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Thursday, 12 December 2013

When is it "worth it"?

As many of you, my dear and gentle readers, know this last week has been exceptionally trying. During an unplanned trip across the country I heard from a few people that I was doing a disservice by not devoting more than the three days to the excursion.

When speaking with a well meaning friend about my plans she, too, was unpleasantly surprised at the short duration of my stay and asked me why I had made plans the way I did.  Among many reasons was that our family budget could not accommodate for That Guy to miss more than two days of work and for me to miss more than one. She said "Oh, but Rylan it would be so worth it."

I don't disagree with this woman at all.  It would have been totally worth it. But that changes nothing. It got me thinking about all the times I have heard sentiments like this in the past and how misguided many of these well meaning people are.

Let's pretend, for example, that I get a phone call from a high end car dealership.
The imagined conversation would go something like this
"Hello Frugal Blog Writer this is Henry from Super Expensive Cars" (I'm the Frugal Blog Writer, of course)
"Ah, Henry.  How are you today?"
"Very well, Frugal Blog Writer.  And I will be better still once I tell you about the offer I called to make you!"
"Go on, Henry.  I am listening."
"I have available right here in my showroom a brand new, fully loaded, fancy pants Ferrari!" (I imagine people who own - or sell- fancy cars like to call them "fancy pants" cars)
"And it can be yours for ONLY $10,000 cash!!!!!!"
"Wow, thats a very low price for a Ferrari.  But I don't have $10,000. So I will have to pass.  Good luck to you, sir. Have a nice day."
"But wait!!! This deal is once in a lifetime! It's totally worth it!" (Because in his haste to sell me this car he has dropped his assumed distinguished accent and has adopted a layman vocabulary)
"You're right, Henry.  It is totally worth it. But regardless of how worth it it is I still don't have $10,000.  In my change jar I have roughly $40 of unrolled change.... I could give you $40 for the car..??"
*Incredulous sputtering* "ARE YOU MAD?!!! I cannot do business with you any longer. Good day!" *Call disconnected*

You see, just because its a really great deal on the car doesn't get me any closer to affording it. If I spent every penny I had or even every penny that was available to me it leaves me with nothing.  Which means I have nothing with which to buy things my family needs (like groceries).  I couldn't very well go to the grocery store and expect the cashier to give me the food for free because, well the Ferrari was worth it now could I? Same goes for my mortgage company and the gas station.

A good deal is when the dollar value of an item is greater than the proposed price.  A good buy is based on a number of factors including your budget, future income projections and non monetary value the item or service would bring to your life.

When I have an amount of money available and many demands on that money I have to prioritize.  Your priorities are very personal and will be influenced by an array of things.

My personal priorities go as follows:
1. Safety
2. Debt
3. People
4. Things

What that means for me is that if at the end of the month I have $200 left I would choose to, say, replace balding tires on our car before making a nice lump sum payment on my student loans.  It also means that a birthday gift or much needed new socks would come before buying a TV.

So, gentle readers, Just because something is worth it does not mean you can afford it!

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