There is the saying that you can ‘learn to like what you can afford or learn to afford what you like’. Well, I must admit that I have worked that phrase to my advantage in the past thinking ‘Well of course I should buy these insanely expensive shoes. They are what I like so I’ll just learn how to afford them.’ There are of course numerous other examples, but you get the idea.
I was having lunch with some girlfriends last week and we got to talking about cell phones and using blue tooth headsets and being able to use the blue tooth features in our cars. One of my friends was saying that her car was the year before they started installing blue tooth so she doesn’t have it. Then she commented that she really doesn’t care and doesn’t really have any desire for a new car. To which we all started talking about how our values have changed in the last year or so.
Granted some of the changes were dictated by the economy and slow spells in the Real Estate market, but more than anything I believe that the changes in income have really highlighted how we value certain things and the true cost associated. I do still believe in the original statement that it is possible to learn to afford what you like, meaning that you can learn to increase your income in order to provide the lifestyle that you desire. But there is more to it than that. For everything there is a cost. For that shinny new car, how many additional homes do you need to sell in order to pay for it? How long does it take you to do that? What is that time taking away from? I still like nice things and don’t have any intention of changing that, but maybe I can be just as happy with less. Less stuff means less required income and that means more time with friends and family.
Granted with all things it takes time to find a balance and the only constant for me seems to be that what qualifies as balance today might be chaos next week. It is a moving target, but something to be aware of nonetheless.