My wife and I were chatting the other day and it hit me during our conversation on when to do something that in fact we have cease to ask the question “can I afford this?”.
In general terms the question is now basically irrelevant from our typical conversations because I can bloody well buy just about anything that I want. I make a good income, we have lots of savings and I even have a $100,000 line of credit available should I suddenly have the desire to remodel the entire house, buy a new car, and take a month long trip all in the same year.
So the question isn’t can we afford it? But rather, why do we want to this and is there something else we would prefer more instead? Now that is an interesting set of questions because it forces us to consider our priorities and desires. We also tend to find we have different ideas on what to do so we tend to discuss them to understand what the other person want and where is the common ground.
For example, my wife has some interest in taking the kids to either Disneyland or Disneyworld. I have less of an interest in going since my previous visit as a child didn’t leave that much of a lasting impression on me. This isn’t to say we won’t go, but rather it makes us discuss our ideas on it and perhaps some up with some kind of compromise. Perhaps do it for a few days and then head over to something else near by. Or talk with the kids about it and what they would be interested in. Perhaps we end up in Legoland instead…I really don’t know.
The reality becomes as you save more and grow more comfortable in your financial security your options to what to do with your time and money keep increasing. So you can take that big trip if you want. Or stay at home and do odd jobs around the house. The debate turns more into an exercise in finding balance in your life between spending and savings and which priorities matter more to your family and yourself. In this case, there are no hard and firm answers but instead a endless buffet of compromises to choose from.
It is interesting as your choices go up the ability to make a decision become easily compromised. It gets so easy to get lost in talking about options you never get around to making a decision. So to help make a decision we will often artificially reduce the number of variables to reduce the number of choices. For example, we might decide we will only consider going to California and therefore eliminate some options. Or we might choose to drive down to see the country and therefore limit our time at the end location. The limits are just in your head, but it can often help drive you towards a decision.
So I don’t know where we will end up going for our next big vacation, but I do know I won’t worry about paying off my Visa for months afterward on it. The joy of being able to afford anything. So how you deal with lots of choices? Any other tips that work for you?