Yesterday morning our coffee maker broke. Which is a bad thing to happen on any day of the week when you’re a slave to it, but even worse when you were up with sick little kids the night before and are dragging. (Is it bad if I don’t know which I felt more bad for? The kids or me?? ;))
My beautiful wife was kind enough to go out and pick up a new one a few hours later shortening our state of emergency, and when she got back she apologized for not asking my opinion first.
“Why would you need to do that?” I quickly responded, “A coffee pot is a coffee pot – I’m sure it’s fine, honey.”
“Well I know you like to have the fancier stuff, but this one was only $18! And it makes coffee, so….”
“Yeah, that’s all I care about too! What are you talking about I need fancy stuff??”
“The one that just broke was $60 – and you told me we had to buy it because of the cool features and color.” *judgy face*
“Umm… well, I’m a dummy.”
She was completely right though. When I looked back at picking it up I DO remember liking it because it came on automatically at specified times of the day, and did all other kinds of whiz bang fanciness like make noises when it was ready and Lord knows what else. But I mean, who doesn’t like their coffee freshly brewed in the morning just waiting to help un-groggify you? And so what if I needed to have it sparkling red? That’s VIP right there! I looked like Martha F’ing Stewart up in that kitchen with all my matching appliances! Hah.
But here’s the funny thing: I never once did anything with it except make coffee. I never programmed it to turn on at any time, I never adjusted the settings to brew stronger or keep warm longer, and I never set any of the fun alarms for it to ring when it was ready for your highness. I just poured the water in, plopped in the specific amount of grounds it needed, and then came back 10/15/60 mins later whenever I remembered that I had turned it on to drink it. All I cared about was that it made coffee!
(I should note that while I do love me a latte or cappuccino every now and then, I don’t make any of that at home – I go to Starbucks (*gasp*). So all we really “need” at home is a machine that makes normal coffee – this may be different in your case if you like the finer stuff at home. I don’t judge!)
I don’t bring this up today to say you shouldn’t buy anything more than the minimum or splurge on stuff that’s important to you, but just that what you *think* you may need in your head can be different than when you’re actually placed in decision-making reality. And this is true for everyone – even people who talk about money every day of their lives!
By effectively taking me out of the purchasing here, my wife was able to save us a cool $40 which was $40 more we probably would have spent had I accompanied her on this errand running mission. It’s amazing the stuff you all of a sudden want when you’re presented with a choice. Give me a pen and a pad of paper and I’m happy as a clam jotting down my thoughts. Make me decide between a fancier pad (*ahem* Moleskin which I’ve spent over $20 on this year and never use!!) and an even sexier pen (or couch, pack of gum, TV – whatev) and all of a sudden I’m playing the “what’s better for me” game. My frugal side wants the “do whatever works, idiot” item, and my “I should treat myself to something better here, I’m always being frugal with my money!” side wants the opposite.
It’s maddening. And you can get it right 99% of the time and still make a bad move the very next opportunity you get. (What is wrong with us??! Haha…)
I do think we get better over time, however, especially if we play to our skills and prepare for our weaknesses. But you have to know what those are so you can plan for them. I’m good at managing our money and overall plan at home so the Mrs. puts me in charge of that, and she’s better with what are family should should wear and eat, so she’s in charge of that (and by “wear” I mean for my kids – she doesn’t dress me ;)). And now going forward I’m anointing her the Queen of Replacing All Items from now on too. I obviously can’t trust myself these days.
[Quick note: Replacing something that just broke with the exact same item is quite possibly the worst financial feeling in the world. Something that was just working 3 seconds ago has now stopped, so you’re shelling out more money to get THE EXACT SAME THING you already have! It’s horrible! And probably why I suck at shopping in these instances…. If I’m gonna go out and spend the money all over again, I might as well get something bigger/better/cooler than just “the same.” It’s exactly why I ended up with that red coffee machine in the first place – after our much smaller, cheaper, pot previously conked out. And the funny thing is that crappier machine lasted much longer – hah!]
It’s also important to keep in mind that we change as people and consumers over time too. 20 years ago I would have balked at the idea of spending $60 for a coffee machine, but now it seems just fine cuz my experiences (and people I’ve come in contact with over the years) has drastically diversified. Not everyone around me is as frugal as my mother and reminding me to watch the price tag like a hawk. Nor do I have any rules I must abide with now that I’m a grown-ass adult living in the “real” world and fending for myself. And we all know what happens when there are no rules to follow…
A) Make rules for yourself the best you can.
2) Be cognizant that we’re not always as smart as we think we are while real-life decision making.
III) Choice can be costly!
And 41) Pawn off all weaknesses onto your better half…
If you don’t have a better half, take a picture of me around in your wallet/purse instead. I’m just as good a reminder of what NOT to do as I am what TO do. And quite honestly, what’s more fun than having a mini J. Money in your pocket?
PS: Things that are more fun than having a J. Money in your pocket:
- Being debt-free
- Looking like Brad Pitt
- Having wads of $100 bills in your glove compartment
- Telling your boss to suck it when they catch you reading this site
[Cool coffee doodle by xverges]
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!