≡ Menu

The Frugal Yuppie’s Car Buying Guide

Click here to access all of my FREE personal finance Excel spreadsheets!

With the economy in a funk, many young urban professionals (affectionately known as yuppies) are finding it harder and harder to project an image of success by driving an exotic late model car.

If you are one of these vain individuals who “are what you drive” but the economy has placed the most pretentious vehicles out of your reach, don’t worry, this article is written just for you!

Roll up the collar of your Lacoste polo shirt, grab yourself an ice cold bottle of Perrier sparkling water, and follow along as we review the best values in budget minded yuppie transportation each priced below $10,000.

bmw-3-seriesBMW 3 Series 1999-2001: What hasn’t already been said about the ultimate driving machine? If you’re down on your luck, and desire to present yourself as god’s gift to the neighborhood, check the local classified listings for a nice black BMW 3 series.

Prices for a well conditioned BMW 3 series will vary but you can expect to find a 325i in decent condition with average mileage for around $8000. If you really want to impress your friends, you can order decals off EBay to make your BMW 3 Series look like a BMW M3 super car!

toyota-echoToyota Echo 1999-2005: Anthropologists are becoming increasingly aware of the close association between “yuppies” and an emerging class known as the “eco-snobs”. It is for this reason that I must recommend the Toyota Echo as another top pick for the financially burdened yet environmentally conscious yuppie.

What sets the Echo apart from the other cars on my list is the opportunity to purchase the vehicle for less than $3000 while still allowing you to feel “better” than anyone else because the car gets more than 40 mpg.

Don’t be bitter because you can’t afford a $60,000 Cadillac Escalade; roll in “eco-style” and judge everyone along the way as you cruise down the highway in your gas sippin’ eco-machine!

saab-viggenSaab 9-3 Series 1999-2003: I would be amiss if I didn’t suggest a 1999-2004 Saab 9(3) as another great inexpensive yuppie car. You will score even more points with your friends if you can find a 9(3) Viggen edition! With 230hp and 258 ft/lbs of torque, your friends will have no choice but to admire you as you race down the boulevard to the Whole Foods Market to pick up that $9.00 jug of organic orange juice!

Purists argue that General Motors destroyed the prestige once associated with Saab when they bought 51 percent of the company around 1990. Fortunately for our yuppie friends, the engineering master minds responsible for the Hummer H2 and Pontiac Aztek, didn’t start messing too badly with the Saab models until after the first generation 9-3 models replaced the Saab “900” series in 1999.

audi-a4Audi A4 2001-2005: Another frugal choice for financially challenged yuppies is the Audi A4 sport sedan. Although the car’s design is almost 10 years old, it still has a refined understated elegance. Used Audi A4s have dipped below $10,000, making them an honest alternative to today’s high-falutin’ foreign imports.

If your neighbors are still not impressed with your purchase of a used Audi A4 make up an elaborate story about being in a horrific car crash back in 2001 coming back from a party at your buddies beach front home in the Hamptons. Drive your message home by stating that if you were in any other automobile other than your buddies 2001 A4 you wouldn’t be here today!

infinity-g35Infinity G35 2003-2004: At the very top of our $10,000 budget here is the Infinity G35. The recent decline in used car values has finally brought this car within the reach of those desperately trying to establish themselves in the competitive world of yuppies.

Some people might prefer the Infinity G35 in black, but I recommend silver so you don’t have to spend quite as much money washing and waxing the car every single day to hide dust, pollen, scratches, and water spots. Anyone who has ever owned a black vehicle knows what I’m talking about.

$10-15 car washes a few times a week will quickly destroy the budget of a yuppie who has fallen on tough times! Save this money and instead by a bottle of Schramsberg Reserve sparkling wine as a hostess gift; you will need it for the inevitable social soirée you and your significant other will be attending now that you have “arrived” on the scene in your new G35!

volvo-yuppieVolvo 240 Wagon: Perhaps one of the newest “classic” automobiles. The Volvo 240 wagon (and to a lesser degree the 240 sedan) has reached near iconic status among aspiring yuppies over the last few years.

Although Volvo discontinued the 240 series in 1993, its reputation as a safe and reliable mode of transportation to and from countless varieties of extra-curricular activies has earned it a special place in the garage of some of the wealthiest families in New England and beyond. It is not uncommon to see one owner 240’s with over 300K miles passed down from one generation to the next.  These vehicles have literally become family heirlooms.

You read it hear first, interest in the 240 station wagon is on the rise and I feel the 240 wagon will become a desired “collector car” within the next 10 years!

To add even more pizzazz to your Volvo 240, place a few stickers from the local yacht club, country club, or the closest exclusive private university in the rear window and watch the neighbors turn green with envy.

I hope you enjoyed my choices for inexpensive yuppie vehicles! Please let me know if you have any yuppie vehicles to add by including it in your comments below!


THANKS for reading my personal finance blog! You can learn more about my site here or you can jump right into the juicy stuff by reading my family's own detailed debt free success story (which has formed the foundation of this site). Please consider signing up for my free email updates!

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Do You Dave Ramsey? April 3, 2009, 11:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great research Ben. To be completely honest I had NO idea that some of these cars would run less than 10K… that is AMAZING considering some of their original sticker prices.

    Which I think was part of your point.

    Wow, this is (more) fantastic evidence against ever buying a new car!

    Thanks for sharing… my wife and I plan to be looking for cars later this year. Now I know I can “look loaded” for just a few bucks!!!


  • Ben April 10, 2009, 7:09 pm


    I’m glad you enjoyed the article! It was fun researching it and I learned a great deal. The article was written as a satire but it does have substance as well!

  • Michelle April 21, 2009, 3:02 pm

    I definitely thought it was satire – because you didn’t ONCE state that the total cost of ownership for each of these (well, except the Toyota) would run well into the 1000’s per year! My SAAB couldn’t be driven past the dealership without me leaving $500 behind…and that’s a low estimate! I could have bought a new corolla for what I spent in maintenance on that thing over the course of 4 years. But I looked hot and yuppie-esque in it, so I guess I came out ahead.

  • Georjina May 10, 2009, 1:03 pm

    Hey! I’m surprised you didn’t include Mercedes in the list. The E320 is one of the better engineered models from MB in the past 15 years running. Ok, so you can’t buy a 1999-2009 for less than $10,000, but go 5 years later and you can.

    As for maintenance (if you can find someone willing to sell theirs), they are a dream come true, especially if you’re not flush with money. Besides, who in their right mind takes the car to the dealer for repairs?! It’s called ‘dealer’ for a reason.

  • Netanya November 4, 2009, 8:41 pm

    I loved the wittiness of your post, is having a nice car really all that is important in life? I was recently driving a 89 Chrysler with red interior. Definitely you’re grandma’s car, but the only thing that mattered was that it got me from point A to point B. I have much bigger things to worry about than the car I drive. No thanks, I think I’ll stick with my Chrysler.

    Money Hackers Blog Ambassador

  • Chip Hazard March 24, 2010, 8:16 am

    There are few autos you might add to the list:
    1993-1997 LandCruiser The hedgefunder choice
    2001-2003 Audi All-Road
    2001-2002 Land Rover LR2

  • Panther6170 June 10, 2010, 1:20 pm


  • Littlegreenfish March 11, 2011, 11:10 am

    Before I bought my 2001 Toyota Echo (in red) I thought I was better than you, now I know I am. Thanks for corroborating my initial hypothesis!

  • Alan August 17, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I think smart yuppies are switching to fuel efficient cars like the Elantra and Ford Focus, I got a good deal on mine from http://www.truecar.com . It wasn’t under 10k but I think the extra money was worth it.

  • Kyle August 30, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Totally agree with the 3-series! Just bought a 2001 in July and realized it is surprisingly cheap to maintain. This is the first of many 3-series for me I am sold! Got the look, power, mpg, and reliability. What else could you ask for?

Leave a Comment