I’m driving a very old car. There’s nothing wrong with it. So should I update?
My car is a 1997 Toyota Starlet. Eighteen years old. Three door hatch, just over 200,000 kms (124,000 miles) on the clock. It has a new cam belt, just fitted earlier this year. No major rust, everything works fine, and it’s incredibly economical and reliable.
However, it’s old. I feel like the poor person in town when I drive it. Like, literally, every single car on the road is newer than mine, except for those cars of poor people in town and students. I feel like one of the poor. I feel like I have no status at all when I drive. And I’m not poor or a student.
I drove a better car when I was an unemployed student, twenty-five years ago. My car had a functional stereo then.
Truth is, I’m starting to resent having such an old car. My ex-husband talks about the benefits of social capital, and how having a great education and wealth comes with all sorts of added benefits (he scored a newer car a few months ago – I inherited the old one), and I guess I feel like one of those benefits should be something better than the oldest, cheapest car in town. It’s like, yeah I should have social capital. Except I don’t.
On the other hand, my logic brain tells me to hang on to this car. I can’t justify updating, not when this car is so good and reliable. It does everything I need – except look classy and be comfortable and have a stereo. I should be content with what I have. I shouldn’t compare myself to other people and what they have.
Except I do.
We can afford a new car. We could buy a new car and it would cost less than 1/15th of our family’s yearly income. We’d have it paid off within a few months if we wanted. We’d hardly notice the blip on the expense list. We’re that well off.
Money is not the issue. And it’s not like I’m even looking at a new “new car” – I’d be buying something about 7-8 years old. I don’t think that’s really a huge ask. Or is it?
Am I being selfish and shallow in wanting a new car? Am I being foolish in wanting something better? Am I silly to want to not look like I have no money at all? Am I an idiot for getting sick of being targeted by the cops all the time for warrant-of-fitness and registration checks all the time (four this year so far, and counting)?
In short, am I wrong for beginning to resent looking poor every time I get in and drive? Am I wrong for wanting something that qualifies as unnecessary stuff?
What would you do? I’d really appreciate your comments and thoughts on this one.