Starting Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Debt: $110,408.18
Total Paid Off: $15,902.59
Income Going to Savings: 1%
[Side note: I have adjusted my starting debt and current debt slightly. I made a dumb mistake in my spreadsheet. These kinds of dumb mistakes are probably part of the reason I’m in debt in the first place…]
Growing up I was told many times to buy the best of whatever you were looking for, because if it’s the most expensive [insert item here], you’ll never think to yourself, “Well my [insert item here] is nice and all, but it kills me to know that there is a better model out there.”
This was engrained in me at a young age by the people that I knew.
My Grandfather, had lots of amazing things and always lavished us with crazy presents. Great house on a nice chunk of land, lots of vehicles and equipment, the latest “as seen on TV” gadgets in his house, everything. Then he went bankrupt, or maybe it was that he got in trouble with the IRS. I can’t remember as it was so long ago, but in any case I chose to ignore that part of the story.
My Dad had a lot of toys too (https://diggingout.blog/2019/05/14/the-money-was-limitless-until-it-wasnt/) and we lived an amazingly awesome lifestyle for many years. Until he lost everything. Again I chose to ignore the last part of that story.
I operated that way for a long time, often with my wife by my side saying level-headed things like, “Do you really need that one? The one next to it looks just as good, and it’s a lot less expensive.” I chose to ignore her as well.
See a pattern here?
The simple fact of the matter is that this “buy the best” line is all a load of horse dung. Or I guess bull dung if I’m trying to remain consistent with my post title.
Really what this is all about is ego. It’s fear of having someone have a something that is better than your something. It’s having the house on the highest hill because new hills don’t just pop up randomly, so you’re pretty safe in knowing you’ll always be on the highest one. It’s purely about status, and if you believe otherwise you are kidding yourself.
And the top of the line car, or TV, or appliance you bought? It will probably last even less time than the cheaper knock-off version.
Case in point:
My wife loves her coffee. I think if I was dangling from a bridge over a pit of alligators and there was a Starbucks within walking distance, the best I could hope for is that my wife made it back just in time to throw an egg bite in my mouth as the final rope snapped. At least I stayed keto-friendly until the very end.
Why in the hell was I on that bridge in the first place? My analogies are as stupid as my past financial decisions!
So she loves coffee, and we got a well-known brand of coffee maker that you put the little cups in and it spits out your java one lightning-quick serving at a time. Given what I called out above about my spending habits and the fact that my wife holds tremendous value on her go-go juice, I bought her the most expensive one they had.
We had a couple over one day that I would refer to as “fiscally responsible,” and they inquired about the coffee maker. The next day they went out and bought the cheapest model they could find.
Smash cut to almost 2 years later. Our coffee maker had been returned on warranty twice for breaking down, replaced both times at no cost, and eventually replaced with the brand new top-of-the-line latest and greatest model of coffee maker from the company. That one died six months later.
That cheap one our friends bought? They still use it to this day. Sure it doesn’t have the fancy touch screen, and the water reservoir is a bit smaller, but it still works and the coffee still tastes just like the coffee that came out of any of the 4 coffee makers I had.
We live in a day and age where things are made to start falling apart the moment you get them home (except for their stupid cheap coffee maker.) They’re made of plastic and can be quite flimsy and the companies bank on the fact that you’re going to just go ahead and buy a new one when that thing breaks in a year or two. So buying the best doesn’t get you much at all.
One thing that buying the best does get you? All the best bills that go along with it. You want a Lamborghini? Rad! You’re going to pay a monthly Lamborghini-sized bill. Want to change the oil in your Lamborghini? Hell yes you do! But a Lamborghini isn’t getting an oil change at a Jiffy-Lube. Oh no! It needs to be taken to an authorized Lamborghini shop where they replace the oil with the tears of the less fortunate people who work at the Jiffy Lube down the street while you eat really fancy cheese. Did your Lamborghini break down? Sweet! Lamborghini parts are super expensive. Enjoy!
I’ve never driven a Lamborghini… come to think of it, I’ve never even touched a Lamborghini, but I’m pretty sure I still nailed the paragraph above.
I think that there are certain times where you want to buy the best. I go with the nice toilet paper as an example. That region of your body is something you want to take care of. That’s a good purchase.
Premium ice-cream is another one for me. I rarely eat it (keto until the alligators get me!), but when I do don’t even try to give me a scoop of that store-brand slop. I want the good stuff. I’m looking right at you, Tillamook.
You pick your battles.
What it all boils down to is that buying the best won’t always make you happy. Buying the best will get you higher bills, just as many headaches, and the reassurance that even if you buy the best, a newer model is probably already out by the time you get your [insert item here] home.