Best of Bark: I Neither Need Nor Want Your Financial Advice


One of the best worst things about the Internet is how many “experts” there are on every single subject under the sun. Among the easiest subjects for anybody to obtain indisputable guru-like status on, based on the TTAC comments, is finance.

And, boy, do they love to share their expertise, solicited or not.

Among the widely held financial “truths” bleated by the automotive car experts in the comments of Jalopnik/TTAC that are held as “indisputably true::

  • Buying used is always better than buying new
  • Buying is better than leasing
  • Financing cars is a terrible idea
  • Japanese cars are better buys than European cars which are better than Korean cars
  • But ALL of them are better than American cars

Now, let me tell you what I believe:

  • I almost exclusively buy new
  • I’ve now leased four cars
  • I have two cars that are currently about halfway through their 60 month financing
  • There’s not a single car being built in Japan or Europe right now that I lust after
  • I have three Fords in my driveway, and there are at least three others I’d like to have

I’ve already written one post debunking the used > new myth that set the Internet on fire. Let’s hit the rest of them.

  • Leasing makes PERFECT sense if you don’t plan to keep a car for very long. If the market value of the car is, at any time, greater than the residual amount owed on the car, you can sell it and profit. If it’s less, you simply walk away from the car at the end of your term. I know, I know, you buy all of your cars with the intention of keeping them for fifteen years. Good for you. That’s not what anybody in the real world does. I keep cars for three years or less. So does everybody else I know who actually likes cars and doesn’t view them simply as an appliance.
  • Virtually every investment you can make on the market is going to pay you a better return than the zero or 1.9% percent promotional financing being offered by every single lender right now. Why on Earth would I pay thirty thousand dollars in 2015 dollars for a car when I could pay that money over time at no penalty? Every single day, my money can be earning interest and/or gaining returns. Plus, every dollar I pay in 2020 is worth approximately ten percent less than a dollar I spend in 2015.
  • What exciting or revolutionary car has come out of the design houses of Honda, Toyota, or Nissan in the past ten years? Honda thanked its enthusiast fans by killing the S2000 and the Integra Type R. Toyota killed the Supra, killed the Celica, and launched an underpowered and underwhelming FR-S. Nissan launched the GT-R, a car that virtually nobody can afford, and then sat on its hands and watched as all the pony cars passed up the Z. Yes, the Camry, Accord, and Altima continue to be decent—but the Fusion and 200 have caught up.
  • Meanwhile, Ford has launched two new generations of Mustang GT in the last five years. They’ve introduced the Focus ST and the Fiesta ST, they’ve brought back the Ford GT, they have a 500 HP flat-crank V8 Shelby coming, they’ve announced the Focus RS…please tell me how Ford isn’t pulling the pants down of every single manufacturer on the planet right now? God, if they would just iron out MyFordTouch there would be no reason to buy anything else.

Frankly, I don’t buy the “I COULD PAY CASH FOR ANY CAR I WANT BUT I CHOOSE TO ROLL IN THIS PENALTY BOX THAT IS ACTIVELY HURTING MY ABILITY TO ATTRACT A MATE BECAUSE DAVE RAMSEY” thing that’s so pervasive at TTAC and Jalopnik. Let me get this straight—you’ve posted over a thousand times on an automotive website yet you claim not to be bothered by this. Nonsense.

I write for and participate in a an automotive community because I love cars. You know what forums I don’t frequent? All of the other ones. Do you know why? Because I have no interest in them.

Here’s a little financial tip from your Uncle Bark: your money is getting worth less and less Every. Single. Day. It’s called inflation. Every day that you aren’t enjoying your money is a day that you’re wasting it.

You might get hit by a bus tomorrow. You might be bankrupted by Stage 4 Liver Cancer. If you do, how much good will your frugal lifestyle do you?

Even so, I don’t have all my chips in my “live for today” bucket. I max out my 401(k). I try not to senselessly acquire debt.  I plan for my kids’ futures. I’m, in no way, “house poor.” I may not live totally sensibly, but I’m not reckless, either.

At the end of the day, I think there are just a fair number of people out there who refuse to admit—or just don’t want to admit—that there are people out there who can afford to live a lifestyle that they just can’t. It upsets them that their $35K jobs don’t afford them the same lifestyle that a $150k job does. In olden America, that would have inspired them to work harder or educate themselves more. In today’s “blame everyone BUT me for my decisions and my quality of life,” they figure that somebody who can afford to buy a new car (or, God forbid, three of them) probably doesn’t make any more many than they do—because that wouldn’t be fair!!—they just are living “above their means.”

But as a wise poet once said:

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Keep your wretched financial advice to yourself. My McMansion and me, why, we’re doing just fine.


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