We all know one …
… you know, (usually) the guy who goes out and buys the biggest ‘muscle car’ that he can afford.
His # 1 criteria is the Number of Horses that fit under the hood of the car.
Unfortunately, those cars usually can’t get to/from the corner store as quickly as Little Johnny on his BMX bike (traffic and traffic lights), and they certainly can’t get around the track quicker than that guy from school who was always tinkering with engines and stuff … you know, Tony Romularo in his souped up 80’s bright red Alfa Sud, you know, that little Italian car with the tricked up suspension?!
You see, the muscle car has a a problem: weight.
In order to carry the engine … and, have the BIG/POWERFUL car look that muscle-car-lovers crave … these cars usually have to be big and heavy. That means that they can be slower than the simple measure of horsepower can lead you to believe.
So, you can do what others do … look for results: look at the specs, skim right past the power rating, and go straight to the only kind of performance that really matters – the one that takes into account BOTH Power AND Weight: how fast will the car do the 0 to 60 mph?
That’s the kind of results that I’m after … if it’s under 5.5 seconds, I’m there, Baby!
But, are you?
How do you explain Little Johnny and the trip to the shops? Or Tony and his ‘tricked up’ Alfa?
Of course you can’t unless you take a look at your overall objective first:
– If you want the most powerful car that you can buy, go ahead and buy the Muscle Car (after all, it looks good, sounds great, and you’ll be a hit with your mates at the pub), but
– If you want to get from A to B in the [Insert criteria of choice: fastest time possible, safest means possible, greenest way possible, lowest cost way possible … or, any specific combination thereof] then you have a more complex decision to make that may or may not include buying the biggest engine you can find.
Do you see where this is going?
There are so many financial ‘truths’ out there:
– Buy dividend stocks
– Max your 401k
– Choose only the most ‘tax advantaged’ real-estate
– and, there are many, many more
Each, in its own way, is like just one aspect of a [financial] vehicle: one is like the engine, another like the suspension, and another like the type of fuel you put into it …
… you COULD take on any of these just because it’s there; after all, millions do.
But, wouldn’t it be smarter to first look at your financial destination (your Number), the time that you have available to get there (your Date), and the skills/knowledge/interest/aptitude that you can apply, then look at the range of ‘vehicles’ (i.e. your Growth Engines) available to get you there and select only the most appropriate for you?
I like to think so …
So, how did my wife choose her current car?
She wanted a luxury, SUV Hybrid … that meant the Lexus R400h. Period.
Does it even save money (no … too damned expensive)? Does it even save the environment (uses as much fuel as the non-hybrid R300; and, what happens with the batteries once they need to be disposed of)? And, is it even a good SUV or a real ‘luxury’ vehicle (doesn’t even have keyless entry)?
And, how did I choose my current car:
– Performance: 0 – 60 sub 5 seconds
– Convenience: 4 ‘real’ seats to carry the kids in the back
– Handling: Had to be ‘nifty’ around a track
– Safety: Had to have a high safety rating; good crash test results; airbags and other safety features
– Convertible: Had to have a metal-folding roof
But, even those are merely a list of features: I wanted a car that I could use all year around (be a true convertible in summer; a true coupe in winter … and able to flip/flop between the two at the drop of a hat); be a lot of fun (but safe), and be fast’n’fun – and safe – both on the road and on the track.
That pretty much meant the BMW M3 … fortunately, price tag (and, fuel consumption) was never on my list of criteria or I may have been ‘forced’ to go for the VW EOS 🙂