What I Drive Doesn’t Try To Define Me Or To Impress Others.

Only a few more days of vacation! While I finalize things around here and get back on the road in 2 days, please enjoy one of my favorite and most popular posts from a year ago. I will be back next week with all new stuff, so thanks for your patience in the mean time!

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 (now over a year 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. And my 14 year old Jeep, which I bought in February, hasn’t seen soap for about 3 months!

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 many 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 will 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 (3)

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  1. Craig says:

    You have to do what works for you. If you like more simple things, or less expensive clothes, that’s fine and no one should or will mention anything. Have to work within your budget.

  2. JamesR says:

    I never did give a hoot about what vehicle I drove. All I cared about was that it ran reliably and that it was paid for.

    First car – a used 1976 Dodge Dart 4-door w/ 3 speed and a Slant-6 engine. No power anything, no A/C. I kept it for about a year or so until I saved up the money to get me a more fuel-efficient car.

    #2 – a new 1981 Dodge Omni “Miser” hatchback. I doubled my gas mileage with that car. It also had 2 less cylinders to feed and an extra speed on the gearbox. No power, no A/C. It was a “poor-man’s VW Rabbit”.

    #3 was a used 5-speed, 1986 Chevy Nova (Toyota Corolla), with A/C. It was a fun little “buzz-bomb” to drive. I guess I’m getting soft in my “old” age. I kept that car until we got…

    #4 – a used 1991 Mazda MPV 4-wheel drive mini-van. We bought it from a missionary family that was leaving the country and had no need to take the vehicle with them. It gave them some spending money, and it gave me a more utilitarian vehicle, also one much more easy to get in & out of.

    #5 – a used 2005 Subaru Forester. The mini-van repair costs were starting to eat me alive. We paid off the vehicle in about 1.5 years and the donation of the mini-van was a nice little tax write-off.

    None of these would qualify as “cool” cars. That’s OK. Cars are transportation tools, and in that regard, I’m rich in the contentment factor. That, and “rich” in not having to spend bazillions of bucks on new car payments year in and year out.

  3. mckra1g says:

    I sold cars for two years. It was appalling to see sales people putting (willing) customers into brand new vehicles they could barely afford and then, at the end of the day, getting into their 10 year old, fully paid for (and inexpensive to license/insure) cars of their own. The experience really opened my eyes to the obscene fascination most have with image as it relates to their cars. A car should be safe, efficient and get you from point A to point B. Yes, it’s also a fun boost if you like the car, but a car is a THING and not an extension of who you are, nor does it define you.