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TikTok Exec With $400,000 Salary Calls Purchase Of $70,000 Tesla Model 3 A 'Huge Mistake'

Image: Tesla
Image: Tesla

Feeling regret after buying a car in pretty common; whether it be a cheap project off of Craigslist that never gets finished, or paying too much for that hot performance machine or buying into the hype of a vehicle rather than the reality. It turns out the head of marketing at TikTok regrets dropping around seventy grand on a Tesla Model 3.

Sora Lee makes a measly salary of $400,000 per year as head of marketing for TikTok It gets worse, that salary combined with her investment portfolio only gives her a net worth of about $843,000. Times are tough right now for social media executives.

She tells CNBC, that she regrets buying her $70,000 Model 3 back in 2021 because of the massive depreciation hit that Tesla and other electric vehicles have taken. The current loan balance of $36,000 is far greater than the current value of the car. From CNBC:

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“I just really wanted a Tesla because it’s something my ex wouldn’t let me [have], and I regret buying that full price,” the 34-year-old tells CNBC Make It. “Huge mistake.”

Lee currently makes $400,000 a year as the global head of product marketing at TikTok and has invested her way to an $843,000 net worth. But that number may have been higher if she didn’t buy the Tesla.

It wasn’t necessarily that she couldn’t afford the car or the approximate $1,000 a month she puts toward the loan. She was working for Meta at the time and earning over $200,000 a year.

But in retrospect, she says buying a shiny new car wasn’t a very smart investment. As of June 2024, she still owes around $36,000 on the car — more than it’s worth, according to an Edmunds estimate.

“I like the car, but I would have bought it used or would have thought about it a little bit more because now that I’m paying for it and looking at my monthly statements more closely, a thousand [dollars] a month is a big deal,” she says. “If I had put that into something else, I would have been making more money in terms of my investment return.”

She says that the $1,000 monthly car payment isn’t a burden, which I would hope so given her $30,000+ pre-tax salary, but she wishes she would have bought a used one instead. I wonder if Lee is aware of the car buying “hack” of keeping a vehicle a long time, well past the point at which the loan is paid off, because the longer you own the car the less impactful that initial depreciation is on the total value. If only there were some sort of social media platform where content creatures could offer these tips in a short video format.

Lee admits that she has a complicated relationship with money and is hoping to teach her son a better way of viewing things she told him, “Just because someone has a nice car doesn’t mean that they’re wealthy.”


Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com

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