Why We’ll Never Be the Joneses

Why We're Not The Joneses - picture of New or Used license plate

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Just the other day, I noticed a giant crack stretching across the entire front bumper of my periwinkle minivan.  I didn’t really care how it looked, but it did stress me out a little.  After all, I didn’t want it to fall off, drag against the ground, or cause an accident.

When my husband got home, I asked him what he thought we should do.

“It’s a nice car,” he said.  “We should probably get it fixed.”


So, later that night, I did some research to see what I could come up with.  According to the Kelley Blue Book, my amazing vehicle is only worth a mere $4,000 at this point, and that’s without accounting for the ugly and cracked bumper.  So, the next morning, I called a local body shop to see what it might cost to repair or replace the broken part.

“It will cost at least $500 or $600,” they told me.  “Maybe more.”


That pretty much sealed the deal in my eyes.  I mean, a cracked bumper is just not that big of a deal.  Let’s face it: Nothing looks cool with two car seats in the back anyway, am I right?  When Greg got home that day, I thought I might need to convince him that it was a total waste to pay for the repair.  But, as usual, he saw things my way.

“It doesn’t make any sense to fix it,”  I told Greg.  “Who gives a shit?”

“I sure as hell don’t,” he said.

God I love that man.

Taping Your Car: All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

A few days later, we headed to Walmart to find a solution to our problem.  And while we started by looking for some sort of DSCF3425automotive glue, we eventually stumbled upon an entire rack of automotive duct tape.  Yes, that’s a thing.  Judging by how many different kinds of automotive tape they had on display, it seems like taping your car is actually quite commonplace.  Anyway, we totally bought some and brought it home to see if it would work.

Now, keep in mind that I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood.  Our house is one of the cheapest by far and we’re part of a small minority that doesn’t own a Lexxus, a boat, or some other fancy contraption.  So, when I was duct-taping my car, a crowd began to gather.  Well not really, but a few of my neighbors did saunter over to ask what I was doing.

I’m taping my car,” I yelled.  “Isn’t it obvious?”

What the Joneses Would Do

We all know what the Joneses would do in this situation.  They would drive their broken minivan straight to the dealership and upgrade into something snazzy like a Mazda CX-5 or a Hyundai Santa Fe.  And of course they’d finance it for at least 5 years and pay oodles of interest for the privilege.  Or, better yet, they’d get a zero percent interest offer and upgrade to an even bigger and better family car like a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Hummer, all while convincing themselves that they’re getting one hell of a deal.

But I’m not the Joneses, damn it.  And, judging by the fact that you’re reading my blog, I’m guessing that you aren’t either.  It makes zero sense to trade in a perfectly reliable car because of a harmless little crack.  Why?  Because my car is 100% paid-off and has been for several years.  On top of that, I’ve only put around 50,000 miles on it, insurance is cheap, and I just plain like it.  I don’t care if I look like white trash driving it, there’s just no way I’m trading it in, selling it, or taking any kind of loss, capiche?

We’ll Never Be the Joneses

And that’s why we’ll never be the Joneses.  Keeping up with your neighbors can be expensive, especially when they’re busy trying to outdo each other.  No thanks.  I would much rather have money in the bank than drive something that isn’t a reflection of my values.  And quite frankly, a minivan with a duct-taped bumper is actually a fair representation of who I am: Imperfect, but debt-free, reliable, and awesome.

Do you try to keep up with the Joneses?  Would you be embarrassed driving a car with duct tape?


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  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with duct taping your vehicle, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to ride around in it. If I lived in that kind of neighborhood I might have turned the car around in the driveway so my neighbors couldn’t so easily see what I was doing, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’d be embarrassed to be seen doing or if it’s because it would bother me to have them all come up and ask- I’d consider it nosy I think. And nosy neighbors drive me crazy!

  2. I’ve had to tape my wing mirror on before because some A-hole decided to kick it off and leave their grabby footprint on my car too. So I’ve definitely been there. As for keeping up with the Jones, I’m definately guilty of doing this. I so regret it. I upgraded twice to more expensive cars and now I’m doing all I can to pay the damn thing off. Never again!

    1. I hear ya. We did the same in our young, stupid days! We traded in cars all the time back in the day!

  3. Haha, I would have done the exact same thing as you! Why spend a ton of money on a repair or a new vehicle when you could just use duct tape or something of that matter and fix it up? To me, a car is not an asset so why pump money into it unnecessarily? That’s funny. Maybe you can paint the duct tape periwinkle!

    1. That would probably make it look a little better~

  4. I was going to say they have so many colors of duct tape that you could get one that matches. We actually have one car with the same type of thing on it and you can barely tell! We may or may not fix it but at this time the duct tape is doing the trick.

    1. Ohhh…..good idea! Light blue or purple would probably look okay.

  5. ha reminds me of my old subaru. The body did not hold up well for some reason, so you could see every minor thing that ever happened to it. I’m sure I could have gotten it fixed to look prettier too, but I just didn’t want to spend the money. Unfortunately when your car dies completely, you do have to buy a new one and potentially finance it, which is what I had to do. 🙁 But I would have easily driven that thing a few more years.

  6. SO funny!! I had no idea that they even sold automotive duct tape, but that is awesome to know! Did you check with your insurance company about fixing the crack? If it wouldn’t make your premiums go up, it might make sense. But I feel your pain with the neighborhood. We have two Toyotas and we are in the minority and our cars definitely get looked down on, but every time I see them in their Mercedes and Lexus cars, I just think they are stupid for wasting money.

    1. I don’t have collision on that car- just liability!

  7. We were a one-car family many, many years ago when my sister gave us her old, neon-green Renault “Le Car”! We were so excited to finally have a second car, that we barely noticed that the front side mirror was held on with silver duct tape, the front bumper was tied on with rope, and the “choke” in the car had a broken knob (since my sister loved us, she included the needle-nose pliers used to pull out the “choke” to start the car!). I’m sure that our neighbors were horrified, but that little car lasted us 2 years — just the amount of time it took us to save up for a new Toyota. Yep, no one could call us the “Jones” either!

    1. Sounds like a wonderful car! I’m glad that it lasted for two years =) That’s a long time to drive something for free.

  8. This is a funny story! Allow me to say that I would definitely do the same thing if I was in your position. I’d pick being wise than looking cool anytime. That’s a great decision, Holly! Two thumbs up to Club Thrifty!

  9. If something happened to my 07 Corolla right now, I’d definitely duct tape it. I bought it already beat up. It looks like the former owner tried to hammer the gas door shut and there is a square sized hole in the front bumper. I don’t have to worry about cleaning the dog slobber from the back windows because it’s not like it matters. 😀

    1. I feel the same way. I just don’t get why having a nice car matters anyways. Shopping carts run into them. Birds shit on them, etc. To me, there is just no point.

  10. Haha awesome! I will say that we do have nice cars, but it’s not to keep up with the Joneses. We are both just car fanatics 🙂

      1. Michelle, you just got BURNED!!!

        Damn, Holly, you have a feisty attitude, don’t you?

  11. I have lain under our cars in the past to replace a starter motor and speed sensors, as well as just do plain old oil changes. I see nothing wrong with taping a bumper, assuming that the fix will hold. A possibly more permanent fix than tape would be to drill through the hanging part of the bumper in two locations on opposite sides the the nearest bracket, and then use stainless steel safety wire to tie it in place. Duct tape and safety wire can fix most anything.

    1. We might have to do something like that at a certain point. The duct tape is holding for now, but I’m not sure how long it will stay that way.

  12. Holly, that was hilarious! Reminds me of a time when my husband hit a pig with our 1991 Toyota Corolla. It was completely messed up and everyone told us to just take it to junk yard.

    Nope! We fixed it up with mismatched parts and kept on driving it for 5 more years. I affectionately referred to it as “Frankenstein.” At the same time we were traveling all over Europe and everyone kept asking us how we could afford it! 🙂

    1. You could afford it because you weren’t paying a huge car payment! Duh! =)

  13. This is genius, I had no idea such a thing existed. My poor 2002 Saturn has a cracked fender after my wife backed into it last Mother’s Day, after getting out of the hospital with pre-term labor with our twins. LOL

    Maybe I can tape it up but still remind her how hilariously wrong that whole event was. Great advice! And I doubt you’re the only one in Noblesville that uses duct tape. Well, maybe 🙂

    1. Hey, Walmart has plenty of automotive duct tape- different sizes, colors, etc. You should try it- all the cool kids are doing it!

  14. Wear that car duck tape like a badge of honor! I know it’s duct, but so many people say duck and I don’t think they actually know. There is a brand name of tape now called Duck tape. QUACK

    1. I actually googled it to see how it was spelled before I wrote this! I saw the “Duck” brand and was really confused!

  15. I wouldn’t be embarrassed- you can barely even notice the tape since it’s on the bottom 😛

    1. I agree. It looks better than the giant crack did!

  16. Yankeegal says:

    Love this story!!! I have a good friend whose husband is driving his car with the bumper duct taped-she makes him back it into the driveway! I myself could care less what my car looks like as long as it gets me to where I need to go. You have the right attitude!

    1. I just don’t drive often enough to care. I maybe drive it 2-3 times a week!

  17. Never! You might try color matched tape. LOL! My last car was 17 years old and in pretty good condition, but the visor never stayed put. I would tighten the screw and it lasted a week. It bothered me particularly when the sun was in my eyes, but not enough to do anything about it.

    1. I might look for purple or blue tape….Maybe =)

  18. When we were living in [blue state] we had something similar happen to our car, and it similarly cost more than the car was worth to have it fixed. And tape worked out just fine until the annual car inspection. Which we failed because they said the jagged edge could cut someone or something. So we got rid of the car. Very depressing, but we were going to have to get rid of the car in a year anyway when we moved to the South because it didn’t have air conditioning.

    1. Why did you have an annual car inspection? Never heard of it, but it might just be something in certain states.

      Sadly, I would pay to get my air conditioning fixed- even in my old beater. That is one luxury I don’t want to live without.

      1. Wasn’t a matter of getting the a/c fixed– there wasn’t any a/c to begin with (not particularly important in [blue state])… it was also 2-door and a stickshift.

        We have inspections here too (in fact, 3/4 of the states I’ve owned a car in have some form of car inspection), but they’re much less picky about them. I’m not actually sure what they’re for.

        1. Really? We don’t have them in Indiana. That actually explains why there are so many pieces of shit on the road in this state!

  19. You taped the front? That’s hilarious! I’ve got a cracked windshield and almost all the paint missing off my side mirrors. But the car still runs so I continue to hang on to it.

  20. Okay, I need to check out this automotive duct tape. My boyfriend got into an accident with my car a few years ago now, and we never bothered to fix it. While I didn’t like the dent in the front bumper, it wasn’t worth the money to fix. After the bad winter we had, though, it looks like the damage got worse, so we tried duct taping everything, but it’s been ineffective. Maybe the auto duct tape will actually work! Sadly, we will probably have to get it fixed at some point, lest the part start falling off.

    1. Hey, it might be worth a try. I think the automotive duct tape was something like $4.00.

  21. Okay, I’m a car enthusiast. I take of all our vehicles, motorcycles, tractor, etc. What you have there Holly is “racing tape”. That’s all the neighbors need to know!

    1. Yeah, I like that! Not sure how fast she is though….. =)

  22. Today we sold our sixteen year old car with 187k miles on it and yes I shed a tear. Why? Because it saved us so much damn money over the years. Would I tape my car? Heck ya! We live in an affluent area where the car of choice is a Range Rover and I would still do it. I just love saving money and don’t care what broke people in fancy cars think of me. Btw we paid cash for our 2012 new to us car. Hope it lasts us 20 years!

    50k miles on your car-it’s practically new!

    1. Sweet- I hope it does last you 20 years. It could easily if you take care of it!

      LOL, my car does feel practically new with 50K miles. I hope it lasts forever!

  23. I didn’t even know about the duct tape! When we drove from L.A to Houston for our move, l got one of those cracks than ran along the windscreen stopping just before the driver’s side. I was fretting cos in L.A, you had to repair it. Well in Texas, the cops never stopped you so l drove my car like that for 6 years! 2 years later, my hubby forgot l was parked behind him, and ran into the bumper . He felt so bad, l just twisted 3 of those metal hangers together, looped it around and figured it would hold for a while, which it did..4 years!!! We finally fixed both things when we went to sell it. The car had character..lol.. My neighbors would ask when l was going to fix it..but l didn’t care about things like that. That Beemer was a beast..and we sold it for a great price when we moved! Good for you for the home fix!!!

    1. Haha, that’s awesome. I think it’s great that your car lasted so long. I certainly hope that mine does!

  24. My Dad fixed our car – and his – with duct tape multiple times in the past. We thought it was a bit funny and were a little embarrassed, but now looking back at it I can see how he was just being frugal.

    1. I would’ve been so embarrassed when I was younger!

  25. That’s fantastic! We do a lot of our own maintenance and not just cars. We redid our own kitchen and landscaped our own backyard. It’s a great way to save money. To hell with the Joneses. If that’s a problem then they’re probably not the type of people I want to be friends with anyways.

    1. Landscaping is so expensive- you can save a ton by doing it yourself. We just did the mulch in our backyard. It was a TON of work but worth it!

  26. You guys ROCK!!! I would’ve totally done the same thing. I was just telling my hubby how awesome he is and how much I totally loved the frugal Mother’s Day gift he got me: a 97 cent card and a pack of Double Stuff Oreos – my absolute favorite dessert. Screw the Joneses. 🙂

    1. Awww…that’s nice. My husband got me a flower and I loved it.

  27. This is classic! I’ve never heard of automotive duct tape, but I’d have no problem using something like it. I’d imagine it cost somewhere between $5-10 which meant you saved yourself at least $500. At the end of the day a car is just something to get you from point A to B. As long as the doors aren’t falling off, or something like that, I say go with something like this.

    1. I really don’t drive that much anyway, and I think I have some time before my kids get embarrassed by what I’m driving.

  28. I’ve been embarrassed by my muffler being terrible before. Thank goodness the last time there was a problem it was on the truck and it turned out to only be a mounting clip that was loose and rattling, not the actual muffler, so it only cost about $100 to fix!

  29. Hilarious!

    Yeah.. There is nothing at all wrong with this. You are absolutely doing it wrong if you feel the need to upgrade with every single nick and scratch. That is the recipe for an empty wallet!

  30. I would’ve done the same thing. It looks like a minor fix anyways and is not a safety concern.

    They sell color duck tape as well – so you can try matching the tape to the color of your car hahaha

    1. I’m actually going to try to find a color that matches! A light blue or purple would probably work!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Cars are for enjoyment. You can’t think it’s not okay to buy a car that you enjoy and drive every day of your life. You can’t take money with you when you die. Stop belittling people who buy things they want if they can afford it. I manage my $450 payment just fine thank you very much.

  32. NICE!!! Isn’t it great when you get to a point where you just don’t give a shit about other peoples’ expectations. I really feel sorry for people who buy into the competitive consumerism BS. I’d rather the book of my life be about more than the cover.

  33. Love this post! My bumper has a fender bender scratch. I ran into a concrete block while backing up in a parking lot. I still haven’t fixed it because i don’t want to spend the money to fix the point. Needs it but my car is silver so it’s not super uber noticeable.

  34. Automotive duct tape? Didn’t know that was a thing. My dad has used regular duct tape on his car…I wonder if there’s a difference. I’m with you guys…the car still works so what’s the drama? People are so worried about appearances.

    1. Yeah they are. I might upgrade to colored duct tape but that’s about all I’m willing to do!

  35. My car has a nub where the back windshield wiper should be, a hole chewed in the drivers seat by a squirrel, multiple nicks and dents, and at one point smelled super funky. Duck tape sounds like a step up 😉

  36. Ha, love this. My first car was a Plymouth acclaim (huh?) that backfired nonstop in high school. My second was my parents old maroon Plymouth mini van – complete with duct taped driver and passenger windows. And you know what? I drove that beast like I was the shit, because I had a car, and it got me from point A to B. I’ve learned my lesson buying (or leasing, ugh) new cars, never again! I’d sport some duct tape and wouldn’t think twice about it. Someone above mentioned belittling people who can afford it, but I don’t think that’s the point. “The Jones’ are generally the folks living beyond their means to look good and outdo the people they know. Big difference.

    1. Oh, I drove some crazy older cars in high school. I was just excited to have a car!

  37. First off, I love the tape job! Talk about a great repair! I could never keep up with the Joneses. Well, I guess I could, but then I’d be broke and miserable with a pretty car. Not quite my style.

  38. Be honest you are the Jones’! Could have went to the 99 Cent store, but Wal-Mart you probably paid $5 for that tape, maybe more.

    For those not following along that was sarcasm. Great job on fixing it up, we are worse we kinda just look at the vehicle and say “Well it already has those other ones”

    1. Yeah, I really went “all out” on the duct tape. The shame!

  39. Just a tip- if you ever need to get your car repaired (and especially if it’s a cosmetic piece like your fender) you can ask for a normal quote, and a quote using used parts- ie your new front fender may have originally been on a car the was damaged in the trunk, so the part is used, but is repainted to match your car. When I was in college, my old 2000 ford focus (140k miles on it) was hit, and since the insurance companies have a formula for determining repair vs fixing the car (ie the repair bill is above a certain percentage of the car’s value) they wanted to cally car totalled instead of fixing it. Using ‘used’ parts changed the ratio in my favor, so the car was fixed instead 🙂 The used parts are still in great condition, and since they are all sanded and painted you can’t tell the difference!

    1. PS I’m obviously not advocating this method for mechanical parts that wear down, like tires, brakes or rotors. But it’s great for mirrors, bumper covers, hoods, etc!

      1. Oh, I hear ya. It makes perfect sense for anything that is cosmetic!

  40. I recently saw an older, beaten up car with a bumper sticker that said “Don’t laugh, mine is paid off!”. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on buying a new vehicle to keep up with the Joneses

    1. That is the best! I would totally put that sticker on my car!

  41. Haha love it. We did the same thing with our old VW except it really was dragging and instead of tape my husband drilled more holes and used plastic ties.

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  43. That is absolutely INSANE! I imagine cars would start having problems after 5 years so you’re going to have to keep pouring more money into it just to maintain it, once the loan is paid off. I don’t understand why people don’t lease cars instead. Lease payments are $200-300 and everything is taken care of for you. I think that’s what I am going to do as a student because I’ve had such bad luck myself whenever I’ve bought used cars (and there’s no way I’m buying a new one after reading this article unless I can pay the whole thing upfront).

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  45. I came to this blog post hoping you’d answer the question “Why We’ll Never Be the Joneses” with the answer “Because we’re the Johnsons!” but alas, I’ve didn’t see that bit of text!

    I love the bit on how “zero-percent” loans can cause people to spend more than they originally intended.

    Also, there’s nothing wrong with a little duct tape holding a car together. I’ve done much worse!

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