Each week I show up to work focused on my patients and getting my work done. I’ve been at my job over half a year, which apparently is enough time for a large number of people to know what kind of car I drive. I recently had an encounter with a fellow physician and nurse that took me by surprise. They both commented on what kind of car I have and somewhat jokingly asked if I “Know that I am a Doctor.” Apparently, the car that I drive did not fit into their ideal for what a doctor should drive. But what kind of car should a doctor drive?
Taking Duke for a ride
The Physician Parking Lot
The physician parking lot at the hospital I work at is a dichotomy of luxury cars and practical cars. The favorite luxury cars among the doctors are BMW’s, Mercedes, Maserati’s, GTR’s, and Porsche’s. The other cars in the parking lot mimic many of the average cars on the road. These include Toyota’s, Fords, Chevy’s, and Nissan’s.
I drive an average car. A Ford Escape from 2009, an 8-year-old car.
It seems that the nicer the car you drive, the quicker word will spread around the hospital. One doctor bought a new Maserati and decided to drive it to work. It was a matter of hours before this car was the topic of discussion of all nurses stations and the doctors lounge. Cars like this are meant to build attention. It sure did the trick
Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation
Cars are deprecating assets. Spending money on a loan to buy a car that will be worth less one year from now is a lose-lose situation. Yes, I get transportation out of the deal. However, I pay interest each month to have an asset that deprecates with every additional day.
New doctors such as myself graduate with a lot of student loan debt. I could go to the bank and get a car loan, but at the cost of extending debt repayment for months to years.
Recently I started to pick up extra shifts to pay down my debt. I recommend it to everyone. It’s the single greatest reminder that spending habits have consequences. Each shift is a reminder that if I would have spent less, I could have spent this time working doing things that I wanted to do instead.
Spending money beyond a regular salary budget requires selling my time, energy, and life for a relatively small amount of money. To me, having an expensive BMW or luxury car may be nice to have, but it’s not worth picking up extra shifts at this point in my career. Now, If I had a million dollars in cash, then I would reconsider things.
I’m Glad That Other People Are Buying Nice Cars
I don’t have any problem with the person who decides to buy a nice car. I don’t know the financial status of the physician who bought the Maserati. For all I know he could be worth millions. To him, that car purchase may have been a very small part of his net worth where it was easily justified. It’s not my place to judge if that purchase was right or wrong.
Avoiding Living Up To How Others Think You Should Be Spending Money
The nurse who asked me if I knew I was a doctor asked a very powerful question. Some people judge based on flashy appearances, material possessions, or what their idea of being rich means. I think that the biggest factor in happiness is accepting how I choose to live my life. Buying a nice flashy car would be fine if that was something I cared deeply about. But, buying the car to live up to an image that other people have of doctors would be a wrong reason to make such an expensive purchase. Doing things to impress others will rarely work out in your favor.
Drive whatever car makes you happy, as long as it’s within financial means for your budget. I’ll treat this car just like the last car I owned. Finally sold it when it has almost 200,000 miles and was needing more in repairs than it was worth.
If buying a nice luxury car is a choice you choose to make, do it for the right reasons, not because it’s what might be expected of physicians to drive.