Many people, especially in urban centers where bike lanes and public transportation are readily available, no longer have the need or desire to own a vehicle. They choose to opt out of car ownership for a variety of reasons, from being ecologically conscious to simply not being able to afford one anymore. Indeed, the trend across the board, from housing to lawn care items, has been shifting from from an ownership-minded culture to that of renting as the middle class continues to be in jeopardy for it’s very existence.
I understand why people think this way, especially in the short term, but at Planet Haley we always like to keep the endgame in mind; and the endgame here is to become owners. Going from nothing to something, just like all those rap songs you like to blast in your 20-year old beater. In this edition of Planet Haley, we’re going to explore the various ways to apply the principles taught in one of my favorite books, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, to car ownership.
The book teaches how different social classes approach ownership:
- The Poor buy liabilities, things that don’t make them money, but may make them feel better about their situations temporarily. (The underlying psychological reasoning for this is a discussion for another time, but one of my favorite writers, John Cheese, at Cracked, does a much better job of explaining it than I ever could.)
- The Middle Class buy liabilities that they think are assets, such as their home or a fancy new computer. Sure, a home can be a great investment, but will cost you money in maintenance and taxes that do all of jack shit to help improve your bottom line. Purchasing a nice house to live in is great and all, but will end up costing you money and not make you anything, unless you’re renting out the loft over your garage to your weird cousin or running a t-shirt factory out of your basement. We’ll be exploring ideas to turn your home into a cash-generating commodity in a later article on this blog.
- The Rich, however, understand the difference between assets and liabilities and spend the majority of their money purchasing assets that, in turn, generate more money so they can purchase more assets and blah blah blah exponential growth blah blah blah.
The basic take away from this is that every. single. purchase. you make is either something that is going to make you money (asset) or cost you money (liability) , and you need to understand the difference between the two and become conscious of how your spending habits are either helping or hurting you if you want to become financially secure.
I live in a historically blue collar suburb; mobility is important where I am in order to get shit done and make money- I can’t rely on SEMTA (Southeast Michigan Transit Authority, a fancy name for the buses around here) to get me to networking events, client meetings, and my day job. Some of these events are time-sensitive, and I learned the hard way in the past that “the buses weren’t running today so I walked two miles to work” is not an acceptable excuse to your employer for being 45 minutes late to a shift, and he’s probably going to be unsympathetic about the fact that its below freezing outside and your four year old designer boots are held together with duct tape because you’re too cheap to buy a new pair, there’s nothing cute at Goodwill, and his bitch ass won’t give you a raise. A car is necessary where I live, but nobody wants to buy a $500 beater on Craigslist that’s going to need repairs in 3 weeks (Done this as well. Do not attempt unless you have advanced working mechanical knowledge and a friend with questionable morals who works at the local underground chopshop/junkyard.)
This brings us to a bit of a conundrum: a car is necessary, but it is a liability because it will cost you money in car insurance, fuel, parking, and interest (anything not a total hunk of garbage you probably had to finance, since you, like almost every other American, has all of nothing in their savings account). How can you turn this liability into an asset?
FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE YOUR CAR MAKE MONEY FOR YOU!
- Drive for Lyft or Uber. This is kind of a “duh.” A handful of people I know are drivers, and make okay money doing it, but their car insurance goes up and every night is a gamble. You will also need to pay for a safety inspection to make sure your car is “safe.” I know, your friends don’t really give a shit if your A/C works as long as you’re not enforcing the “cash, ass, or grass” policy when dropping them off at the skatepark, but they’re worried about their corporate image like any big company. However, if you give up a few Friday nights at the club to cruise around in your whip making some cheddar, you can easily knock out that car payment and have some extra cash on the side to stuff into whatever app you’re using to invest in mutual funds (You should be doing this. Why aren’t you?! I use Stash. Invest $10 a week. You won’t miss it, I promise. That’s like a meal at Taco Bell, dude.) or use to pay off that car quicker. Against popular opinion, Planet Haley believes having too much debt is a bad thing, and you should pay off what you owe quickly and pay for things in full in cash whenever possible. Don’t forget to stuff some of those earnings into a savings account as well, so you can invest in more assets later!
- Rent out the sides of your car for advertising This is a more passive stream of income, and can be done in sync or independently of #1. Find some large, cool magnets that can have ads on them and see if local businesses are willing to print and pay you for driving around with them on the sides of your car, turning it into a mobile billboard. If you do this, I would recommend having the business pay for the production of the magnets as well as pay you $50-$100 a month to have them on your car. Four magnets at $100/month will more than cover your car payment and insurance with little effort on your part. I got this idea at my day job, Second Step Advertising, while flipping through one of our catalogs. Four Rectangular 12″x24″ magnets will run about $14/piece, not including set up and shipping costs, so this is affordable for many small businesses who are budget-conscious. As always, choose who you represent wisely. Maybe a local organic grocery or the gym you do yoga at as opposed to a large chemical manufacturer that used to dump caustic chemical waste into the Detroit River?
What are some other ways you can use your car to make money, besides getting a job delivering pizza? Discuss in the comments!