What Matters


What Matters

Every now and then I’ll have someone tease me about my beat-up car.

It’s old, scratched up, and so far has survived 16 years, four different owners, and a minor crash.

People ask me why I don’t buy a nicer car. A car that I know won’t suddenly breakdown on me because it has over 210,000 miles on it.

Truthfully, I know almost nothing about cars. Never cared for them, never was curious about how they worked, and when a flashy sports car drives by me I take a quick glance and carry onward with my day before forgetting about it a couple seconds later.

Cars are so far down my list of priorities that I don’t see the point in upgrading my own.

But… Every now and then, the comments get to me. Why am I not driving something nicer?

Last month, I was driving to a restaurant with a girl I had recently met. One of the first things she mentioned to me when she got in my car was about how old and scratched the car was.

For a split-second, I suddenly found myself getting defensive. I felt embarrassed and started trying to justify why I was driving such a car.

Then I remembered something. Wait a minute. I don’t care about cars! If cars were high on my list of priorities then I would’ve bought another car long ago.

Honestly, there aren’t very many things that I do care to spend money on.

What matters most to me are experiences and people. That’s where I loosen the purse strings a bit.

I’m more than happy to spend money on a vacation with my best buddies, for example, but the idea of throwing down thousands to upgrade to a nicer car makes no sense to me. My current vehicle works. If it isn’t broken why fix it?

There’s nothing wrong with people who do like spending money on the newest and best cars. I have nothing against that. If I were into cars, then I would spend money on them.

For me personally though, they’re just not high on my list of priorities.

Every two weeks, I check my personal expenses to keep track of where my money’s going and to make sure I don’t go off the rails.

Each time I look at the expense reports, I can see that I’m spending my money on experiences, whether that’s dining out with friends or plane tickets to a new destination.

That’s just fine with me.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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14 responses to What Matters

  1. The most fun I ever had was in my own and my friends classic and well broken in cars. We’d drive 1000 miles to the Quebec wilderness, looking for a nice private campsite. All the while burning oil, double-clutching, and starting the car with a screwdriver between the posts of the starter motor cause the keys wouldn’t work. Then the huge bears came in to see what all the smoking bacon was about.

    When Jen joined me in the backseat of the 510, totally naked, by the old railroad, a cloud of lust and vibration knocked that old chassis to all the directions of the compass. And then we saw the face. Peering and leering through the back window. Jen screamed, albeit a whisper in my ear. You see, just a few months before 2 midnight lovers were murdered not far, maybe a mile away. And what the hell were we going to do all wrapped up like were.

    A kicking roll into the driver’s seat, brake released and shifter in neutral, we rolled towards the tracks. Popped the clutch, engine kicked in and off we went through the weeds, lumps, ruts, and warning signs. Straight, or the best we could do, to the tracks service lane, pulling our clothes on as we flew.

    Old cars are like old friends. Lots of good remembrances. Tales to tell.

  2. Wonderful post, Vincent!

    So wise for your age!

    Material things don’t bring happiness. And if they do, it will be for a short time.
    Experiences and people, a life lived with values, bringing value to others…
    These are the things that bring happiness.

    Bless you, my young friend!

  3. I have learnt a very good lesson today when I was thinking to buy a better looking car for my husband . He does not let me spend money on anything which is just replacing a thing you already have . I do understand we have other priorities. Fancy cars and expensive houses can be priorities for those who are rich but being human and serving humanity with excess means is best option for me .Thank you for sharing your priorities.

    • I don’t think fancy cars are reserved for the rich at all. I know some people who make a modest living and choose to have good cars because that’s something they enjoy. No judgments there if it’s something you’d like to have. As long as you budget appropriately and you’re not breaking the bank!

  4. Hi Vincent, I liked your article and I admire you. When I look back into my life and review what were my priorities when I was in your age, I feel sorry for what I really spent my money on, nice cars, buying new clothes every months. While I could have done for better experiences, but I am trying to do what I have missed when I was young.
    good luck

    • Borna, don’t feel bad looking back. Those are things you can’t change as the moment is gone. Let’s look forward and focus on what we can control. The present is happening now.

  5. Great, life and people are more important, you have your priorities right. Smart guy. Some girl is going to be lucky.

  6. Hey Vincent – you’ve got science backing you up there. Most research shows that buying experiences over possessions leads to much greater happiness:)

  7. Hi, I really love reading your post, always very real and so natural. As they say ” good things happen when we set our priorities”, we can but things but memories and experiences never. Thanks for sharing a great post.

  8. Vince of all the things you have said, really got me thinking about my life and where I am headed. My boyfriend and I don’t see eye to eye anymore, he is insecure about me being on Craigslist looking for a hook up which is not true. I am trying to find a job so I can save up some money. A few days ago I decided to become avon representative, as a side gig BTW we are staying in his parents garage and to make things worse, he cheats on me and say I lie, cheat and deceive people when he is the one who doing it. I am so done. I am in Sacramento.

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