Our Cars, Our Selves

What does a car mean to you?

Toyota Sequoia on display. Photo: Johnny N. Source: Carpictures.cc

For some of us it’s basic transportation. For some it’s about reliability. Still others are looking for image, or the latest gadgets, or safety on roads that can be icy or busy or remote and isolated.

People insert meaning into their automobiles. Running errands around town a few years ago, I regularly saw a small, green roadster with the license plate “60MPG.” Clearly, that person was concerned with fuel economy – and wanted to announce their fuel economy to the world. Our cars say something about us, whether we’re trendy, or frugal, or flashy. In high school I had a friend who was obsessed with the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, an Italian-designed sports car built on top of a Beetle chassis. I didn’t understand his fascination until I knew him better. He wasn’t after a car. He wanted an image, an identity.

VW Karmann Ghia. Photo: Sv1ambo. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0

If you grew up with cars that were always breaking down – in front of your friends, or on a remote dirt road, or on vacation – you may really, really want reliability. If you need to travel in snow, sleet, and freezing rain, you may insist on 4-wheel or all-wheel drive and premium snow tires. It’s not just about getting from one place to another. It’s about how we look while we’re getting there.

Auto makers understand this, and they have all kinds of designs for all kinds of people. Whether it’s safety or power or functionality, the car people spend a lot of time and energy thinking about the different segments of their market. They don’t use a seven-question online survey to decide what model we should use. They don’t bring us into a conference room and ask, “What are your goals for your car?” They try to listen and ask questions and adapt the product they’re offering to what we’re looking for.

We see something similar with our money. Money means different things to each of us. We may have an important activity we want to support, or something we particularly want to avoid, or a certain image we wish to present – if only to ourselves. How we achieve our financial goals may be more important than the goals themselves.

Photo: Peer Lawther. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0

It’s like the old saying. Getting there isn’t just half the fun. In some ways, how we get there is just as important as where we go.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Charter Trust Company

“The Best Trust Company in New England”

By |2019-02-04T05:37:07+00:00February 4th, 2019|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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