I think I’m going to venture into weird territory today. Get ready.
Ever since my mother died and, most especially, since I turned 60, I’ve been looking at life differently. In particular, I’m looking at money differently. I’m not sure it is healthy. I’m bringing it up in the hope that you all can provide some perspective to keep me off the ledge.
I am not wealthy. There have been times in my life when I’ve had to make choices about what bills to pay and what food to buy, based on my financial situation. I consider myself very lucky because I’ve always had a secure job and a paycheck that represented a living wage. Despite that blessing, I have never made enough money for finances to be a non-issue in my life. The good news is that my needs and wants are fairly modest. As a result, my income is more than sufficient to cover my expenses without privation. It isn’t that I can afford to do everything. It is more that my tastes usually fit within the confines of what I can afford. Also, from my younger years when I had to be careful with money, I’ve learned how to defer gratification and save for big ticket purchases. I’m very, very grateful for my economic blessings.
Lately, though, a new sensation strikes me when I think about purchasing big ticket items- a larger dining room set, a new driveway, a renovated bathroom, new kitchen appliances, etc. I find myself wondering if I will get my money’s worth from the investment before I die.
I’m not sure why I should limit myself based on life expectancy. My mother lived almost thirty years beyond the age that I am now. My father, who died quite suddenly, lived past his 72nd birthday. I am in reasonably good health and don’t engage in extreme sports. I’ve no reason to believe that my death is imminent. Certainly, I could get run over by a bus or suddenly contract some fast-acting fatal disease. However, those possibilities have existed my whole life and they never stopped me from spending money in my younger days.
Also, should it really matter how long I enjoy some acquisition before kicking the bucket, if said acquisition gives me pleasure? First, if it turns out that I don’t get a lot of bang for the buck before the bucket kicking, I’ll be dead and won’t care. Secondly, as I get older there will be fewer opportunities to enjoy spending money. I have a secure income that meets my needs. I have a good medical plan. I think I’m generous to others. I have long term care insurance. Theoretically, I should not have to rely on the kindness of strangers (that is, the government) to pay for my care if I need to go to assisted living or a skilled nursing facility at some point. Third, it isn’t like I limit myself when it comes to buying the everyday, routine, unnecessary stuff that I purchase all the time. When I really think about it, eight or nine trips to Penney’s or Belk’s probably often add up to the same amount as it would cost to buy a new refrigerator.
I understand that it isn’t rational to consider my life expectancy in deciding whether or not to make a large purchase. I get that. Obviously, I can make an effective argument about why life expectancy should not be a factor. However, I still have this nagging doubt when deliberating whether to make one of those major purchases. In the past year, I did get a larger dining room set and I did get the driveway repaved. Both were major expenditures. I love the new dining room set and I love the new driveway. Still, every time I look at them, I get this feeling that is almost shame-like. It feels like I had no right to buy them because of my advanced age. Some part of me seems to believe that, if the useful life of the purchase is going to outlast my own useful life, I should not waste the money.
I told you we were going to venture into weird territory today.
What do you think? Do you ever feel like you should be considering your useful life when deciding whether to spend large sums of money? How weird is this? How do you get past the feeling? Please leave your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
Have a useful day!