Prius Is the Ultimate Stealth Wealth Car

My car broke down again last week.

This is starting to become a regular occurrence and while it is annoying, I never really stress about it. I have a great mechanic and the parts are inexpensive.

You see my car is old as hell. Seriously it’s a 1991 Acura Integra. With a car this old, you expect things to break here and there. I bought it for $1500 in the summer of 2012 with 165,000 miles on it. I’m about to break 200,000. By normal standards, I don’t drive that much. By personal finance blogger standards, I should only own a bicycle.

When I first bought it I was coming back to America after four years abroad. I had some money saved but no job lined up and very few professional connections. I thought splurging on a nicer car was dumb and at the time I was right.

But it’s been over four years since I bought that car and a lot has changed. I got a job. Then I got married. Then my wife got a job. And then we kept getting raises and saved a most of our pay. I’ve always liked Financial Samurai’s rule that your car should cost about 10% of your yearly salary. I’m significantly below this.

So lately I’ve been thinking, should I treat myself to an upgrade? I mean, even Mr. Money Mustache bought a new car. And while I’m nowhere near his level of wealth, we do save about 75% of our take income.

Also, I’m in tech sales. I can’t be rolling up to their office in an ancient car. The bar is much lower in engineering.

Last week a few coworkers were visiting from out of town. They didn’t get a rental car and we couldn’t all fit in mine so we had to Uber! Luckily I can expense the bill but it’s still a bit embarrassing. “Umm, yeah my car is too old and too small to hold four adults.”

So I’ve decided it’s time for my next car. I want it to be practical, economical while at the same time being respectable. If I have to take a customer out to lunch, my current shitbox just won’t cut it.

I narrowed my choices down to the Honda Fit, Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. I’ve always liked the Civic but not as much as I love hatchbacks. My first car was a Mercury Sable station wagon.

This narrowed me down to the Fit and Prius. The Fit is a great compact car but it was perhaps too little. Also, I didn’t like the older models (2013 and before) and the newer ones cost a bit more than I want to pay.

After a couple weeks of research I’ve determined the Toyota Prius is the ultimate car:

  1. Nobody knows if you’re a rich or just getting by. My old CEO drove a Prius and he’s a multimillionaire!
  2. Best bang for your buck. A respectable looking car will usually run $5-10,000 at a minimum. A used Prius with less than 100,000 miles can be found in this price range.
  3. One of the lowest priced cars you can take clients out to lunch in without being embarrassed.
  4. You can fold the seats down and sleep in the back. Great for road trips, car camping or if my wife kicks me out of the house!
  5. Excellent gas mileage. At 45-50 mpg you can drive 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City for under $150.
  6. People will think I care about the environment!

If all goes according to plan I’ll be buying up a five-year-old Prius in the next few months. This will be the most expensive depreciating asset I’ve ever purchased. Am I making a good decision?

This article has 7 comments

  1. TJ Reply

    LOL at #4 and #6. I’m still wondering if I can fit something in the back of my civic with the back seat folded forward. 😀

  2. Get Rich Quick'ish Reply

    I’m ready to get my second car and I can’t decide on what I want. I know what I want to spend, but all of the cars that fit withing my budget have a crap-ton of miles and/or are ugly! I’d not considered a Prius, but maybe I should.

  3. moneycorgi Reply

    Hi Steve

    In the UK i’m seeing a lot of Dacia Sanderas about, they must be one of the cheapest deals. I think prices are about £6k for a brand new one, they don’t have road tax, and mileage is up to 80mpg.

  4. Golden Handcuffs - Steveonomics Reply

    […] us to drive older, cheaper vehicles, which has saved us a lot of money. We have the money to buy a newer vehicle if we have to. We also have AAA if something goes wrong. But you’re never too stranded when […]

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