1. It was cheap. Let’s just call a spade a spade. When I first got the Toyota, my life was much different. I was 24 years old and nearly broke after spending two years in Washington, DC. I used public transportation (and rides from friends) to travel around the city but things were about to change. I was moving to Florida to begin medical school and needed a car of my own. Considering my subpar savings rate, I also needed one that was affordable. This Toyota was about 3 years old with only 30,000 miles and in my price range. I bought it for $10,000.
2. It’s reliable. During my time in medical school this car was extremely reliable. It never broke down, overheated, or required expensive maintenance. I got oil changes every 3 months and was able to move from point A to point B with zero complaints. As a current resident physician, I feel the same way. Whether it’s to and from the hospital or back and forth to my family’s place, I can easily drive around the city with no problems.
3. It allows me to be discreet. Although I love my Corolla, it looks a little dated. As a 2012, it has an older body style and doesn’t shine like it used to. There is no camera screen for me to look at when the car is in reverse. There is no blinker on the side mirrors to alert me when someone is driving in my blind spot. While the older look and lack of updated features may be deal-breakers for some people, I’ve gotten used to my car the way it is. Driving it around allows me to fly under the radar. No one assumes a doctor would drive this car, so being in it gives me a chance to be a little more discreet. It also allows me to resist society’s expectation of doctors that causes physicians to inflate their lifestyles too quickly.
4. It saves me a ton of money. Driving an older car has its perks. Perhaps the biggest one is that I don’t have a car note. While many people spend $400-600 on their monthly car payment, I don’t. This means I have an extra $5,000-$7,000 each year that I can use on other things like saving for retirement, paying down student loans, or splurging on an expensive vacation. Along with not having a car payment, I also save money in other ways. Since my car is older, I’m not as concerned with how it looks. If I happen to discover a minor scratch or small dent, I don’t feel compelled to spend extra money getting it fixed. Plus, I never have to worry about anyone trying to steal it or anything in it.
5. It keeps me humble. If I ever start to think more highly of myself than I ought, I’m often quickly humbled when I look at my car next to the rest of the vehicles in the physician parking lot. While some doctors may start to feel a little envious, I’ve taken a different approach. Humility and gratitude. Despite its outdated look, my car is a constant reminder that I drive a vehicle that is completely paid off. It’s a reminder that I’m driving this car to pay down debt, save money for retirement, and increase my net worth. This attitude of humility and gratitude has also enhanced other areas of my life. It removes any roots of arrogance and gives me the “drive” I need to work even harder, treat others with respect, and maintain better relationships with those around me.
So yes, I’m a medical doctor who still drives a Toyota Corolla…and I plan to keep doing so for the near (and distant) future.
Tell me, have you ever considered driving a different type of car to save money and meet your financial goals faster?