Ten Money Questions for Joe LaMuraglia
Joe LaMuraglia loves cars. As the founder and publisher of Gaywheels.com, he knows a thing or two about kicking the tires and looking under the hood. When it comes to spending your hard earned dollars on a vehicle, Joe and his team of car buffs have answers. Let’s put the top down and take a spin as he offers up advice about car buying.
1. When you launched Gaywheels.com you came out of the automotive corporate closet and into the world of entrepreneurship. What has running a small business taught you?
Wow, do you have a few hours? I have learned so much in the last three years there is no easy way to answer that question. I’ve certainly learned that if you have the will, the passion and a good business plan, you can do just about anything. Doing this has also taught me that patience, persistence and confidence are all absolutely necessary ingredients to be a successful entrepreneur. Most people would add that a bit is insanity is required as well!
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
That we grew up without much. I am one of 10 children and while we were always well fed and clothed there wasn’t much extra to go around. My parents always managed though. I started work the day I turned 16 and haven’t stopped since.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
I hate reconciling the books whether it is my own checking account or the businesses’. I suppose the most important part of being an entrepreneur is knowing your weaknesses. Thank the UNIVERSE for accountants!
4. What are the advantages of dealing with a gay-friendly company during the car-buying process?
This is a matter of opinion and taste. Gaywheels.com was created in response to the data that says with all things being equal, the GLBT consumer would rather spend money with a company values the GLBT community both as employees and consumers. By spending your money with progressive companies, we are in a way rewarding them for their policies and creating a momentum for those companies to continue to include diversity in their policies. You also send a message to non-gay-friendly companies by NOT buying their product. At the end of the day, if a policy is affecting a companies’ bottom line, they will re-consider that policy. Essentially you vote with your wallet.
5. Is a car purchase ever a declaration of one’s sexual orientation?
This is a matter of perception. I always say a car is an extension of your personality and says a lot about you, straight or gay. I also remind people that perception is related to the context of the message. For example, the Mazda MX-5 is an awesome enthusiast’s car so a man driving it on the weekend with his wife sends out a different message than if a shirtless guy is cruising down Santa Monica Blvd playing dance music. The car isn’t gay or lesbian, the owner is. With that said, all cars have a personality and some would argue a gender. By the way, stereotypes exist in the straight car world. My brother (an Italian American) won’t drive a Cadillac because he says it would make him look too “guido”. I say he is missing out on a great car and shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think.
6. What did your parents teach you about money?
Unfortunately, not much. I guess they taught me how to get by on a limited income.
7. What is the better investment: leasing vs. buying and/or new vs. pre-owned?
First of all, cars are NOT an investment so it is important not to think of them as such. With that in mind, it all depends. I know people that have to have a new car because they can’t imagine driving anything used. From pure financial perspective, new cars make no sense whatsoever. They lose their value immediately and unless you keep them for a long time, there is no hope of recouping much money. From an emotional perspective however, there is nothing like that new car smell. You could also argue that new cars have the latest and greatest safety features and there is certainly value to that. Then there is the warranty that comes with a new car. There is no easy answer to this. For the lease vs. buy question; only lease if you don’t drive more than 10,000 miles a year.
8. What role has money played in your romantic relationships?
Oh my, that is a loaded question indeed. My partner of 6.5 years and I have very different approaches to money. He is incredibly conservative and I am more of a risk taker. I’d say that we balance each other out. It can be fodder for some serious arguments though!
9. I understand that the longest relationship you’ve had with a vehicle has been about 2 years. Is there money in flipping cars?
Generally NO. I have been fortunate enough to be in the auto industry and have had access to vehicles at cost or provided to me as part of my compensation. When I buy a car for myself, it is either something I think will retain its value (a diesel for example) or it is old and doesn’t cost much. I usually put sweat equity into the older cars by fixing them up and then selling them for more than I paid. I’ll usually break even that way but working on cars is therapy for me.
10. Should I still pay to get my oil changed every 3,000 miles or is that a car maintenance myth?
This is another “it depends”. If your car is brand new, the answer is NO. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance; usually 7,500 miles between oil changes. Many cars even have oil life monitors that take into consideration your driving patterns, temperature and engine condition. They will tell you when it is time to change the oil. Follow those instructions and you will be fine. If you have an older car or do a LOT of stop and go driving, it is a good idea to keep the oil changed every 3,000 miles. It is a relatively inexpensive way to prolong the life of your car.
More about Joe LaMuraglia
Joe LaMuraglia, founder and publisher of Gaywheels.com, brings a unique perspective to the online automotive space, with a career that has focused on connecting automakers with the Internet. During his time in the automotive industry, Joe has worked at Chrysler, Toyota, Volvo, and Nissan, as well as at Edmunds.com, having held positions in eBusiness, business development, market research, product planning, and advanced strategy and marketing.
The idea for Gaywheels.com came about while Joe was championing LGBT equality during his work at the various automotive manufacturers. Using his experience in taking a new, relatively unknown idea to market that was cultivated in creating the first wireless Internet automotive site (Edmunds2Go!), Joe successfully developed and launched Gaywheels.com in 2005.
Joe earned his Master’s Degree in International Business from Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management in Glendale, AZ, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications/Public Relations from NC State University in Raleigh, NC. Joe lives with his partner Steve in Nashville, TN.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.