People Here Don’t Give A Crap What Kind Of Car We Drive.

And believe me, that is a welcome relief after living in Los Angeles for 13 years. Granted, I will be the first to admit that when I was in my early to mid-twenties, I definitely cared about what everyone else thought of my clothes and my cars. I think most people do care up until a certain age, and I was no different. I bought nice clothes, expensive cars, went out to eat way too much, and just charged myself into credit card debt – all to try to impress other people. I fell for that lifestyle hook, line and sinker – and found myself staring at a lifestyle I could not afford and tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt…for nothing! What did I have to show for it? Not much! In the last 5 years of living in Los Angeles I got over myself and stopped caring so much, worked to pay off the debt, bought cheaper cars, and overall revamped my lifestyle so that it was affordable…after all, I didn’t really care anymore what Los Angelenos thought of my belongings. But I had no idea that there were places where people did not care at all, not one iota – until we moved here.

And it seems to me that most people are happier because of it.

We are not in a competition here to see whose rims are shinier, whose stereo is louder, whose house is bigger or who has the coolest new clothes. No one here it into talking about where their second home is, where they vacation, or where they sent their kids last summer. People here are just living…and it is something that we are settling into quite nicely. Everywhere we go, people wave and say hello, even if you just happen to both stop at a stop sign at the same time. I don’t know any of these people yet; I just moved here 2 months ago. But yet the majority of people treat everyone as a friend or family member, like “we are all in this together”, and it is quite refreshing. In L.A., if you took an extra 2 seconds at a green light to start moving, you got blaring horns and 3 middle fingers. Here? Nothing…people are patient and not in a hurry to blast their way down the street. It is so different from where we came from and I have already felt my blood pressure drop!

The state car seems to be a Subaru, as that is what most people drive. Not exactly a status-symbol, huh? And not a single one of them is clean and shiny like in Los Angeles, as they are all covered in mud, the tires are brown and filled with stones, and many windshields are cracked. I used to get our cars washed every week or so in Los Angeles, where the only dirt they got on them was from the pollution. Here? I hosed off the car once in the past 60 days…it’s just how it is around here.

I guess my point is that it just shouldn’t matter to anyone else what you drive, what clothes you wear, what restaurants you eat at, or where you go on vacation – and we have found a place where nobody cares about any of that stuff and it is an amazing feeling to be free of those feelings. As much as we tried to live that way in L.A., we still came in contact with people who looked down on you because you drove a Subaru rather than a BMW, or you worked as a teacher rather than as a TV producer. It was quite unhealthy but we didn’t realize just how bad it was until we moved away. I like nice things as much as the next guy, but when and if I were to buy them they would be for me, and not because I thought anyone else would be impressed.

If you spend your life trying to impress and keep up with everyone else, you are not living your own life but rather living theirs. Living on your own terms saves money, saves your sanity, and saves your dignity!

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Comments (31)

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  1. Jeremy says:

    I wish this was the case where I live. We’re not even in a big metro area, but most people drive vehicles worth more than their annual income, and many couples have vehicles in their driveway worth more than a small home. Instead, you have people commuting an hour each way to work in a $60k vehicle that will be worn out from all the driving before the owner ever pays it off. I get a pretty good laugh out of it.

    The sad thing is when I’m giving my seminars here where I work on retirement planning, or hold events to help get people enrolled in their 401k, I see a lot of younger people say they can’t afford to save, even with a good company match. Then, I go out to my car at lunch and I see the same people that make make $35k/year in the parking lot getting into a new lexus or cadillac. Makes no sense, but then again, maybe they are picking up the hottest women in the county with those rides, I don’t know.

    Personally, I’m quite satisfied with my 3 year old car that’s worth about 8 thousand dollars. It drives nice, it actually does very well in the 1-2 feet of snow we regularly get, and it gets me from point A to point B comfortably. I’m not sure what else I need out of a vehicle.

    Sure, I could afford to, and would love to tool around in a BMW M5, who wouldn’t? But what’s the point when 90% of my driving is just the same 30 miles to and from work every day. Maybe when I have more money than I know what to do with I’ll get a pimped out car for fun, but I need my car to just do one thing, and that’s get me to where I’m going safely and comfortably. Just like I only need a cell phone to do one thing, and that’s making phone calls.

  2. david says:

    If I needed a specific car to pick up a woman, I would not want anything to do with that woman! I figure my next real nice car will be when I am old and retired…

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  4. Patrick says:

    I’m going to have to agree with you here. I’ve lived in a small town and I’ve lived in a big city, and there are certain things that separate the two. Status symbols is a major line of separation. My wife and I both drive mid-range cars and live in a comfortable, but relatively small house, even though we could “afford” better. But that’s just not where our priorities lie. We have a comfortable life, give to our church, save and invest a lot, and just don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.

    Oh, and I agree. I could never marry a woman that I needed to constantly impress with a hot car, stylish clothes, and a swanky house. There’s more to life than stuff.

  5. david says:

    Imagine how quickly that kind of woman would leave you if you traded in for a Honda!

  6. Kate says:

    It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? It’s even nicer when you can carry that feeling around with you, even when you’re not in the environment that promotes it. It’s hard to preserve this sort of attitude when the culture all around you goes against it. But it’s worth the struggle, in my opinion, to be able to actively choose one’s own values rather than just follow the herd.

    (I drive a seven-year-old, little Hyundai riceburner, by the way. Bought used for cash. If anyone around here cares, it’d be news to me.)

  7. See My Money says:

    I bought a Subaru Forester when all my friends were buying big SUVs or expensive cars. I got made fun of, of course, but I still have that reliable car that perfectly fits my situation as a married father.

  8. Mrs. Micah says:

    Even though this is DC, I think you have to move in certain circles for people to care what kind of car you drive. The library isn’t one of those circles. Neither is my church (though you get points for hybrids there).

    Though now I think of it, one librarian does drive a red BMW. But she really really love cars and it kind of stands out. I’ve also noticed a lot of people with nicer cars in our less-nice neighborhood. I suppose that if they can’t afford houses, they still might be able to afford cars.

    Or maybe we’re those people who don’t care. Glad you’ve found yourself amongst them!

  9. Matt says:

    While I would argue that there are times when making a good impression might rely on your car or the clothes on your back in general these can be accomplished without changing your lifestyle. If all you care about is what people think about you then you need to start making a mountain of money really fast. I too have gotten over the need to impress people with my toys, gadgets, clothes and cars.

    When I’m in a situation where I need to ensure the person I’m talking to has a favorable or at least neutral impression of me until I can improve it (say when I’m meeting a client for the first time) then I’ll make an effort. But I won’t go out of my way to buy a $5,000 suit. I simply don’t care to alter my style and my life to meet what others might think of me. I’ll an effort for presentability but if someone doesn’t want to do business with me because I don’t drive a BMW then they can kiss my ***

  10. Just curious – where do you live now? Are you still in California or did you move to a completely different state?

  11. david says:

    Completely different state – New Mexico. Best decision of our lives.

  12. we traded a big city for a small one and are loving the unpretentiousness of life here too. i can’t imagine living in a place where anyone gave a thought to what we drive ( a reliable, 5-year-old subaru)

  13. thinkingthing says:

    I live in the 3rd richest county in the US. So when I see Porsche-911-Nightrider riding my ass in the review, I can reasonably assume that the car has been paid for. And I admit, some of these cars impress me, for various reasons. A car can be impressive – there is nothing wrong with driving a car that is impressive, if you are driving it because it impresses you.

    But I get the sense that a lot of the drivers in my county are driving these cars because they’re actually trying to impress ME. Really all they’re doing is clogging up the roads with their entry-level yuppytrash.

    I’ve yet to see a Volkswagen with all the headlights and taillights working. Not impressive.

    Do you really think your Chrysler 300 is impressing the guy who just parked his Rolls-Royce, the car you pretend you drive? Does he even notice you exist? I’m impressed you both eat in the same restaurant.

    That Audi looks nice, on the side of the road. Is it impressing the tow guy?

    How much did you pay for that Infinity? Really? Did it impress the Nissan dealer that you paid that much for it?

    Is your Landrover impressing the imaginary herds of elephants by the interstate? Well, at least it’s impressing the gas station attendants.

    Wow, that’s the BIG Yukon Denali on your lawn, not the PUNY one. Is that For Sale By Owner sign making any impressions? Any calls yet? No?

    I drive a ’07 Honda Civic. It impresses me for various reasons. And it will likely be impressing me for a long time to come. Apparently it’s not supposed to be impressive. New passengers always seem surprised that it’s a Honda Civic. I don’t mind, though. Not trying to impress them.

  14. david says:

    Great stuff thinkingthing, great…

  15. fuzzarelly says:

    I have never owned a new car. All of those cars were never owned in the same decade in which they were made. Even when I lived in Atlanta.

    Like many big cities, Atlanta was all about the appearance. The last car I drove there was an ’84 Pontiac with a bashed in back quarter panel. And I admit that it was hard sometimes. Embarrassing. The pressure is so constant to look good; no, to look great.

    Fourteen years ago, we moved to rural southern Indiana. Folks here are both house proud and car proud – meaning that they take very good care of both even if they are older.

    Here in the hinterlands, I dress from Goodwill and the newest vehicle I own is from 1990. Our house was built in 1863 and has the original clapboards.

    Life is not about cars or clothes.

  16. marci says:

    Good blog – what changes in attitudes come with moving sometimes!

    Here, rural coastal Oregon, people are more apt to laugh and make fun of the flashy cars.
    In the winter you need to be able to get around thru the mud… and the ice and snow 🙂

    Seems like the main rigs here are Subarus and Pickup trucks…
    I bought a new 2001 Forester so I could get around in the winter – and haul firewood in it.
    I figured when I bought it it would last me hopefully for a minimum of 10 years or 200,000
    miles, which ever happened last. At 8 years, it only has 113,000 miles on it, so looks like
    I will be hopefully keeping it for 15 years or so – or until I don’t feel it is dependable. At $20,000, for 15 years it cost me $1333 yr for the car itself – that’s fairly reasonable in my book.

    And my other rig IS a pickup truck… bought very used – a 1974 Datsun pick up, carefully
    handpainted over the rust, by me, a cute hunter green – and named “Sweetpea” 🙂 A 2wd,
    she’s not good here in the winter, but it sure is nice to go to the dump or bring back larger
    loads of firewood in. Luckily, I don’t much care what people think about what I drive, and
    luckily, people around here don’t much care what I drive either, as long as they don’t have to
    pull me out of a ditch or mudhole in the winter – then they’d just laugh at it 🙂

    Isn’t it nice tho to live somewhere where Who YOU are is way more important than What you have 🙂

  17. David says:

    Im already finding myself making fun of the new BMW’s being driven through town by the tourists, getting filthy and trying to work their way through some of the dirt roads. Almost as good a’ fun as watching the “wanna be’s” in Los Angeles at night!

  18. The Baglady says:

    It’s funny, my hubby is from Southern California and they seem to be way into image there. Over here in Northern California people can be rich but drive really crappy cars and you can walk into an expensive restaurant in jeans and noone cares. I think it is definitely SoCal culture to be all glitzy and glamorous. I went to church with my hubby one Christmas at his home church and I was amazed at how many nice cars and designer handbags I saw. Seriously…SoCal makes you spend more money.

  19. […] People Here Don’t Give a Crap What Kind of Car We Drive from My Two Dollars […]

  20. […] People Here Don’t Give A Crap What Kind Of Car We Drive at My Two Dollars — David shares a nice personal story that could have profound impact on your life. […]

  21. […] My Two Dollars finally found a place where people don’t care about the car they drive. […]

  22. […] than where he used to live in the city of angels.  In his words, his new neighbors “don’t give a crap what kind of car we drive.”  I felt very at home reading his post.  My husband and I live in a great little […]

  23. I experienced the same thing after leaving a larger California city. People really don’t care what I drive, what my furniture looks like, and what color the soles of my shoes are. It’s freeing, and it also has opened me up for a lot of growth. It’s like a lot of the easy distractions simply blew away, and I was left to figure out who I was in a place where designer labels and bags didn’t mean anything.

    Sometimes it’s almost a bit much. I can’t think of a single place where I could dress up and *not* feel out of place. But for the other 360 days a year, it’s wonderful.

  24. David says:

    Sara – we feel the same. If we dressed up around here, we would kinda stick out. Oh, and loved the “soles of my shoes” line, as that kind of stuff is the most ridiculous!

  25. Miss Thrifty says:

    David, your post has inspired me to write this:


    I think we can probably get away with more in the UK, where eccentric habits are practically requisite!

  26. […] Two Dollars tells us that people in some areas just don’t give a crap about what kind of cars you drive.  No keeping up with the jones and no judging based on how wealthy you are.  It really sounds […]

  27. Interesting post.

    Keeping up with the Joneses is always a game that is rigged. No one can never win. You will always come into contact with people who have more ‘stuff’ than you. There is absolutely no point even trying to compete. Instead people should set their own pace of life. Do things their own way – sure they might not fit in with some of their so called friends – but if image is all these ‘friends’ are into then they are probably better off without them.

  28. […] People Here Don’t Give A Crap What Kind Of Car We Drive at My Two Dollars — And the same goes for your house, clothes, jewelries, shoes, etc. […]

  29. Peter says:

    I’ve just never really gotten into cars as status symbols – i’m just not a big car guy. On the other hand with all the geeky friends I have the status symbols of choice are the fast computers, gadgets and big screen tvs – which can add up as well. It takes a lot of will power to not give in, but then again, having a larger bank account than them helps too 🙂

  30. […] different ways we have been frugal, from hauling my own trash to save $27 a month to choosing to not care what others think of us anymore. But I want to know what else I could be doing, as this toothpaste project really got me thinking! […]

  31. Atkins says:

    Some poor people struggle to give the opposite impression. One way to do it is with a car that pushes them even deeper into poverty.

    People who are secure in their affluence (or class) can drive whatever they want.