Luxury Items: It’s Not Just About The Sticker Price

In terms of materialism, it’s often said that women’s weaknesses lie in handbags and jewellery. As for men, it’s perceived to be watches and cars. As a Taurus who definitely can appreciate aesthetics and comfort, I get tempted by luxury too.

Yes, this guy has “arrived”…

And to be honest, if it’s just a high upfront sticker price, I might be willing to save up for one or two of these items. But I have found out that that’s simply not the case, especially for cars and watches.


Don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of getting a car, at least NOT YET, especially after reading this post.

However, my father-in-law is. He has been driving his trusty red Toyota Altis for the best part of 9 years and his COE is expiring in about half a year’s time. Since he still performs shift work occasionally, having a car is really useful. Not to mention going out on weekends as one big family.

And he’s deciding between the same old trusty Altis or a continental car like the Audi A4 2.0.

Maybe with the recent emissions saga, there could be a change of mind? 

As he’s already close to 60 and has worked (without a break with the same employer) for more than 30 years, I definitely won’t begrudge him if he decides to dig a little more into his savings to purchase a more frivolous car. In fact, the Mrs and I are even prepared to help with the additional downpayment just so all of us can indulge in a little luxury.

However, we have since realised that it’s not just a higher one-time cost.

Toyota Altis Audi A4 1.8
Road Tax $750 $1,200
Petrol $2,400 $2,760
Maintenance $1,800 $2,400
Total Annual Cost $4,950 $6,360


I used the road tax calculator and the other two categories are largely estimates. It’s highly likely that a bigger engine is going to consume at least 15% more petrol and maintenance and parts are almost definitely going to be more expensive for the continental car.

And just using these 3 categories, there is already almost a $1,500 yearly difference. Over 10 years, it’s a significant $15,000. Gosh…

emma watson animated GIF

This is probably how Emma would react if she knew about our COE prices


I am a big fan of watches. Or perhaps I should use “was” instead.

I had always found the mechanics behind watches interesting. So much so that instead of getting a ring, I got a watch instead for my proposal to the Mrs. And in case you’re wondering, it’s probably ∞ times my monthly salary then since I was still a student then. Beat that, guys…

Ok, I digress. But recently, that Baume et Mercier watch’s batteries died and the Mrs made a trip to a shop in Tanglin (known to be skilled and reputable) to change the batteries.

And it cost her $75. Which is also enough to buy 3 watches that a Cabinet Minister in Singapore wears. Oh gosh…

emma watson animated GIF

You can tell how much I “admire” Emma Watson…

That’s why I have repeatedly told the Mrs not to get me a luxury watch. I really doubt I can maintain it and I am probably happier with my trusty Casio that is “scratch-proof”.

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10 thoughts on “Luxury Items: It’s Not Just About The Sticker Price

      1. pib

        i don’t really like luxury watches and i am too stingy to buy a car. I think its way too stressful for me to drive a car. I prefer to “BMW” – Bus, Metro, Walk. 😉

        1. My 15 HWW Post author

          Hi pib,

          I don’t know whether I would be forever “too stingy to buy a car”. But I can understand the stress of driving. Being stuck in a traffic jam with the steering wheel in front of you can be frustrating. And of course, finding a carpark slot during dining hours. #firstworldproblems

  1. Singaporemm

    Cars are disgusting to maintain in Singapore. My mum wants to buy a NEW MERC when her car runs out of COE (also very soon) and I have been trying to dissuade her. Although similarly, she has worked hard and lived frugally most of her life. For expensive cars, it is the maintenance that absolutely kills, since their parts are harder to get and tend to be marked up more. My husband used to buy spare parts from Ebay for his GTR to save some money.

    Since my immense luxury of sitting/driving very a large number of luxury cars, I’ve actually come to appreciate the basic, no frills Japanese cars a lot. It’s much less heartache when you scratch it, and for all but the most hardcore motorsport drivers, there’s not a significant amount of difference in power. I have a lot of experience with the A4 and I must say it is a very nice car, the leather seats, cruise control, etc. It’s a nice mid-range car, at least it’s not a Merc or BMW or A8 or something, haha.

    I think your watch story is really cute. Automatic watches are a pain in the ass, and get the time wrong more often than not in my experience. Buying luxury brand quartz watches just feels like buying a cloth bag from LV, super not worth it. I really love fancy watches though. Some superbly fancy watches have very bad resale value, so I think it’s possible to pick them up second hand for dirt cheap if one really cannot resist. The classics like Rolex, Cartier will always have a good resale value, but Delacour (a personal favourite of mine) can be had for 60%+++ off secondhand. Even Audemars Piguets are dropping in 2nd hand price. Maybe the Mrs can consider that? 😉

    (I should start a business as a cheap-luxury consultant, lol.)

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Singaporemm,

      Thanks for your always insightful (and rather longish) comments! :p

      Hmm, Mercs and BMs are out of question for us. To me, an Audi A4 is considered luxurious although I have to admit that in the grand scheme of things (including Ferraris, Lambos & Porsches), an Audi A4 is probably an upper middle-range car.

      With regards to 2nd-hand watches and jewellery, as neither of us are experts, there’s a big concern for buying 2nd hand stuff. We are probably paranoid that we could get cheated. Unless we engage a consultant like you, perhaps? LOL

  2. Frugal Daddy

    Hi 15hww

    Luxury goods are always fascinating topic for me because I couldn’t understand why people pay xxx times more for a basic, durable and aesthetically pleasing ones. That could be why I am always a commoner. Haha.

    I am more interested in your proposal when you are a student and buying watch as a proposal than car and watches. Seems you have been financial smart and mature earlier than when most guys when you are studying.

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Frugal Daddy,

      Honestly, most people can feel a difference between premium vs basic models. To be honest, I think you can too. It’s just whether it makes sense to pay 50% more for that marginal 5 to 10% “comfort” difference. Most of the time, it’s not worth it to people like us. But there are others that see money as the most renewable of resources.

      Smart and mature? I doubt so. I like watches then but since I couldn’t bear to buy myself one, the next best alternative is to get the Mrs one and pose it as a proposal gift? LOL

  3. Rolf Suey

    Hi 15HWW,

    I always try to focus on myself more and know exactly what I am doing, despite the outsiders who dunno me misjudge. I will secretly laugh at those comments later!

    It’s a process human beings go through. Listen, understand, empathize is important. Warning and awareness if created already should not be taken too hard.

    Eventually it’s ok for us not to understand bcos maybe we are not yet 60s or have not experience many things in life that a 60 yr old does. Alternatively it’s hard for a 60 yr old to understand us since their 30-40 yr old time is different from us.

    Ultimately human being is complex, and diff people live diff life. It’s hard to quantify only using tangible terms. Dun be too hard on ourself sometimes!

    Just my thoughts!

    1. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi Rolf,

      Wow. Quite cheem, especially in relation to this blog post.

      I am probably still trying to get to the root of your point and I think I might never get it? :p

      Anyway, I definitely agree with you that everybody has different perspectives. Although they have never mentioned to me directly, I am pretty sure my-laws were flabbergasted when I left my cushy role a year ago. Just like how unfathomable I find that they have worked for the same employer in their entire lives.