My friends & clients often want me to be the fun police. I’m really not against fun nor do I hate stuff, but I do recognize the glassy-eyed look of car, vacation and boat fever.
Most people would agree our lives are happier, healthier and more productive when we act intentionally – rather than being possessed by consumer fever. This means we do our best every day to align our behaviors with our goals. We dream about and plan our futures.
Even though I’m committed to this intentional thing, I still fall prey to marketing, and impulse, – falling off the wagon from time to time. But because I have learned to recognize the warning signs, it happens a lot less than it used to and it involves much, much smaller sums of money.
Big Red Flag
Driving down the road you see a shiny car (or boat or motorcycle) parked in a lot, sporting a hand drawn For Sale sign. You stop look and then spend the rest of the day working yourself into a “must have” frenzy.
This car, (or boat or motorcycle) is not on wish list posted to your fridge. You have not earmarked money specifically for this purchase. In fact, until you saw it you didn’t even know how bad you needed it. This is a BIG red flag.
When locked into this “gotta have it” state, our powers of rationalization are phenomenal. Just sit back and listen next time you are around a potential buyer in a frenzy.
“I haven’t treated myself in sooo long.” Oh, cry me a river. Maybe you haven’t “treated” yourself in so long because you’ve been trying to climb out from the giant hole you created the last time you treated yourself.
“I’ll never find another one (the car, the boat, the motorcycle) this good ,this cheap, this color blah blah blah .” Oh please, how you would even know – you weren’t even looking for one.
“If I just had this……” Right, think back , these words came out of your mouth when you were five too. “Mommy, if I just had this one toy, I’d never ask for anything else.” Did you really mean it then? Do you mean it now?
Being intentional does not mean you need to live a locked down life without the room for spontaneity. I want you to be able make a purchase “just because”, in fact, we set money aside for that at the beginning of the month, it was your blow money.
If you make enough and save enough, your blow money budget might allow you to buy a car (or boat or motorcycle), but for most of us, that is a major purchase, not an impulse buy.
Ok, so you have the money available (cause you are going to make me nuts if you are even considering making this purchase with credit) and it’s unnamed (this is exactly why we name all our savings) and you want it really bad, ask yourself:
What does it cost?
I mean really cost. Total the original purchase price, the tax and fees, the upkeep the insurance etc. Now convert that to how long you have to work to pay for it. That is what it costs in terms of your life. Right now today would you trade that chunk of your life for this purchase?
Is this the highest and best use for this money?
What are the chances that before you can replace this money another (better) opportunity will arise?
Maybe your daughter will decide to marry; do you have that covered?
Maybe you’ll have a chance to take a job you’ve always wanted but it will require an expensive move, is this purchase worth missing that opportunity?
Is this purchase in line with my current values, goals and dreams?
If you have asked yourself these three questions and still want to make the purchase, go stand in the cold shower until the feeling goes away.