Kendrick Lamar, Smart Money, and Car Buying
A few days ago, it was reported that Kendrick Lamar bought his kid-sister a (new) Toyota Camry as a graduation gift. In typical internet-trolling fashion, however, this move upset many twitter folks, citing that his car buying decision wasn’t “good enough”. That he could have gotten her something more stylish “since he has the money for it”. That a Toyota Camry is “nothing to brag about” and so on and so forth.
When I caught wind of what happened, my first reaction was a resounding………..”Wut?” It is beyond my comprehension as to why anyone would have anything negative to say about his present, much less what he should do with his money and how he should spend it, as a celebrity who is not really in the “middle class” bracket which many of his fans reside.
There are tons of things that we could learn from Kendrick Lamar and how to have a Smart Money frame of mind. After all, he didn’t make the radio hit “Humble” if he didn’t intend to exude….humility. Let’s stick with the car buying example because it can be applied to most anything in the “large purchase” scheme of things.
Think: No teenager needs a luxury car
I remember myself as a teen. I had many friends who had their parents’ old hoopties and cars that were passed down for generations. As a teenager with a new license, the thirst to drive is so real….and so is the price of car insurance. Car insurance rates are thru the roof for teens, so a newer model, would cost more to insure, coupled by insuring an inexperienced driver and you’ve got yourself a boatload of an insurance payment that is avoided if you’re smarter about your money and opt for a more moderate ride that is safe and wouldn’t cost an arm and leg to repair when said teenager has an accident.
Applying this same point not just to teens but the majority of the middle working class, and the points are still the same. No middle class person actually needs a luxury car (I want one – don’t we all – but I don’t need one).
Think: Long-Term, not “What’s Hot”
Car purchases serve as both expenses AND investments. They are expenses in that you are dolling out money routinely on gas, oil changes, car washes, and other forms of maintenance to keep her running well, looking nice, and lasting, for as long as possible. On the other hand, cars are investments because for most people, a car is the primary transportation vehicle which takes a person to work, meetings, and are sometimes a sole part of their business which helps to keep their bills paid and food on the table. With that said, understanding that cars, unlike homes, depreciate in value is very important. The older a car gets, the less it worth. While luxury cars are awesome, nine times out of ten, a safe and practical car that has all of the same bells and whistles at a fraction of the cost, is where most of middle class should be mentally when it comes to these purchases.
Think: What is a better/more important investment needed “right now”?
Keeping in mind that cars absolutely depreciate in value, a practical car for anyone that is middle class and values their money on a long level is, as stated before, always the best move. But what else should be considered here? Make a long and short list of other investments you need to make for your business/for self that will actually bring you more capital and that you can build from in multiple ways. Is there a conference you need to attend for your business? Do you need to hire employees and team members to supplement your brand? Are you working on an advanced degree which will bring you more credibility, networking connections, and overall income in the short and long term? It may seem like a lot and even an “extra step” but when you are financially responsible, everything comes to play. All of your financial decisions tend to blend together, because everything you do with your money impacts the next goal, expense, or investment.
Think: “Can I afford the routine maintenance?”
More expensive cars cost more to maintain, obviously. You can no longer run the car on unleaded gas, because it needs premium. Oil changes are no longer $35 and can balloon up to $150-200 per change. Car note payments are undoubtedly higher and the cost to insure and even clean luxury vehicles are in a completely different price range than your standard, say—Toyota Camry costs.
All of this to say – large purchases and commitments take a lot of thought behind them for most people that are middle, working class. From car purchases to deciding on where to invest and quarterly expenses for business or pleasure, anything that includes your money being spent automatically affects everything else that is already a routine part of your monthly expenses. And while being flashy and stylish may be a great and even “important” component for many people, remember that those expenses invested for appearances sake tend to cost more to maintain but won’t pad your pockets any deeper than if you took a page from Kendrick’s book and remained, “Humble”.