I love my car but not to point that I'd give it a name or go nuts for every scratch it gets. That'd be completely missing the point.

Most people that know me think that my mind revolves around money- either I’m thinking about accumulating more of it or how to spend less of it. People that know me personally also know that I drive. It’s pretty hard to reconcile the two (making more money and buying a car) in Singapore where cars (on top of being depreciable assets) are slapped with taxes that make buying a car one of the most monetarily herculean tasks in Singapore for most people. For example, a 1.8L Honda Civic in the UK costs about SGD37,465 (18,990 GBP) while a similar 1.8L Civic in Singapore costs SGD125,900. I’m pretty sure there might be some taxes or what-nots for the British case but I don’t think it’s enough to make up the difference of more than 300%.

So with the big, big benefit of hindsight, let me explain how buying this car has possibly been one of the best decisions of my  life.

First, let me start off by describing my initial situation. My grandfather passed his old car to me when he bought a new one and my initial thoughts were to sell the car. After all, that would have easily fetched me SGD30,000 and save me the high costs of owning a car (taxes and parking charges) that I would incur. SGD 30,000 is no small sum, especially when you consider that I have the bulk of my investing lifetime ahead of me- that’s about SGD 211,000 compounded at 5% for the next 40 years (SGD1.35 million if I can compound it at 10%). These aren’t trivial amounts.

To make things even worse, that old car started giving me problems so I was faced with the decision of buying a new one or keeping the proceeds from the sale. I bought a new car, incurring a level of debt that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Only plus point was that the COE at that time was a steal.

However, if I had not bought a new car I would have never been able to offer daily lifts to the woman who would eventually be my wife. I would probably have never have gotten to know her well enough to make that decision. Since then, we’ve also explored tons of other places that would otherwise be considered far-flung by Singapore’s public transportation standards. There is also the spontaneity of deciding to go for walks after dinner at parks that we love.

Having the car gives us options and reading about this place that we’re going to check out made me realise that despite the huge opportunity cost and direct costs that I knowingly incur in owning a car, the decision was well worth it.

So, with the incredible benefit of hindsight I can proudly say that the lesson that I learnt is that it’s the experiences and relationships you gather in your finite lifetime that matter. Money is merely an enabler.

PS: Do not get a car if you can’t afford one. As cautioned, there are huge costs (upfront as well as running or in econspeak: fixed and variable) involved in owning one in Singapore. If owning a car means that you have to sacrifice either food for sustenance, sleep, appropriate levels of insurance, health, an investment portfolio for financial freedom or any combination of the afore-mentioned, then you should seriously ditch the idea.

PPS: Love stories exist on the buses and trains too. In fact, I think those make for great dramas.

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