I’m proud of myself. In the past year, I’ve wanted several expensive items for myself, but I’ve fought off the urge to buy them. The closest thing to a splurge for myself in the past twelve months was my investment in a new laptop when my desktop machine was literally dying.
So, instead of spending thousands of dollars on … stuff … I decided to take a trip through these items that I didn’t buy and consider the financial shape I’d be in if I had purchased all of them.
1. A Nintendo Wii
Now that I have a son, I’m moving rapidly towards what one might call a casual or nostalgic video gamer. This system is basically designed for me; not only are the games simple, yet distinctive and interesting (thanks to the remote), the system allows you to download tons of classic games I remember from my youth. It wouldn’t take me long to blow $600 on this machine, games, and accessories – but it’d be a lot of fun. One drawback: I can easily see myself staying up all night playing Super Mario 64 again… the college memories come flooding back!
2. A Kitchenaid Professional 600 Series stand mixer
I love burning time in the kitchen, but one major problem is that mixing bread dough and other such tasks are very time-consuming with my current hand mixer. I either mess it up entirely or get impatient with the speed of the hand mixer. Thus, whenever I see a KitchenAid stand mixer on display, I stare at it with longing in my eye. Not only would I dump $450 or so on the mixer, I’d also buy a ton of attachments for it, too, meaning I’d be down $700 after buying the thing. But, oh, the breads I would make…
3. A handmade liquor cabinet
Currently, we keep our wines and liquors in one of our kitchen cabinets, a kitchen that’s already too small for its own good. I keep my eye out for liquor cabinets and I’ve only seen one that made me go “Wow.” It was a handmade liquor cabinet built by a Mennonite craftsman that made my jaw drop. Dark, well-finished wood and plenty of interior space made me quiver with desire, but the price tag made me quiver in another way: $1,300.
4. A 42″ LCD TV
We currently have a 32″ tube television that has a slight blue discoloration in the upper left corner. Before, this would have meant that a new television needed to be found immediately, and I would have stepped up to the plate by dropping $2,500 on a 42″ flat panel television, expanding our view while reducing the footprint of our current television. It would be hanging on the wall right now, beaming down at me with high-resolution video goodness. Actually, it would probably be turned off right now, as our television is, which begs the question of why I would have bought it in the first place if the television is rarely on.
5. An “ultimate” Dance Dance Revolution setup
I recently sold off all of my video game consoles and the game I missed the most was DDR. The version I had unfortunately had a very terrible pad for gameplay that didn’t recognize about 20% of the footsteps one would make, making the game incredibly frustrating. After realizing how much I actually missed playing DDR, I longed for a complete DDR setup, which would include a pair of $100 pads, the game itself, a game system, and a memory card, totaling about $500 for everything. At least I wouldn’t have to go to the gym any more… wait… I don’t go to the gym.
6. A Treo 700p
Pure technolust here, I’m afraid. $325 for an incredibly cool cell phone with all sorts of features on it: a full QWERTY keyboard for editing documents, an email client, a 1.3 megapixel camera, an mp3 player, and so on. Wonderful and amazing and pure technolust, as I already have devices that I don’t use all that often that do all of these things. Why rebuy them?
7. A TiVo
There are several television dramas that I would like to follow, so I considered buying a TiVo to make keeping up with Grey’s Anatomy and the like much easier than before. $250 plus an ongoing programming fee would have been my reward for buying a device that would enable me to watch programs that I don’t already watch and don’t make the minimal effort to even try to catch. Why?
8. A Solis Master 5000 espresso/cappuccino maker
I occasionally enjoy a cappuccino in the afternoon at work and have desired a drink at home a few times. In the past, this would have been more than enough to convince me to drop $550 on this exquisite cappuccino/espresso maker. The truth of the matter is that my preferred morning drink is orange juice and I very rarely drink any form of coffee at all.
9. A custom tailored suit
I’m a very large man and I always wanted a suit that fit me properly. I tried to talk myself into visiting a tailor and having a custom suit made instead of actually doing a bit of research; eventually, my wife saved us both a lot of money and got me a quality suit that fit me for a reasonable price, much less than the $500-$1000 a custom-made suit might have cost.
10. A trip to Italy
I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, so early in the year I began to save up the $4,000 I thought that such a trip would take. After debating it, we decided instead to go on a long camping trip along the north shore of Lake Superior instead, which turned out to be an incredibly memorable vacation that cost about 10% of the Italian trip.
So what did I do with that money instead of buying all of this stuff? I paid off more than $10,000 in credit card debt, paid off my entire truck loan, built up a three month financial reserve, and put a little under $4K in a mutual fund.
I might not have some goodies, but I wake up in the morning without worrying about how I would pay the bills that day – and I never will again.