Stupid Tax on Wheels (But not mine!)

Saturday afternoon when I went in to work, the opening driver was very busy showing off his “ton of debt,” as he described it at first.  Now, y’all know me…my ears perked up at the word debt and I immediately started asking questions.  His ton of debt is quite literally a TON!  He financed a brand new GMC truck, all red and shiny and chrome sitting in the sunlight, with the temporary tags dark and readable in the back window.  He had finished up the paperwork maybe an hour before he was scheduled in for work.

The night before, he had been driving a cute little 1995 Ford Ranger XLT extended cab which was coincidentally also purple…basically a two year younger version of my purple truck I got hubby last month.  I just had to ask what was so wrong with that Ranger to necessitate the literal ton of debt.  He hemmed and hawed a bit: “Well, the clutch was going out on it, and it needed new tires, and the AC needed to be recharged…”  I started to point out that it probably wasn’t the clutch but the slave cylinder, but he wasn’t interested.

Then I grabbed a piece of paper and asked if I had heard his payment correctly: $297 per month.  I asked how many months, and he had to think about it before remembering he had signed up for 72 months of payments.  I did the math out on the paper while he mentioned the financing guy at the carlot had already shown him the numbers and it would be about $17,000.  I had to break the news to him that the car lot lied, because he would pay $21,384!  I asked him if he thought tires, clutch replacement, and AC recharging would cost more than that.  It was then the truth came out: “Basically, I’ve had the Ranger for six years and I’m tired of it.”  He didn’t want to discuss the subject any more with me, although I heard him bragging about the truck to the other employees the rest of the evening.

I don’t know a whole lot about this guy, other than he is in his early 20s (college age) and works delivering pizzas on the weekends.  I’m not sure if he has another job, but if he doesn’t I don’t see how he will pay the auto loan note plus the full coverage insurance on a brand new (red) truck on minimum wage plus tips.  I’m also having a hard time understanding the mindset that makes people want to pay that much for a ton of steel and tires that will be discarded in about six more years the same way he is discarding his old Ranger.  When I asked what he was doing with the Ranger, he commented he was selling it to his parents for only $500 “but it isn’t even worth that!”  He used the same tone of voice someone would use if they had sold a bag of garbage for two bucks.

So please, new car buyers and fans, please explain this mentality to me.  I really don’t understand it!  Why pay so much for so long when by the time it’s paid off it will be considered “worthless” and you will need to repeat the process, and the debt, all over again?