Is Buying a Luxury Brand a Waste of Money?

We all deserve the finer things in life, but is it really necessary to have them? Sure, a big house with multiple bedrooms, a swimming pool out back, and an expensive luxury car in the driveway is what most people aim for, but those “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” can quickly become a disturbing wake-up call when it comes to the true cost of ownership.

Aside from a house, buying a car is the second-biggest life decision that you’ll likely make, so it’s important to always do a reality check before doing so. In the automotive world, it’s easy to be drawn to what’s shiny and new, which is why luxury cars exist. But are they really worth spending the extra money on?

An unnecessary necessity

Depending on what your lifestyle requires, owning a car, in general, is technically a luxury in itself. Those who need a car could easily get by day-to-day with a Toyota Prius, but why buy one of those when that nice BMW X5 is calling your name? So what if it’s two times the price, you deserve it, right?

Well, not really. But we’re sure your paygrade keeps telling you otherwise. You might be able to afford the fancier luxury brand, but it’s not always worth it. However, in case your heart tells you that the Audi you have always wanted will complete you, here are a few things to consider.

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BMW X4 luxury crossover SUV on display at Brussels Expo
The 2020 BMW X4 luxury crossover SUV | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Depreciation is a larger factor

We’ve all heard that a car loses “half” its value once you drive it off the lot. Well, it’s not really half, it’s more like a 10-percent loss for less-expensive cars and about 15 percent for luxury cars. Why? Because there’s a larger market for Toyotas and Hondas than there are for Audis and Mercedes-Benz, per se.

Over time, the depreciation amount grows even more. If you own a Honda or Toyota, you can expect it to be worth around 60 percent of its original value after three years (or a typical lease term). And if you own a German luxury car, then you can expect that residual to be around 50 percent after three years. So get ready to take a loss.

Maintenance and repairs cost more

Another factor to consider is maintenance and repairs. The cost of an oil change for a new Honda model is anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on where you take it, but you can expect to pay twice as much for a luxury car. Repair bills are for the faint of heart, either. Parts for any luxury car can easily cost double the amount than your typically Honda or Toyota product.

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The Audi e-tron in Abu Dhabi, Interior

You’ll be more paranoid

Taking the maintenance and repair costs into consideration, along with the fact that you’ll be paying more for insurance as well, you’ll likely be more paranoid when driving a luxury car. Sure, even the most attentive driver can avoid accidents, but if you’re driving and $80,000 luxury car, then you’ll likely always have doom and gloom in the back your mind. Whereas, if you were driving a cheap Nissan Sentra you probably wouldn’t care.

Also, if you have kids, then keep in mind that the interior is going to get dirty no matter how hard you try. So if you really want that luxury badge, then we suggest wrapping those nice Alcantara and leather seats in some kind of plastic wrap because the next few years aren’t going to be pretty.

With great prestige comes great responsibility

If you do decide to buy a luxury car, then, by all means, make your dreams come true. Just keep those factors we mentioned in mind. But if you’re only looking to keep up with the Joneses, at least in your head, then we suggest a cheaper option, like a Honda Civic or a Prius. After all, you really don’t need that much car, do you?