When I landed my first big boy job I immediately set about saving up for my first house. Not that living with my parents/roommates wasn’t great; I just felt eventually one of us needed to move on (and it probably should be me). After I saved 20% down I bought my first house and really felt like I had arrived into adulthood. It was awesome to have something to show for my work and I was proud of my new home.
Eventually I started to notice imaginary problems with my house such as the counter tops weren’t granite, the living room was too small and there weren’t enough bathrooms. My once proud home was starting to look a little shabby in my mind and I started to think maybe I should buy a new place that was more accommodating to my distinguished tastes. The funny thing is I don’t really have distinguished tastes at all, in fact I once ate salami off the bottom of my shoe in high school and I can’t say this type of behavior is an isolated incident. The problem wasn’t that my place wasn’t good enough, it was that I thought by buying a new place I’d be happier.
While all this nonsense was going on in my head I decided to curve my spending desire by buying a vehicle (no worries mom and dad, it was lightly used!). My existing car was absolutely fine, I just wanted a nicer one. Now for a guy that writes a personal finance blog I really should know better than to invest in an asset that depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot but my desire got the best of me. When I drove off the dealer lot I felt like all new car owners do, unbelievably sexy. And that feeling last for all but two months or so, then I felt pretty much the same as before only a bit of a hole in my cheque book. I was almost wishing for my original car back, but it was a good lesson learned.
Crash’n’Burn – Lesson Learned
What I learned from this experience is this; luxury isn’t something I desire, it’s a weakness. It tempts my mind by making me think I’ll be much happier if I only had that new house or new car. Even though I’m well aware material things rarely bring lasting happiness, it does become difficult to quash luxury given the consumption driven society in which we live. Do I need granite countertops in my kitchen in order to survive or be happy? Absolutely not, I’ve just watched too many HGTV home shows where a couple loses their shit over their new heated toilet seat. (bet you’re thinking how nice that would be too!)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want to be homeless or a monk without any possessions. I like having my house to come home to and my bottle of wine on a Friday night after a work week. For me though, I don’t need the house to be a multi-million dollar home or the wine to be a $300 merlot to enjoy it.
So how do you combat this weakness of luxury? Set your priorities and goals in life. Honestly, write them down on a piece of paper and notice how few of them involve sleeping on piles of money or eating endangered boar. (if any of those are on your list, this blog is not for you)
It’s always fun to spoil yourself here and there but if it becomes a constant it’s no longer special or enjoyed. For example, I typically eat really well throughout the week and exercise so I can live it up on the weekend and eat like a college student. It’s the hard work and discipline throughout the week that makes those Doritos and beer taste that much better! Finding your balance between discipline and luxury in your finances will ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your money in the short-term without sacrificing your long-term financial goals.
Jonny from the Block
*Thanks to my good friend Chelsea from university for the title of this post. I’m obviously not witty enough to come up with something that good!by