Looking back, I would not have bought my first car out of college. The payments were 25% of my income! It cost me for years, even after I got rid of it.
I was interested in another new car at about half the price, but the salesmen in the showroom wouldn’t talk to me. I got upset and bought a car where my dad bought his car. They talked to me.
Like you said, Americans are trained to make stupid financial decisions.
Fortunately, I met my wife 18 years ago. She had a lot more sense and we are above the median in retirement.