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.
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.
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”