That time I was almost bat-shit stupid…again

Published October 19, 2016   Posted in Having some fun

Back in 2010, I did something dumb. Okay, not just dumb, but certifiably bat-shit stupid. To this day, I kick myself every time I look at it. I mean, I “like it” I suppose, but it’s just an object. A “thing”. Why did I spend so much money on this thing?

And believe it or not, a few years down the line I almost committed an even bat-shittier, stupider crime against my future self. I damn near went into further debt to upgrade that bat-shit stupid thing I bought in 2010! A sign on the wall damn near had me piling more shit on top of these bats!

Confused? What did I do that was so stupid in 2010?

I bought a car. Not just a car, but a NEW car. Brand-spanking-new, right off the showroom floor. And it was a Cadillac CTS painted red. It lost nearly 15% of its value the second I drove that depreciating asset off the lot, but I didn’t care. I had a good job. I was paid well. I freaking deserved it.

And I loved the thought of driving into work in a Cadillac.

Pretty stupid, huh? Not only did I fork out over $42,000 for a brand new car, I did so because I was vain enough to believe that driving a Cadillac somehow made me a…I don’t know, a more successful person? Better than those around me? I financed the whole thing with a 0% interest, 72-month loan.

This whole situation makes me sick

As stupid as this was, I can’t help but remember when I nearly made an even dumber mistake. The dealer’s low-ball offer on my CTS saved my ass from further debt.

You see, the CTS also comes in a “V” version – that is, the CTS-V. For another $25k, this car was Cadillac’s “performance model”. It has something like 500HP bone stock. And it looks bad ass. And I worked with a guy who drove a CTS-V, too.

The jealousy, baby!

Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac CTS-V

Here’s the story. A couple years after I bought my CTS, I sat in the dealer’s customer waiting area while the car went through its regular oil change and tune-up. I spotted a sign on the wall that read: “We want your used CTS! This month only, we’re paying top dollar!”

And boom, the wheels started turning. Sure, I still had around $25k left on the loan that I took out. But…if Cadillac is willing to pay “top dollar” for my used CTS, I wonder how possible it would be to upgrade to a CTS-V? Imagine driving around in one of those.

I turned into the “Derp donkey”

I was a professional at getting myself to believe truly stupid stuff. Maybe used CTS’s were selling well right now. I may not get another opportunity quite like this to upgrade. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to inquire, does it?

Derp donkeyHow much did a brand new CTS-V cost? Around $65,000. Eh, kinda high, but this might be the right time. I’d just pack the additional cost on to my existing loan. I’d be paying for another few years anyway. What’s the difference?

I got up, heart thumping at the possibility of driving around in a brand new CTS-V. I wanted this to happen, and bad. I found a salesman and expressed my interest in getting my current CTS appraised. I wanted to see just how much Cadillac would give me. I mean, “top dollar” sounded pretty good.

After the car’s service was complete, they appraised it. It took about 20 minutes. During this time, I walked around a CTS-V they had in the showroom, literally wiping the drool off of the car’s hood as I gawked. It was a sweet-looking car. A beast.

It sounds great cruising down the road, too, faster than 90% of the cars out there. And it’s a “luxury car” to boot, giving me the power that I desired as well as the luxury that I thought I deserved.

And if my 2010 CTS appraised for anywhere near my $25,000 remaining balance on the loan, I might jump at this. Money be damned, you only live once. For all intents and purposes, I had my mind made up. This is going to happen.

Eventually, the salesman came back. I joined him in his cubicle somewhere around the perimeter of the showroom and he told me the offer.

I was stunned. He said my 2010 CTS appraised for $15,000.

Wait, WTF? You bastards said “top dollar” on that F-ing sign, and you’re only willing to pay $15,000 for a car that I bought for $42,000 just a couple years ago? Do you guys think I’m an idiot!?!

Son of a…I’m sure the salesman saw the immediate change in my persona. Obviously, this wasn’t going to happen for me. Yes, I was a financial dumbass, but my dumbassery only went so far.

I wanted a CTS-V, and bad. Super bad. However, this was a horrible financial situation, and I knew it. But I still hung on for dear life at the possibility. Even through my utter shock and disappointment at the appraisal, I still tried to keep the doors open.

“What’s another $10k on top of the additional $40,000 that would be added to my loan? Big deal, it’s the car I want. Come on, Steve. Damnit, you want this. You got yourself all worked up. You practically dreamed of driving away with your brand new CTS-V”.

Thankfully, I didn’t pursue this further. It was a horrible deal and a financial position that even I knew was about as bat-shit stupid as they come.

Somehow, I managed to walk out of there and drive away in my 2010 CTS without upgrading. In the end, it was that low “top dollar” appraisal that saved my ass.

How many out there nearly dropped serious cash on something stupid? What did you almost buy?

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


47 responses to “That time I was almost bat-shit stupid…again”

  1. Awesome story Steve and I’m glad their garbage offer stopped you from buying your upgraded car! We almost bought a pretty expensive condo in Florida a few years ago because of the realtor we were working with. We knew our budget and where we wanted to be – but she showed us a few about 20-50K above what we wanted to pay. Sure – they were were nicer. A little bigger, a few more amenities – and also higher HOA fees and taxes (and keeping up with the Joneses all around…) We bought a place in a complex that she “wouldn’t suggest” – and we couldn’t be happier! And since we bought it from an individual, she never ended up with a commission. Same as your car dealer!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Vicki! Yup, it definitely works the same way with real estate. I’m sure that realtor gets a LOT of people to spend more money than they otherwise would like by showing them homes just outside of their price range. Very classic tactic!

  2. I can totally relate to this. We almost bought a house for $412k just over a year ago. We live in a perfectly fine house on a great piece of land and in a fantastic school district. I just felt our house was too small and wanted that standard McMansion that I drooled over growing up. I was always so envious of my friends who lived in those houses. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was now successful enough to afford a house like that. Fortunately, I started having major anxiety – including literal heart palpitations – over the expense and, lucky for us, the house came back with mold that wasn’t easily remediated. We scooted out of the contracted and I slept so much better, I actually started to love out small house with its equally small expenses. It’s actually the single defining moment that gave birth to my blog and our own financial independence journey. Gotta love temporary insanity!

    • Steve says:

      Woohoo! Like you, I’ve grown to love small houses too. They are far less expensive to buy and maintain. Less time-consuming to clean. And the less that you have, the fewer things that can go wrong (appliances, HVAC systems, electrical, plumbing, etc).

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Wow, that’s quite a story, Steve. Quite a turnaround in mentality from back then, huh? Glad you are on the FI path now!

    I bought a brand new car last year (Pathfinder). I got a solid deal and even though I was prepared to pay cash, I couldn’t turn down the under 2% interest rate. It’s are primary vehicle now and will be well served for our growing family. No intention to upsize or luxury anytime soon, the plan is for that to still be our car in 10 years.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Green Swan. I think that buying cars NEW is okay if you plan on literally driving them into the ground – at least then, YOU are the one getting the value that you paid for. Depreciation can be a killer, but only if you sell early! 🙂

  4. Not nearly, but frankly actually did. Back in 2007 I was fighting with family and friends over buying a house. No wife, no kids, but they all still though I should. Ultimately partially to rebel and partially because I’m a car nut I bought a new corvette. I did end up ahead over buying a house due to luck, but either was a stupid thing to do only 4 yrs out of college with minimal money saved. I still have that car, partially as a reminder and partially as a good luck charm. On the positive it keeps me from making a repeat performance when I go look at it.

    • Steve says:

      I had a supercharged ’99 Corvette back in the day – fun car, but man, what a money pit. But ultimately, I’m glad that I did it because it got that phase of my life out of my system. Now that you’ve done something similar, I’m sure you aren’t looking for another sports car right about now, eh? 😉

      • Very true. I haven’t modded the car either so it’s actually been fairly cheap. If it keeps me from “upgrading” then it’s worth every penny of the opportunity cost given its now 9 yrs old.

        • Steve says:

          Yup, modding the car reduces its value even more. And boy, did I ever mod the hell out of that sucker. Supercharger, racing cam, twin-disc clutch, long tube headers, straight-through catback, 4.10 rear diff (until I broke it, then switched over to a 3.90 forged rear).

          My gosh, I’m trembling just remembering all that stupid money I dropped on that car.

  5. Yikes. I feel like that promotion would do more to point out how quickly cars lose their value and end up being counter-productive for Cadillac. I’d be curious to see how many people ended up trading up.

    Thanks for the story!

  6. Apathy Ends says:

    Haha – they are pretty good at getting people to take these offers.

    The Honda dealership has called and sent hand written notes about “aggressive offers for our 2014 CRV”

    No way are we starting that payment cycle over!

    • Steve says:

      Yup! Don’t get sucked into that like I did. “Aggressive offers” probably means KBB, at best… 🙂

    • Arrgo says:

      I bought my first new car back at the end of 2014 (Im now in my 40’s) A few months ago I started getting similar offers to trade it in. Im thinking really? I just bought it and there nothing wrong with it but I guess some people go for that kind of thing.

  7. Haha, you did some nice venting there! Great story. There is a danger of rolling an underwater car loan balance into the next loan of another (!!!) rapidly depreciating asset…
    I’m glad the shiny showroom fooled you only once!
    Personally, I find the sweet spot is to buy a 3 to 4-year old car and drive that forever. But I have the impression that lots of people are following the same strategy because just browsing through the Toyota and Honda listings they seemed expensive, not that much below the price for a new car. Maybe this is being arbitraged away?

    • Steve says:

      I tend to agree that cars in the three to four year range are the best value. The person who bought it new has already forked over the money for depreciation, and you’re left with a good quality vehicle with the majority of its productive life left. A perfect match!

  8. I can so relate to your story, Steve! My husband and I had a serious bat-shit stupid car buying habit several years ago. No caddies here. We liked trucks! I believe we owned 4 different trucks in the span of 7 years. We figure all the trading and buying we did cost us close to $100,000 – it’s painful to think about how that would have compounded. If we had invested that money…oh my. Hindsight is always better – at least we finally learned and have since chosen a different, more fulfilling path.

    • Steve says:

      Wow, four different trucks in seven years! I gotta admit that I’ve always had a thing for the F-150 Raptor, but I didn’t buy one. Good on you for moving on from those mistakes! 🙂

  9. Matt Votral says:

    I hate to be a one upper but I did something stupid 2 times. I bought 2 brand new vehicles in 2015. A 2015 tahoe for my wife and a 2015 F150 for me. That’s right, I dropped 100K on cars! No, I am not independently wealthy or even close to it. I’m just stupid! Granted, I traded in 2 completely paid off cars, put down over 15K cash and enjoy 0% financing on the balance for a very short 72 months. Now I spend my days looking at my budget screaming in my head STOP THE INSANITY!

    • Steve says:

      Wow, a Tahoe and an F-150?!? Ugh, gas mileage. 🙂

      Lol – I’m a visual person and had a picture of a dude yelling “stop the insanity” with arms flailing in the air. Was that you? 😉

      • Matt Votral says:

        Yes, that was most definitely me! haha

        Steve, great job with blog. I’ve been reading for a few months now and you’ve inspired me to start a blog. It’s not live yet but hope to have it up and running soon. I’ll let you know.

  10. Troy says:

    Been there and done that a few times. At one point I was on a new car roller coaster, upgrading every couple years OK with the fact that I would always have a car payment so why not have the newest and best car possible. One day I woke up, jumped off the roller coaster and went debt free, best thing I ever did.

  11. Ouchhh! That’s a painful lesson but I’m really glad that you didn’t go for the “upgrade.” Cars really screwed us over financially too, and we picked pretty un-impressive, unfancy cars, too!

    I think the biggest mistake I *almost* made was buying a house that needed to be gutted down to the studs. We were so desperate to buy a house in a seller’s market that we almost got a house that was owned by a smoker for 50 years. I think she had a lot of cats too; anyway, the house was in awful condition and they were asking top dollar. In hindsight I’m so, so, so glad we didn’t buy that house. Otherwise we’d be out thousands of dollars with little to show for it. Phew!

    • Steve says:

      Yup homes are another ball of wax that can be tough to escape from. Fixer uppers are fine, but you really gotta be willing to put in the work and know what you’re doing. That house definitely doesn’t sound like the right one!

  12. Anytime you want “top dollar” for any of your assets, you just give me a call OK? 🙂

    Seriously though, you’re better off without the CTS-V. 500 hp and you can only realistically use about 150 of that on the road…unless maybe you’re towing an airstream or something. Not worth it in most situations.

    Cars are liabilities, not assets. It’s financially stupid to buy anything more than the bare minimum of what a person needs.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! I’ll be sure to keep you on the top of my list for stuff I wanna unload for top dollar! 🙂

      I think having the Corvette helped a little bit. After all, if I wanted a sports car that goes fast, I had that already. It was just pure emotional “I want this!” crap that almost got the better of me. 🙂

  13. It seems like cars tend to be a regrettable choice for many. Buyer’s remorse. Houses are up next in big ticket items.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, homes come in a very close second. I wasn’t quite as tempted with the home thing…but I did own my own home, by mistake. Never should have bought!

  14. Great post, I could almost hear “the pipes” on the “new luxury beast”. Funny how “THINGS” can pull so hard. Glad you were rescued by that darned “depreciation reality”! I have a personal goal: own a car for $1,000/yr or less. Hard to do, but can be done. My latest success: a 2002 Miata I bought in 2005 for $18,500, drove for 8 years, and sold for $11,500. $7k/8 years = $875/year! Take the challenge!!

    • Steve says:

      Yup, THINGS have a serious pull on us humans. We like the thought of owning big, nice things. It makes us feel…and LOOK, successful I suppose. That Miata sounds like an awesome buy, Fritz. We hope to at least come close to that challenge with our 2008 Dodge Ram we bought to pull our house! 🙂

  15. Happy Car Day!?! The PF world is weird. Timing and all that…

    Anyway, you know I would buy my new car again in a heartbeat (thanks for your comment!). But I think that’s the difference between a Camry and a CVS. I actually started out looked at CVSs. I had my heart set on one actually. And then I looked at the price. But what really became the line in the sand was my dad’s explanation of not just premium fuel but v-rated tires and all that. Turns out, the nicer the car…the pricier the parts. Pass.

    And Cadillac wasn’t offering 0%.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Penny! It’s a CTS, not CVS – though, the car I wanted was a CTS-V. And luckily, the CTSs don’t require premium fuel, so I certainly don’t need to fork out the money for that. But, I definitely agree that the more expensive the machine, the more expensive it will be to maintain. No question about it! 🙂

  16. Doan Duong says:

    Been in similar boat like you Steve, cars is my kryptonite. I am still running on this proverbial treadmill because I keep making dumb decision about cars. Went from a used Audi A4, to a brand new Prius, then now where I lease a brand new Bimmer. I know, my financial decision keep getting worse, I dont know how I can make a worse decision (but I bet I will surprise myself somehow). Check out my blog article about it for some not so funny laugh.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Doan – yeah, we’ve all made some pretty dumb financial decisions. Homes and cars seem to be the two primary motivators of these decisions, too. 🙂

      • Doan Duong says:

        They must have got some really good marketing people, and we are suckers for falling for those tricks. Home and car are two of the biggest purchase in our lives, and yet some of us make purchasing decision very ill inform. I have done so far with cars, just havent jump into the home ownership pool yet!

  17. I bought a used car during cash for clunkers. It unfortunately was artificially inflated due to lack of supply of used cars. Only three years later the car was worth half what I paid for it. I wish I had waited to buy a car until a later date when the supply had increased. Oh well. You live and learn.

  18. Mrs. BITA says:

    My I’m-glad-I-didn’t-do-that-I-would-have-regretted-it-forevermore moment was when I was wedding dress shopping. The salesperson was showing me dresses in my range, my bridesmaids were oohing and ahing, and all was happiness and light. Then the salesperson walked out with another dress and had me try it on. It was gorgeous. I was the most stunning I had ever been in my life in that dress. It was forgiving of every imperfection, and flattering in all the right places. That evil woman allowed me to stand there, adoring my own reflection, creating a puddle of drool, and then, ever so casually mentioned that the dress cost nearly $5000. My eyes bugged out of my head (I now looked less than gorgeous, closely resembling a stunned toad). After the initial shock wore off I started to rationalize the expense. My wedding could only be perfect if I was perfect in that dress.
    Luckily, my most excellent bridesmaids talked me off the ledge. They persuaded me that I should sleep on it. I did. I never went back. My wedding, as it turned out, was perfect, even without that dress (what a shocker).

    • Steve says:

      Wow, interesting story. And unfortunately, I’m sure that tactic works on a lot of women out there. Really, us *people* in general, whatever it is. Good on you for keeping to your guns!

  19. Joe E says:

    I can relate to having to get that car buying out of your system. My taste in cars has generally not been very practical. My prior car was a 2004 Subaru WRX that I kept for 10 years. When it came time to thinking about replacing it my first notion was to buy a new WRX or even upgrading to the WRX STI. Now that I am in my early 40’s, I no longer want to buy a 30k or even 40k car. This time around I actually downgraded to a Honda Civic Si that cost just over 20k new. The Si is sporty enough to satisfy my needs (wants) and was over 10k cheaper than a base WRX. It is also better on gas and cheaper to insure. I am keeping this until it is no longer practical or reliable to drive. Now I just need to keep my wife from “upgrading” her 2013 Subaru Forester.

    • Steve says:

      Cars are way too easy to spend money on needlessly, aren’t they? But, it definitely sounds like you have your priorities straight now. That Honda Civic will last you for decades, I’m sure. And like you said, the gas mileage is a nice added benefit.

  20. Maarten says:

    Lol, nothing like rubbing in how dumb your first move was to prevent you from making a second.

    I guess buying our current house, sight unseen prior to the housing crash, paying top dollar has been mine. Oh and not selling our existing home, 5 states over. 8 years after the crash it’s still not worth what I paid for it. “Luckily” the old house sold 6 months late. In my defense I really wasn’t in my right mind at the time. Still paying the price though. Early retirement could be so much more comfortable without.

    All we can do is learn from our mistakes.
    Maarten recently posted…How I made 20K buying a Prius

    • Steve says:

      You’ve had about the same luck that I’ve had with owning homes. Honestly, I am definitely not in a hurry to own another home. We do own the Airstream, though. 🙂

Leave a Reply