If someone complains about high price of the parts for his expensive vehicle, this someone probably should not have bought this expensive vehicle. A very old Mercedes costs the same as a brand new Saturn. We chose the brand and assume, we are even on money. Wrong assumption. Insurance aside, we soon discover that a cigarette lighter for Mercedes costs like a windshield for a cheaper car. Old Mercedes is still a Benz.

Some people will go distance for a loud brand name. A luxury car is a statement. Society still believes that a set of wheels is a status symbol of your financial success. No one needs to know that you park your Jaguar at your trailer park residence. A guy sells everything he had and buys a Lamborghini. Good luck with your road trip and a load of speeding tickets.

It is reasonable to care about your safety on the road. Craving latest high-tech traits and upper-class comfort is also justifiable. More luxury, more safety. But how much more? As good as a car can be, there is always something better. Are you happy with your Bugatti Veyron? Not necessarily. There is most likely something else to keep you tempted. Why at all there are cars worth $30 million? Probably, because there is some guy willing to pay this price for it.

And what if you are not this guy?

You still want to show off in a shiny metal box. Sometimes, to impress people you don’t even like (keeping up with the Joneses). Sometimes, to impress people you do like – this widely applies to teenage and post-teen boys, using their auto as bait for hot chicks. But real hot chicks are not stupid, they wouldn’t just swallow the bait, they’ll check for upscale entertainment and posh gifts attached to the wheels. Can these middle-class teen boys offer the whole package? How? Are they all making fortune blogging? It is unlikely to run a successful business at a post-acne age. How much these kids are willing to sacrifice to look impressive?

Older folks, with stabilized testosterone level, are more concerned with impressing their neighbors, friends, co-workers and especially their seniors. With a steady pay check, they often make an ambitious decision, going after impressive brand and brand-new. As an excuse, they proclaim the luxury ride an investment. Wrong again. Cars are liability and this also applies to up-market marques. They do go down in value. And new cars are the worst offenders.

The largest decrease in price occurs in first couple of years. Believe it or not, the best investment would be a car, that’s at least 2 years old. Oh, but we don’t like 'used', 'second-hand', dilapidated. We like the great smell of a brand-new, we like the sweet smell of expensive. That leads us to emotional decisions, we later regret.

There is also a conventional belief that nicer vehicles can get away with traffic violations. Wrong. Statistically, the nicer is your car, the more likely you will get caught. A humble little vehicle can blend into the scenery and violate a red light (excluding camera enforced) or parking rules without a ticket. A luxury vehicle stands out too much to escape. Lavish cars also give the drivers a false sense of entitlement for speeding, that is… well, false.

So, what is your best bet on a car? A proper combination of enjoyable and affordable, and above all, not injuring your self-esteem? Everyone is unique. If you have an expensive taste, in today’s economy you are in trouble. Today you are better off modest and reasonable. The rule of thumb: if a vehicle is worth more than half of your annual income, it’s too expensive. Don’t buy it.

Generally, don’t buy stuff you can’t afford. A fresh idea, isn’t it? Still, many people have trouble understanding and/or accepting it. Remember this SNL skit where Chris Parnell teaches Steve Martin and Amy Poehler the secret to financial success? That was an SNL ‘presentation’ of a book "Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford." Some found the skit funny, some – not so much. As for the book – getting less funny by the day.