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What Does Your Work Truck Say About You?

c4500-partytimeTo my Brothers of the construction trades, the oil industry, the armed forces, and even plain old civilian office jobs.

I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, because I think we should all be free to make our own choices. But with the recent oil boom and bust, and the even bigger housing boom we are just starting to roll with here in the ‘States, there’s a big chunk of your money at stake, and I’d rather see you hold onto it instead of seeing it go up in smoke. So I’m just going to put this out there nice and clear:

Your Work Truck is Killing You, and making you look like a Big Dumbass in the process.

Now don’t get me wrong – not every work truck is a money-burning rolling clown circus with a 24/7 fireworks show shooting out of its roof telling the world how dumb you are. Only about 99% of them. So if you’re fortunate enough to already be in that top 1% who knows how to buy and operate a real work truck, you can just laugh along with me and then share the lesson with our other Brothers* when you get out of class.

“So what’s wrong with my truck?”

I know how you feel – trucks are fun, and everybody has ’em. How could this be wrong? To figure it out, let’s review the basics of what a truck is really supposed to accomplish.

  1. To make you money.
  2. To make you look good in front of other people.

You could get more complicated and start talking about horses and cupholders, but if you break it all the way down, those two points above are why we buy trucks.

You could say a truck needs to carry you and your crew to work, or haul your tools, materials and trailers. But why are you delivering yourself to work? Why are you bringing the tools and materials in the first place? To make money. These machines are business tools, designed to make us a profit.

And you could pretend a truck is only a business tool, but that would be ignoring the fact that your choice of truck says something about you – to the ladies, to other men, and to your employer. Or if you’re doing well, to the customers of the business you own yourself. What message do you want to convey to these people?

So Where’s the Problem?

The problem arises when you don’t understand the Two Commandments of Truck Ownership, and buy yourself something that doesn’t really meet those goals.

The Money

r+r-concrete

Look at this truck, compared to the one at the top of the article. Which guy would you rather hire to build a foundation for you?

A truck makes money by carrying as much shit as possible, safely, to your destination. This allows you to earn a good day’s pay. But the truck also costs you money, which is taking back a portion of that paycheck. The amount you get to keep for yourself is your profit. Since your goal is a nice fat profit, you obviously want to pick the truck that burns the smallest amount of your hard-earned cash.

The Looking Good

But you also want to enjoy the driving, right? You want good handling, a comfortable interior, and you want other people to see how well you are doing.  Maybe some flashy accessories and huge off-road tires, because hey, why wouldn’t you want to give your truck superpowers?

And this is the downfall of most truck-owning men. Because a truck that makes you a lot of money, and a truck that handles and accelerates (or climbs 45 degree boulder fields) and has the comfort of a car, are two completely opposite things. In fact, they are so far apart, that the more flashy and comfortable your truck becomes, the more obvious it becomes that you are not using it to make money.

In other words, you are telling the world you’re a big fake. Or at least that you’re too dumb to know the difference. Neither of these is a very impressive message to send.

How to Choose The Right Tool for the Job

So now we know a truck is a tool. It’s a tool for carrying heavy shit, and making money. We can take the emotions of vehicle ownership out of it by just comparing it to a drill.

When I need to make a small, precise hole in something, I’ll grab my smallest drill – currently this little Ryobi 18V deal. It’s the perfect tool for the job: lightweight, plenty tough as I’ve built quite a few houses with these things, and it only set me back about 50 bucks.ryobi

Of course, sometimes you need more power. To drill through a concrete foundation, I use this hammer drill. It does stuff the little cordless could only dream of, but in exchange it is so big you have to angle it properly to even carry it through a doorframe.

hammerdrill-crop2

Then when things get really tough, I use the drill press. I have a Ridgid 15″ machine, which is the largest one I could find. With this thing, I can drill 50 half-inch holes through half-inch steel plate without breaking a sweat. On the downside, it weighs 163 pounds.

Now, when I need to drill a few small holes to set some hinges, which of these drills do you think I grab? Of course, I use the little Ryobi.

And yet, when a man buys a 360-horsepower pickup truck and uses it for anything smaller than hauling an excavating machine, this is what he is doing:

drillpress

The Wrong Tool for the Job: this is what you are doing, if you use a full-sized pickup truck for anything smaller than hauling multi-ton loads. And I’m not even going to mention the folly of using a pickup truck to commute to an office job. Fuck.

In Ecuador, they know how to use trucks.

In Ecuador, they know how to use trucks.

See, when you buy a truck, you look smart only at those moments you are maxing that thing out. Payload and towing load at 100% of rated capacity, 16-foot lumber on the roof rack, and the cabin full to the limits of comfort. At that moment, the truck is earning the money you paid for it. Unfortunately for most gentlemen, this moment is Never.

At all other moments, you’re showing you bought too much truck. You are using the 163 pound drill press to countersink tiny screws in a door frame. You are wasting your own money and looking to the rest of the world like a dumbass who can’t choose the right truck. And unfortunately for most truck owners, this is Always.

For every inch you raise the suspension or every bump in tire size, you’re burning up thousands of your own dollars. For every extra horsepower you have on tap, the story is the same. If you want proof, just look at what the professionals use: real trucks that make millions of dollars for the owners who run fleets of them look like this:

Walmart is run by billionaires - they know how to use trucks.

Walmart is run by billionaires – they know how to use trucks.

Note the design of this real truck. As low to the ground as possible. Tires designed to roll easily on pavement, because pavement – not dirt – is where you make money. An engine big enough to haul the most profitable load, but no bigger. Fully loaded, these things take well over a minute to get to 65MPH – so why are you paying so much to get your work truck there in under ten seconds?

Sure, motor power is fun. But you know what is much more fun? Money power. Just by making different truck choices, you can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, or invested in your business making more money for you. At that point, your employees will be driving your fleet of slow trucks, while you can kick back with a fast car if you choose to do so.

Examples of Badass vs. Stupid Work Trucks

Now for the fun part of the lesson. All of this makes more sense if we go through a few real-world examples, and explain what they say about the man who drives them.

The Ridiculously Overpriced New Truck:

new_66

Only $66,610 (plus taxes/fees) after rebate!

Trucks like this scream, “I am a sucker for shiny toys and am horrible with my money!”

The new truck market is such a racket. I recently biked by this Ford “Super Duty” at the local dealership, and was astounded at the price. At over $70 grand including tax, this thing is an insane money pit. The depreciation alone in the first year is more than most of its customers actually manage to take home from their jobs. Even if you need to tow 20,000 pounds,  you can get an equally useful used truck, a trailer, and a Bobcat or small track-drive excavator to start your landscaping or concrete business for this much coin.

The Jacked up Boy Toy

IMG_20150402_113652901

“I’m bad with money, AND I don’t ever use my truck for real work!”

A truck like this leads a predictable life. It starts out as a ridiculously overpriced new truck (see above). After taking a $50,000 depreciation hit, the original owner trades it for a newer truck with a bigger loan, and a younger man comes in and buys it for $25,000, also on credit. He then spends another $15,000 on customization, making the truck less stable on the highway and the cargo bed even more useless.

Next he blows $15,000 on gas, then eventually runs into money problems and tries to sell it. After months of fruitless advertising, he gives up and lets it go for $9,000, which doesn’t even cover the loan he has on it. He may go bankrupt.  Meanwhile, the miniscule 6-foot cargo bed has never carried anything larger than a washer/dryer and a couch, as shown by its immaculate $450 decorator bedliner treatment.

The Millionaire Business Owner’s Workhorse

w4500

“I have a successful business, so please step aside as I have shit to do.” The Isuzu standard truck (sold in the US as Chevrolet W4500)

Meanwhile, quietly working in the background while this clown circus goes on are real trucks like this one. Notice how this W4500 (which costs less than a “Super Duty”) does not waste space on any bullshit. Instead of a 14-foot hood and cab up front with a uselessly small cargo bed in the back (all Hat and no Cattle), this truck reverses the ratio. These carry ten times the cargo of American-style pickups, while using less gas and being easier to maneuver into tight spots. You can also get them with dump or box beds, and they will haul a hell of a trailer as well. Depreciation is much slower with these, so you can buy a used one, and sell it many years later for almost the same price if you keep it maintained.

The Future Millionaire’s Truck

If you are earlier in your career or don’t frequently load and unload multi-ton cargo loads with a forklift, you can do very well with a truck like this:

Mazda B2300 or Ford Ranger - ideal work trucks

“I generally carry less than two tons, and I like to keep the money I earn from working” – Mazda B2300 or Ford Ranger – ideal work trucks. But avoid the 4-wheel-drive and V-6 engine options. Keep that money for yourself.

This beauty is owned by one of the guys who built the foundation for a house I’m currently helping out with. Note the fully loaded cargo bed and the excellent roof rack. This truck has a 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission and will deliver reasonable 30MPG efficiency if you drive it properly. Lower height means easier loading and unloading and better handling. Lower cost (under 5 grand on the used market) means much more money for you.

My own Work Trucks

Here's my van collecting 1200 pounds of logs for firewood.

“I think minivans are a ridiculous invention for carrying 60-pound kids, but great inventions for heavy construction work.”  Here’s my van collecting 1200 pounds of logs for firewood.

At this stage with plenty in the bank, I have grown soft and have a bit more truck than I need. It’s a 1999 Honda van with 140,000 miles on it. I bought it for $4,800 four years ago, and current market value is maybe 3 grand. Less than what the juniors with no money spend on their wheels and tires alone.

And this thing can work. I have carried over 2,500 pounds comfortably, it can lock up a full selection of tools and keep them dry, and with the seats out you can close the rear door on 12-foot pieces of lumber or a stack of 20 full sheets of plywood. This is the truck I use now, but most of my carpentry career was done with something far less luxurious.

El Amarillo

The Amarillo - more than enough for 90% of truck users.

“I live my life to the fullest and waste nothing on silly frills” – The Amarillo – more than enough for 95% of truck users.

Back when money was tighter (I only had $700,000 in the bank but at least my house was paid off), I had this older truck – a 1984 Nissan compact pickup. This thing built multiple houses and kitchens, carried steel girders and landscaping materials,  and protected me from weather of all seasons. It has an aftermarket cupholder on the driveshaft hump which is currently full of hardened surf wax and 10 Peso coins.

And I didn’t even own it. I borrowed it for five years (in exchange for upkeep) from a good friend, who had earlier used it to cross the Continental Divide and Death Valley on his way to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, where the truck served as his beachside home for an extended surfing-based stay.

So heed my advice, men of all ages who are not yet millionaires and wish they were. Your truck may be the biggest obstacle in your way.

The size of your truck is inversely proportional to the size of your wallet. Which one of the two would you rather supersize?

Related Reading (now that you realize you probably don’t need a truck at all):

Top 10 Cars for Smart People

Turning a Little Car into a Big One

 

* I speak mostly to men in this article, because they are the primary victims of the pickup truck racket. But women are not immune – they just tend to fall into the “SUV and Minivan” trap more often.

  • Mr. Frugalwoods April 28, 2015, 3:45 pm

    90s Honda Odyssey owners unite!

    Ours is a 1996 with 204,000 miles on it. We’ve put all manner of things in it with the seats down / removed:

    * Every piece of furniture we own, which was either taken from the side of the road or bought on CL. Including our couch, which people never believe was possible.
    * Full length 2x4x8’s, which fit entirely inside if you stack them between the front seats
    * 3 greyhounds and 4 people
    * Dirt, both coming and going from our property, on a tarp that we make into a “sling” in the back.
    * An entire full sized bed, including frame, box spring, and mattress.

    Plus, we’ve owned it for 4 years and haven’t put more than $500 in repairs into it. AND insurance is $400 a year. AND we don’t care when a snowplow sideswipes the front bumper.

    Only bad thing is the MPG, we eek out about 25mpg on the highway. Thankfully we don’t drive very much so MPG doesn’t figure much into our finances. We use about 1 tank of gas per month.

    Reply
    • RetiredToWin Alex April 29, 2015, 6:47 am

      Hey, Mr. Frugalwoods, it’s not just vans that can work as major load haulers.

      My wife’s car is a 1998 Subaru Forester. My wife’s hobby is to run a mini chicken/goose/rabbit ranch and vegetable farm. And it’s that Subaru with its rear hatchback that does just about ALL the heavy hauling for her barnyard. With the rear seats down, that car’s rear cargo cavity has more than enough room to load and haul lots of straw bales, or mulch bags, or feed bags, or whatever. And the “throw” between the closed rear hatch and the front windshield is more than long enough to allow the loading of 8-foot-long lumber. So it’s perfect for her.

      AND it’s all paid for, too.

      Reply
      • M April 30, 2015, 11:51 am

        Hope you had a bed liner for the goose cr@p. Stinky stuff. My Forester hauled lambs

        Reply
      • Justin Murphy May 4, 2015, 5:04 pm

        Great article. And to think I was considering a pickup truck purchase. I have a 2003 Honda minivan with 135,000 miles on it. I removed the middle row seats, and have made several 1000 lb dump runs with debris from a house I’m demoing in CT. The only downside is no barrier between driver seat and dusty cr@p in rear.

        Reply
        • Blessing S May 6, 2015, 5:55 am

          Amazing insights. I found out the hard way about 5 yrs ago the type of damage these fuel guzzlers can cause. Mind you, for the past few years I’ve been enjoying my little Kia Forte which sips gas and still gets you there with no fuss or frill :-)

          Great article.

          Reply
    • Free Money Minute April 29, 2015, 12:27 pm

      I can’t wait to get a good used Honda minivan. It will have a hitch and haul our 5 kids and have a roof rack that I can add a car top carrier to.

      Reply
      • Jenn April 29, 2015, 4:45 pm

        FMM, I’ll sell you one in 5 years! Ours is a 2003 Odyssey with 176k miles (and a roof rack). It hauls around our 5 kids but once the middle one goes to college, we can downsize to something reasonable for a family of 4.

        Reply
    • Phillip April 8, 2016, 4:28 pm

      I needed a work truck and I bought a brand new 2015 Ford F150 supercab. It is a basic XL model with manual windows and locks and the basic 3.5L engine plus steel wheels!
      I paid $26,200 plus tax/title/registration fess.
      My friends have high end F150s crew cabs with every option plus leather seats and a tiny 5.5 foot bed.
      They pay low to mid $40,000 for their “work” trucks.
      I really have the last laugh when they defaulted on their $600 a month loans…….who is the dumbass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  • Dividend Growth Investor April 28, 2015, 3:47 pm

    It is unfortunate how much money people waste on auto purchases. The opportunity cost of a $60,000 truck, is hundreds of thousands of dollars. I also imagine that this opportunity cost will increase even more if that worthless truck is then traded-in every few years or so for a “newer model”.

    I drive a 15 year old car…I have had it for 5 -6 years, and will likely drive it into the ground. But luckily, my commute and anything else is close.

    Reply
    • RetiredToWin Alex April 29, 2015, 6:31 am

      I’m with you, Dividend Growth Investor.

      My vehicle is a 1996 Dodge Dakota pickup truck with a camper top (we got through Craig’s List). I have no monthly loan payment and very modest maintenance costs. I have calculated that holding onto my 1996 oldie-goldie — instead of clownishly trading in vehicles every few years — reduced my required financial independence stash target by $150,000. And that made it possible for me to earlier retire many years sooner than I would have been able to do otherwise.

      Reply
      • David B May 4, 2015, 10:30 am

        I’ve got a 1989 dodge dakota, good truck! Been debating getting a camper top for it so I could do some easy car camping with it. Do you like yours with the camper top, or does it get restrictive when you are having to take it off to haul stuff? I don’t have a garage to store it in.

        Reply
    • BCSaltchucker May 6, 2015, 12:15 am

      When I worked in actual construction biz, my workmate and I each drove small Japanese trucks. I miss my old 88 B2200 I bought 8 yrs old for $1800 and drove it 6 years. It was more comfortable and nicer ride than my current 2010 Tundra reg cab ($21k brand new, hey nobody wants a reg cab normal pickup truck so Toyota sold it to me cheap). Today I wish I just kept the old Mazda and not bought the Tundra. We did all kinds of leaky condo rehab jobs all over Vancouver with our wee trucks – never needed anything more, as the company had 5 ton cube trucks for the big gear. Old cheap vans were very big with the serious construction crews too. Rare to run into guys driving the poseur ‘heavyduty’ crap

      Reply
  • Danny MoreBucks April 28, 2015, 4:02 pm

    AMEN! I have been calling these lifted, knobby tired, dual exhaust wastes of money “penis enlargers” for years as they smoke me out on my bike when they jam on the gas with their 8mpg turbo chargers. There is no need for their existence except as a human substitute for peacock feathers.

    Reply
    • TheRabbit April 28, 2015, 7:25 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I were walking this weekend and I saw a huge truck in a driveway, so I pointed to it it and we both had a chuckle about how much money was/is wasted on it. As we walked past the house, we noticed a SECOND TRUCK in the driveway and we were like, “Whoa!” The craziest thing, is that as we continued passing by the house we saw a BOAT attached to the second truck and were like “WTF?! Does Bill Gates live on our block?!” It was a hilarious moment of ridiculousness that I know only fellow Mustachians could fully appreciate.

      Reply
    • Knoxvomica April 28, 2015, 7:44 pm

      Amen brother. I just moved to Calgary, Alberta and it drives me nuts how much this exact situation happens here. This place is like lifted truck hell.

      Reply
      • Scott April 29, 2015, 11:08 am

        I live in Red Deer and visit Calgary often: it cannot hold a candle to Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Brooks, etc. Granted, some of the trucks are work trucks but there is also a huge proportion that exist solely for hauling capacity for the owner’s RV, Quads, Sleds, Boats, (Dirt)Bikes and other items.

        Reply
      • Kat April 29, 2015, 12:55 pm

        I’m in Edmonton. The amount of trucks on the road is ridiculous, plus you just know they are owned by guys who are now laid off due to the price of oil crashing. And the other day I was at a red light in my neighborhood and counted THREE Hummers around me! Not to mention every other car is a giant SUV, no doubt driven by a mom hauling 1 or 2 kids to school.

        Reply
        • Jim April 29, 2015, 10:28 pm

          I live in Edmonton too and this is a shallow ad we see on TV all the time for our target market. Which man is more of a dumbass? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4YH0kG9jMg

          Reply
          • Doug May 1, 2015, 8:01 am

            Wow, what a bunch of rubbish! I would want NOTHING to do with the woman who prefers the guy with the truck, you fools can have her! I want one who appreciates the merits of having the cheaper vehicle and the time to enjoy it. Any fine ladies care to join me on a road trip in my fuel sipping (and entirely paid for) 2002 Honda car?

            Reply
      • Master Nerd May 3, 2015, 11:40 am

        “Truck-Nuts” ….enough said! haha

        Reply
    • Anonymous May 1, 2015, 10:41 pm

      Everyone I know calls them “compensators”.

      Reply
  • Mr. Foutz April 28, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Every time I go to Home depot and fill my 2011 Hyundai accent hatchback up with lumber I get lots of comments from other men saying I need a truck.

    Reply
    • Mike April 29, 2015, 7:25 am

      Been there done that…except my version is a 2005 Prius with 260k miles on it. Hauled furniture (there’s a dresser in it right now) lumber, fencing, bulk business supplies, you name it. It’s bad when I’m loading up the same stuff into the Prius that the guy next to me is using an F250 to move…

      Reply
      • Jeremy May 2, 2015, 9:27 am

        Can I ask how your batteries are doing 260k miles later? Did they have to be replaced several times?

        Reply
        • Frp May 6, 2015, 7:19 am

          Hi Jeremy. With the Prius (or the insight) battery life is most influenced by age and how well they’re treated, not mileage. If they’re not left sitting for extended periods and aren’t left to roast in hot parking lots all day they have a good ten to fifteen year life space regardless of miles.

          Reply
        • CCD May 10, 2015, 12:10 pm

          My 2005 Prius is on its 220K’th mile, second owner, and first battery.

          Reply
    • TMan April 29, 2015, 8:55 am

      I had a lot of fun loading 8 foot lumber into my MINI Cooper at home depot. But when I got all 6 boards all the way in and closed the hatchback, I also got a couple of attaboys.

      Reply
    • FinanceClever April 29, 2015, 10:32 am

      A few times, I have been told I need a bigger vehicle when people see me take the front wheel off my bike to fit it into my fuel-efficient sedan. Or that I need I bike rack. It’s amazing to me how most people’s only answer to a “problem” is to spend money.
      Thanks for another entertaining post MMM!

      Reply
    • Kevin April 29, 2015, 11:19 am

      And then you responded, “And you’ll NEED to work 2x as many hours in your lifetime as me to pay for dumbass toys.”

      Reply
    • Mr. D April 29, 2015, 11:47 am

      A Pontiac Vibe is also really impressive for lumber carriage. The hatchback window panel can be opened independant from the door itself, and I can carry lumber up to 12 ft long (extending out) without problem. I can even take a bathub in the back with a passenger! And the roof rack can really come in handy too! I’ll go fetch a 15 ft ladder with it this evening…

      Reply
      • Mr. FI April 30, 2015, 10:05 am

        I have an ’05 Toyota Matrix (which is basically a vibe) and loaded a ladder (no roof rack), and like 500 lbs of dirt/supplies in the back with it. Fit me and my wife still. That thing is awesome.

        Reply
        • Kenoryn May 1, 2015, 1:04 pm

          Us too! You can fit 8′ lumber right in the car with the front seat folded down and open the back window for anything longer. It’s only about 3.5 feet wide inside though so can’t carry a sheet of drywall or plywood. Presumably you could do that with a roof rack.

          Reply
          • chacha1 May 3, 2015, 1:03 pm

            My husband has an ’05 Matrix too. That rear window is a handy little gadget. :-) We have just been up in the mountains (Sierra) and he has a little bit of truck envy, but when the time comes to replace the Matrix I’m going to remind him how nice it is to actually be able to lock up the goodies inside, and not have to completely unload a pickup bed every.damn.time. you park somewhere.

            Reply
    • Rich April 29, 2015, 12:01 pm

      You should hear the comments I get when I load up my ebicycle and trailer with lumber….lol

      Reply
    • JAYSLOL April 29, 2015, 7:11 pm

      I used to have both a 1994 Camry 4 door sedan and a 1995 Tercel 2 door sedan. Went to an equipment rental place one time to pick up a large commercial pressure washer to do my driveways (before an open house, otherwise i wouldn’t bother wasting all that time and water). Pulled up in the camry and even with the huge trunk it had i couldn’t fit the washer in it or through any of the doors. So i left, telling the guy at the desk i would be back with a better vehicle for carrying stuff. Pulled up with the old Tercel (which is at least 4′ shorter than the camry and has a tiny trunk) and got a few laughs from the guy waiting for me. Then i opened the passenger door revealing that i had removed the passenger seat and proceeded to effortlessly place the pressure washer inside . No truck required! In fact, not only was it more economical than a truck, it was easier to get it in and out of the car as i only had to lift the washer less than a foot.

      Reply
    • Brian April 30, 2015, 8:43 am

      A few months ago I loaded up 1,200 lbs of concrete in 80 lb bags into the rear and front passenger seat of my 1999 honda accord. The home depot employee who offered to help me load it up was completely caught offguard when he realized what vehicle I intended to tranport it with.

      Needless to say, it made the trip just fine, though it was riding a bit low (was only traveling 2 miles late in the evening)

      Reply
    • V April 30, 2015, 10:07 am

      That’s funny! I was loading lumber into my fancy 2007 Toyota corolla yesterday and got some weird looks. Switched the side the car seat was on, put one side of the back seat down, and carefully slide the lumber in. No problem!

      Reply
    • Nick May 1, 2015, 9:17 pm

      I built a house with my VW Jetta (and trailer). I think that my proudest moment was hauling a bath tub home on the roof rack. Im sure I got some crazy looks as I drove down the highway.

      Reply
  • Will April 28, 2015, 4:16 pm

    My family farms thousands of acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, etc. We need maybe one F-250 but could do the rest of our work with 4 Honda CRXs. I wish I could convince them to buy a few Honda’s to drive around. They’re more fun anyway than giant bumbling pickup trucks.

    Reply
    • Freedom35 April 28, 2015, 5:53 pm

      The Honda Fit is also surprisingly versatile for carrying stuff.

      Why yes, that is 200 bricks in a sub-compact with room to spare: http://i.imgur.com/bps4bNq.png

      Sure, we’ll take those two free kayaks you no longer need, good thing we have a mini hauling machine handy: http://i.imgur.com/DpBPkwZ.png

      The list of things we’ve carried in or on the Fit go on and on

      Reply
      • The Roamer April 28, 2015, 8:28 pm

        Those are some great pictures. :)

        So far we have not bought a truck. :)

        And MMM other article about making a small car big already convinced me I need to switch to a hatchback of some sort.

        Reply
      • Will April 29, 2015, 6:59 am

        My friend got a Fit about a year ago. Those things do rock. Sweet pics. I love the roof rack as well. Was that a factory accessory?

        Reply
        • Freedom35 April 29, 2015, 2:34 pm

          The roof rack is great and helps a lot for making the car even bigger. It’s an aftermarket part, Yakima in this case. They make the attachments accessories available for specific makes and models so they are sized appropriately. We were able to get the exact set we needed on Craigslist in great condition.

          We usually take the roof rack off when we are not using it to save gas. It comes off and goes on quite easily. In the Kayak case it was still on after a long road trip shortly before.

          We’ve the roof rack with a cargo case mounted on top (also Craigslist of course), to really extend the cargo space of the car. With that on top we had no problem doing a cross country trip with all the camping gear we need and ample room inside for all of us and extra mini-fridge to boot :)

          The roof rack by itself is also great for carrying furniture, as long as you are good about using ratcheting straps properly.

          Reply
          • Will May 5, 2015, 10:02 am

            You’re making me want to take a road trip! I’ll definitely be getting a roof rack for my bike/extra cargo when the time comes! Thanks for the extra motivation, Freedom35.

            Reply
      • AMS May 5, 2015, 8:49 am

        Honda Fits all the way! We get strange looks when we buy our Christmas tree – but every year we easily fit a 7 foot tree into our Honda Fit.

        When a very good friend of mine was dating her now-husband they lived 100 miles apart. When I discovered he was commuting every other weekend to see her in a giant Ford F250 truck, I was shocked. I commented that driving the truck must be expensive and she said, “Well, it’s convenient for moving and stuff.” … What?!! How often do you move?! I’ll never understand this logic. If we have to haul anything that won’t fit in our cars, we would rent something for a few hours that would still probably cost less than a trucker owner pays in gas in a month. Good grief!

        Reply
  • lisa April 28, 2015, 4:18 pm

    Reply
  • Leaf124 April 28, 2015, 4:33 pm

    My work truck is a brand new GMC Sierra–but I don’t own it or pay its gas. We used to use our personal vehicles and get reimbursed and for that time I had a ford F150 circa 2004. Using it for personal use was on the pricey side and I didn’t have a second vehicle. We eventually got company trucks as many other companies in our industry provide and I bought a small hatchback car for my own personal use (just as old truck was starting to have serious issues). Pretty sure the company won’t be replacing these vehicles with new models-drive till broke, but fine by me. Sometimes I miss the gas checks–but then I remember the headache rack I made out of boards for my truck (hauled company quads in personal truck), or the sketchy wet clay roads, or spring break up on winter roads and variance maintenance and am happy.

    Reply
  • LorenLaurenLorraine April 28, 2015, 5:17 pm

    A former employee’s husband drives an 80K truck because well.. he has to look good driving back and forth to the oil sands to work on furnaces. He claims his accountant told him it was good for the business. I’m not buying it. They can barely afford anything.. share an apartment with another couple.. have a young child and the wife was always having to ask for advances on her paycheck to make ends meet. We gave her money for clothes and paid for some medical costs because we felt so badly for her. It just ate us up that he was driving this STUPID truck around.

    Reply
    • RetiredToWin Alex April 29, 2015, 6:55 am

      When I select contractors to do work on my house that I can’t DIY (like putting down an asphalt driveway), I always factor in the kind of truck/vehicle the contractor is driving when he/she comes to give me a quote. Fancy overpriced trucks invariably result in fancy overpriced estimates. So, Loren, a new shiny work truck doesn’t actually “look good” to a customer. At least, not to me! ;)

      (After all, MY truck is a 1996 Dodge Dakota.)

      Reply
      • Chris I April 30, 2015, 6:40 pm

        My drywall contractor drove up in a Prius, and came in at half the price of the other bidder.

        Reply
    • Self-Employed-Swami April 29, 2015, 9:37 am

      My accountant actually complimented me on my strategy of buying an older, cheaper truck and replacing it as needed, compared to leasing a brand new vehicle every 2-3 years. Not only do I have no payments to make, but my insurance is way cheaper too.

      I likely make a similar amount to the furnace installer, but we own a 3 bedroom house in Calgary, and don’t struggle with money. (I have an oil and gas field job).

      Reply
    • Kristine-CA April 29, 2015, 12:26 pm

      I hear the appearances thing about trucks all the time, very often from general contractors who haven’t used a tool in years. We have a case study directly across the street. Our neighbors always have at least 4 cars and no available parking in the garage so we’re looking at their cars all day long. She runs a specialty tile sealing company where the customer base is mansion owners, but the contracts are only so big. It’s tile sealing. She talks about appearances required by her customers all the time and leases cars that reflect that. Her husband is a supervising general contractor who supervises very high end projects. I mean really high end. Think of the most wealthy/famous people who might build a mansion or have a $5M custom private wedding in Santa Barbara/Montecito and that’s who hires him to supervise crews . He drives a 30 year old beater truck, usually filled with crap he takes for free from jobs, and the thing has no tail gate. On good wave days there’s a surfboard strapped on it. Everyone loves him, everyone loves his truck. His truck is not losing him any credibility or clients.

      Reply
    • jimwxw April 30, 2015, 8:38 pm

      LLL. When people tell me that their accountant told them to buy some huge, showy overpriced thingy because they needed it for tax purposes I congratulate them. “You must be making a s***pot full of money to be in the 100% tax bracket”!

      Reply
  • Tara April 28, 2015, 5:33 pm

    My former boss bought a new car before I left and again he got an SUV. He never needed it for anything other than having a lot of passengers in his car (often toted kids and grandkids around). I asked him what kind of mpg he got and he literally didn’t know after a few fill-ups. He said he needed the high point of view (even though you actually reduce your ability to see small kids running in front of your car in a high-up vehicle!) I just didn’t get it. I understand the need for a vehicle that holds a few people, but I don’t understand the need to get an inefficient V6 4WD vehicle when you never need/use the AWD or V6 engine.

    I am curious though, I too am someone who will need a 6+ passenger vehicle with family moving close by. I like the Mazda5 but it really doesn’t get that good of mileage. Are there 6+ passenger vehicles that get 30+ MPG in the city?

    Reply
    • TB April 29, 2015, 7:46 am

      Toyota Highlander Hybrid is about as close as you will get for 30mpg city and 6+ passengers.

      Reply
      • Rob Nelson April 29, 2015, 8:43 pm

        Get a used limousine. Your family will be styling and it Wii cost less than an SUV! :-)

        Reply
    • JT April 29, 2015, 11:14 am

      No.

      It is funny how some people knock minivans when they only have one kid ;) For you, your choices are to either buy a minivan/SUV or to drive 2 separate cars (if you only rarely have to haul the extended family around).

      Reply
    • CHRISTINA April 29, 2015, 6:14 pm

      We have a 2008 Mazda5. Yeah, the gas mileage isn’t awesome, but it only cost $18,000 for the base model. The price difference between that and almost any other people/stuff hauler will buy a lot of gas. Also, it’s been extremely reliable.

      Reply
    • chacha1 May 3, 2015, 1:09 pm

      Unless you will be ferrying 6+ people ALL the time, you might consider keeping your cheaper, smaller, better MPG vehicle for daily use and just renting a people-hauler on the infrequent people-hauling occasions.

      My next car is going to be a 2-door compact and should the day ever come when I need to transport more than two normal-size people and their gear, I will just rent a larger vehicle. I think of it like building our retirement house: why pay to build an extra bedroom that will be empty most of the time, when there’s a motel down the street?

      Reply
  • Jeremy E. April 28, 2015, 6:01 pm

    Great article! I have a lot of friends that make the idiotic choice of buying new trucks, now I can try to refer them to this article before they upgrade. Personally I have a 1997 Nissan Pickup, it’s a 4wd 4 cylinder manual truck that gets around 25mpg, I got it at an auction for only $2300.

    Reply
  • BCBiker April 28, 2015, 6:06 pm

    I saw the title of this post in my Inbox and immediately knew it is going to be a badass MMM classic.

    I was not disappointed! AS an everyday bike rider in a large urban area, I get to see dozen and dozens of example of absolutely crazy stupid vehicle choices. I constantly shake my head at these monstrosities as they drive by. I always wonder if they realize how stupid I think they are. My guess is that they probably don’t.

    Reply
  • EL April 28, 2015, 6:35 pm

    I have seen so many monster trucks in my neighborhood, and it just seems immature in my opinion. Most of them don’t even do construction, they just do it to appear cool or get dates. Trucks with V8’s are totally unrealistic for regular use, and I see them all the time on RT 80 with no business sign on the side of the driver door. (Very horrible commuting vehicle) I agree that money should be spent wisely and owning one of the big trucks for regular use doesn’t make sense.

    Reply
  • Blaine April 28, 2015, 6:51 pm

    Ha, I love this post. I once ruined a first date by criticizing jacked-up 3500 series diesel trucks while driving a date who was sympathetic to the masive truck ethos! Luckily, my current girlfriend is much more pragmatic. Her choice of car when I met her was a 1991 geo prism moustachian mobile! I’ve seen 19 year old welders with $60,000 trucks, and I have to scratch my head and think, “what are you doing kid?” However, perhaps worse yet is the “spare pickup” that a lot of middle aged men I know have. This is a full-sized pickup that sits around most of the year in the garage waiting to go get the occasional building materials at home depot or maybe tow a boat twice a summer. Crazy!

    Reply
    • Jeff April 29, 2015, 1:10 pm

      You didn’t ruin a first date. You headed off a terrible relationship.

      Reply
    • Mike April 29, 2015, 3:19 pm

      I’ve remodeled a full kitchen and full bath in my house. I’m working on finishing my basement now. My work truck of choice is my 04 grand prix. I can fit 10′ lumber with the trunk closed. I’ve hauled doors, toilets, countertops, and hauled all the demo debris to the dump in that car. I rented a pickup three times for all my projects, which cost $26 each time. I also paid $55 for all my basement materials to be delivered. So for a whopping $143, I was able to avoid buying a pickup truck.

      Reply
  • mjs_28s April 28, 2015, 7:04 pm

    What I love about the 90%+ of work trucks that the owners will swear by them with comments like “I am in the construction business” or “I am a carpenter” yet the truck beds are obviously not worn at all. Yes, even a Rhino hide(spelling) type of coating will show indications of use.

    The trucks themselves often also have knobby tires and have also clearly not been off the road.

    For some, yes, they need the large work horse, but for the majority they are using the truck to make up for what they lack or they just don’t know how to pick the right tool for the job. Much like the guys that work on their muscle cars yet they have $2,800 worth of tools when 98% of the work can be done with $18 or wrenches and screw drivers.

    Reply
  • Laura April 28, 2015, 7:08 pm

    Hi MMM, any chance that you’ll post about student loan refinancing soon? I have a lot of friends who might benefit from good information on refi options. Not that I don’t enjoy the truck rants… ;)

    Reply
  • Rachael April 28, 2015, 7:26 pm

    This seems like it’s been written several times before? I understand your enthusiasm about shocking people into making better financial decisions but there comes a point when others’ priorities may not align with yours and people can accomplish the same goal (financial independence). A well maintained vehicle can last a very long time, as you mentioned, then you share a photo of your own abused minivan’s interior. Not to mention, minivans are not designed to haul and incur the wear and tear of extensive, construction loads, despite your claims. Furthermore, couldn’t you sell your minivan and pool resources with a bunch of friends to share one collective vehicle or perhaps borrow a friend’s truck? No, it probably never crossed your mind, because you feel you get enough use out of your minivan to justify its yearly registration, fuel, and insurance. This is just one example that I came up with quickly to show that while you’re nitpicking others’ choices, I could do the same.

    Frankly, the tone of your blog has transformed in the last 12-18 months. It’s become a more “my way, or the highway” tone, as if your way is the only reasonable approach to FIRE. I’ve followed the blog loyally and at first, my husband and I were gungho mustachians. We all have our priorities and early retirement can be shared among everyone, even people driving large trucks. You, yourself, admitted you have your own extravagances (for example, fine food and alcohol). However, you have singled out certain consumers of certain products. I’m sure it’s difficult to come up with new topics and this particular one seems very important to you, but it’s also frustrating for some of us readers. I agree that we should be good stewards of our resources (financial and our environment) but I don’t feel your message is kindly articulated.

    I really hope this comes across constructively because I believe we share the same core priorities. I just feel that we all have different ways of approaching it and I could share the differences between yours and mine but that wouldn’t go over well, would it? I guess what I’m saying is that we could point out each others’ inefficiencies and berate them for it but ultimately, our goals are the same, to reach the point of financial independence with a focus on being kinder to the environment and kinder to the resources we have so they last longer.

    –Former loyal follower in a one compact vehicle (non-truck/SUV/minivan) household

    P.S. Before someone accuses me of being a complainy-pants, I’m well educated on all the MMM articles and agree with most of them. I just feel the message of this post has been discussed before in much the same brusque manner and I never see any compromise in what Mr Money Mustache believes is truly “mustachian.” As if there’s only way to live such a life…

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2015, 9:16 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, Rachael! I can get plenty repetitive, as I tend to write about whatever is on my mind, whenever I feel like it. With a lot of raised-truck douches clogging up my local streets in recent months, I felt the issue had to be addressed YET AGAIN.

      I would disagree with you on the style issue though – I’d say things around here have become much more calm and politically correct in recent years. We are going to need back some of the opinion and the swearing of the Old Mr. Money Mustache, to show we are still serious.

      It’s also important for me to write articles like this to periodically prune the readers who are NO FUN. I happen to find swearing and personal insults in the context of personal finance to be quite funny, and those who don’t must quickly be encouraged to depart these shores and return to reading mainstream media.

      Reply
      • PK April 28, 2015, 9:46 pm

        I think “calm and politically correct” is an understatement. This is an article about inefficient trucks, and it contains exactly one f bomb. The world is in dire straits indeed!

        I don’t think this is a my way or highway approach. It’s more like “I feel big ass pickup trucks that get little use from the beds and are primarily status symbols are ridiculously inefficient and wasteful, here’s the evidence, and please prove me wrong”.

        I think we all have luxurious indulgences, even MMM, but we should just be honest that’s what they are, and in this case, it’s a really, really expensive one.

        Reply
        • Lonestarstateworkerbee April 29, 2015, 8:45 am

          There’s an idea for an FI blog post – a ranking of common indulgences from “worst to first” in terms of their impact on your wallet and the environment. I’d write it myself, but I don’t have a blog…

          Reply
          • The Roamer April 29, 2015, 12:14 pm

            I say write it anyways… Lots of other bloggers would be glad to host a guest posting. Even MMM use to do it.

            And since you don’t have a blog he’ll know its not for self promotion…

            Its all about the quality of the article. I’m sure you could find some taker you only need to email them to make contact

            Reply
      • jessica April 29, 2015, 9:14 am

        I know about 20 big truck office workers. I can now point them straight to this article. Thanks.

        Reply
      • meep er April 29, 2015, 3:32 pm

        MMM — I appreciate that the targeted audience of this particular article is men, mostly in the construction trades. Guys, especially, need to consider that a truck is a tool and they need the right tool for the job, not for showing off. The message bears repeating — avoid debt and a shiny new toy — if you want to do well financially because as soon as gas prices fall and people get a little more cash in their pockets, guess what happens? A whole new crowd rushes out to buy a shiny new truck.

        As a responsible dad and husband, I find it sickening, really sickening, to see other men wasting their money like this. It pisses me off. AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO BANG A DRUM who has high credibility with engineers, construction workers, frugalistas and readers who don’t mind dropping the occasional f-bomb because …that’s how so many people talk and think! Suzie Orman might write something similar but politely, and Dave Ramsey goes into rants in which he yells “SELL THE TRUCK,” before praising Jesus. Fine. They have their audience..and you have yours.

        Stay true to yourself, MMM.

        Please make no apologies for repeating this theme. Do you think the auto companies are going to stop advertising trucks? Are they going to apologize for repeating their message? Hell no! If this article wakes up even one guy (or lady) who was going to drop 60K on a new truck, when he should not, and convinces him to do otherwise, then it made a big difference in that person’s life.

        Your blog is authentic and sincere and even digitally artistic. It has matured. If anything, it has become better written with more interesting details and greater variety since you started it.

        So, if it gives you joy and happiness, keep hammering away! You have so much to share.

        Ok. I have ranted enough. It’s 95 here in SO Cal….and I am itching to ride some hills and sweat my rear off and get out of this chair.

        Reply
        • Rob the Lawyer April 30, 2015, 8:03 am

          This is probably the most eloquent summation I’ve seen of how to “properly” encourage the spread of Mustachianism, in a way that is consistent with the values of Mustachianism. This meeper is someone who really understands.

          Also, I feel dirty saying “this meeper”.

          Reply
          • dwasch April 30, 2015, 9:06 am

            So this meeper is a keeper?

            I have a sudden need to take a shower.

            Reply
            • meep er April 30, 2015, 7:21 pm

              Well…my daughter coined this name for me. I know, it’s odd. But around here it is a term of endearment.

              Just think of me as a human roadrunner.. .”Meep, meep.”

              @dwash I hope that I don’t stink that bad!

              Reply
      • Joe Dias April 29, 2015, 8:36 pm

        The core of what MMM is about in one word: efficiency. Even Stoicism, which he has convincingly written in favor of, is efficiency in the form of human behavior when you get down to it. He could have that single word, efficency, on his gravestone if it were not for the fact that donation of one’s vessel to science were a vastly more efficient means of maximizing corpse workload. I bet he drives by cemeteries and laughs at the dead with their big fancy marble statues for headstones…and he’s right, what a bunch of suckers. They can’t even enjoy those gravestones while they decompose in their fancy shmamcy fine wooden caskets. Oh well, I’m sure when they were on their deathbed they had no regrets…I’ll just leave this here in case anyone didn’t catch my sarcasm: “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” (#2 “I wish it wouldn’t have worked so hard” ) http://www.mindful.org/mindful-magazine/no-regrets

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2015, 6:55 pm

          You guessed it right Joe – I do marvel at cemeteries and what a waste of prime urban landscape they are when I pass by. Except I would be biking rather than driving past :-)

          Why do humans have this irrational and inefficient tradition of treating dead bodies as if they were alive? Cremate the bodies or bury them (with permission) in a wild area for natural return to soil.

          Update: someone saw this comment and wrote to me that he runs just such a place: http://www.honeycreekwoodlands.com/

          And of course there are compostable green burial coffins made right here in my neighborhood by a friend of mine (sometimes I even stop by and build one myself when he gets busy): http://www.naturescasket.com/

          Reply
          • Justin May 1, 2015, 12:35 am

            MMM, you’ve got to check out the Urban Death Project! It is totally up your alley!

            http://www.urbandeathproject.org/

            Reply
            • Eileen May 1, 2015, 9:05 pm

              You could probably combine that with a Tower of Silence concept, leaving the bodies up top for the birds first (I don’t see enough vultures in the city). Either way must be better environmentally than cremation, which uses a lot of energy. It turns out most of that energy is to get rid of the water—given California’s droughts perhaps they ought to start working on deathstill technology.

              Reply
          • LLBigwave May 3, 2015, 9:23 am

            Good stuff. I’ve been thinking for a few years that I would like my body to be processed and turned into animal food. I’ve eaten enough animals in my lifetime that it seems only fair to close the circle.

            Reply
    • Juan April 29, 2015, 9:17 am

      I’m with Rachael on this one. Calling people “Dumbass” or “Douche” does nothing for the credibility of a finance blog.

      I started reading MMM because my girlfriend started sending me his articles. I thought it was pretty cool that he was also in Longmont like us, and I really enjoyed the financial changes I was making in my life. I honestly do thank him for everything I’ve learned…I wish I had started 20 years ago.

      But I’ve also seen a shift in the feel of this blog. I’m sure the faithful throng will be jumping on me (I can almost hear their keyboards clacking), but this place seems more like a lifestyle blog now. Where are the “Square One” articles you said you were going to write years ago? That’s what I want to read!

      Not everyone who has large tires, is doing it to impress others. I have a 1985 4-cylinder Toyota 4Runner, that I bought for $500 about 10 years ago. It has a mild lift and 33″ tires (believe me, it’s not very impressive). I bought it for one thing…recreational off-road trips in the mountains (by the way, recreation = fun and that’s what life is about).

      Unlike Rachael though, I don’t consider myself a “Former Loyal Follower”. I’ll continue to read articles here, but I have a funny feeling I’ll just be skimming over them until MMM gets back to the meat and potatoes of finance instead of insulting people.

      ~Juan

      Reply
      • Aaron April 29, 2015, 10:35 am

        If you think this is primarily just a finance blog, you have missed the point the entire time.

        Reply
      • Carter April 29, 2015, 10:44 am

        I’m with Rachael and Juan. This topic is becoming a judgmental tirade.

        Reply
      • BW April 29, 2015, 12:51 pm

        Juan,

        I think this is absolutely a meat and potatoes bit of finance advice. Spending $60k on a truck to commute, or under-use is hardly ever a good decision, yet tons of people think it is a great idea.

        And there is a vast difference between a new super expensive truck and your 4Runner. It will likely not make a very big dent in your time to FI, and for you it is probably worth it. The difference is people that have no idea how much money they are throwing away, and how many more years they will have to work because they drive a giant lifted money and gas-sucking truck.

        Reply
    • rjack April 29, 2015, 10:11 am

      I’ve been reading MMM since before I FIREd 3 years ago. In fact, he and Jacob at EarlyRetirementExtreme are the main reasons I retired early.

      I divide MMM’s articles into two categories:

      1) How To: How to invest or to save money on electricity, housing, cell phone, etc. These tend not to be repetitive.

      2) Shock Therapy: That is what this article is. It is designed to get people to see things from a different perspective. This type of article needs to be repetitive because a person requires multiple shocks before he begins to transform. Fixed ideas are really hard to change! I also don’t think a Shock Therapy article can ever be too shocking.

      Reply
      • GirlyStash April 29, 2015, 11:30 am

        … Also, here’s a couple of ideas: a. Don’t read it if you don’t like it; b. start your own blog and say whatever you want; c. realize that if you are taking this much time to write a response such as this, you just miiight want to consider that you indeed are A COMPLANYPANTS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

        Reply
        • Nick April 29, 2015, 1:22 pm

          Nah, she’s not a complainy-pants, she’s just a passionate reader and FIRE practitioner who noticed that MMM can be kind of ranty and offense at times and she wants to keep liking the MMM blog but is getting tired of the repeated hammer it in your head messaging and minor hypocrisy. If anything, readers and MMM himself should appreciate how she pointed out the hypocrisy (fancy food vs. fancy big truck).

          That’s just his thing though, being ranty and excitable, and I imagine it’s a large contributing factor as to why people continue to read this blog in spite of the repeat topics. I mean, this post is entertaining to anyone who is tired of gigantic pickups clogging the streets. I particularly enjoyed the picture of him using the drill press in that way. Maybe he’s just kind of like the Howard Stern of finance blogs…

          Reply
          • Ricky April 29, 2015, 2:47 pm

            I don’t think fancy food is a good substitute for fancy truck. The difference in “fancy” food (still grocery bought) vs. “regular” food is probably < $1 per meal. That's maximum a $500-$1k premium per year on food. Also, we're talking food, something that has a lot to do with your well being.

            The difference in owning a fuel efficient car for your commute and owning a status mobile is MUCH more than $1k alone.

            MMM summed it up well at the end: not owning one of these money sucking things that you'll never end up getting the full benefit out of is one of the LARGEST expense cuts you can make.

            It's just not worth it.

            Reply
            • mark-rn April 30, 2015, 11:06 am

              Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.
              It took me 6 months of off and on reading to review all the posts and responses to the MMM blog site. Many new readers would not even realize this was a past topic. Feel free to address the classics anytime.

              FI last week at age 57.

              Reply
    • Jeff April 30, 2015, 10:57 am

      The academic “it’s all relative” argument that Rachel uses is one I see a lot, and it’s usually used by people who don’t quite understand a concept. She is correct that there is a continuum of living options between dirt cheap and super extravagant, but MMM’s point here is that it’s not all relative. Specifically, there is a sweet spot on that continuum where you get 90% of what the high spenders get but at 10% of what they pay. True, you could go cheaper, but you are entering the territory of diminishing returns. The basic message of MMM’s blog is that you can hugely cut your spending without seeing a drop in living standards and that drop in spending results in early retirement.

      Reply
  • Colby April 28, 2015, 7:31 pm

    I grew up in the country where pretty much everyone drives a truck. I can’t remember any of the farmers who added a lift kit or bought a crew-cab with a 4 1/2 foot bed. All the pimped out trucks are owned by city-dwelling office workers who need to feel big and powerful driving to and from the job they hate so much. The moment you add a lift kit or buy a truck with 4 full size doors you know it’s only job is that of a car.

    Reply
    • Doug April 28, 2015, 8:49 pm

      Driving that big hole in the wallet to and from the job they hate so much you say? If I hated any job that much I would be driving a small econo box car with a 1 litre engine, or better yet riding my bike or taking the bus (to save on the capital cost of a second vehicle) so I could save as much money as possible and retire from that job from hell as quickly as possible! I can’t imagine thinking any other way.

      Reply
      • Andy April 29, 2015, 8:45 am

        I think it really just comes down to the need for a paradigm shift, which, to his credit, MMM is trying to create. People really just don’t see early retirement/FI as something that’s possible and so they don’t even really think about. Money (in most minds) is just something that you earn so you can spend it immediately and when you think like that you see no reason not to buy whatever status symbol is most attractive to you. For some it’s a fast car, for some it’s a big tricked out truck, for some it’s fancy dinners and nice clothes. You and the rest of us here are lucky to have this new paradigm of saving and getting out of the rat race and not being able to “imagine thinking any other way”. I just hope over time more people can learn that FI really is a viable alternative and leads to a much happier life because, like you said, once you know this is an option you start to realize that it’s the best one.

        Reply
  • The Plaid Cow April 28, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I have read in a number of posts that you dislike minivans for kids. If we do choose to keep a vehicle, what would you recommend for the five of us instead of a minivan?

    Reply
    • Jeff April 29, 2015, 5:23 am

      I think it’s more the people who think that because they have one child, they need a pimped out minivan. If you have three, IMO a minivan is a great choice.

      Reply
    • Rachel April 29, 2015, 11:09 pm

      I think minivans make sense if you have a large family. My brother-in-law has 4 kids (2 under 3yrs) and their grandma at home. They routinely need to transport all 6 family members. The minivan makes perfect sense. Before they had it they had to take two cars anywhere they all needed to go.

      Reply
  • lakemom April 28, 2015, 7:34 pm

    Great article!! We just picked up an ’03 Chevy S10 4 cyl. to use in our pest control business. It was a bit of a struggle to convince the hubby a 4WD wasn’t necessary in our SUMMER ONLY

    Reply
    • Curtis Stewart April 29, 2015, 9:56 pm

      The greatest cost is depreciation. I have a 99 F350 with a V10 averages 13 mpg. I paid $3,000 for it with 135,000 miles on it almost 2 years ago. It now has 218,00 on it. I maintain the devil out of it. Cost for me to own it is around .40 cents per mile; fuel,insurance everything. Every mile I drive I can charge $1.20 for the vehicle. I may drive it for a month just doing oilfield work and then the next month haul tools, equipment, material all over the Permian Basin.
      When this one hits 400,000 out it goes to Mexico. Reason, my mechanic has recommended by then the four wheel drive, which gets used frequently BTW, transmission and the engine will be ready for major repairs. At that time I will be ready to upgrade to say a 2008 with a v10 again.
      What does my mechanic think my truck will bring in 3 more years?
      2500 to 3000 to a Mexico buyer.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2015, 6:48 pm

        I’d say fuel is your biggest cost right now: At that consumption level you have burned $20,000 in fuel in just two years. You could have kept $10k of that by driving a 26MPG vehicle instead, and there are plenty of them available at around the same price. Or as a compromise if you are carrying over 1000 lbs most of the time, an old V-6 F150 from a well-maintained city fleet.

        Reply
        • Padded Hat May 1, 2015, 11:09 am

          In 2009, I need a decent van for by business. I found a 90K mile, three year old v-6, 1/2 ton Chevy, that many of my customers mistook for a new one. It was $6700. Five years later I had a waiting list of buyers, and sold it for $4500. Many of my testosterone laden associates told me that I was a fool for buying a light duty truck with a “small” V6, since it was a lame truck, that wasn’t big enough to be of any use. The entire time I owned it, it did everything I needed I to do, needed almost nothing in repairs, and cost me under $40/month in depreciation. The van was cheap for the same reason “old v-6 fleet vehicles” are. They just aren’t cool enough to have a strong market.

          Reply
  • jestjack April 28, 2015, 7:45 pm

    Excellent article….I see the $50-60K trucks ALL the time….I drive a Ford Ranger that I bought new for $11, 115 on the street…12 years ago. I just put rear brakes on the truck at 94K….cost $22. The truck is a 4 cylinder with 5 speed and can get 31 MPG but usually gets right around 27-28 MPG. One of the best moves I made, was building racks for the truck out of disgarded deck boards. Then the truck could really haul some stuff. This really has been a pretty good little truck…I have no clue why Ford quit building them…

    Reply
    • JAYSLOL April 29, 2015, 4:55 am

      Also drive a Ranger for work (Landscaping) and am pretty shocked Ford stopped making them. I’ve worked with plenty of people that give me a hard time for my truck being so “small and useless”, which makes me laugh as i’ve hauled loads (pulling an 18′ double axel trailer) that would crush the suspension in any raised F350. And when I’m not using it like that, I can get decent(ish) milage, park it in a “small car” parking space with enough room to get out even with a clown-truck parked on either side of me, lift heavy things in and out easily as it’s not jacked way off the ground and I frequently carry myself and 3 adult passengers in it. Am I the only one who can’t stand the irony of using a $60,000 crew cab truck to haul around some minimum-wage labourers in ridiculous comfort? Pay the labourers more and stuff them in the back of a real work truck. And honestly, at least half of what i do could still be done in a Honda Fit which is perfect for carrying a passenger, a push-mower, trimmers and all the hand tools and supplies I need. “Small and useless”? More like still huge and wasteful, just not as bad as most tucks.

      Reply
    • Scott April 29, 2015, 12:20 pm

      > I have no clue why Ford quit building them…

      Blame CAFE regulations, which dictate fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks. Cars have much higher standards than trucks, and the two are differentiated based on footprint– wheelbase multiplied by width. A small truck would need to get the same fuel economy as, say, a Honda Accord, which just isn’t feasible. So automakers simply stopped selling them here– same with wagons. Wagons and small trucks like the Ranger are alive and well in the rest of the world, but out stupid regulations have all but killed them here. Ironically, this means, CAFE, which was intended to increase fuel economy, actually decreases fuel economy by pushing buyers into larger vehicles than they would have bought otherwise.

      Reply
      • Pesky June 26, 2015, 3:20 am

        Ford tore down the local plant that made Rangers in St. Paul. They had been making cars there since the model T I guess.

        They said it was as simple as Ranger sales being disappointing. Everyone is buying the giant-ass trucks, and that’s where Ford makes virtually all of their money. Giving the people what they want.

        Reply
  • SpicyMcHaggus April 28, 2015, 7:55 pm

    I used to be into this, though much more reasonably. It was a new 2011 Nissan Frontier V6 4×4 CrewCab with the short bed. I used it a year while remodeling and then said “WTF, i could do all this with a $400 utility trailer.” I sold it at a 15% loss, and have managed to get by with a small sedan since.

    My cousins on the other hand… are perhaps going the other way. One has a 2012 Tundra CrewMax V8 4×4 and is looking to sell it for a newer Tundra. He commutes 30 miles each way for work, and so far as I can tell, hasn’t loaded anything in it other than some furniture. His brother just bought the same truck. I just can’t see why it makes sense.

    Reply
  • Nepenthe88 April 28, 2015, 8:13 pm

    I probably won’t get a chance to say this again, but I’ve got MMM beat in the vehicle department. I drive a 1978 VW Bus that I paid $2500 for two years ago. I promptly re-engineered it for fuel efficiency reasons by dropping a 1991 Subaru EJ22 engine in the back of it. It cost me $1500 to make the conversion. Now it gets 30mpg and I have real heat and defrost! The vehicle was an educational experience. I taught myself how to do all the work and be my own mechanic (and body guy– welding is super fun)! This’ll potentially save me tens of thousands of dollars through my lifetime. What’s even cooler is that the bus actually appreciates in value every year. Take that MMM Minivan!!

    But how does it stack up as a work truck you ask?

    Hahaha!! This nostalgic old beast is rated to carry a ONE TON payload from factory, can carry numerous full sheets of 4×8 plywood inside (laying flat nonetheless), has a Roof rack for carrying ladders, dimensional lumber, kayaks or anything else your heart can dream up. It was built to be a work truck. Hell, it even has a Westfalia pop top so I can stand up inside AND a rear seat that folds down into a bed for mid-afternoon jobsite naps! That and it’s way cooler to drive than any NEW minivan. It’s a real conversation starter… especially here in Rustbelt Buffalo where all the other Westy Busses have melted back into the earth. If anyone’s interested, here’s a fun thread from TheSamba showing all the crazy things people cram in their VW “work bus” (someone even crammed a baby giraffe in one, WTF?!):
    http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=292890&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=putting&start=0

    But the absolute best part of the bus? I bought a Thule hitch mount bike rack for it… and that’s where I store my bike… which I use to pedal myself to the hospital I work at (and the grocery store), both of which are a scant 3 mile ride from my home (which doesn’t abut the park like yours, but is close enough to throw a rock off my roof and smash the window of a house that does).

    Reply
    • PK April 28, 2015, 9:53 pm

      This is awesome. You should move into the van and then you will achieve Nirvana.

      Reply
    • jestjack April 29, 2015, 7:45 am

      What a cool project! Might want to go to simplify.net and check out that guys blog. This guy did a “revamp” similar to yours and he DOES live in his VW…

      Reply
    • Heckler April 30, 2015, 12:02 am

      Our 81 Westy swallowed up a three seater leather couch. And it’s two seater partner. In the same trip.

      Reply
  • meep er April 28, 2015, 8:19 pm

    I love trucks!!! My neighbor’s, that is. He has three of them — including a new one-year old Silverado he bought for $50,000. It is soooooo badass. It came loaded with air conditioning, a stereo, wheels, a transmission, and an engine!**

    He is kind enough to let me borrow his old truck, if I need to haul something that my little Prius cannot handle. Uh, you’re laughing? I have hauled bricks, unpacked pallets of rock, ten foot trees, and heavy backpacks and several smelly backpackers in that thing. It’s a GREEN monster…and gets 5o mpg while never failing me.

    ** That is , when it’s running. Seems the Chevy is in the shop. Again. Like last month. And at Christmas. My POOR neighbor… and I mean that literally. I’d let him drive my Prius anytime, but I think he would be too embarrassed to be seen in it.

    Reply
    • MM April 29, 2015, 9:08 am

      I have done the same…I LOVE telling the pickup-truck people that 90% of the stuff they’ve hauled in their 12 mpg trucks I’ve hauled in my 45 mpg Prius. I lived and drove that thing in Texas for a long time – a bastion of truck owners where (at least where I was at) an F250 is a “compact” truck suitable for commuting. I’ll never understand it.

      Reply
  • Zoe April 28, 2015, 8:24 pm

    I live in Toronto. Around here, we skip the truck and go straight to the Hummer. They are every. freakin. where, and are repeatedly met with DH and I turning to each other to say, “Wow, did you see the tiny d*^k on that guy who just drove past?”.

    Never gets old.

    Reply
    • Doug May 1, 2015, 8:10 am

      Wow, you would think that with the outrageously high cost of housing in the GTA most people would have a small fuel sipping econo car, because the high cost of living sucks so much of their money away like a giant black hole.

      Reply
  • cide1 April 28, 2015, 8:35 pm

    A couple months ago I bought a ’98 Ranger for $2000. Has 180k miles, it is an automatic, with the V6 motor. Body is in good but not great shape, came with a plastic bed liner, and the interior cleaned up nicely. In the last year it had 4 new tires, new battery, new water pump, new plugs and wires, new O2 sensor, new idle air controller, and a new head + gasket on one side. I have put about another $500 into fluid swaps, brakes, shocks, and a few odds and ends. It drives great; I get a bit over 20 MPG. I plan to keep it a long time.

    Cars and motorcycles are a big weakness for me. I have learned that I get as much enjoyment out of buying used cars and bikes as I do buying new, but historically I have done a lot of trading around. I kept my ’09 Civic for commuting (35 MPG), and I have a few motorcycles, one of which gets 65 MPG. I don’t really use the truck to make money, but it has been used heavily for hauling materials almost every week since I bought it. My house is a good fit for us, our mortgage is a 15 year at 2.875%, and where I work is a pretty poor neighborhood, so commuting is pretty much a necessity for me without some major life changes. Luckily its only about 10 miles, but it involves two interstates with no reasonable bike route.

    Reply
  • Doug April 28, 2015, 8:38 pm

    Good posting, MMM! I told this story before, but will tell it again as it clearly illustrates the folly of buying a truck when it’s not required. A guy I worked with 5 years ago was talking about buying a truck and me, the lifetime mustachian, explained how it’s only economical if you have a high duty cycle. In other words, if you are using it regularly to haul a LOT of stuff around. Otherwise I said if the duty cycle is low you’re better off using a trailer periodically to haul stuff. He said and I quote: That’s gay! I don’t care about duty cycle and want a truck! Well I guess myself, father, and brother (who is married and has kids) have used trailers so we must all be gay. In fact I was hauling an old water heater across town in a small utility trailer today and it worked JUST FINE to get the job done. Say, when’s that Pride parade going on?

    So what’s my “work truck” say about me? It’s a 1974 Gilson utility trailer which over the years has been a real work horse, moving many ton-miles of stuff. I think that speaks volumes.

    I like your choice of pictures, the one of the guy (is that you?) using a large drill press to drill a small hole says it all. The picture from Ecuador looks like what I saw in Thailand and Cambodia, where smaller pickup trucks or even tuk tuks are regularly hauling more stuff or passengers around than I’ve seen pickup trucks hauling here closer to home.

    Reply
    • David April 28, 2015, 9:25 pm

      Kind of reminds me of a guy I work with as well. Today I drove my truck to the job site instead of my little Has undai. Part of the job had involved tearing down an old lean-to addition, and my boss said that I was welcome to all of the old lumber so long as I got it out before the week ended. For many of the new guys on the crew this was the first time they had ever seen my truck, and as they are all young men with stars in their eyes talk turned to the trucks they wanted to drive.

      Lift kit this. Leveling kit that. Tires larger than I even knew existed. Tinted taillights. Brand name rims. They prattled on at length about the trucks they wished they had without once mentioning a manufacturer or even a size. I took a break from stuffing my truck, a stripped down late 90’s F150, to ask why they would even want a silly toy for a truck that’s no good for actual truck related tasks.

      Apparently I’m the weird one.

      Reply
  • Chris April 28, 2015, 8:47 pm

    “The size of your truck is inversely proportional to the size of your wallet.” BOOM! I think this every time I see one of these clown-truck setups.

    Reply
    • meep er April 28, 2015, 8:54 pm

      “The size of your truck is inversely proportional to the size of your WALLET. BOOM! I think this every time I see one of these clown-truck setups.”

      Actually, I always think of the monster truck as inversely proportional to the size of the driver’s ….uh……you know what, trying to make up for it, or something.

      Reply
      • Doug April 30, 2015, 9:02 am

        The driver’s ….uh……you know what, could be just as easily be the brain!

        Reply
    • Framing God May 1, 2015, 10:35 pm

      I have an f350 diesel platinum edition. Actually it belongs to my business. My business has given me 500k plus to pay taxes on in each of the last two years. Oh yeah I have to pay a 500 in taxes for my personal use. Yes there is lots of people that buy these things for the wrong reason and I could even do with the xlt model or so dare a half ton ( would have to call a tow truck more often) but the mirrors wouldn’t fold in with the touch of a button. Very important to me as I Park up against a wall on my passenger side in order to park in my oversize heated garage. :) I think the MMM blog is great but I still like some of my expensive habits. Maybe when I stop liking them so much and start to hate work I will go totally mustachian. I must have lots Mustache in me cause believe me I’ve delayed a lot of gratification to get here. Maybe I don’t need the sports car that MMM says I could have while my employees drive there ultra cheap vehicle’s or the loser cruiser. I actually like the big pickup. Hauls the camper great although is a Pia for the dirt bike as it’s just to high off the ground. Ps I actually tow more than ten k lbs for work quite often.

      Reply
  • John w April 28, 2015, 8:58 pm

    Ford ranger cant push the 120″ of snow we got in Boston this winter

    Love the site, but i own 2 f250’s and an f350 new bought new and one bought a yr old and theyre all being pd off early from low interest loans with the money we made this winter

    The guys with$hitboxes were hanging it up mid storm bc their trucks were falling apart and their cloents were calling me telling me literally to name my price

    Context is evrything

    Reply
    • Pat April 29, 2015, 6:05 am

      You are using your truck appropriately. You are in the 1%.

      Of course, the snow this year was unusual. Do the other trucks do OK with normal amounts of snow?

      Reply
      • Padded Hat May 1, 2015, 1:49 pm

        “Context is everything” How right you are. This leads me to the question of exactly how many guys in the snow plowing game have any real business sense? I live in the northeast, and definite snow country, surrounded by ski resorts. I have many friends and sub-contractors who plow all winter. Many of theses guys also repair failed transmissions, plow pumps and controls, and countless other issues, all winter. If they aren’t repairing older stuff, they have a late model rig with a $7K plow on it, and a huge monthly payment, including all those months when there is no money to be made. I’m not questioning you personally, but if I had to guess, the average small snow plowing outfit would pretty much fail a forensic audit of their operations, and find out that it’s cheaper to stay home on the couch during storms. What’s your take on this?

        Reply
  • mike April 28, 2015, 9:01 pm

    So I’m at the golf course today and this guy next to me in the parking lot says “so how do you load your clubs on the motorcycle?”. I show him, then tell him in my saddlebags are my tools/parts for appliance repair which I did earlier.

    I used to have a beat up old truck for my business. It looked like shit, but it was clean. I actually think people were more ready to call me to fix their appliances than someone rolling up in a $50K + work truck.

    Reply
    • Thomas April 29, 2015, 8:01 am

      Exactly Mike. I know the contractor in the shiny new truck is charging me too much. The well maintained old truck shows me that the owner knows how to fix stuff!!!

      Reply
  • Root of Good April 28, 2015, 9:06 pm

    Ha ha, love it. Except I’m the guy that wants to get a minivan so we can haul the 3+ kids around and tons of other cargo while the wife wants to get a (less practical) SUV. :)

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2015, 10:11 pm

      You’ve already got a great Civic, Root! Upgrade it to a Honda Fit if you need more cargo capacity, and/or add a trailer hitch if you need it to do more than a pickup truck.

      You are fortunate to have a family of 5 so you still fit in a car. People often ask me, “What’s the best vehicle for MY family with 6 kids?” – the answer is “two old Toyota Prius’ (PRii))

      Reply
      • Giant April 29, 2015, 10:35 am

        Why not a minivan that holds 8? Having everyone in one vehicle is much preferable.
        -guy with 5 kids

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2015, 12:44 pm

          That works well, as long as you rarely drive with less than 8 people. The problem is that most people get the van, then use it to commute to and from work and get groceries, and only occasionally put the whole family in there.

          With a big family like that, it would make sense to base my lifestyle around the home, and minimize trips out – for that, a pair of smaller vehicles would be ideal. 3 people in one car and 4 in another would still be plenty of fun. And bikes and trailers that allow everyone to travel without motor vehicles.

          Reply
          • Giant April 29, 2015, 1:38 pm

            Thanks Triple M. It’s impressive you can keep up with the comments as well as you do – certainly earning your $2,000 blogging salary and my appreciation.

            We spend <$100/month on gas, so the cost is pretty minimal for someone making in the low six figures and a necessary daily driving commute to work. We have a more fuel efficient car for running around without the crew of little people. And of course, we'll reduce gas costs further as the opportunity presents itself (living closer to work, more efficient vehicles – but all of that takes time and opportunity).

            I've been a reader for about a year now (every article, repeatedly) and despite graduating with pretty massive student loan debt (~$100,000+), a lousy employment market for attorneys, not starting life off particularly efficiently, having five (5!!) little ones, and a stay-at-home wife, we're on track to be FI in my early 40's. With a little luck, I could be FI before my oldest is 18, which has become my goal. I attribute the inspiration to your blog – many thanks. Regards.

            Reply
          • Vickie April 29, 2015, 1:39 pm

            Exactly! I have a family of 6 and we sometimes were transporting 8 people. I finally convinced my husband to get rid of the mini-van this year. We only used it occasionally, and for those occasions we now use two vehicles. The other 90% of the time, we get the better mileage on one smaller vehicle. For example, in the past 6 months, there were only 3 occasions when we were all going somewhere together and needed to take 2 vehicles.

            Reply
            • LorenLaurenLorraine April 29, 2015, 5:16 pm

              We are a blended family of 8! We never had a mini-van and for many summers occassionally took 2 vehicles to events, grandma’s, etc. It was so rare though. Most of the driving was to work with zero passengers. 5 out of 6 are in their 20s now, and we are enjoying the down-sizing process.

              Reply
      • Root of Good April 29, 2015, 3:19 pm

        We also have a luxuriously inefficient Honda Accord that’s so much more spacious than the civic. It’s our 2000-3000 mile road trip car and easily fits a family of 5 plus gear.

        We rarely drive (80 miles per month is my average in early retirement except for those road trips), but probably 20-30% of the time I find myself needing to haul my 3 kids, plus maybe the wife, and 1-2 other kids or my parents. That’s mostly because we walk to many places around town (school, library, parks, restaurants, stores, entertainment, etc).

        So owning a larger vehicle like an Odyssey almost makes sense in our case since throughout the course of a year the majority of the miles will have 5+ passengers plus gear, and most of the it sits unused in our driveway. Are you selling yours any time soon? :)

        Eventually when we aren’t hauling kids as much we can downgrade back to a reasonable civic or fit or something similar.

        Reply
        • JT April 30, 2015, 2:28 pm

          Over a 3,000 mile trip, the difference in gas burned between an Accord and an Odyssey is only about $50 based on highway fuel economy rating. With 3 kids, I would definitely go with the minivan.

          Reply
      • Freedom35 April 29, 2015, 3:43 pm

        The best answer for family with 6 kids is “two old Toyota Prius”? You must be getting soft these days ;)

        I’ll just throw this out here:
        “With six kids and no car, this mom does it all by bike”
        http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731

        Reply
      • Freedom35 April 29, 2015, 4:01 pm

        The best answer for family with 6 kids is “two old Toyota Prius”? You must be getting soft these days ;)

        I’ll just throw this out here:
        “With six kids and no car, this mom does it all by bike”
        http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731

        Reply
  • brotus24 April 28, 2015, 9:09 pm

    Working as a lender, I see this shit all the time. Trucks, motorcycles, atv’s, etc. I continue to struggle with the logic (or lack thereof) that people use when buying these things. Here’s a good story that just came up last week:

    A guy (horrible credit, limited income, piss poor woe-is-me attitude) has a loan thru us for two cars ($500/mo). He opted for credit life & disability insurance, which is a policy that will make your loan payments if you get hurt and miss work or you die. So he calls us, stating he was in a motorcycle accident and a claim needs to be submitted. This motorcycle was bought for about $25K, every dollar was financed so another $400/mo loan payment for a guy that obviously cannot afford it. So anyone with a brain in their head would say, shit, get rid of the motorcycle since that thing is the reason you’re out of work, plus it is costing you a shit ton. Nope, he wouldn’t hear it. Said he always wanted one, he deserves it.

    I just had to shake my head. I wanted to strangle him. Maybe I will in a few more years when the ol’ stache gets a little more beefy and would be fine getting fired for reaching across the desk at a dumbass customer. I can only hope.

    Reply
    • Doug April 30, 2015, 9:05 am

      When I hear or read stories like that one, I think those people are masochists.

      Reply
  • JP April 28, 2015, 9:09 pm

    Reply
  • Darkseas April 28, 2015, 9:14 pm

    Sorry Pete, you lost all your cred as a builder when you described what’s on the Mazda as a roof rack. Of course, it’s a LADDER rack.

    I have a Ranger with the L4 and a 5-speed, but a regular cab, not the extended one, so I can assure you that the Mazda doesn’t get anywhere near 30 MPG. It might get 28 on the highway (especially if you take off the ladder rack), and 23 in the city. If you find 30 MPG (highway) written anywhere, it’s before the Guv’ment mandated the addition of ethenol to gasoline and thereby cut mileage by 10+%..

    I’m no more offended by $70K trucks than I am by equivalently priced cars. At least the truck can potentially do real work, whereas the Lexus, Mercedes, or BMW can’t put a half cord of firewood in the trunk — although Freedom35 is right, you might get 1/4 cord in a Honda Fit.

    Reply
    • jestjack April 29, 2015, 8:00 am

      Darkseas you’re right! I own a 2003 Ford Ranger with 4 cylinder and 5 speed and gas mileage depends a lot on where I buy gas and what is in it. I have gotten as high a ALMOST 32 MPG but that was empty….no racks…basically highways driving. I do consistently get 27-28 and I’m usually hauling something. As for the pic of the Mazda….I always thought they only put 6 cylinders in the “extended cab” versions of the Ranger/Mazdas. And for the record, the best truck I ever owned was a 1984 Mazda…diesel….Bought it new in the dead of winte, owned it 19 years and that truck got 42 miles to the gallon and I would still be driving it but the frame collapsed and couldn’t be fixed…

      Reply
      • Eldred April 29, 2015, 8:13 am

        I’m amazed that you could get mileage that good from a PICKUP. I’m lucky to get 25mpg from my 2003 Malibu…

        Reply
        • OneShot April 30, 2015, 5:04 pm

          The 80s were a wonderful time for raw mileage. EFI had just recently been perfected, and pollution / safety features weren’t yet mandatory. Without an extra thousand pounds of airbags, crumple zones, and anti-pollution equipment, vehicles were much lighter and more (mechanically) efficient. Add in the fact that it was a small diesel, and I can completely believe 42 mpg with careful driving.

          They had better mileage, but they were much worse for the environment and much more likely to kill you in a serious accident.

          Reply
  • Teri April 28, 2015, 9:27 pm

    My “truck” is a 2004, 4 cylinder Nissan Altima. Hauls tons of mulch, 12 ft. baseboards, large windows, doors, bookcases, big screen tv, mattresses, garden furniture, tools, and my tall sons with ease (and plenty of legroom).

    My husband also laughs at people driving big trucks, and in this western state, that’s just about everyone. Not sure what that says about the collective sense of male insecurity here, but whatever…. (Hubby’s from back east.)

    Reply
  • Daniel April 28, 2015, 9:49 pm

    My truck is a 1963 Ranchero, I paid $1200 for it over 10 years ago. I’ve renovated 3 houses with it and now it’s getting a new 6 cylinder engine and a few runs down the quarter mile.

    Reply
  • Dean April 28, 2015, 9:56 pm

    Owned many trucks in my life, none cost over 5K, none had v8’s and the last one ran on a propane conversion that the previous owner performed. That one got sold with 550 thousand km’s on the odometer and earned me a fortune.

    I know it’s shameful to admit this here but I’m a car nut. Love cars, collect cars, build cars, restore cars. There, I said that. Having said that, I’m boggled by the money people flush down the toilet buying new vehicles for the sake of trying to impress people.

    Don’t buy a new car…….ever!

    A depreciated 3-6 year old well cared for vehicle will last virtually forever if looked after. Let some other poor slob take the beating. There’s and endless supply of helpless consumer drones that will take care of the first part for you.

    Simple choices like these will make you rich over a lifetime…..worked for me. Don’t buy things you can’t afford to pay cash with, live well below your means and don’t try to impress people with your stuff.

    Sure wish there was some kind of Internet blog I could read to learn all this stuff :)

    Keep up the good work mustache man…..you make me proud to be Canadian, and I’ll try to keep my car clown habits under control.

    Reply
    • Kristine-CA April 29, 2015, 12:51 pm

      My husband and I have been talking about this a lot lately. For sure there is a percentage of truck/car owners that LOVE vehicles. They love specialty engines or they love speed or they love German engineering or whatever. They like to take them apart and put them back together. They love showing them off at local car shows. Those are the people who should spend money and time on those cars and trucks. It contributes to their happiness. But surely most new car and truck owners don’t LOVE their vehicles. Aside from not being able to afford them, it’s just something they think they deserve or should have. It’s the mindless part that needs improving. If I had to guess, I think only 10% of people really LOVE vehicles.

      Reply
      • Dean April 29, 2015, 2:10 pm

        Kristine,

        Very true and definitely describes me.

        I don’t have my cars to impress anyone except myself. Most old cars have a very interesting history and backstory if you do some digging. The thrill for me is the mechanical wonderment that is the automobile. Nothing gives me greater joy than taking something as complicated as a car, stripping it down to every nut and bolt and then reassembling better than it came from the factory.

        In this world of instant gratification and no patience I find great satisfaction in this. Nothing else I do replicates the feeling.

        Reply
  • Rob April 28, 2015, 10:16 pm

    Have you heard of stotting?

    When being chased by a predator, gazelles sometimes jump along on all fours. Why be so wasteful of energy and risk being caught when they could simply run much faster? Theories abound, but a likely one for this and other similar behaviors is that they are showing off they have more than enough fitness than required for simple survival – to the predator and/or potential mates.

    I think a lot of publicly spendy behaviour is related to this status seeking, as you identify in the article as a major reason for truck buying. It’s usually considered rude/arrogant to openly discuss wealth, so we’ve created indirect mechanisms such as expensive cars, jewellery and clothing to demonstrate our wealth and status. Cars are a popular one as the cost can be brushed off with ‘I need to haul loads’ or ‘I drive a lot, so I need a comfortable ride’.

    Sexual selection has got this one covered. Many here will be quick to point out that they personally are not status seeking. All that matters, though, is that such behaviour is rewarded on average, not necessarily every time. Which seems to be the case. There’s more to social status than wealth of course, but it’s a huge component. For example, doctors are typically considered more attractive than nurses or carers, despite most saying outwardly that compassion/empathy is the main draw.

    Bottom line: demonstrating social status is the fastest way to sex – on average. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon, despite the perceived irrationality.

    Reply
    • Steve April 29, 2015, 11:53 am

      Bingo. Was going to post a comment like this, but you beat me to it. MMM is basically arguing against human nature here.

      To anyone who’s interested in the interaction between evolutionary theory and human behavior, I highly recommend Matthew Ridley’s book The Red Queen. The title refers to the queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, who has to run endlessly to remain in the same place. From an evolutionary perspective it’s irrelevant much people have in an absolute sense: what matters is how much they have compared to other people. Expectations increase with productivity increases. So if everyone else has an giant, expensive gas guzzler, the guy with a twenty-year-old minivan looks bad by comparison, even if the minivan’s perfectly suited for the job, and even if an old minivan owner is a badass in a poor country.

      In the same way, people who buy $20,000 Rolex watches aren’t going to change their behavior if you point out to them that a $30 Timex tells time just as well. The whole point of wearing a Rolex is to signal that you’re the type of person who can afford a Rolex. In 2200, when the economy’s 50 times as productive as it is now, people will be maxing out their cyber credit cards to buy the latest model space ships and most expensive houses. We can’t help ourselves.

      Reply
    • Doug April 30, 2015, 9:25 am

      There’s some measure of truth to what you say about stotting, and about the reasons for pursuit of status in general. However there are good counterarguments about the idea of using a big expensive truck to get a woman’s attention. The first is, some women here on this site have said having such a truck is actually a turnoff. Personally I think if that’s what her priorities are, I want nothing to do with her at all, period. I figure one that understands the logic behind having a cheaper vehicle (better yet a bicycle) is a better fit for me. If we really like each other that much, we want to save up as much money as possible so we can work less and spend more time together enjoying each other’s company.

      Because I’ve been efficient and mustachian all my life I have retired early and enjoyed many pursuits like travelling. Just this year I avoided most of the winter from hell we had in eastern Canada because I was travelling around in hot, sunny Thailand and Cambodia. When I came back, on a spur of the moment decision I took off to Iceland to catch the solar eclipse and do some touring around the country. I want a woman that would understand the merits of doing that sort of thing rather than going after status. I imagine us, in the back of a tuk tuk with our arms around each other travelling around historic sites like Angkor Wat, Cambodia or enjoying the great scenery of mountains, glaciers, and the sea together while travelling the Ring Road in Iceland. If she doesn’t understand that she can keep the hell out of my life!

      Reply
      • Leslie April 30, 2015, 9:44 am

        Some women find excessive spending a big turnoff and it is also a symptom of other potential problems in a relationship. Delayed gratification is thought to be important for a successful life. Marrying someone who buys stuff they can’t afford or is for show can eventually ruin your good credit. It is a red flag for both men and women who want to save for early retirement. My husband drove a really old car when we met, but he knew how to fix it himself, so I was more impressed by that than if he had a fancy and expensive truck or car. Besides, most vehicles are depreciating assets, so those who sink a lot of money into them don’t understand basic finance.

        Reply
  • LeisureFreak Tommy April 28, 2015, 10:20 pm

    “The size of your truck is inversely proportional to the size of your wallet.” I Love that.
    My truck is a 1981 Toyota SR5 that I have been driving for over 22 years as my primary vehicle. Initially purchased to carry my son’s and mine camping gear, mountain bikes, and fishing poles for our weekend getaways. It was also our vehicle of choice for our interstate father and son outings. We even made it more of a fun driver by making it a hardtop convertible. It still cruises me where I need to go and makes the occasional Home Depot/Lowes lumber, sheet-rock, and garden supply delivery. I know there is no way I could have every retired early if I had been buying the trucks I see clogging the highways that haven’t done anything than act as a commuter.

    Reply
  • Eldred April 28, 2015, 10:27 pm

    I’ve had these same ponderings about “Luxury SUVs”. That seems like a contradiction in terms to me. An SUV is to haul tons of stuff (that may be smelly or dirty)in. But people who have a Navigator or Cayenne would NEVER want to dirty up their vehicle like that. They just want the vehicle for the name. If that’s the case, why not just get a Lincoln or Porsche sedan??? I just don’t understand their way of thinking…

    Reply
    • Chris I April 30, 2015, 10:25 pm

      Ugh. Luxury SUVs are the silliest class of vehicles. These ridiculous trucks only manage to just beat them to win the silly vehicle trophy because they are so hazardous to the health of anyone that has to live around them.

      Reply
  • Giovanni April 28, 2015, 10:29 pm

    Great article, love the pic of using the drill press! Those guys with the monster trucks are totally compensating but I’m not judging because I haven’t walked in their (very small) shoes.

    When I was a carpenter I had an old pickup (57 Chevy, 6 cyl. 4 speed 2-wheel drive) that I could fill up with plywood, drywall, gravel, whatever I needed but when I started my own company I had to have ‘something’ happen the transmission so it wasn’t drivable and I wasn’t the delivery guy any more. I told my foremen (and forewomen): “all those lumber yards deliver for free if you plan in advance.’ Even then I discovered how many 8′ sticks of lumber I could fit in my 89 Honda Civic hatchback.

    I loved that old Chevy (and my son learned how to drive a real truck), so many times when I filled it at a gas station some guy would come up and either asked how much I’d sell it for or that he wished he’d never sold his. The answer was always 5x what I bought it for and I commiserated with those who were missing theirs but when it did come time to sell I got 5x from a guy who had to jump on a boat asap to buy the truck before anyone else came along.

    It was a great old truck if nothing much to look at but it hauled things and went places that no Viagra wagon would dare. Plus no one ever cut me off when I was driving it-

    Reply
  • NonFatMatt April 28, 2015, 10:38 pm

    In true Non-Mustacian fashion I drove a 1984 F-150 forever – lots of sentimental value (was Grandpa’s truck, and the first car I ever drove) but recently let her go (R.I.P. Truckee!) Realized it is the memory that is important, not an associated item.

    BUT MMM, I argue that even the trucks you endorse, and even all cars are a waste 99.9% of the time! You love two-wheeled transportation and hate wasting money – why not a motorcycle plug?!?!

    Truckee was replaced by a 2003 Honda Rebel motorcycle, bought used for $2K with 800 miles on it. 82 MPG, reliable as anything, $15/mo insurance, and carries virtually everything I need for a day! If I need a car or truck, I’ll rent one – the bike is the only transportation I own, and it’s a liberating experience and very liberating financially.

    Reply
  • Nick April 28, 2015, 11:03 pm

    I park my truck at the U-Haul down the street. When I need to use it for a few hours, I swing by and pay the guy a convenience fee of about $50. I keep my car at Hertz. When I want to leave town, I pick up my new car (it’s always new) in exchange for a little bit of money. The great thing is U-Haul and Hertz pay for parking, registration, and maintenance. Otherwise I get around on my two-wheeled, human-powered SUV I like to call “bicycle”. And sometimes I just say “fuck it” and strap rubber to my feet and move my legs and I go places.

    Reply
    • Tim April 29, 2015, 4:04 am

      Bingo!
      I have done this too. For the equivalent of about one monthly car payment, I get access to a car only when I need it year round.

      Reply
    • Eldred April 29, 2015, 6:25 am

      That’s funny! And awesome…

      Reply
  • Carolina April 29, 2015, 1:37 am

    As a lady, I can tell you all that driving an earth and wallet destroying truck to impress us doesn’t work. Expensive and impossible to climb in and out of whilst wearing an elegant skirt. Don’t understand why MMM didn’t mention this last, obviously important, objection;).

    Reply
  • Freeman April 29, 2015, 5:20 am

    We have a 1991 corolla, we call a truck and dog car. When we need a truck, we hook up the 5 X 8 utility trailer to the Corolla; I must say that the utility trailer, I bought new for $480.00 was the best money I ever spent on a truck. That was about 8 years ago. Also, if the trailer gets dinged, scratched or rusts which it does; you don’t care! A can of black Tremclad rust paint is all that is needed; for the vain Mustacian:) The trailer has paid for its self hundreds of times over; as has the 1991 corolla >450,oookm and going strong! I’m considering buying a 2002 Golf TDI as a second vehicle; it has manual transmission, 2.0 diesel and 350,000 km. Does anyone have any comments on this car?

    Reply
    • Kilo April 29, 2015, 12:02 pm

      I’m about to sell my 2000 Jetta TDI. Great financial decision, tows my boat and gets 50 mpg. My comment is that you need to be willing to DIY and tinker with these cars. They are quite quirky and you need to be willing to keep up with maintenance. It’s not expensive to keep them fixed up but it does take some time.

      Reply
      • Jacked up Jimmy April 29, 2015, 8:57 pm

        If you can find a TDI used, snatch it up quick! If not, it may or may not be worth buying new. Depends on your projected use. 42mpg without any hypermiling techniques, way more if you drive right. Diesels are the way to go in my book. A little higher cost but in my opinion a higher return on investment. Ymmv. Pun intended

        Reply
  • Trifele April 29, 2015, 5:44 am

    Can’t believe no one has mentioned these yet — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck_nuts

    I see these stupid things all the time, usually on a jacked up truck. I mean — WTF? It pretty much says it all about the person driving.

    Thank you for the [very restrained] rant, MMM. Someone needs to keep saying this stuff.

    Reply
  • Lindsay April 29, 2015, 6:45 am

    Anybody have recommendations for someone who drives thousands of miles carrying a couple thousand pounds literally all the time?

    My dad has been driving a ’97 Explorer with over 200k miles on it as a mobile showroom for his flooring business (he sells it but has other people who install it). It has samples of carpet, hardwood, slate–pretty much everything you see on a floor–but it gets awful gas mileage and is living on borrowed time.

    From what he’s researched, a minivan can’t carry that much weight all the time without having to replace the suspension all the time, and not much is going to get good gas mileage. Cost efficiency is a high priority!

    What do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2015, 12:54 pm

      I think your Dad has done the research wrong – minivans have some of the highest cargo capacity because they are rated for 7 people. Take out the seats to reduce the weight by a few hundred pounds, and you can add that directly to your cargo capacity.

      And what is the total weight of all those samples, in pounds? Is it really 2,000? That sounds more like an entire hardwood floor for several large rooms rather than just samples of materials.

      Also check out the Ford Transit Connect commercial vehicle.

      Reply
      • Lindsay April 29, 2015, 2:24 pm

        I forgot to mention he’s also worried about driving in snow. I mentioned that the extra weight should give him traction in well-nigh anything, but he’s convinced that he won’t be able to get around Castle Rock/Parker/Highlands Ranch/other parts of Metro Denver in all conditions without 4WD. And I tried sending him your article about that very issue! He’s convinced it just doesn’t apply with as much cargo as he has.

        Maybe he’s just too stuck in his ways?

        Reply
        • Pat April 30, 2015, 5:10 am

          For driving in snow? He needs winter tires. There was a blog post about this, and a big discussion in the forums.

          Reply
          • Lindsay April 30, 2015, 6:35 am

            That’s the “article about this very issue” that I was referring to already having sent him.

            He’s afraid of getting stuck on some hill or at the base of someone’s ridiculously long, steep, unpaved driveway (he sees those a lot) and not having nearly enough traction and torque in only two wheels to get him out of it.

            He has a host of physical problems mostly relating to an autoimmune disease, so he isn’t able to make several trips in deep snow on foot back and forth to somewhere the vehicle can be parked easily.

            Reply
            • Pat May 1, 2015, 5:24 am

              I’ve driven in those conditions regularly – the only time snow tires won’t help is if the road/driveway is icy, and then 4WD won’t help much. But winter tires with 4WD is as good as it gets. Winter tires are almost as good, 4WD without winter tires is useless.
              Nothing wrong with unpaved driveways, gravel often has more traction than pavement under snow. I know, that is my driveway.

              Reply
      • Freedom45 April 29, 2015, 3:33 pm

        Vehicle capacity ratings are based on 150lb passengers. 7 passengers = 1050 pounds. The maximum passengers + cargo weight should be listed on the sticker inside the driver’s door. (The same one that tells you the proper tire pressure. Money saver right there…) Any more than that and you’re creating a safety risk.

        I despise douche trucks as much as anyone, but 2500 pounds in a minivan sounds like a recipe for disaster. The tires aren’t rated for it, and a blowout combined with reduced braking and handling could kill someone.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2015, 4:44 pm

          I agree, F45 – the 2500 pound experiment was actually an accident when I underestimated the weight of some retaining wall stones until I weighed one at home. But the van handled remarkably well (better than a completely unladen F250 from my experience), and of course I was only going 1 mile home from the landscaping supply place at speeds not exceeding 25MPH.

          For actual hauling of weights like that on a highway, I’d get a W4500, and try to stay out of heavy traffic as much as possible.

          Reply
      • Lindsay April 30, 2015, 6:43 am

        The entire back of the vehicle is full, and quite a lot of the sample tiles are 12×12 stone. I don’t know that he’s ever actually weighed it, but I do think it’s close to 2000 lbs. pretty much always.

        I’ve also tried thinking of ways he might not have to have them all in there all the time, but he sees such a variety of clients over such a large territory that I’m not sure how he’d ever be able to plan it all out.

        Reply
        • Jcoz April 30, 2015, 9:15 am

          As MMM suggested above the transit or equivalent cargo van may be more appropriate for your father’s use case. There is a solid used market for these things and they will generally be cheaper than a min van or suv. A cargo van may also allow your father to arrange the sample material to allow for quick display and selection prior to lugging it inside the client’s home for color matching, etc.

          Reply
  • Gingernugget April 29, 2015, 6:45 am

    Great article and loving the new mobile friendly layout!

    The article is about trucks but I think it can usefully be applied to almost any purchase as people so often buy sledgehammers to crack a nut. Marketing is out there to fool us into buying that X3000 shnizbanger PRO when a basic product is often more than sufficient for most people’s needs whether related to cars, household appliances, or whatever. Thinking about what you are really trying to achieve with a product and how intensively it will be used is food for thought as things can quite often end up being counter productive, as in the case of spending on more truck than you can afford when the true purpose is to aid in earning you money.

    Reply
  • age_texas April 29, 2015, 6:46 am

    Just prior to reading this I pulled into the office parking lot and chuckled to myself because some dude in his shiny jacked up truck thought it was necessary to park across two parking spots.

    Reply
  • MandalayVA April 29, 2015, 7:16 am

    I routinely refer to trucks as “four-wheeled penises.” However, there is a greater horror–SIX-WHEELED penises exist. Yep, two front tires, four back tires. Two people at my job drive these monstrosities.

    Reply
    • Eldred April 29, 2015, 7:25 am

      Ah, Dualies. I wonder what are people hauling that needs a semi-truck axle on the back…?

      Reply
      • LorenLaurenLorraine April 29, 2015, 7:44 am

        The folks I know with dualies are hauling 5th wheel travel trailers maybe 3 times in the camping season. o_O

        Reply
        • Eldred April 29, 2015, 8:09 am

          So would it be possible to RENT a truck for those 3 occasions? I just checked on a local Enterprise Rental site, and I could rent a Ram 1500 or similar for about $110 per day.
          So assuming 3 days per camping trip, that’s about $1000 per year, more or less. That’s what – 2 months of payments? Then the rest could be banked…

          Reply
          • jestjack April 29, 2015, 9:25 am

            MAN….I had “toyed” with idea of just not having a truck and renting one when I needed it. At the time I could rent one from Home Depot for like $19…forget the number of hours that covered… And Enterprise at the time was like $89 a day with a discount for longer periods…But for me anyway, the numbers just made no sense as sometimes I need a truck for a prolonged period. And having the ability to take advantage of good deal….PRICELESS….

            Reply
          • Kilo April 29, 2015, 12:03 pm

            Technically you’re not allowed to tow with a rental car from Enterprise. Uhaul rents trucks which you can tow with.

            Reply
            • Eldred April 29, 2015, 1:48 pm

              I didn’t realize that, but good info to know. So they could *still* rent a vehicle from U-Haul to tow their 5th wheel. It might not be as ‘comfortable’ as the dualies, but it would still get the job done. And for someone who only hauls cargo once in a blue moon, a rental from either place would suit the purpose.

              Reply
              • LorenLaurenLorraine April 29, 2015, 4:53 pm

                That is good info. Had no idea you could tow with u-haul pick-up.

              • Kilo April 29, 2015, 5:31 pm

                Agreed. UHaul has cheaper daily rate but may charge per mile. I still need to look into logistics. For long trips I used to tow my boat with my diesel jetta but that’s since been replaced by a 2005 corolla and a 2013 focus. The corolla will be fine with my short trips around town but for long trips I would feel more comfortable towing with a van because we generally have 4-5 people and a ton of gear. I need to see what kind of liability I would incur by getting a van/truck from a rental company and sliding a receiver into it. If that is too big of a deal Uhaul van rental will have to do. I can report back with my findings

    • Lindsay April 30, 2015, 6:40 am

      I’ll admit to assuming the bigger the truck, the smaller the…jockstrap.

      Especially if he has “truck nuts” hanging from his trailer hitch. Virtual guarantee that’s the only set of balls associated with that vehicle!

      Reply
      • Karen May 6, 2015, 7:06 am

        I saw a truck with “truck nuts” the other day — at first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, and then — WTF????

        Reply
  • Insourcelife April 29, 2015, 7:59 am

    My brother-in-law, who has a successful contractor business, uses a 1999 Toyota minivan that’s worth 2-3K at most. He likes the fact that the tools are secure and that the materials remain dry. Plus he can put the seats back in and do a weekend getaway with their 3 kids in comfort. Right tool for the job, that’s all there is to it.

    But it’s easy to fall into the truck trap and I did just that when I bought my first brand new vehicle after grad school. A Jeep Wrangler purchased on a 5 year loan was quickly transformed into an off-roading machine with a 4-inch lift, 33-inch tires and other expensive goodies. We did have great times out on the trails but I quickly realized how ridiculous it was to be driving this Wrangler to my office job Mon-Fri. The Jeep was sold and I have no desire to buy a brand new vehicle unsuited for the task at hand ever again. Currently rocking a 6-year old Mini Cooper (40 mpg)/Honda Ruckus scooter (100 mpg) combo to handle the commuting duty and love it!

    Reply

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