Seeing Both Sides

I have to admit I’m a bit confused by people that ask me “How can you live on so little?”  I think it comes out of the fact that I don’t really see it as a challenge, I’ve been living this way for years and I’m happy.  Doing it now is so easy for me I really don’t get what the big deal is.  Lots of people live on about $35,000/year.  It is not that hard.

I suppose the real question is: how do you not spend it all when you could?  Ah, now that is a good question.  For example, one of my greatest weaknesses is historic houses….I LOVE THEM.  The hardwood floors, the detailed molding, stained glass and all the other little details…case in point a house like this is like house porn to me.  Yet the house I just linked to is listed for $997,000.  Yet here is the funny thing…I know I could buy that house if I want. How?  I own a property worth ~$400,000.  If you sell that and with my income I could get a bank to give me a nearly $600,000 mortgage to buy that house.

So you might think I’m excited by that idea, which I am a little bit.  Yet I can also see the other side of this situation.  If I did own that house it would a upkeep and spending black hole.  You need the cool furniture to match the house, so that is some more money.  Cleaning the thing would be a horrible event, which I would likely then contract out for more money.  I also know property taxes and heating the damn thing would consume even more cash.  In the end, yes I could have my dream but the rest of my life would suck in order to do it, since I would have to work another 25 years just to pay for it, so what would be the point?

In summary, I can see both sides of most of my dreams and realize that just about every dream you have also comes with some tarnish that goes with the shine.  Most people are blinded by the shine and don’t notice the tarnish until after they own it.  I can usually spend some time realistically assessing my dream and can see most of the tarnish prior to doing it.  Everything has its downsides as well as positives.  You are the one that has to assess what a dream is worth to you.

This may come across as a very negative way to think about things, but I rather think it is injecting some reality into a internal debate.  Also people tend to overrate the impact of their dream purchases, heck I even fall victim to it once in a while.  So next time you are looking at a temptation, pull a Janus and look at both side at once.  Your future self will thank you.

9 thoughts on “Seeing Both Sides”

  1. People get very excited over purchases. I had to buy a used car this week and people keep asking me if I am excited about it. I just don’t know how to answer. I tell them that it is just a car, I am not happy to have taken on more debt but I am pleased with the financing that I was able to organize. They just look confused.

  2. That’s not a negative way to look at things, it is a realistic way to look at things. It keeps you from bounding from great idea to great idea, because you fully inspect the idea before chasing it.

  3. Having bought and paid off our home, acerage, and vehicle more than ten years ago, our final dream purchase is ER. 🙂

    The trouble is that the purchase price is no more than an educated guess.

  4. Great point: Just because you really like something doesn’t mean you have to own it.

    Two years ago, I visited the Gibson Guitar factory in Memphis, TN. There was a dark, electric blue hollow body which literally made me salivate. It was so beautiful I could hardly even bring myself to touch it. Yeah, I was in totally in both love and lust. Did I buy it? No. It wasn’t even the $5,000 price tag that threw me off (which I could easily afford), it was that I’m not currently in a band, haven’t played in years, so what was I really going to do with it? Even back when I was in a band I had a habit of dropping my guitars, occasionally throwing them off stage. So why get this one? To keep in a case in the closet, pull out occasionally, and gaze lovingly at? I took a photograph instead.

  5. I was excited when I got my car because it was my first car. It’s nice. I think it’s okay for people to be excited about getting a new car. It’s when it become habitual and you start getting newer and better cars to impress people around you.

  6. I am driving a 13 year old truck and loving it. Still love the truck, and love the money I am saving by not buying a new one.

  7. Maybe I’m inordinately pleased with very small things but I’m with Jon – love my SUV and love that it’s paid for and all that I could ever want. I still get a little thrill at the fact that it has heated seats, leather interior and a little hing-ey thing in the back so the dog can jump into his space easily. And I love that it’s red. I hope I can keep it and love and take care of it for many more years.
    I couldn’t get excited about a really big place like the historic home because I would envision repairs and hassle and cleaning. Freaky though – that library looks about the same as my library / office. Only I have more bookshelves.

  8. I think it depends. I mean for me location trumps almost anything else for a house purchase. I for instance don’t understand how people spend $500K for a house in Milton and then generate $600 a month in transit costs (based on two people living in Milton and working in Toronto, taking the go train and having to ttc it on top, a reality for many). I would love to live in a house that’s closer to the city core right now than it is (and I’m in the city already!) but I like you can’t quite justify it. But I can much more easily justify a house purchase than my current dream purchase (First Edition of The Hobbit, auction price around $30,000).

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