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!
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?
How 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?
Steve is a 37-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.