About three years ago, I stopped driving to work.
And however much I wish I could say that I stopped because of an epiphany about the environment and the wonders that walking/cycling will do for my health and looks, I can’t.
I stopped because I finally looked at my payslip and didn’t like much what I saw there: my employer was charging me far too much parking fee.
Cars feature rather prominently in personal finance. We, personal finance bloggers, have discussed much the virtues of buying an older car; the good sense in buying a reliable, cheap to maintain and economical to keep on the road car; and the innate wisdom in buying a car, to begin with – after all ‘a leased car is a fleeced car’.
Then there is another camp foregoing all cars and car ownership – there is so much to be said about waiting for public transport, playing with your kids, getting wet (in my case because I live in Manchester which is the UK equivalent of Seattle) and putting up with the noise young girls sometimes make.
This post is not about any of that; after all, my faithful readers will be very disappointed if I were to ‘go with the crowd’. But two things happened yesterday that made me think about cars again.
First, after a long break I started driving from time to time again; particularly on the days I teach. Recently, I found out that I don’t have to pay for parking monthly: this not only costs a lot but becomes even more costly per unit given I work from home quite often. There is now an option that I pay for a certain number of day when I can have my car in the car park and this work for me.
What I’ve noticed is that our new Skoda CityGo checks all boxes that make the wallet of a PF blogger sing. Yet, I drive it with little love and even less respect and care.
Second, while looking for something completely mundane (our car-insurance is due for renewal soon) I came across an interesting infographic on the moneysupermarket.com. It compares the car manufacturers throughout the history of motorcar manufacture.
These two put together made me think that you are not what you drive; you drive what you are. While this is a bit of a simplification, there are four broad groups of people and they are likely to drive very different cars.
These are the people that have to be different and don’t shy from standing out. They are likely to be prone to showing off – like making inappropriate joke for effect – and are generally creative (possibly insight type creativity), may be visual.
These people are likely to drive interesting but not necessarily good and/or practical cars. I seem to be an example of this type of people (I don’t make inappropriate joke; mine are all highly proper).
I drove a Fiat 126, by choice; a very weird car, indeed, and I never knew whether I’ll get where I’m going and when. My last personal car was a bright yellow and grey, two-seater Smart. Used to joke that I am so insecure that even my car has to say ‘smart’ on it (told you, proper…). But couple of days after I got it, my son wanted to go to the cinema with his friend and I offered to drive them; John had to remind me that this is not possible. Oh, and I managed to get off all responsibility around taking my son to his music lessons – you can’t fit a son and a cello in one of those.
I loved this car!
This is pretty self explanatory really. This group consists of people who are ‘heavy weights’ and they are probably quite comfortable; or would like to be.
They are likely to drive a Mercedes, a BMW, a Lexus or a Bentley (now this is what I call serous wealth). Generally the class of car known as a ‘lounge on wheels’ in our house.
Interestingly, John used to drive a Lexus; it was very majestic, safe and I seriously disliked driving it. It was not only the fear that I’ll scrape it somewhere and will need to sell our house to pay for repairs. I have not had the pleasure to drive a tank but I suspect that it probably felt similar to driving the Lexus – heavy and threatening.
This group of people usually wish to appear youthful, vigorous and ready ‘to play’.
They are likely to drive sports cars, even when they are not very good or powerful ones. They will certainly prefer a Jaguar to a Bentley.
I have no experience of driving anything like that; and suspect a sports car will be completely lost on me.
This is the group of pragmatic and practical citizens. People in this group are likely to be more aware of the costs of motoring and choose their vehicles according to the costs of keeping them and their utility. I know someone who claims to choose his cars depending on whether or not he can get a washing machine in the back.
People in this group are likely to drive a Ford Fiesta rather than a Smart or a Lexus.
Why does it matter, you may think?
Well, it probably does because if I am right and we drive what we are, this is not only about the kind of car but also about driving style. Do you think the insurance industry takes this kind of thing into account?
What do you drive?