous protests. For the second half of the trip, they had this big cactus standing between them in the car (the only place it would fit), so every time grandpa made a turn, one of them got stabbed in the shoulder. :D

      1. Great story Yeti!! You made me laugh out loud, and I’m going to have this cartoon image of two guys and a cactus in a car driving on a desert road all day long! :)

        I’ve had incidents like this at work last year with a woman who drives a BMW (which is a status symbol over here). I’m a contractor so I get treated like a roach and I drive a little 1.4 truck. This woman speeds (80-100 in a 30km/h zone with blind bends!), talks on her cellphone while driving, bullies me and tries to make me pull over on a decent sized road for her to pass. Well last year our mirrors touched and I reported her to security.

        It was her word over mine but I think security warned her because everyone knows I’m the slowest driver on the road (no, I’m not an obstruction, I drive in the slow lane behind the trucks).

        Everyday I say a prayer when I get to my destination safely because there are so many bad drivers on the road and accidents happen every single day. Why? Because over here they buy their drivers license and we have the worst taxi drivers. And then there’s the road rage incidents where people get gunned down and assaulted. It is terrifying being on the road and you can’t really enjoy your car.

  55. BenefitJack

    Thanks for the insight.

    I myself drive a 10 year old Hyundai (assembled in the US) with 271,000 miles. I don’t often feel “bigwigged” on the road – just always doing my best to get from A to B safely, and will speed ahead, and other times, let the other guy go. When “bigwigged” in the past, long ago, my father would mutter “Sunday driver” and “go to grass”.

    However, I can confirm that I do feel “bigwigged” most every day in my employee benefits line of work. Everytime I read a new government regulation, I feel “bigwigged” – people who are more important, people who insist I don’t know enough, people who read into existing laws or fill gaps by guessing at Congressional intent (like making illegal aliens into people “lawfully present” … which, I am not sure, may trigger an employer requirement to offer coverage to otherwise illegal aliens), etc. I can confirm that everytime I do my taxes and stumble my way through a tax code that is more than six times longer than the Bible … with regulations and other guidance that increases that burden 20, 30, 50 100 fold (depending on the tax provision) – I feel “bigwigged” – like I had the misfortune of drawing the seat at work next to Nicki Minaj.

    Anyway, your advice is spot on. Smile, and give ’em a quizzical Forrest Gump look of lack of understanding their plight and say “Have a nice day!” and watch ’em steam even more.

  56. What a clown. Good for you for not giving way to entitlement. I bet she fumbled all over herself during that 9am presentation because all she could think about was how some leisurely shmuck in a Honda Fit spanked her like a child on the road and then cool-handed her like “Yeah, I’m your daddy. So what?”

    Luxury cars are often viewed as the end result of having so much excess wealth, one has to spend it on SOMETHING so you might as well look fly while your car loses 5-10% of its value each year. In reality, most are the product of poor financial decisions by people who couldn’t wait/put in the time and work to accumulate enough scratch to make buying an $80,000 whip NBD. I’ll drive used Toyotas until my net worth tells me I don’t have to anymore.

    “If they hate, then let ’em hate and watch the money pile up.” – Kanye West

      1. Indeed, It is 50 cents who ironically filed bankruptcy recently (whether he really needed to or not has been a subject of much debate, though)

      2. Jacob, we are both right. Fiddy released In Da Club replacing “they” with a racial slur, in 2003. Kanye West released his song Good Life in 2007. Both songs contained the aforementioned lyric, West’s version sans slur (although I’m pretty sure it’s present elsewhere in the song). I chose to post the one without the slur and the one I was playing in my head as I wrote it. Good catch though.

  57. SavvyFinancialLatina

    Wow! Crazy people. People definitely use cars as a status symbol. Houses too! I live in Dallas, Texas and trucks dominate the city. While some people need trucks (labor workers, contractors, construction workers, farmers, ranchers), there are a lot of white collar professionals with cushy jobs that drive a truck because it makes them look cool. These trucks cost $50,000 and they are definitely not being paid CASH. The monthly payment plus insurance is probably my mortgage, taxes and insurance combined.

  58. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    I don’t even own a car, so I guess I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. When I do buy one, it will be a late model used car – nothing fancy. Honestly, I’d rather have a higher net worth and a less fancy car than the other way around.

  59. Best post to date. Nothing infuriates me more than inconsiderate drivers.

    I work for a luxury travel company, and the people who work with the members always say money just amplifies your personality. If you’re normally a jerk, having extra money makes you a super jerk. If you’re a nice, or generous person, extra money will make you extra nice or generous. Clearly, we all know what category this lady fits into

    1. I agree about money amplifying one’s existing personality. It’s been my experience so far that money actually makes people much more empathetic and kind towards others who have less because they realize how fortunate they are.

      But, I think money also makes people feel more impatient with people who do not show the same respect for time. Once you have money, you value time even more than ever before.

  60. Financial Slacker

    Ms. Financial Slacker is in the commercial mortgage business. I remember many years ago, she was telling me about one of her clients who owned a very large national real estate company. His net worth was in excess of $1 billion. Yet he drove a broken-down old pick up truck.

    Why she mentioned this to me was that very day we had been out looking at houses to buy. We had borrowed a friend’s pick up (a pretty nice one). When we walked into the open house, the agent big-timed us, essentially asking if we could afford this house since we drove a pick up truck.

    Ironically, that was coming from a guy sitting in an open house – lowest agent on the team.

      1. Financial Slacker

        It reminds me of waiters in high end restaurants who look down on the customers who don’t have much high end dining experience.

        Maybe I can’t pronounce some fancy French wine on the menu, but do you really need to look at me like I’m an idiot?

        How about giving me a little help instead.

        Life is too short to act that way.

    1. Funny, but the $2 billionaire at my tennis club drives an 8 year old Honda Accord.

      If you are a billionaire, do you really want to attract the attention of others? Some of the others could include thieves, kidnappers, and murders.

      Don’t get me started on RE agents with fancy cars…..

  61. Apathy Ends

    100% agree that cars are the symbol that someone “made it” – you can see this with the younger crowd in the corporate world. So many city people with $50,000 trucks that drive to work.

    I have never been big wigged in the same manner you have, people in the Midwest usually avoid confrontations though.

    1. Apathy Ends

      Also, are you getting paranoid Sam? We have had CAKs, “getting Chinesed” and “big wigged” over the last month or so. :)

  62. Oh, and people like the Porsche SUV driver are just not good people! Why would anyone buy a Porsche SUV anyway? How about a Ferrari 4×4 pickup? Duh!

    1. Hilarious! Bring back the Hummer H1s and put turbo charged engines on them. Great for city driving!

      “Now that Ferrari is a publicly traded enterprise (NYSE: RACE), the question for fans of the marque is whether—or, more accurately, to what degree—the attendant financial pressures will affect the cars that it builds. Already, we’ve had chairman Sergio Marchionne talking about raising production from the longtime ceiling of 7000 cars to more than 9000. But how about an SUV? Wouldn’t that offset the current sales slump (!) in China? As quoted by Bloomberg, Marchionne answered that question on a conference call with financial analysts by saying, “You have to shoot me first.

      Which isn’t the same as “never.” But it’s encouraging to hear nonetheless.”

  63. Love your writings, Sam! Thanks for trying educate people about smart financial management.

    I’ve long held the belief that people drive expensive cars mostly to try to impress everyone else. Note that I say, “drive” and not, “buy” because many of them simply lease the vehicles. My wife and I retired in our early fifties because we didn’t succumb to foolish whims, like expensive cars. It’s not that we drive beater cars. We sometimes buy new cars, sometimes used – but always with a mind to the price vs. value. For example, last year I bought a new Honda Pilot after my “luxury” Acura MDX’s transmission crapped out. I spent $26k for a new SUV, instead of replacing the MDX for $45k+. I love the Pilot – it gets me where I’m going, carries all my gear, and gives me the satisfaction that I have an extra $20k or so for other stuff! I think that if people would get away from the mindset of trying to impress people with their “stuff” that they would be a lot happier. We retired early by working hard, saving and investing like crazy. But, we also enjoyed living comfortably, drove decent cars, took vacations and live in a nice house. We just didn’t see the value in going over the top with silly expensive purchases that didn’t help us get to our goal to being financially independent.

  64. Future Stealth Wealther

    Great post! I’m done with the fancy car/fancy house/fancy lifestyle. Yes, I am debt free, high net worth, high income and can easily afford it. But …. I’d rather be under the radar and be left alone. I’m now in the process (which is slowed down by wife/kids and the life we’ve built) of decluttering/downsizing and living a more mindful existence. Life is too short to waste energy on stupid stuff …. most stuff is stupid anyways. Sorry about the unpleasant person in the Porsche …. we should all try to slow down and show more kindness.

  65. The Green Swan

    Haha I like that term, Big-Wigged. Definitely seen people like this before and it is usually due to some sort of insecurity. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a thing of the past.

  66. Casebook Arbitrage

    I agree that a car can be a status symbol for most. But, let’s not put everyone who drives a fast and/or luxury car into the same box. Some people simply love the exhilaration of driving a performance automobile. And they are willing to pay what it costs to do so.

    1. COO of the last company I was with was like that. Had a 12 car garage full of sports cars and actually raced them on weekends and on vacations. He loved talking about racing and didn’t drive his fancy ones too work very often.

  67. My guess: middle aged, unattractive, divorced woman whose college friends are all for the most part visibly happier than her with children and husbands. She drives the big SUV and wears masculine clothing, focuses way too much on her career. Walk the streets Manhattan and you shall find them my friend.

  68. Distilled Dollar

    That chart demonstrates why ‘afford’ is such a dangerous word.

    A car can be used as an effective status symbol, given the 1/10th rule, but the vast majority of expensive cars are owned by people who are not following such a rule.

    Given that fact, my first thought when seeing a fancy car, is the owner is a poor investor. A short conversation can confirm my suspicions quickly. If the man or woman has some business, investment, or general financial prowess them I am impressed and curious to learn more. More often, I learn they financed the car via a new income stream that might not be sustainable.

    As someone who doesn’t drive (or have a car), I haven’t been big wigged. The closest is when people ask me about my rent vs buy situation (we rent), but there has never been anything explicitly said.

    1. Todd Guthrie

      I agree completely that ‘afford’ is a dangerous word, mostly because it can mean different things to different people.

      It could mean “These car payments are low enough that I can still comfortably meet my savings goals.”
      It could mean “These car payments are within the specified vehicle budget that I have arbitrarily assigned myself.”
      It could mean “My liquid assets are greater than the purchase price of this car.”
      It could mean “Purchasing this car will not force me into bankruptcy.”
      It could even mean “I’m not good with money, so I use my intuition to determine affordability, based on what I see other people with similar life situations buying for themselves.”

      There’s ‘afford’, and then there’s ‘afford’. Which one are you?

      1. doggonentitled

        “It could even mean “I’m not good with money, so I use my intuition to determine affordability, based on what I see other people with similar life situations buying for themselves.”

        – See more at: https://www.financialsamurai.com/your-car-as-the-ultimate-status-symbol-for-insecure-people/#sthash.ii7qcxWW.dpuf

        I’m glad you mentioned this because I had a feeling some of these evil attitudes which other drivers have towards me on the road, and who operate different vehicle makes/models. I have been trying to figure it out for over two years now. I drive a Jeep thing and it’s none of anyone’s business whether or not I can afford it or have spent beyond my means, etc. I drive this because I like it and it’s the best looking/driving vehicle, in my opinion, I found while searching for two exhaustive years seeing absolutely nothing I liked about the cheaply built and unattractively designed new vehicles today. I did not buy this as a status symbol or to piss anyone off. Again, it’s none of anyone’s business how I got this or why and I don’t really care what they think in their narrow-minds, just as long as they keep their cool and don’t pull any criminal stunts which I don’t have to tolerate because yes, I’m entitled to caring about my own safety and putting up defense when attacked!

  69. I seriously have a question on this 10% car buying rule. I like it. I’m not opposed, but is here ever an exception? For example, we make $140,000 gross but have 4 kids and a camper we use frequently and for vacations and travel (which is cheaper than hotel rooms for 6). How in the world do you find an SUV that accommodates 6 and has enough towing capacity for 8000+ pounds? It would need to have 200,000 miles on it and that’s hardly reliable for hauling your kids across country. Thoughts?

    1. Emilie, have you looked into rental rates on SUVs that suit your needs for the few times per year that you travel long distances? I have a hunch that going this route would represent significant savings over the likely $700+ per month one would be shelling out for a new-ish SUV.

      1. We camp almost every weekend in the summer and take long trips a few times per year. Even if the towing capacity wasn’t an issue, I still need a vehicle that can fit 6 people, which is a challenge to find at $14,000

        1. Fair point. Lifestyle has to be taken into account with the 1/10th rule, I suppose. Do you spend significantly less than other families in other areas as a result of your weekend camping trips?

          1. We spend maybe $35 a night to camp, not counting food and such we would have regardless. But I also live in a very inexpensive Midwestern area. Our 2800 sqft, 4 bedroom home with 2 story great room, sun porch, finished basement on 1 acre is only about 15% of our monthly take home gross (including taxes and insurance). I think a blanket rule doesn’t account for other things, like large families, lifestyle, or other expenses.

        2. Indeed, that 10% is really frugal in some way and really stupid in others. For example
          1) family makes 50k would mean that they will never own a nice car even if everything was paid off and even have couple extra rentals.
          2)family makes 2million a year doesnt mean they would or should spend 200k in cars per year… and so on.
          I would just say to spend what you think is right for your lifestyle. If your plan is to reach 10mill networth with 200k to 300k a year then you need to be frugal. If you make 200 to 300k a year but feel good with reaching 3 millions then you can spend a lot more in other areas.

    2. You ever consider staying at an extended stay hotel? Should be on average < $100 per night per room [on average] and can easily fit 6 people in 2 rooms. If you assume 6 trips at two nights each at $75/night, that's only $900 a year for rooms and you get a full kitchen/frig so meals will be cheaper than a regular hotel. Probably save that much on gas by not towing a camper lol and certainly save that much on a cheaper vehicle.

      1. Well we like to camp so that’s a big part of our family, we enjoy the outdoors, cooking over a fire, hiking, etc…plus, regardless of the camper, I still need to haul 6 people.

    3. There’s always exceptions! The 1/10th rule is really just a guideline for those who are looking for a car buying guideline. Folks can do whatever they want! I’ve just found this simple rule to help people stay much more disciplined and avoid regret. The joy of owning a car fades, but the cost/payments stay.

  70. That is so true that the people that are truly happy are not trying to impress anyone and generally nice to others. I have found the more some one is stretched by the purchase price of their car the more they spend time trying to convince others how special they are. The closer someone is to your 1/10th rule of buying a car the nicer someone is regardless of the type of vehicle they drive. I think it has to do with the underlining stress they have in their lives from being so stretched financially. The less they an afford their toys the worse their attitude’s are toward other people. These are the people who double park, crowd lanes and are generally not fun to be around or near. Its almost a perfect inverse relationship between being stretched financially that brings out the jerk in them. The stuff can be replaced but having a horrible attitude makes me want to go out of my way to avoid such people. Keep up the great insights I know I and many others here appreciate them

      1. I like that the more financially free you become the more the little things don’t bother you. You really realize some of the things that set people off are quite trivial almost laughable. Its like watching my 3 year old have a temper tantrum over not being able to do something. I can see the same pattern in adults who don’t get their way in a situation. Its like going to a mall close to Christmas and watch otherwise rational adults fight over the last remaining item so they can have it for a gift for their family. When it will be restocked and in plenty of supply within a couple of days. I think my favorite was when the tickle me Elmo came out years ago. People were getting really serious about getting the toy. It provides a lot of entertainment for any bystanders and even a few viral youtube videos in the process.

  71. Entitlement can rear is ugly head anywhere, any time.

    Glad you handled it well.

    My few differences of opinion – while I giver the benefit of the doubt, evil does exist – some people are just bad to the bone.

    And never discount crazy. Irrational behavior is just that – irrational. Sometimes it’s temporary, but sometimes it’s someone being their constant crazy self.

    Be very very careful dealing with either one.

    1. Absolutely, nothing provokes aggression like a challenge to entitlement.

      Evil does exist, and there are some people who don’t feel alive unless they are sweeping up others in the backwash of their personal drama. Confronting crazy, hostile, irrational, and inappropriate behavior (would this woman ever move over if someone honked at her?) have no upside, and I wonder about FS’s desire to talk to ’emotionally crazy people’ and what constructive purpose it could serve (other than his immediate amusement). Well, it did turn into a blog post!:-)

    2. Interesting that both you and JayCeezy believe evil exist. I guess you are right b/c there are murderers, rapists, terrorists, etc.

      Yes I agree, be very careful. Usually best to just walk or drive away. You never know what’s hidden under the seat or jacket!

  72. My 911 recently made it out of the garage after its winter slumber. I drive it because I enjoy the experience– the rear engine design, the sound, the driving dynamics, etc. It is worth every bit of what I pay for it.

    This post reminded me of that David Foster Wallace talk… you never know what other people are going through:

    Love the posts, Sam!

    1. Mike wrote “For either no reason at all, or some reason and they wouldn’t admit it.” But Sam wasn’t in any way like that. Besides, in his writing, he only mentioned that he might have done so if it had happened to him in his early 20’s. One never knows what can happen if a woman, especially an “obnoxious $70,000 car owner” acted that way to a young man.

  73. Hahaha! I love your reaction to the whole thing. I’m not so sure I would have kept as cool a head as you did. I would have loved for you to drop a line about owning multiple properties in SF, but it probably wouldn’t have even registered with her. She definitely has a screw loose if she thinks people are supposed to make way for her just because she spent too much money on a car.

    I wonder if people who spend on super extravagant cars realize that everyone is just waiting for them to screw up. Nobody makes fun of the humble newbie driver in a compact car who stalls out at a light while learning to drive a stick shift. But a stalled out Lamborghini is something that people literally point and laugh at. (I’ve seen it, and yes, I laughed, too.)

  74. I’ve never believed in cars as status symbols. It’s a tool, plain and simple. Sometimes it’s nice if it’s not completely rusted over and still has a bit of shine to it, but that’s not always necessary.

    This story reminds me of dudes who drive big trucks in unnecessary situations in order to compensate for….manliness. Which is why I was happy to see that my then-future-husband met me in a Honda Civic on our first date. :D

    1. Some people just like big trucks, if you can afford it why not. I have used truck but i dream of a 70k truck. So, one day when i am clearing at least 5k a month without doing much then i may buy it who knows…
      Btw, i dont have kid’s but i plan on having a bigger car just in case of accidents while with children.

  75. I will offer another possibility for her behavior; perhaps she was on the way to the hospital, funeral home, dying child’s bedside, so something similar. Her words of, “You have no idea…”make me wonder if she was referring to you having no idea of what stress or trauma she was facing. Like you, I often engage enraged or mysteriously angry people if I can do so safely and as you noted, their behaviors are always about them.

    Once when I was working as a hospice RN a police officer arrived at the home of my newly deceased patient and began acting aggressively and made several veiled racist remarks. My patient was a youngish black man who had just died from AIDS and was surrounded by his family and friends. The atmosphere quickly went from grief filled and loving to one bristling with hostility and anger. I luckily defused the situation by saying to the officer how HARD his job must be to have to walk in blind to situations all day. How he couldn’t possibly know how loved this man was who had just died, how these friends had tenderly cared for him for months and what grief they were all sharing. To my shock the officer TEARED UP and agreed that his job was so hard and that he handled it by turning up his defenses. The hostile atmosphere in the room disappeared and he stayed and helped us transfer the body when the funeral home staff arrived.

    I think of him often when someone’s behavior seems out of proportion to the situation and I wonder what could be causing them to act that way. Obviously you couldn’t have a longer conversation than you did with a woman driving by you in the street. But I applaud your willingness to engage her.

    There is a quote that I will paraphrase badly but it goes something along the lines of, “Be kinder than necessary as we never know what burdens another is carrying.” Someone who knows where that quote came from and what it’s exact wording is should feel free to correct my memory of it.

    1. In my eyes, her actions are significantly less defensible than the officer in your story due to her concluding with the remark about her $70,000 car and her implications about their difference in status/importance/entitlement. Even if it was only meant to twist the knife or belittle, she is doing the opposite of your principle by judging FS for the car he drives. Did she stop and consider what burden Sam might have been carrying that may have forced him to drive a much cheaper car than her? We obviously know that no such circumstance/burden exists, but she didn’t. If she was on her way to the hospital/funeral home/etc, I highly doubt she would’ve closed with the $70,000 car comment or even wasted time arguing to begin with. Not saying your point is anything less than 100% valid, just that this feels like apples to oranges.

    2. Romeo Jeremiah

      Hey, Barb. I totally agree with you. And I never would engage with an aggressive driver. It is much easier to let them pass to prevent things from getting out of hand.


      As far as status symbols go, seems that you may believe that a million dollar house is a status symbol for you. Not saying that you’re wrong, but to each his or her own, right?

      1. A $1M house is middle class here in SF b/c the median house price is closer to $1.2M. I don’t think a $1M house is a status symbol at all. A $10M house, probably. If I did, I would go around telling people that and I don’t. As I wrote in my post, that would be an obnoxious thing to say. Stealth Wealth is very important to me.

        1. Romeo Jeremiah

          I definitely understand that stealth wealth is important to you. Of course, I meant no disrespect. And, of course, I know you wouldn’t say that. But the fact that you did “give it as an equal example (whether it would be obnoxious or not) can convey that you feel that a house is a status symbol much like people feel that cars are. Thanks for clearing things up, friend.

          1. Sure, I understand that. And I would say that if you want to big wig someone, it’s more impressive to big whig someone about owning real estate versus a depreciating car. So yes, I do find real estate that has a chance of appreciating to be a better status symbol than a $70,000 Porsche Cayenne!

            When people big wig me on a car, I just think they are stupid!

            1. Romeo Jeremiah

              I concur. I think big wigging is stupid, period. And it’s likely why people are slow to get ahead financially like they desire.

              One is always trying to outdo or keep up with their neighborhood without an understanding of what it may took for them (or how much they are leveraged compared to their assets) to get where they are. It’s no different than trying to keep up with the Joneses, or Dogans, or whomever for that matter. ha.

            2. I agree, a car is a waste of money…if I have 8m in the bank, I can have a Range Rover right? I drove a Honda forever, and I want a nice car, so I spent 100k on one…yes it’s stupid, but I wanted a nice car. I have no debt and wrote a check for it, but I’m plenty secure. I just like a nice ride, I work hard and wanted one!

              I do feel the evil eye of others though, Range Rover people must have a certain jerk reputation, I’m a good guy, I give a ton of money away.

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