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Are Cool Cars Worth the Cost?

Come on admit it. Just the look of some cars (or trucks) can get your blood pumping. They can even get some people to fork over huge amounts of money each month to drive them. But that’s one of the biggest problems when it comes to cars: “Cool” and “financial catastrophe” are often interchangeable descriptions.

So where do you fall on this issue? Does the “cool factor” weigh heavily on your car-buying decisions? If so, a quick look at a simple financial comparison between two cars might change your mind.

Itemizing the cost of cool

On one hand, you could buy a basic (perhaps, uncool) car for around $29,000. Or on the other hand, you could score a tricked out muscle car for about $46,500. Just know that the cost differences don’t stop there. A quick internet search of “cost to own a car” will provide you a list of tools you can use to do a deeper comparison. While the additional costs will certainly vary based on the vehicle, here are the results from one of these tools when comparing one brand of basic sedan to another brand of loaded up muscle car with the previously discussed sticker prices:

Estimated Costs over 5 Years “Uncool” Reality “Cool” Dream
Loss in value (depreciation) $18,300 $29,300
Financing costs (hypothetical 3% for 60 months) $2,266 $3,633
Maintenance and Repairs $3,300 $7,200
Gas $8,700 $17,000
Total $32,586 $32,586 $57,133

Difference per month over 5 years: $409

Do you see that bottom number? $409 per month, every month, for five years.

(Quick math: $409 x 60 = $24,540)

You could almost get two “uncool” cars for the price of the “cool” one.

Do your homework

This isn’t to say that people should only drive boring cars (though some people would argue that). Instead, it’s to highlight that the financial aspect of car buying is something you should take very seriously. Think about it: the effects of your decision can follow you long after you leave the car lot. So do the research and find a car that also makes sense for your financial situation rather than one that just appeals to you emotionally. As the exercise above clearly shows, being cool has a price. And unless you’re already financially stable, that price may be too high.