I’m ashamed I needed men’s advice to buy a car

A few months ago I bought a new car – a sporty Subaru Impreza wagon in a dusty blue. Cute, fun to drive, safe — and really great gas mileage.

But before I negotiated a sweet 1.9% APR on my ride and programed NPR on the stereo, I did tons of research, asked lots of questions — and, I’m embarrassed to say — sought out the advice of men.

Buying a car is a big deal, but it’s no rocket science. I’m a smart person. I’ve bought a few cars in my day. But when deciding between a the Mazda, Hyundai and the Impreza, I was stumped. One was a bit cheaper. The other a tiny bit safer. A third a smidge roomier. I felt stuck. I called my eldest brother, Jac, to help me think it through. Not because he’s especially interested in cars or is a grease monkey. Yes, he’s a practical person. Smart. We share similar sensibilities when it comes to personal finance.

He’s also a boy.

Flash-forward a few days when I attended a party with my kids. The adults were enjoying BBQ and beers in the backyard and at one point I was sitting near a group of the dads. True, one I is a car aficionado. The others I don’t know too well. So why did I ask them collectively to help me pick a ride?

I’ll tell you why: I’m a goddamned girl.

This gender-stereotypical nonsense irks me. There are plenty of times in my life when I ask for advice. Most of my closest friends are women. So when it comes to things about business, or relationships or parenting – I’m seeking sage wisdom from women the majority of the time. The other thing: I make my own decisions. If I screw up a major purchase like a car, buy the wrong one or overpay, well, that is my problem.

So what is up with me and the car and the guys?

Maybe I felt insecure about the move. Maybe I secretly wanted someone to make the right choice. Someone to rescue me. And by “someone” I mean a man.

And so, unconsciously, I played the ultimate girl. “Ooooh! Help me buy a car! Little ol’ me doesn’t understand such complicated machines! Ooops! I dropped my handkerchief! Oh, you’re such a big, strong man to come and help me!”

Or maybe, without really thinking about it, I was just being realistic. Here’s the thing: guys really are more interested in cars. They just are. My female friends are all smart, competent people who buy cars. But they don’t care as much. It’s sexist and ridiculous. But it is. It just is, I intuitively know that. On one level, I accept it.

And so I did what I always do when faced with a tough decision. I research the hell out of it. Talk it through with others (in this case, all dudes). Then, before going to sleep one night, I told myself: “When you wake up you’ll know the right decision.”

My new Subaru has been awesome. And it is all mine.

Related post: Single moms have too few choices? Bullshit!

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list. Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

7 Comments

  1. Carmela on December 30, 2013 at 3:05 am

    I’ll never forget the time I held my 8 month old nephew in my lap while we waited in my parked car for his dad to return from the store. He grabbed hold of the steering wheel and pretended to drive the car. Did I mention he was 8 months old? That moment changed how I view men: they’re hard-wired to enjoying cars and driving. That extra testosterone needs an outlet, and cars are it.

  2. Emma on December 30, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Interesting! But why do cars provide that outlet? I know it’s true, but WHY?!!??

  3. Carmela on December 30, 2013 at 10:05 am

    It’s got something to do with extra energy and aggression, which translates into a need for power and movement, which translates to cars and driving. Also penises, and a fear of losing them; it’s why men hate getting cut off on the highway. :)

  4. Richard on December 30, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I’ve heard it said that men get confidence from anything that can be measured and compared. Cars clearly provide an endless outlet for that. Unfortunately when I’m looking for a car I need to first talk to others who know more about them (that is, anything at all) and who have a sense of practicality and well-tuned financial consideration. Somehow the pleasure in all the numbers ends a little short of measuring the statistical significance of anecdotes about brand reliability and only rarely includes safety measures (except the Tesla which is cool because it broke the safety measuring equipment).

    I like this list although I completely ignored it last time and found the cheapest car in town that could be called safe: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/.

    • Emma on January 1, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Richard – great insights. Makes sense!

  5. Jenny on January 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Buying a car is a huge decision. When you are a single mom, every minute matters and there is little time left to do detailed research. You also want to invest in a safe car that won’t break your budget. It makes sense to me to seek a man’s advice. I’ve done it and got a great deal as a result – no shame there!

  6. Jess on July 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve just read your interview Maria, and it’s so nice to get to know you a litlte better! As you know, I love your blog and also the lovely Zaira’s, so thanks for sharing a litlte of your design philosophy with us. Have a wonderful week, K xx

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