My “Bad” Personal Finance

car fire photo


“Dad, can we go speed?”

I always wondered if my kids would be like me.  So when William asked that question on the way to swimming lessons, I knew I could check that box.  Yep, this kid inherited the car gene.  My dad is a car guy.  By today’s standards (I enjoy driving stick), I am a car guy.  And now it seems the next generation has the bug.  What’s this got to do with personal finance?  Cars are one of the biggest targets for personal finance bloggers.  If you’re trying to live the FIRE (financially independent, retire early) lifestyle and do the whole retire in your 30s/40s thing, a car can be a huge burden on this journey.


The FIRE crowd isn’t necessarily against cars so much as car payments.  Their arguments are air-tight and their logic is flawless.  Yes, it makes sense to buy a used gas-sipper and drive it until the wheels fall off.  The philosophy is that vehicles exist solely to move objects from point A to point B.  Utility is the name of the game.  Check out the FIRE Pope’s top 10 list of cars.  Deriving any sort of pleasure or ego-boost from your car is not only illogical, it’s a cardinal sin with this crowd.  You have no need for anything more than a basic people-mover.  In fact, you should move your home as close as possible to your work and walk or bike instead of owning a car at all.  This is all technically correct…

Technically, we could eschew food and derive our nutrition from a vitamin-fortified protein slurry, too.

Experiences vs Things

Why would any sane person take on a car payment?  We should be spending on experiences, not things, right?

For me, I share at least an hour of experience with my car on the average workday, more if there’s any change in weather.  These 250+ hours per year can either be miserable or enjoyable depending on the vehicle.  I prefer to arrive at home or work in a good mood rather than stressed from an unpleasant commute.  I also just enjoy driving.  A car should have soul.  There’s nothing like the open highway on a summer day or shooting through a twisty set of road just for kicks.  When I walk through a parking lot towards my car there should be a tingle of anticipation like when you near the front of the line for a roller coaster.  But hey if a car is just a thing to you, find a used neuter-mobile with reasonable mileage on it and operate it forever.

Life is for Living

Some people get a kick out of extreme frugality.  Extreme saving can be worn like a badge of honor, but at what cost?  I don’t think it’s necessarily irresponsible to enjoy boating or the occasional over-priced coffee.  My bad financial advice is more of a philosophy: Saving is admirable, but not when it becomes procrastination of living.

“Dad, can we go speed?”

I give a little smile and mash the accelerator.  The exhaust growls and we are pulled back into our seats, grins plastered onto our faces now.  We hit our exit and glide to a stop at the light.  I turn around and pass down wisdom that has cemented the sacred bond between fathers and sons for generations: “Don’t tell your mother.”