How much have you spent on cars? You might be surprised to find out my answer.

by Nick on March 19, 2014

how much have you spent on carsThe other day I pulled up to a red light.

A few moments later Fancy McButterpants pulled next to me.

Fancy was driving a brand new car worth at least $50,000.

I have no idea how much Fancy McButterpants makes, whether the car was leased, financed, a company car or whatever.

And I have no idea if she was one of those “get my personal value from my car value folks.”

But how sad must those people be?

How sad would it be to get your personal value out of a car, that’s GOING DOWN each month?!?!

Would you then value yourself less every time the odometer registered a new mile?

Would you lose half your personal value the second you drove the car off the lot?

Would you be a “total loss” if you crashed into a tree until you got the insurance check to tell you how much “you” were worth and then start over with a new car?


But looking over for a moment got me thinking about how much I’ve spent to buy cars or motorcycles in the two decades I’ve been driving.

Here’s my timeline:

1994: 1984 Ford Bronco II for $2,400.
1995: 50% interest in a motorcycle with a buddy for $500.
1997: New 1997 Geo Metro Hatchback for $8,100.
1998: New motorcycle for $5,850.
2004: Another 1997 Geo Metro Hatchback $2,500.
2009: New Honda CR-V for $20,600.

Total spent on cars/motorcycles since 1994: $38,950.

Less the “we just had a kid and should probably upgrade to a Honda” car: $18,350. :)

So the total value of my personal cars and motorcycles in 20 years was about $10,000 LESS than the price of the one blaring “Since You’ve Been Gone” at the red light next to me at that moment.

And since the average price of a new car is about $30,000, that means the odds are I’m going to pull up next to people driving cars that are worth more than I’ve spent on cars in my entire life.

How about you?
How long have you been driving?
How much have you spent on cars/motorcycles/airplanes since you started?
How much did you pay for the car you are driving now?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

save. spend. splurge. March 19, 2014 at 9:10 am

I’ve been driving for about 6 years (late bloomer)
Bought one car for $1800 in cash, and then donated to to charity.
As for airplanes, I’ve taken a lot of flights / trips and spent maybe $40,000 – $50,000 in the past 5 years traveling for leisure. If we add in business, more than that.

Do not have a car now. Am planning on buying one, thinking of a used SUV Honda Pilot, or a new one if I can’t find it used.
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Holly@ClubThrifty March 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Ugh, this post makes me feel so ashamed! We used to trade in cars all the time…I wish I had all of that money back!
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Jon @ Money Smart Guides March 20, 2014 at 8:26 am

My first two cars I spent a total of $6,000 on. I knew a mechanic in town that would buy Honda’s that were in accidents and had a salvage title. He would fix them up and resell them for cheap. The first one I drove until it have 200,000. I sold it to a man in town and he drove it for another 20,000. My second car I drove until it had 100,000 on it. At this time I was in my mid 20′s and needed something “cool” so I dropped $20K on a new car.
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Leonard @ The Wallet Doctor March 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

People get so carried away with busting out the cash for cars. I love a good car, but I don’t want to go broke for one. It sounds like you’ve been pretty reasonable with your automobile purchases. Thanks for the post!


Andrew@LivingRichCheaply March 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Got my first car in college back in 2000…bought a 1997 Altima for $7600. Drive it all the way until 2010 when I bought a 2009 Hyundai Sonata for $13,300 (traded in the Altima for $1000). So I’d say the total is just under $20,000 for 14 years of driving. Unfortunately I now put on a lot of miles…but I’m trying to hold on to my current car for a while.
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Ryan @ Impersonal Finance March 25, 2014 at 6:19 pm

The only car I’ve ever actually purchased was my current 2005 Volvo in 2009 for $17k. More than I should have spent, but worth it as long as I drive it for another 100k miles. I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of cars that run forever, negating the need to buy them.


Poor Student March 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

I think sometimes it really depends on how you see the functionality of a car. If you use a car as a means of transportation then I agree with you that it’s actually sad if one values a car to reflect one’s own personal value. Nevertheless, some folks do take cars as a hobby and sometimes they don’t really car the value of a car as long as they like it, so…
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Mario Adventuresinfrugal April 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I personally can think of a lot better things to spend my money on than cars. This, of course, is a silly thought to even have given that I live in New York, but even if I weren’t here, I like to think I’d find better things.

That said, different people prioritize different things in different ways. Perhaps that person driving the fancy car thinks it’s silly that people spend so much on vacations. Maybe they think it’s silly that people spend so much on clothes or kids or rent or food or any number of things that you or I prioritize highly.

I don’t know, really…

The only thing that I’m really concerned about is that they understand the complete cost of expensive cars because it’s always more than you think. You have to get fancy fuel, fancy repairs, fancy replacement parts, fancy insurance… It really piles up.
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The Wallet Doctor April 17, 2014 at 12:15 am

I can’t imagine putting in the kind of bucks people lay down for those fancy cars. I don’t think they are really nice enough to justify those costs even in the best of circumstances. It just seems to me that there are better things to invest.


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