Whether to spend a whole year's salary on a car
September 3, 2014 12:59 AM   Subscribe

I make $93,000 net a year and want to buy a $95,000 car. I'm 28, and keen to enjoy life before I get tied down with family and other commitments. I'm seeking your wisdom.

I am 28 years old, Australian, and I am wanting your advice on whether I should buy a flashy car.

The car is a Porsche Boxster and it costs (slightly used, newest model – 981) about A$95,000.

I have saved up about $75,000 in cash from careful saving over the past 3-4 years. It is right now sitting in a term deposit.

I currently drive a BMW 320i (which I bought second-hand) and I plan to sell it to raise the last $20,000 needed.

My reasoning behind getting the Porsche is that I like cars, I want the beautiful handling, but also because, I admit, I like the badge. I suspect it'd make me feel nice to drive around in such a beautiful toy, wash it, detail it, etc. More prosaically, I'd drive it to and from work, my parents' house, friends' places etc but I can actually live without a car. It's not a necessity, but a toy.

I am single, and not looking to settle down.

My total net earnings are $93,000 a year. My job is, touch wood, secure, and if I were made redundant I would have about $12,000 net in severance pay. I know of at least one rival firm which would employ me in the alternative (I've spoken to them as part of normal contract negotiations). My mortgage and living expenses are $58,000 a year.

I have no investments besides my property. I have no debt besides student debt (see below). I have health insurance.

My alternatives to buying a flash car, so far as I can see, are –

1. Invest the money in shares or another property. The safest and most prudent option, and I am aware of the time value of money. But my fear is that I might end up with an extra property at age 35, but without the time and frivolity to enjoy the sports car. E.g. by age 35 I might have a wife and we might be in the market for a car that can handle baby seats. Also, as cavalier as this might sound, I presume my earning capacity will be decent throughout my 30s, so I will have plenty of time to invest and save.

2. Pay off my student debt ($40,000). I don't want to do this because my debt only goes up at 3% per year and I only have to pay it off at $8,000 per year. Since the debt never appreciates in real terms, I'd rather prioritise my youth while I have time still on my side.

3. Lease the car rather than buying outright. Leasing allows me to claim significant tax deductions and spreads the financial hit over several years, but I would prefer to be able to say that I bought the car outright; also I don't want to justify to my boss why I'm leasing a Boxster for work.

4. Buy a similarly priced, or slightly cheaper, more 'normal' vehicle e.g. a BMW 235i or an Audi A5. I'd still have a fun ride but without the douchebaggy connotations of a Boxster. I honestly don't care what others think of the car except insofar as it might turn off friends or potential romantic partners, so I would appreciate your advice here.

NB I am not looking to attract women with the car, but I don't want to turn them off either (although I would just keep it garaged for the first few dates). The car is strictly sex-neutral.

5. Not sure, but you might think of something. Give it to charity. Etc.

Any advice appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (89 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if other people's opinions matter much here. I mean, I think you're mad...but obvs lots of ppl do this kind of thing. It sounds as though you can afford it for now.

Personally, I would never lavish so much money on something that depreciates so quickly and to me, adds so little to my life, as a car. I don't earn much less than you and I have a baby and one income and a mortgage and it is quite tough. I would be very annoyed if I had spent such a large amount of money on a car in my 20s because while it might seem, for now, as though you are loaded, if you have children and go down to one income, it makes a drastic difference. 75,000 would def go on the mortgage for me- or rather, at least $60,000 of it would, and then I would maybe enjoy the rest in some relatively frivolous way. Proportionately, it seems like too much of your income to me.

However, 'your youth' as you conceive of it only really disappears if you choose to pursue those other things, you know. You can keep spending your money on non-family related things as long as you like!

Also, it sounds like the idea of the car really has you hooked. And you are ok financially for now. It's too reckless/lavish for me, but I think it's really up to you what you value.
posted by jojobobo at 1:13 AM on September 3, 2014 [13 favorites]

Relevant to Australia - if the government regulatory changes go through, that student debt might stop being indexed by inflation alone. So, it might be worth waiting a few months to see what happens.

From my perspective (Australian, female, a couple years younger), yes, having a car like that might be somewhat of a turnoff. Partially because it is - financially - not a choice I'd make.
posted by Ashlyth at 1:16 AM on September 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Also, the solution is surely 1 + 3 because 'I would prefer to say I bought it outright' is a ridiculous reason to spend $95,000.
posted by jojobobo at 1:16 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Don't forget to account for related expenses. Insurance is probably more expensive. You may end up spending more on security for the car, cleaning and maintenance, or cabs for when you don't want to leave it in a dicey part of town.
posted by alexei at 1:21 AM on September 3, 2014 [11 favorites]

The cost of a car is not the sticker price. It is the sticker price plus maintenance costs plus resale value at the time you decide to sell it.

How long do you plan on keeping the car, what will you be able to get for it when you sell, and what will the upkeep costs be?
posted by alms at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Why not get a nice used miata or similar, have it carefully detailed and fawned over, take it out to a local track, do a defensive driving course, etc. ?

(Assuming miatas are nice. I don't know cars.)

The financial difference between that and the boxter can go into servicing your debts or bunch of massive vacations or something.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:27 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm Australian, female, 10+ years older than you. FWIW, I don't think it makes economic sense for anyone to spend a year's salary on a car. To put it in perspective, the last guy I know who bought a Porsche outright is 48, married with 4 kids, recently sold his business for over 30 million dollars, and hasn't had to work for years. To me, that's the point at which you buy a 100-grand car outright.

Invest in property, is my advice. Also, if you're dying to burn some cash and have fun before you're tied down, travel. When I look back on the last 10 years, they're the only two things I wish I did more of (although I did lots of travel, just not so much with the property investment). The memories generated by international travel are worth 10 Porsches. To me, anyway.

(Oh, and the type of women who are likely to be impressed by a Porsche are likely not the type you want to meet if you're looking at settling down within the next few years. Again, JMO.)
posted by Salamander at 1:37 AM on September 3, 2014 [36 favorites]

Obviously if you really, really like this car, and think you will get lots of value from it, then by all means do this thing. It obviously isn't the most prudent thing to do, and you may well regret it later if you find your financial situation changing. But you presumably know that already?

If I had that much money? I'd probably invest most of it, and as others say, travel, eat well, ideally experiences I could share with other people.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:44 AM on September 3, 2014

I'm a woman and my income is more than yours. If I found out a man I was dating spent a year's salary on a car when he still had a mortgage and student loan debt, I wouldn't be dating him much longer.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:44 AM on September 3, 2014 [104 favorites]

I would take that money, bank half, and travel with the other half!!

Your youth is wasted on a flash car.

Your youth is well spent traveling to other countries and gaining life experiences.

The car (and memories of it) you won't need when you are 40+. But that time you spent relatively untethered and learning about the world around us? WOW. That's a wealth you can tap into over, and over, and over again.

2nd idea: Save the money for your future family's use. You will one day be so so happy with all the luxuries you can afford when the time comes, your children can have the very best you can give them. You don't know it now, but providing for your family will be a huge huge pressure one day. How lucky if you can avoid this! Stress over finances is the #1 reason marriages fail, too. You'd be wise to invest in a stable future.

Rent a Boxster (or nicer!) a few weekends a year to satisfy your urge. Have the experience, but save your money and use it on more worthwhile endeavors that feature larger returns with less headache sand risk.

Even earning your pilot's license and buying a plane (or learning to really sail and buying a decent sailboat) is more rewarding than what you are thinking about.
posted by jbenben at 1:48 AM on September 3, 2014 [28 favorites]

Some research indicates that spending money on life experiences - which for some, I guess driving a flash car might be. I'm not in your target market, date wise - so FWIW, the more expensive the car (if I can tell) the more I think the driver is a selfish prick, and therefore not relationship material (it might be my left wing tendencies). That said, I'm not looking for a partner to settle down with, but I have rather high standards - must be very intelligent, sweet, independent.

So, if I was in your financial position and age, what I didn't spend on travel (and gadgets), I'd pour into real estate to rent out. Actually, I do that anyhow. I bought a car on the weekend that's uber practical and secondhand, and I'm delighted with it.

I dunno - can you get $100k pleasure out of a vehicle? That could be a couple of years travel (or more)?
posted by b33j at 1:50 AM on September 3, 2014

(Assuming miatas are nice. I don't know cars.)

Hahahahahahahahahaha. ha. They are not.

That said, this is absurd. You're asking for us to help you justify it because you've already made up your mind and your justifications are tenuous enough that you feel like it's probably not a great idea, but HOLY SHIT DO YOU WANT THAT CAR.

I make a good living. But I want to build some amount of wealth, and not just conspicuous consumption. You don't want to become "house poor" without the benefit of the house!

You list a bunch of alternatives, and some of them are good. I would drive your current car into the ground. I drive a 2007 335i. I own it outright. I bought it used for $28k, 50% cash, paid it off three years early. I want a Tesla S so very badly, but I can't make the math work. Don't get me wrong: I can afford a Tesla S. I have access to enough cash on hand to basically purchase one outright. But it would drain me. And that's idiotic.

Your financial stability is based on the cushion you have. It's based on how many months of net expenses you can pay if the very worst happens (you lose your job) and then something even worse happens on top of that (you're hit by a bus... or something equally bad in a country with socialized medicine).

Invest or stash at least half of the money. Spend the rest on a more moderate car upgrade (or don't even, seriously, just drive the 320 into the ground. It's a nice car!) or travel.

This isn't even remotely worth it. Uber-expensive cars rarely are. You won't even be able to enjoy it. And you're picking close to the top of the line Porsche, which is absurd. If you really wanted the marque, you could buy a used, older model Boxster for half that.

There are so many better uses for this money that can help you build true stability and wealth and enable you to buy flashier things in the future. You have time value of money NOW that you lose when you spend it on a magical depreciation machine that sucks dollars through its intake once the warranty/maintenance package expires.

I'll leave you with a thought exercise: a $95,000 car is not for people who earn $95,000/year. It is for people who earn $300,000 per year. Do whatever you need to do in your life to get earning at that level and then buy the car. But you're not there yet. Don't allow yourself to trick yourself otherwise. That's how people with incredibly decent salaries end up living paycheck to paycheck, for a toy they can barely open up on the road.

I still want the Tesla. I even earn a fair chunk more than $95k/year. But I'm not going to buy it. My 335i is fun, it works, and I can spend the money on awesome things like travel, investing, real estate, more travel, some gadgets, philanthropy, or basically whatever I want to enjoy my life. Your car can only do so much for the net amount it can increase your happiness.
posted by disillusioned at 1:55 AM on September 3, 2014 [54 favorites]

Jbenben is right - this thing isn't your youth. What's the feeling you want to get from the car? Do you want people to admire you? To enjoy the craftsmanship? Feel exhilarated? There are experiences you can have and skills you can learn that will give you the same feeling with considerably more 'returns', both financially and emotionally.

Also, why do you consider that $75,000 to be 'disposable'? Is that your entire pool of savings? Because it's good financial hygiene to hang on to an emergency fund of 3-6 months living expenses (some back of the napkin math, after doing a dirty calculation of your monthly net salary, tells me that's at least $35,000). That's not being boring or wasting your youth. That's a buffer between you and Shit Happening. It's a buffer between you and ramen noodles for months if your ceiling caves in or you lose your job.

That leaves you $40,000. What do you want to do with that? You could definitely travel. You could definitely invest in a skill that could be meaningful to you (i.e, what if you learned to build a car or restore it yourself? Get your pilot's license? Learn to sail?).

What are your other financial goals? Because a bucket of money isn't just a bucket of money, it's a stream of potential future income, and you should be smart with what you do with it.
posted by nerdfish at 1:57 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

$95k could buy numerous smaller toys that still feel fun and luxurious and youthful. So could $55k, after you pay off your student loans.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:00 AM on September 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Speaking for myself, there are very different things that I would spend a year's wages on. First would be an emergency fund. Second would be a few prep-related things like a first aid course. I would also absolutely pay down any kind of debt I had and free myself from that particular yoke. But that's me.

Given that you are you, and you obviously want this car, go ahead and buy it. You'll regret the things you don't do much more than the things you do do, over time, because you won't have the benefit of hindsight. Buy the car, have your fun and get it out of your system. If you don't, you could spend the rest of your life wondering "what if?" and by which time, it will be too late.

If someone is the sort of person to view a given vehicle as a turn-off, then you're better off without that person anyway. It'll help weed out unsuitable people from your pool of potential date-es.
posted by Solomon at 2:11 AM on September 3, 2014

I know someone who did this.

Crashed it in less than a year.

Now drives a Honda.
posted by miyabo at 2:13 AM on September 3, 2014 [24 favorites]

The Boxster sounds like a really bad idea. It's what a lonely, rudderless guy with too much pocket money buys because he doesn't know how to spend money.

Owning things will not make you happy. Experiences will make you happy. Use spare cash (you won't need much) to go out, do things, meet people, and fall in love.

Pay off debt or invest the money. Turn that 95,000 into something larger.

If you absolutely cannot be talked out of spending all of your savings on an absurd, overpriced, strictly-for-fun vehicle, buy a used bus, convert it to a camper, and take your friends camping somewhere new every weekend in the adventure bus. Then the (ultimately unsatisfying) ownership-of-thing investment becomes the (whoo-hoo!) extended-experience-of-a-lifetime investment. It becomes the decade when you were the captain of the Adventure, when you and your friends spent every weekend in a new place, seeing new things, meeting new people, learning new dances and new words for happy. And if you do lose your job, you can live in the bus down by the river.
posted by pracowity at 2:17 AM on September 3, 2014 [23 favorites]

If you're unsure about it now, I don't think any answer is going to convince you enough that you won't be unsure about it every day after you buy it. It's just my perspective, but I suspect that instead of making you happy, it will be an enormous symbolic reminder of a frivolous decision and the futility of seeking happiness in things.

The perceptual distortions involved in the attractiveness of shiny expensive toys are quite powerful. They make you project a whole life onto this external thing, like, "yeah, my life is pretty alright as it is, but if I only had this thing... I'd be cruising around like a king... My life would be wonderful..."

I know a Zen teacher who talks about this all the time. He and many others point to this distortion as the fuel that keeps the wheel of desire spinning. The valorized object is attractive mostly because you don't have it. Once you have it, then what? It just becomes yet another thing you own.

If you want to enjoy life, there are infinite opportunities for doing that with a $200 bike!
posted by mbrock at 2:25 AM on September 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Lease it. Your reason for buying rather than leasing is transparently terrible.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:27 AM on September 3, 2014 [17 favorites]

Seriously lease or rent one for a month. Tell people your current car had problems and you thought what the hell, I'll have fun for a month while it's getting fixed. Then keep track of how you feel about it. The first week will be amazing, but by the fourth week, you'll almost certainly be thinking of other things to do with that money.

Travel is the big item - for $95K over the seven years you can expect to have that car (before you have kids, move countries or other big life changes), you could spend $13K on long holidays to amazing places each year. Or $1K every month on a great weekend blast somewhere new in Australia.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:28 AM on September 3, 2014 [25 favorites]

How you spend your money is your call, but like other people have mentioned: cars cost more than sticker price. If you can barely scrape the $95k together, you cannot afford this car.

With a $95k car, you can expect parts and reputable maintenance work to be priced accordingly: what if you have a minor accident, and suddenly need $10k to bring it back to shiny toy condition? Are you ok with driving it around with dents and scuff marks, or living with a $95k lawn ornament for a few months while you put the money together?
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:57 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pay off your HELP/HECS (for not-Australians: student loan) debt. Leave at least $20k in a term deposit and let it grow. Use the remaining $15k to travel and do things that you might not be able to do as easily once you settle down.

You could occasionally rent ridiculous cars and go on road trips.
You could also go on a trip to Stuttgart, have a look at the Porsche museum and do a course at the Porsche Sport Driving School.

If you can only get $20k for selling your BMW, and it's actually a good car, then I would keep it. Because if you were going to downgrade, the cheapest new car would set you back at least $12k anyway. If you bought an older car for a few grand, it could just end up costing a lot to maintain.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:05 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mad crazy idea dude. Get a used WRX for 20k. It will smoke your Beemer without ruining your future.

Time to be a grown up about money. Get rich working and then reward yourself with the Porsche when you're 50 and you can afford the insurance.

New generation mx5 Miata comes out today for about $30k US. I'd rather drive that than a Porsche anyway.
posted by spitbull at 3:08 AM on September 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

I remember when I opted for a graduated repayment scheme on my student loan debt because, hey, my income should go up over my working lifetime, right? Isn't that the way it works out for most people?

Wrong, as I found out the hard way. I was fortunate enough to be able to correct my grave error and now the debt is paid off. Not everyone is so lucky.

The car is a bad idea across the board for you right now. Get a good financial planner - one who understands that there are no sure things in this world. It's not that you don't have the right to enjoy the fruits of your savings. But you do need some help assessing priorities and scaling your plans and dreams to your financial reality.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 3:14 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Subarus are plastic compared to the BMW. Either upgrade the 320i or crossgrade to a convertible, depending on what you like about the Boxster. And about the Boxster: the 911 is the only real Porsche. Save up for a 993 or newer (or older) if you want the badge.
posted by rhizome at 3:20 AM on September 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

For non-Australians: it's currently a better idea in Australia to invest money rather than pay student loan debt, for two reasons. (1) Inflation indexed. (2) If you leave the workforce (or the country), or never earn over a certain amount, you never have to pay for it.

Worth noting: someone who leased a car like this for a period of time to see whether it seemed like something you actually want long-term would be a lot less of a turnoff than buying it (in your financial situation.)
posted by Ashlyth at 3:23 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Plastic is lighter. Zoom zoom.

Also lol that Miatas aren't "nice." Stock, they kick the ass of all but a race tuned AMG 3 series Beemer.

Here is a straight up performance and cost comparison of a Miata and a used Porsche Boxter. Dated, compares older models, but the comparison is legitimate in performance terms. The Porsche is more beautifully crafted from better materials, but ironically will cost 2-3x as much to maintain because Mazda. It's also faster at the top end, but unless you can legally get over 100mph on a regular basis that's irrelevant and many sports car buffs will tell you the MX5 handles better in vigorous driving.
posted by spitbull at 3:27 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is what I would do with 75k, in your boat. I am also Australian, relative income, with a young family and a few years older than you....

1. Put 10-20k on your student debt, a debt is a debt. There's every chance the HELP/HECS fees will be pegged to real interest rates in the next year. (Paying off this debt will also reduce your current income contribution and result in more "pay" each cycle)

2. Setup a commsec account and put 30-50k into blue chip stocks or stocks that pay 100% fully franked dividends. Its better than sitting in long term and gaining relatively zero bank interest (against inflation).

3. Do you have an interest in the stockmarket? Do you know any stockbrokers/financial advisers in the family or people savvy with stocks that you trust? If it was me I would put 5-10K into higher capital growth stocks and manage this really well (i.e. daily) over the next year. IF you learn it and do it well, take out your initial investment into blue chip stocks and re-invest whatever gains into higher risk stocks. Over time, this could pay for your porsche.

4. Spend 10-15K to upgrade your car to something newer and massively fuel efficient, and/or go travelling somewhere exotic for kicks.

5. Be a good sport and give 1K to charity of your choice.
posted by Under the Sea at 3:29 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

So in other words do you want the car to drive like a rich guy but keep 2/3 of your money and actually be rich, or to look rich while your fast car bleeds you dry?

When I see a young guy in a 100k car i think "dad is rich," not "this guy is cool."
posted by spitbull at 3:30 AM on September 3, 2014 [27 favorites]

OR spend the 10-15K on a triumph. Motorcycles are much more fun :)
posted by Under the Sea at 3:33 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you have a few years of living expense saved? Is your job secure? Then sure do this. I mean I'm pretty confident 3-5 years from now you'll realize it was a pretty silly thing to do, but its your money and if a flash car is what you want, then do it.

I in general dislike MetaFilter moralizing about spending money. Its perfectly fine if you'd rather spend money on a car than on travel. Its not a choice I would make, but you are not me.

But honestly man - A guy who spent a years salary on a boxster is a punch line. I'm pretty sure I would openly mock a friend who did this. Getting something like one of the other cars mentioned above is just flat out cooler. Also I mean - I don't think you want to date the kind of woman who is impressed by a boxster. Even if you have a thing for the kind of woman who are into material things.

What about getting an old, but not so old its a classic 911 as a weekend driver? Like an early 90's version. I have no idea what that would run in Oz, but in the US its would be cheaper than a newish Boxster. Infinitely cooler.
posted by JPD at 3:51 AM on September 3, 2014 [11 favorites]

I... want to buy a $95,000 car.

I have saved up about $75,000 in cash from careful saving over the past 3-4 years. It is right now sitting in a term deposit.

I currently drive a BMW 320i (which I bought second-hand) and I plan to sell it to raise the last $20,000 needed.

If you go ahead with this then I think you're going to learn two things. Thing one is that a fancy new sports car is only a fountain of joy for a very brief period of time. Thing two is that having money in the bank, back when you had it, was actually a lot more fun than you realized at the time.
posted by jon1270 at 3:57 AM on September 3, 2014 [15 favorites]

Old Porsche and learn go work on it yourself is a cool idea.
posted by spitbull at 4:26 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am 33, earn more than you, have much more ready cash than you, and have no student debt.

For me to spend 100k on anything _for fun_ would be jaw droppingly irresponsible.

You need contingencies, man, life is very unpredictable. The decisions you make now will be playing out for the rest of your life, affecting things like when you can retire , where you live, how you can support your family and loved ones, if you can work less, take more chances or changes with your career, deal with any health issues that come up.

Now, you are thinking of making a decision that could adversely affect any and all of those things - and I'm not underestimating the joy you would get from a car - for something that looks cool. And is fun. You are taking a huge gamble on your future self's priorities. And I don't think your future is so knowable as to mitigate that risk.

Do not assume you will keep earning the same amount, do not assume there will be no surprises. Hire a boxster every weekend and invest the extra money in your future. There is a reason why only rich old dudes by those cars, because they can afford to.
posted by smoke at 4:26 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'd say the same thing if you said you made $20,000 a year and wanted to buy a $23,000 car. Don't spend more than you make in one year, unless it's on a house or a graduate degree, or unless you can pay cash.

I'd say save up until you can buy it in cash while keeping a decent size nest egg for your future. Life is short and you should have fun, but it's way hard to have fun with absolutely no money in the bank should your fortunes ever turn.
posted by mibo at 4:27 AM on September 3, 2014

Joining in on the pile on, because, seriously..

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery."

When I was around your age, I was in a Hot Industry full of young people making unexpectedly big salaries. Some of them bought brand new fancy cars for sums I could hardly comprehend. I'm not saying I'm an especially prudent person, I'm just lucky I don't have a yen for really expensive cars! I bought a ten-year-old Honda.

When our industry contracted a few years later (seemed unimaginable at the time, but it can happen! It always happens!), I had a tidy sum in the bank, which left me free to travel, do my own thing, and retrain, while some of my colleagues with even higher salaries and fewer obligations than me were mired in debt with no savings. The difference between our bottom lines was quite literally the sum they had spent on a car, which represented a couple of years of living expenses. They were still young, but enjoying their youth got a lot harder. For me there is no greater feeling of real freedom than money in the bank and relatively modest desires.

You say you want to 'enjoy your youth'-- surely a sports car is classically how one enjoys a mid life crisis? You will be well able to sit in a car at 45 and hopefully making enough you can spend only a third of annual income on a milestone treat. You won't be so well able to sleep in hostels and climb mountains, enjoying your young body! If all goes well you will have more money, but if all goes normally you will have less body (or more, as the case may be..).
posted by Erasmouse at 4:27 AM on September 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

I was dating a fellow once who had been saying to me forever that eventually we would buy a house and get married. Then one day he up and bought a $50,000 car (his entire salary) without discussing it. When I said that I thought we were saving for a house, he said well how could he be expected to do that, his car repayments where the equivalent of a mortgage - for the next 7 years. For that and a thousand other reasons, we broke up.

I ended up putting the same dollar figure of his down payment on the car, as my down payment on a house - without him. Within two years, my house literally doubled in value (yeah, it was the boom) around the same time he lost his job and had to sell the car. It halved in value and he still couldn't get rid of it. Now remember that we both started with the same amount of money.

Now ask me how I feel about a guy who would spend his entire years salary on a car - any future dating prospect with half a brain who has an inkling of what you earn won't think you're cool, and a catch, they will think you're really bad with money and make impulsive choices based on ego. Sorry, I know it's a fun fantasy. If I were you, I'd rent one for the weekend every now and again to get it out of your system. Seriously, don't buy this car.
posted by Jubey at 4:44 AM on September 3, 2014 [13 favorites]

One way to try to predict whether owning the car will feel as good as you currently think it will is to reflect on past luxury purchases. How long did you continue to take pleasure in owning the last expensive toy you bought for yourself? Think back to whatever it was - iPad? iPhone? A nice suit? And try to remember how it felt the first day you own it and how long it took for you to get used to owning it, including how you feel about it now. Is that slope of feeling worth 95k?
posted by prefpara at 4:49 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Leave the expensive car insurance/fuel/maintenance/repair bills for when you're a boring, tied-down adult. Trust me, those things do not add up to "enjoying life". Those "other commitments" you mention actually involve annoying car bills. Spend the money you would have spent on those bills on actually having fun.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:53 AM on September 3, 2014

This is a stupid way to spend money, as i'm sure you know. Even if you were debt-free it would be stupid, but you're not. I am your age (though American), and virtually all of the women I know would see a red flag here. You might attract some women, but they are going to be women who don't care about making sensible financial decisions; ymmv but that's not the kind of person I'd settle down with.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:02 AM on September 3, 2014

Owning a newish Porsche may make people think that you are a flash young bloke with money to spare, because it's a twentysomething investment-banker bonus kind of car, but that also means you'll be expected to spend money like you've got plenty to spare. Can't be parking that thing at the McDonald's.

So, you can't live out the new-Porsche narrative on what you earn. You'll be tempted to try -- oh, the temptation will be so very great -- and that will do you over, perhaps even faster than blowing it on the car.

Perhaps give yourself permission for some splurges on self-contained experiences, ones that don't depreciate in front of you while you're forced to do other stuff?

And yeah, the 911 is the one true Porsche.
posted by holgate at 5:14 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you all for your input. Much of it resonates with me. I appreciate that so many strangers have given earnest advice to someone whose question must have seemed indulgent.

I have decided not to buy the Boxster, simply because this many voices are unlikely to be wrong. It is a strong emotional impulse of mine, but not an incurable one.

I will probably put about 1/3 of the money into investments, 1/3 into an upgrade to a more modest (but still very nice) car in time, and 1/3 into travelling and frequent small indulgences, which in the long run will likely bring more happiness to me and to my companions.

Thanks again.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:15 AM on September 3, 2014 [64 favorites]

To be blunt, this is childish and foolish, and if I knew you personally and found that you did this, it would significantly decrease my opinion of you.

Aside from that, I'm not sure that "a year's salary" is the way to look at it. You only will have a limited number of years in which to save for retirement. On top of that you don't know how many of those years' worth of savings you'll need to wipe out in order to get you through lean times when you may be unable to find a job for an extended period of time. You've saved up $75,000 in four years. You're proposing wiping out, say, five years worth of savings, for a toy that you don't in any sense need and that will only last you five or ten years anyway.

You cannot afford this car in anything but the most literal sense.
posted by Flunkie at 5:15 AM on September 3, 2014

Owning a flashy car is not fun. You need lots of money to keep owning it - maintenance, insurance, fixing it when you (almost inevitably when you're young) crash it or someone drives into it. It's not as simple as "I have now bought the car, I have 'afforded' it". You will not be able to save at the same rate as you have been (which may be part of your justification logic). Tyres cost more. Service costs more. Parts for Porsches cost OMFG A LOT MORE.

Several things are wrong with your logic, and I speak from a position of spectacularly irresponsible behaviour with money when I was your age.

1: Do NOT buy ANY car outright. That's just dumb. You need flexibility with your money if you want to be young and have fun.

2: You don't need to spend $95K to have a fun car that embodies youth or even to own a Porsche. Buying a Porsche that is so expensive is insane. Buy an old 944 S2 or an old 911 if you MUST have one. But for that money I'd buy several toys - 3 or 5 year old BMW 335 or something (maybe an Audi or similar) and get a Jetski. Or a small sailing boat. Or take up diving. Or get a pilot's license. Or plan a holiday somewhere FANTASTIC twice a year. Desert Island beach in the summer, skiing in winter. Or travel countries - pick two a year, spend 10 days in each.

Basically, spending ALL your money on something that depreciates is stupid. It's just a car (albeit a nice one) and you can only have so much fun from it driving it around. A Porsche just will not give you that much fun without spending much more (ie taking it to a track or something, which is a serious money pit - I work in that industry).

Freedom and youth comes from lack of responsibility and being able to do whatever you want. Buying that car (or spending all your money on a car) allows you to do whatever you want ONCE. It will then stop you doing what you want for the next 4-5 years while you are building back up your savings.

Because if you don't build your savings back up, you're an idiot (which you know or you'd not have savings anyway).

Summary: There are much better, cheaper and more sensible methods for getting 'youth' out of your money. The Porsche will not give you what you want and buying anything other than a rental property (or other source of semi-reliable income) with ALL your equity is stupid. You know this or you'd not be asking this question.
posted by Brockles at 5:17 AM on September 3, 2014

$95000 is too much money to buy something - especially a Porche Boxter which is depreciating while I type.
posted by mattoxic at 5:18 AM on September 3, 2014

Rent one for a month.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:19 AM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Car guy here, so I totally get the appeal of doing this. And I recently bought a somewhat expensive car myself. Here are my rules of thumb. Note that these are not "sound financial advice" rules, they are "car guy and I really want an expensive car" rules.

1) Don't spend more than about 5-7% of your salary on car purchasing. But average that out over the period you intend to keep it, so if you're going to keep it for 10 years, you might spend 50-70% of a year's salary on a car.

2) Be able to pay cash. If you have to finance the purchase of an expensive car, you can't afford an expensive car. Get something more basic instead, and look forward to a nicer car in the future. (You might end up leasing or financing if it actually works out better, I'm saying you should have the cash in the bank to buy it outright if you decided to.)

3) Don't have any other major debts -- so mortgage or student loans should be paid off first, always.

4) Have at least 6 months salary left over after you buy, as cash in the bank. If you're having to clean out your bank account to buy an expensive car, you can't afford it. If you don't have major debts to pay, this would probably last you a good long time if you lost your job unexpectedly, for example.
posted by FishBike at 5:23 AM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, if you post a comment calling the OP insulting names, your comment will be deleted. Likewise, weird sexist analogies. Also, the OP has updated.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:25 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Piling on: you can't afford it and it would be foolish. But seeing your upgrade: good plan!
posted by J. Wilson at 5:26 AM on September 3, 2014

If I wanted to blow my money on a car I'd buy a replica Porsche 550 for a lot less money. I'm coming from a place of deep ignorance of automotive matters.
posted by rdr at 5:26 AM on September 3, 2014

I will probably put about 1/3 of the money into investments, 1/3 into an upgrade to a more modest (but still very nice) car in time, and 1/3 into travelling and frequent small indulgences, which in the long run will likely bring more happiness to me and to my companions.

Good call. Enjoy!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:31 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Buy a car that is good enough for whatever transportation you need day to day. Four wheels and a radio, and you're done. Rent a fast car once in a while for kicks, if you can't stand it. Save oodles of money.
posted by beagle at 5:40 AM on September 3, 2014

If you want to be happy:

1. Buy Experiences
2. Make it a Treat
3. Buy Time
4. Pay Now, Consume Later
5. Invest in Others

source: this summary of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending

So go to the track, rent a Boxter and have fun!
posted by pharm at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2014 [13 favorites]

Do it. Too many people wait until they are old to do this stuff, following through on an old, old dream. Do it when you'll enjoy it most, which is today.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:47 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

You still have 40k in student loan debt. This is a no brainer. Just saw your update OP. You knew this was a bad idea and good on you for listening to reason.

Our household income is similar to yours and I drive a 2010 Mazda 3. And our household is completely debt free. I get annoyed enough having to pay for maintenance on my very modest car. I cannot imagine how expensive maintenance would be on a Porsche, let alone insurance.

I can come up with a million reasons why I want to buy fancy things that are way beyond affordable too. I can also come up with two million reasons why it's a bad, bad idea. I'd rather drive a modest car and watch my money grow. You can too!

And someday, possibly in the near future, this vehicle will be affordable to you. You CAN have it all, you just can't have it right now. You dig?
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:50 AM on September 3, 2014

Just saw the update - oops. I can't believe boring old middle aged me is the only one going Do it!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:50 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think your change of heart is the smart move. Here's a perspective I've found useful: just because you can scrape together enough money to buy something, doesn't mean you can afford it.

You're doing great for 28 years old. But you aren't rich enough for this car. You're not wrong about being young with money: enjoy it. But you don't want to blow all your fun in one place, especially fun that could jepordize your financial future, and an asset that depreciates this much.

Investing some, getting a better but reasonable car and travel is a good balance. Make sure you take advantage of whatever retirement investment/savings options are available in Australia.
posted by spaltavian at 5:51 AM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just saw the update - oops. I can't believe boring old middle aged me is the only one going Do it!

Maybe I'm a bad person, but I'd say fuck the money, do things that make you happy. I see people being miserable and careful all the time and it's sad.

But: there is no way that being 28 and driving that car won't make you look like a douche. If your friends are douches and the women you want to date think douches are hot, you are golden. If, on the other hand, your friends are cool and you want to date normal women, I'd think twice before impoverishing yourself for a momentary piece of conspicuous consumption. Your revised plan in the update is a lot more in keeping with that scenario and I think you'll be happier for it; just make sure you also devote a serious chunk of your money to doing things and buying things that make you happy, because life is short and unpredictable.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]

Your future self thinks you're crazy. He'd far rather have a debt-free life and a secure retirement plan than a hunk of metal worth a fraction of the buying price and running on tech a decade old.
posted by kythuen at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2014

I spent about 1/3rd of my salary on a car, and while I love my car (and I had to replace my old one), I think a *lot* about what else could have been done with that money. Between saving for the car, a down payment in my condo, and for retirement, that meant a lot of nice vacations I couldn't take. My car is awesome, but it would have been nice to have a car AND a bunch of nice vacations.

Because you seem so fixated on this particular car, my advice would be to lease the Porsche for a couple of years to get it out of your system and then buy a less expensive car. Alternately, look into an older model of Porsche that you will only drive occasionally-- the depreciation on those cars is pretty steep and you can save a lot of money if you get an older model that you don't use as a daily driver.
posted by deanc at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2014

I saw your update. Oh good.

In addition to other deterrents, people at work notice and judge what you spend money on. It's unfair but they do. If you are an entertainment lawyer in LA or a high end plastic surgeon or something, you can probably spend any amount on your car. But in most fields, spending way more than seems proportional will subject you to scrutiny of your judgment or your motivation. People who judge you for only doing the job for the money, or who speculate that you have a trust fund or a sugar mama-- well who cares, as long as you do a good job? But it does happen, and it would be yet another reason I wouldn't roll up to work in an extremely fancy car.
posted by BibiRose at 7:06 AM on September 3, 2014

I am above your salary bracket by some % and I would never do this. As a poster said above, you do not make enough to afford this car. Oh, in theory sure, but you are spreading yourself thin with credit. All you need is one round of layoffs or one serious health crisis and you will lose much of what you "own." Plus maintenance fees on that car, good god. Anyways my advice is: don't get smug thinking you make a lot of money. You are still middle class. (Not even upper middle class at that!)

Dude you're driving a low end BMW right now.

Try upgrading first. Go for a 500 or 700 series, or an Infiniti G35 or (my dream car) BMW M3 Convertible. Have you driven one of those? Heaven on wheels. IMO BMW 300 series are shite cars; they are cheapie BMWs in name only. So go for a car for less $$$ with a WAY better drive than your current wheels.

Ask yourself what you plan to get out of this car. If you're driving it in a traffic laden city, you will never get the enjoyment of the car. Like keeping a stallion in a garage.

IF you must
- I would lease, drive the shit out of it for 3 years and then wave it adieu
- consider a Tesla; you often get government subsidies and its a sweet ride
- Consider buying it in the states and shipping it across. For eg., my dream car is $50-80k here in Canada but a 5 year used is $28k in the US (+border fees, ugh).

tl;dr - upgrade your current wheels from your dinky 300 series FIRST, then decide if you need to go whole hog.

posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:08 AM on September 3, 2014

Oh sorry just saw the update.

My advice still stands: upgrade those wheels to more than a 300 series, it's a good compromise and you will be happier trust me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:09 AM on September 3, 2014

My younger brother did something similar to this, except it wasn't a Porche, it was a BMW 300 - like what you drive now. Used. Which was still about a year's salary for him. This was three or four years ago. Between insurance and parking fees and maintenance the car bled him dry.

He had to take out a loan to make ends meet and he sold the car. He's still paying it off. Now he has no car at all.

I think he has a heap of regret and very few fond feelings about the decision he made, which probably felt good at the time but was ultimately unwise.

Feelings aren't facts. Just because it feels good to fantasize about driving a sexy little car around doesn't mean it will feel good to actually deal with it.

This is a great thing to learn, that giving in and letting emotions make our big decisions for us is simply not a good idea. I learned this the hard way. So did my brother.

I was glad to read your update. If you still want this car this badly in five years, revisit the question. There will still be fast, sexy cars in five years. And having a wife and a family does not necessarily mean that you can't also have an amazing luxury car. Who knows what the future holds?
posted by sockermom at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

They've made Boxsters for a while, right? That means there are used ones out there on the market. Maybe even super-cheap used ones that got repossessed by the lender in someone's bankruptcy. Start looking in every place you can think of and see what's out there that would scratch this itch for much less money. Buying new is for suckers.
posted by MsMolly at 7:20 AM on September 3, 2014

Dude: track weekends. Racing school. The problems with going fast on roads are myriad, on the track many of those problems are cut away.
Have fun, that's important, but blowing your money on something the upkeep of which is non-trivial is a fucking bummer. (That's right, voice of experience.)
posted by From Bklyn at 7:21 AM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who joined a "cool car club." It's not cheap, but it's not 95k, and once a month he gets to drive VERY cool cars for a day or two. Maybe there's a similar thing where you are?
posted by prefpara at 7:51 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to add... it's not like you'll enjoy this car less when you're older and have more money. Nor will you have so much less time that you won't be able to drive it. When you're 28 driving a Porsche, people will make assumptions about you being a douchebag. When you're 50? They'll make assumptions about you having a midlife crisis. The driving experience, when you factor out other people's judgments about you, will be exactly the same. And if you really love this particular car, you will love it just as much if you wait until you're 50 and more successful to buy it, than if you drain your savings to have it now.

Your new plan sounds really good. And just imagine how awesome it'll be when you can afford a Porsche in the future!
posted by ohmy at 8:20 AM on September 3, 2014

You might want to read-up on the hedonic treadmill. It's a concept that is very much relevant to your situation.
posted by alex1965 at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two things:

"If you have such a significant safety-net, then I'd say the best thing is to keep it where it is right now, because you never know what sort of economic shocks might be around the corner in this day and age, particularly in a country currently reliant on a China-driven mineral boom. "
- jojobobo

Jojobobo has hit on one of the biggest, most important things that money can buy you--a way out of a bad situation. It can be your oh-shit fund, your take-this-job-and-shove-it fund or your move-to-another-country-to-pursue-a-brilliant-new-opportunity fund. Money, at its core, is potential energy.

You say three really interesting things about how you feel about the prospect of owning this car:

I admit, I like the badge. I suspect it'd make me feel nice to drive around in such a beautiful toy, wash it, detail it, etc.

I would prefer to be able to say that I bought the car outright

I honestly don't care what others think of the car except insofar as it might turn off friends or potential romantic partners.
The first two seem to indicate that you crave bragging rights, and commendably, that you're honest with yourself and others about this craving. Since you're willing to put yourself out there and be up-front about your reasons for wanting the car, let's break this thing down into practicalities.

Since you would be buying the car for social and emotional reasons (rather than practical or financial-investment reasons), then it makes sense to think about the car's depreciation in those areas over the period of time that you expect to own the car.

How impressed are you when you see someone driving a five-year-old flashy car? How about a six- or 10-year-old flashy car? There is often a temporal no-man's-land in the lifespan of an object; it's after the newness has worn off, but before it's taken on any "vintage" or nostalgic quality. It's the point where it's just old, but not awesome-old. Some flashy objects never become awesome-old. They just become tired. At that point, owning them sends a different signal than owning them when they were new.

If you love beautiful, well-engineered objects that you can care for, there may be better objects you can buy--objects that will appreciate in perceived and real value with age and care.

Your third statement . . . yeah you do. :) You care very much what others may think of you for driving that car and that's totally okay. We're primates. We're big into messaging. Own it, then use that understanding to make the best possible decision for you.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:49 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you're getting a bit of bias in the advice from Americans, because they very much do require massive personal safety-nets, because people have so much less security in the USA (in all areas - health, finance, unemployment, welfare, etc) and have basically internalized life in a minefield.

I think you're also getting a bit of bias from you being in Australia. When I think "current-model gently-used certified Boxster", I think ~$40K. Car prices in Aus are crazy (because of the protectionism?), a shit car costs a lot of money, and most of that money you spend isn't actually buying more car like it would in the USA or Germany, you're just pissing it away on red-tape/overhead and getting an inferior car in return.

I think you should buy something nice, but because you live in Australia, perhaps a car isn't the best thing to get. Is there some other kind of fun luxury where your location gives you better bang for your buck? Or even mediocre bang for your buck?

I also think that you should consider that spending half that money on a car could give you 80% of the joy, and the missing 20% will be less than the joy of what the remaining 50K turns into after being invested for years.

(I'll also add that buying current-model means it won't be long before you're driving not-current-model. How will you feel about that? How will you feel about having paid current-model price to drive an older car?)
posted by anonymisc at 11:08 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm throwing my hat into the "sell your current car and spend ~20-30k on an older 911" ring. An 80s SC, or a slightly newer 964 series.

They're old enough, especially the pre-964 ones that they communicate "this person has style and taste". Even my partner, who doesn't really know about or care about cars has pointed them out several times as looking really cool and stylish. Everything about them, inside and out, just oozes cool. And not in the "I spent a ton of money on this" way, more in the "I have refined taste" way.

Spend the rest of the money on traveling... Or keep it... Or something.

Also spend 10k or less on the cheapest off lease but recent Hyundai or Kia you can find that's in good condition. They've gotten a LOT nicer in the past few years, and you really don't want to drive a Porsche to work every day. Especially an actually cool older one. The Hyundai I was in a few days ago as a lyft shocked me at being nicer than my friends old RX8, or a maxima. It was about as nice as a g35 inside. You won't be slumming it, it's probably 2/3rds as nice inside as the basic BMW interior wise. Especially if you get leather.

Aim to spend under $35 or 40k on this whole project, and subtract from that the cash from selling your current car. NOT on top of it.

If I had 95k, I'd buy a cool car too. But I'd only spent maybe 1/4 of it on that. And I'm an idiot too, ask my partner or any of my friends.

Travel the world. Go party in ibiza. Go on a huge through hike with nice lightweight equipment. Go to burning man. Take sailing classes and either crew on a boat traveling far or rent one and go sail on a long trip with some like minded friends. Go eat at places like Alinea while you travel.

I recently met a really happy, experienced traveler seeming old guy who had done all that and much much more. He didn't have a fancy car, or anything like that... But he had seen a lot(I'm not going to say it all, no one sees it all, but he got a lot closer than most) and didn't regret it one bit.

I aim to be that guy when I'm old. And I'm not going to tell you what to do explicitly, but I think you'll have a lot more fun with that path than you would with buying a boxster. And 75k after you sell your car, and buy a cool 911 and something decently nice but basic will do a whole lot of fun traveling and experiences.

I'm going to be thinking of that old guy and his stories for a long time whenever I'm about to blow money on something. You probably should, too. And I mean, I know you didn't meet him, but just in the nebulous sense of aspiring to be the old guy with a lot of interesting stories, rather than the guy who had a decent sized pile of cash and spent it all on something silly that wouldn't be worth even half that in a few years anyways(have you priced an 8 or so year old boxster? They really aren't worth much where I am).

And really, I think you'll have more fun with an older 911 just in knowing you didn't spend 100% of all your money on it. You won't be afraid to take some courses and go beat the shit out of it on a track day, or go drive out to some remote canyon or mountain pass and really have some fun with it like people do with sport bikes, etc. There's something to be said for having something fun you're not afraid to really have fun with. And a whole other layer to be said for having a car you can really work on yourself in your driveway or garage, with a large enthusiastic Internet following there to help you.

I don't expect you to agree with any of this, but at least consider it thoughtfully.
posted by emptythought at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a married woman with a child and we are the same age, I can't imagine spending a years salary on a car. However, my priorities are different than yours.

Being that you are young and in such a good financial position, you should use the money to plan for the future. You may not want to settle down anytime soon, and have no plans to do so, but you really don't know if the woman of your dreams will come around the corner any day and totally change your mind.

Though it seems unlikely to you - plan for it. Don't use all your savings on a vehicle. Can you afford to finance it, and trade it in a year or two?
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 11:59 AM on September 3, 2014

Response by poster: You've already made the decision not to, but I'd think my biggest qualm about purchasing this would be the lack of other investments. You said you've got no other savings besides this $75K, but you have a mortgage and student loans? If your life goes belly-up (cancer, job loss, etc) you'd have a lot of expenses but no cushion. You definitely do not want to be in that situation and only have a fancy car as backup. It would be one thing if you had a nice retirement fund plus a 6-12 month cushion (that includes mortgage and student loan payments), then hey, you're young, go nuts. But man, without that it's kind of a dumb financial decision.

Why not put a percentage of your income away as a luxury goods fund, to be used on a car or whatever? Then when you've got enough for whatever you'll have planned for this kind of purchase and you can either spend it on the car if you still want it or spend it on something else if you've changed your mind.
posted by Anonymous at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2014

OP, I think you made the right call in your update. I'm female, a few years older than you. My husband and I have a combined income of about double what you are making, and we've paid off all our debts besides our mortgage. Aside from our mortgage, we have low monthly expenses (all shared between the two of us - so you know, settling down with someone can actually make your money go much further). We have 6 months worth of living costs saved, with separate savings accounts for occasional expenditures like vacations, property tax, etc.

We are looking at replacing our car with a newer one, in the $35-40K range. A $95K car would be completely out of the question for us. We know people our age who have splurged on fancy cars. One couldn't afford the maintenance and repairs and fell into pretty bad debt, though the car wasn't her only terrible financial decision. Another still lives at home with his parents. Another is the butt of jokes, because he joined the club, wears a hat with the badge on it, and uses a picture of his car as his facebook profile picture, and seriously who does that? At best, nobody is impressed by their choices of vehicles. The reality is, their choices say things about them and their values and sense of judgment, unflattering things.

Also, a Boxster?! *slaps your wrist* That's a midlife-crisis-mobile for folks who can't afford a real Porsche. Sorry for the harsh words, but in the snobby world of luxury sports cars a Boxster is not going to cut it. As many have suggested, if you want the Porsche badge and prestige, get an older 911. It will get you the brand recognition you want, and the respect of other motorheads. I mean, even an old BMW M3. Those are cool. If it's performance and exhilaration in a toy that you want, get a motorcycle.

My job is, touch wood, secure, and if I were made redundant I would have about $12,000 net in severance pay. I know of at least one rival firm which would employ me in the alternative (I've spoken to them as part of normal contract negotiations).

I would never count on severance pay, or another firm throwing themselves at your feet, in lieu of cold, hard savings. You never know what could happen. You could make a mistake and be fired for cause. The economy could tank. The other firm's circumstances could change. Potential money is not real. Future money is not real.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's ultimately your decision whether you want to do the "fun" or the "responsible" thing. Most people, including myself, would advise you to pay off your debts and continue to save some of that money you already have.

If you really want that particular car, then keep saving until you're even more financially stable (ie, no debts and enough savings for any potential emergency that can arise).

However, if you really want it now, and it sounds like you do, there's nothing stopping you from buying it now. Especially since you can pay for it in full and still have leftover money, it's not the un-wisest decision in the world. Assuming you don't lose your well-paying job any time soon, you can buy this car now and still not put yourself in some horrid financial situation. You just don't have as much emergency fund left.

You already know the pros and cons. Ultimately it's your decision. If you're going by majority opinion, then most (adults) will advise you to not buy it, at least now.
posted by atinna at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2014

Probably not gonna be a popular answer, but here it is...

If you have no family commitments and some disposable income, buy a motorcycle. It will spoil you on FAST FAST FAST forever and afterwards you'll be happy driving a minivan.

Story time: When I was 28 I bought a BMW M3, which at that time respresented a cost of roughly 60% my year income. I loved it, but it rotted my soul from the inside to drive such a conspicous piece of self-indulgent metal. When I wrecked it on the highway one morning, my first thought when I looked up from behind the airbag was "thank god that's over..."

These days I have a Honda CRV and a Triumph Bonneville. One is practical and bulletproof and the other is fast and beautiful and I love to touch it and wash it and tinker with it. You'll never fix anything on a Boxster, it'll thrill you but it won't make you feel good.

Hope that's helpful advice, Anon. Good luck with your quarter-life crisis! ;)
posted by misterdaniel at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

You don't have $75,000 cash saved up, you have $75,000 in a saving account and $40,000 in student debt that you could have paid off but stupidly haven't.
posted by Metafilter Username at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let me offer my relevant entry-level Porsche experience.

My first car was a used Cayman S (987.1, 15k miles, certified pre-owned). I bought it when I was 24. Originally, I was eyeing the Boxster and would have never considered the Cayman--so glad I went with the Cayman.

The oil changes are $250, whether you go the dealer or the reputable independent shop. Of course, you can do it yourself but it's not worth it to me (cost of goods is still $100+).

The tires are $350-$400 each and they need to be changed in pairs. Easily costs $1k for the fronts and $1.5k for the rears.

The brakes and rotors are ~$550 each.

The 40k mile 'minor service' is $1k, the 60k mile 'major service' will probably be close to $2k.

My Cayman's engine started making a squeaking sound, related to the speed of the engine. I dropped it off at the dealer to look at and it turns out the entire engine needed to be replaced. That cost $20k. I was within days of my warranty expiring...days. Fortunately, they pushed the repair through and I paid nothing. There's no way I would have spent $20k cash to repair it--would be driving a Miata or something else instead.

Oh, and the window switch actuator cost $600 to replace. The carbon canister was another $600. The horn was apparently not as loud as it should have been, replaced. The AC controls in the dash went out, $450 to replace. All of this was under warranty. But, those costs add up.

You probably get the point. These cars are insanely expensive and the expenses don't stop. As others mentioned, buying the car is the 'cheap' part.

BUT, I've wanted a sports car since I was ten years old. I gave all of the Boxster/Cayman competitors a test drive and the Porsche was just special. I absolutely love the car and the experience. I knew what I was getting myself into, and dodged paying for the engine issue but it does happen. I love driving it everyday and still get excited even after having it for three years.

The Boxster has very little "street credibility". Personally, I really like it. The Cayman attracts little attention from women.
posted by jdlugo at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've owned all sorts of cars. My favorite car was my Acura Integra. I've owned two Mercedes. Here's what I've learned about cars.

They get you from point A to point B.

The Mercedes were both money pits. Even a regular A or B service was hundreds of dollars. And they just sat there, depreciating, right in front of my eyes! I sure wish I kept the Acura, and had all the money I wasted on fine German engineering. Seriously!

I now lease a Honda Civic, I love the handling and it's perfect for my 4 mile commute. Really, what do I have to prove to anyone?

Were I you I would pay off all debt and have a 6 month cache of cash. Then I'd pay down the mortgage like a fiend. What you are aiming for is Fuck You money. This means that you don't have to take any shit from anyone, because you don't need them.

It goes without saying that I'd pay off the student loans. Why let banks have you by the balls?

Imagine what your life looks like when you owe nobody. Imagine what your ability to save money looks like.

Sure, enjoy your youth. Travel, meet people, drive fast cars (renting an exotic every so often.) Just keep your priorities straight.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:42 PM on September 3, 2014

Were I in your enviable position, I'd keep the amazing BMW and book days of rally school to my heart's content!
posted by nicodine at 7:22 PM on September 3, 2014

There is no status symbol that is not a profoundly stupid waste of money. Rich people know this, it's the whole point. They can demonstrate that they can throw away piles of money and won't notice it. That's why luxury cars, despite their reputation, are so poorly made and unreliable. It just doesn't matter. There's no market pressure to improve. I had a co-worker who married into a *lot* of money. He and his wife drove Minis because their Range Rovers sat in the garage -- they broke too often to bother fixing. Did it hurt them? Fuck no, they could have bought a hundred more.

You're not that rich though. You're not rich, period. If this thing tanks (or even if it doesn't) it will hurt you. And people will know that, and rather than having any status value, it will make you look like a fool to the people you might have wanted to impress.

When you make your first million. Buy the Porsche. Until then, be smart.

Of course if you're smart-smart, you'll never buy a Porsche, but that's just my opinion ;)
posted by klanawa at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with fishbike, and stealing a few rules from Suze Orman:

If you:
a) Have no debt
b) Have 8 months of emergency fund
c) Are maxing your Superannuation contributions
d) Can pay cash for it

You have the freedom to buy anything you please. Anything. I don't care how stupid it is, go for it.

Til then: Only borrow for things you actually need. Car loans are a bit borderline, honestly. This is a want, not a need.

Find some cheaper wants for the meantime.
(I'm seconding that you could travel cheaply for a few years on that money)
posted by Elysum at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get one used with low miles. Someone else pays half he depreciation and you still get to look sexy. Totally worth it IMO. Convertibles kick butt and you can always mak more money later.
posted by jewzilla at 11:15 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I see that you've already made your decision, but here's something that may help you feel better about it.

My grandparents pinched and scrimped and saved, and took early retirement at age 55. For the past 25 years, they've gone to bed when they got tired, gotten up when they naturally woke, and arranged the rest of their time to suit themselves. Their health is just starting to fail but for most of those years they were in good shape and generally enjoyed the hell out of life (55 is younger than you think right now).

I have some coworkers, on the other hand, who earned more overall but who didn't save. They are in their 60s or 70s and starting to feel the pinch as they only have 10 or 15 years of healthy life ahead of them, and they will probably spend most of that sitting in an office chair, grinding out the hours. If they're lucky, they'll maybe have 5 years of healthy retirement.

What price would you put on 20 years of healthy retired life? Yes, it's worth it to spend on the occasional treat or vacation so that you have the mental and physical health at all, but otherwise remember that you're saving up so that you can afford to own yourself outright.

(And read some of the past threads about how to maximize those long term savings, while you're at it.)
posted by anaelith at 7:43 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, now that the release is official I think you want to consider the 2016 mx5.

What a fine looking machine, and 220 pounds lighter than last-gen. Shit.

If you can drive this to its limits then you deserve a Porsche.
posted by spitbull at 5:02 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Buy a Ford Fiesta ST for a quarter of that amount.

The absolute upper speed limit in Australia is 130km per hour, which is in the Northern Territory (where I'm going to go ahead and guess you don't live) and which even my lowly Fiesta Zetec can do with ease (a thing I have only been able to establish by breaking the law on a stretch of road between Brisbane and Mount Tambourine). So there's not much of a reason to have a car that can do 320km per hour (which they probably can't anyway since they probably have speed limiters or some shit installed).

How a car handles at an absolute top legal speed of 130km per hour is pretty much a moot point, since there is no reason to be doing anything other than driving in a straight line at that speed. I won't say that a Fiesta ST handles anywhere near as good as a Porsche Whatever, but everything I've ever seen or read about the ST says that it handles amazingly well. I'm actually going to go ahead and theorise that the ST handles better, because a Porsche Whatever is bigger and heavier. So handling isn't really an issue.

Cachet is important, I understand. A Porsche is a fancy European brand and you drive it off the lot with a bunch of established connotations sitting in the seat next to you (such as, you're a 50 year old female recruitment executive and are happy for your $95K purchase to instantly lose like 40% of its value once you signed the papers). But Porsche Whatevers are a dime a dozen on Australian roads. Literally the only time I ever notice a Porsche is when the driver is driving like an asshole, or when they park like an asshole. So, actually, I notice them quite a bit, but not for the "right" reasons. The only reason I can think of that you would want a car that can go from 0-60 in half a second or whatever is so you can drive like an asshole. If that's your idea of "enjoying life", driving like an asshole, then godspeed, but consider this:

The Porsche 911s, Boxsters, and Caymans (pictured here) are some of the dopiest-looking cars I've ever laid eyes on. They are the living, vibrating definition of twatted-up rollerskates, and I have never in my life heard anybody comment favourably on a Porsche as it drove around, by saying "Oh that's a nice car" or "That's my dream car". You will be dropping close to a hundred grand on something that is anonymous at best, and reviled at worst. Plus the servicing on one of those things is going to be absolutely extortionate (as with all European cars in this country).

If you're going to spend crazy money on an impractical car, you'd be better off saving another twenty grand or so and getting a Nissan GT-R. Now that is a sexy-ass car!

Really dude: you have worked hard, saved hard, and want to play hard. I get that. I respect it. Don't fucking blow $95K on one of those middle-of-the-road pieces of shit. Either go all the way with something outrageous, or buy something that's still hot and fun (like my above recommendation, which would be my next car purchase if I could bother to learn driving stick) and have oodles of money left over to spend on literally anything else.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:35 PM on September 7, 2014

Oh, shit, never mind, I saw taz's relay of your final decision - which is an extremely wise one indeed. Well done, and disregard my previous response!
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:52 PM on September 7, 2014

It's like Louis CK said, ""You shouldn't buy a yacht unless you can afford ten yachts."

Good decision OP. I think you still need to blow some of the money on something reckless (motorcycle? flight lessons?) or something you normally wouldn't value (like a trek in Chile, or a few weeks in Far Off Lands).
posted by yeti at 12:31 PM on September 9, 2014

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