For years I’ve lived with a maxim that brings a smile to my face every time I repeat it to myself. Which is approximately 38 times a day. I’ve kept it in long enough, however, and today I release it to the masses.
It’s called “Anyone can buy that”, and you remind yourself of it anytime you come across the following situations:
- When you roll up behind a Land Rover/Benz/Bimmer
- When you walk past a mansion/mcmansion/megamansion
- When your colleague rocks anything Coach.
- When you’re actually sitting in coach staring at first!
- When your friends are glued to their 82″ plasmas
- When you overhear how awesome that $100 bottle of wine tasted
When you see someone spending less than they earn
It doesn’t matter if they can afford it or not, or if they paid with cash or credit – the takeaway is still the same: anyone can buy that.
Anyone can save too, but unfortunately that’s harder to see on any given day.
So anytime you catch yourself being jealous or salivating over someone else’s awesome things – which, let’s face it, there’s a lot in life that IS! – just remind yourself that you can purchase whatever you want too. You’ll probably have to take on some debt or freeze a handful of your goals in return, but you’re free to pull the trigger any damn time you please. And that’s quite the liberating feeling.
But remember, every time you don’t, you get that much closer to freedom. Freedom from stuff, freedom from your job, and freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your life.
Things are nice, but power is better. And that’s something that no one can buy.
[Fancypants pic by realburiedtreasure]
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I really want to buy an LED TV in my room, in fact I already stepped inside the appliance store because I really, really wanted to buy it! But suddenly, some words came into my mind “Do I really need to buy it?”, I paused for a while and leave the store. :) Right, I really don’t need it, we already have an LED TV in our living room and I think that’s enough.
The walking away trick helps in sooooo many different ways. Most often you’re not as excited when you do, and then in the off chance you are you feel much better about taking the time to think about it before going back and picking it up :) If something’s on my mind for a long time, chances are it’s a safe bet to purchase (provided I have the money, of course)
This is totally awesome!!!
Reminds me of some of the conversations I’ve recently had with my husband. He believes he is paid more than his coworkers, but their houses are nicer and they have new cars and they have toys like boats. I keep telling him that we have no idea if creditors are calling them all day long!! (Plus, what do their wives make? Do they have 100k in student loans like us?)
Next time he says something, I’ll say “ok, honey, we can buy that too…”
It’ll probably make him feel better indeed :) I love feeling like i can buy anything in the world if I want! It’s easy to do if you don’t care about money, haha…
Truth. I’ve played versions of this so many times I start feeling bad for people who “get all fancy up in this piece,” wondering how much debt they’re in or what goals they delayed to buy all that fanciness…
It would be cool if people had these pop ups above their heads that showed how much debt they were in :) That way not only would things be in better perspective, but you could congratulate all those who have the fancy stuff AND wealth! I’m certainly not opposed to having expensive stuff, but usually it’s hard to have your fancy cake and eat it too.
This post is a great reminder to slow down in the comparison trap and really remember that if you really wanted that, you could have it, too. But at what cost is the question? I would be pretty darn wealthy by now if I never had any student loans. I’m sure I’d be rolling around in something nicer than my 06 Civic. But if I bought something nicer now, I’d take away from my student loan payments, which is something I’m not willing to do. Getting out of debt is more important!
You’re a smart woman – you should have a blog ;)
Bravo…well said….Did have a “head shaking experience” at my favorite place …Home Depot…As I was loading my stuff into my almost 13 year old Ford Ranger, up pulls a guy with the “dream truck”….you know the kind….full size Ford ..diesel…4 wheel drive…double cab…leather…just beautiful. We chatted and I even helped him load some of his stuff. I asked how much he paid for the truck…he replied…”almost $60K…but I had to have it”…I felt faint. We part and as I start my truck he asked….”what’s that rattle..like metal”. My reply…”it’s probably the money in my pocket”….Shheezz…$60K …for a truck…that’s crazy…
“but I had to have it” – the silent killer ;)
I wonder what the monthly cost, ie payments, insurance and gas would be for a 60k truck?
Ahahahaha! That is awesome. I have a student who’s junior in high school. He told me he gets paid $25? $29?/hr. (can’t remember the exact figure) to build fence. He has a pickup that I think he said he bought $25,000 for. So he’s earning a tremendous amount for a 16 yr. old, and spending it on something that’s losing value as it sits on planet Earth.
My dad, who is in his 60s, recently bought a brand new truck. However, he could pay for it, and he had many years of older pickups and cars…. I can remember being embarrassed about our family car when I was a kid, but now I realize what they were doing right! After my mom hit a deer, she sold it to a neighbor who used it for demo derbies. Anyway, they have worked hard and been smart and now they did something they can financially handle. My 16 yr. old student could probably pay his way through junior college with the money he’s making, but he’d rather have an awesome truck.
Ouch! I hope he uses it as a tax write-off for his business AND it helps him procure more! He may be even smarter than we give him credit for if it’s all a part of his biz plan :)
I drive an 8 year old truck where the wheels wells are starting to rust out and there is a slight rattle in the lifters until it warms up.
My family (parents/siblings) tease me about it once in a while, “When are you going to replace that thing?” or “Why are you still driving that rust bucket?”
I always simply reply, “When it’s no longer running.” to the first question and, “Because it’s paid off.” to the second question.
My wife and I never have and never will buy a new vehicle, but my wife once asked me, “If we won the lottery what kind of car would you buy?” to which I replied, “Another used Ford just as it soon as the one I have now isn’t worth fixing anymore.”
That’s a true money lover, right there ;)
I have been watching the gif for like 5 solid minutes and then i realized it was being played in revserse… then I got a little sad that I wasted those 5 minutes… but then I remembered I am work so I got paid for that time.
Delayed gratification is not something that most people are good at, but it is an important skill to master.
HAH! I didn’t even catch that…. I’m sure your boss would be proud ;)
SO glad you wrote this, J$… especially the part about “But remember, every time you don’t [spend], you get that much closer to freedom. Freedom from stuff, freedom from your job, and freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your life.” Over the wknd – probably because it was a holiday, and because the weather was great – I started thinking about purchasing a lake place/house. My friends did so about a year ago, and they’ve been talking about how it’s their “happy place,” and I was like, “I want a ‘happy place’ too, somewhere you can go and de-stress, get away from everything that makes my stomach hurt!” It sounds incredibly appealing. I drove around, started looking at places online, started doing some Figuring in my head. But now I see your post, and I think, if I can just hang in there 11 more years… I just may be able to retire at 55, which would allow me to go take care of my mom. That is the goal. Thx for saving me about $200k! LOVE your posts J$!
GOOD! Our goals are always different than our friends’, so I’m glad you realized your top ones first before locking yourself into something so big like a house. Perhaps any time you want your own happy place, you can just go hang out at your friends and have the best of both worlds? ;)
I agree, even though it may sound selfish. Go hang at your friend’s and don’t spend your money. If they have already invested, you can be a great company and contribute in a different way. Provide a great conversation, entertain, clean, cook, get involved. Don’t have to spend $200 K and take your freedom away.
Sooo well written! Thank You!
Well said J! Not only does this remind me of the comparison trap we all too often can get trapped in, but also value based spending. I may want that new flashy TV or fully loaded car, but I value other things…my freedom and having more money put aside to get to that freedom than that stuff.
This post is so true and just gave me “peace of mind”. I think there is a huge shift when you start saying “I CAN buy that…but I don’t want to”. I just wish I would have learned that lesson sooner. I really believe my son will be so much better off than I thanks to blogs like this! :-)
Awww, he’s a lucky guy regardless to have a mom who cares so much! And the beautiful thing about this mindset is that once it’s engrained you have it with you forever :)
Never really thought of it that way, but very true. Helps put the Jones in perspective. It’s all about choices and which it right for you. Thanks for the nice little reminder!
True dat!!! <— Hanging with teens this weekend. This has been my saying for a few months now. I could but I won't buy it. Seems like I need a lot of thins to reminds me to stay focus when it comes to my fiances. Thank you. GIF, I love it!
The gif helps me channel my inner teen as well ;) #Word #LMAO
Had to remind myself and husband of this over the weekend. I was explaining to my husband’s friends that I’d love if he bought a motorcycle but he would have to sell his car first since I think it’s silly to pay insurance on three cars. Says the guy with two cars plus his future wife’s car, “…you know, I used to think that too but having an extra car really isn’t that expensive.”
Anyway, to your point, we can absolutely afford three cars… but why would we? It would only take us further away from our goals :)
Now the true test is to see if your husband is smart enough to listen to his smart bride :)
Love it. It reminds me not to be jealous when I see other people buying expensive stuff. For all I know, they are in a financial mess.
One time, this was probably rude of me, but someone kept bragging about an AR rifle they just bought. They kept acting like they were hot stuff just because of the purchase.
Eventually I told him, “If I wanted one, I’d have one.” That made him realize his purchase isn’t anything too special.
“Wanna compare bank accounts?” Probably would have shut him up as well. Call me old fashioned but I think paying off debt > buying needless weapons.
Yeah, that $hit drives me crazy…. I could see if they got a great deal on it, or had to search the entire world to snatch one up since there are only 3 ever produced or something, but to brag about an item that simply entailed handing over money? that anyone can do?? pshhh… no skill involved whatsoever.
Ok, I do have a couple of Coach purses that I’ve carried for over a decade so I’m guilty on that item. However, I’ve played the “I’d rather” game for quite a while. I choose things I’d rather have than something else. Like early retirement over annual trips to Disneyworld, or something like that. Or even a Coach purse over several cheap knock-offs. Then when I’m tempted to buy something or if I’ve feeling particularly envious of something someone else has, I simply go back to my “I’d rather” list and say to myself…”yes, they have that but I’d rather retire or I’d rather save for my Coach purse.” The urge to buy or feeling of jealousy diminishes right away.
Right on, that’s a good one. same applies in business too actually – “would I want my competitor to have/be doing that?” if the answer is no, I know I need to up my game to stay ahead. And if the answer is “who cares” then I move right along to business…
also, I actually happen to think Coach purses look much better/classier than most others out there and have actually gotten my wife a couple in the past, so no judging at all there :) I’m all for picking up fancy stuff when it aligns correctly, just not when it doesn’t.
That gif is magical. At first I was worried the guy would poke his eye out, but then I realized what was happening…
That’s a fantastic mantra, J Money. I’m stealing that, for sure. Any schmuck with credit can buy stuff. It’s no big deal. The rub is that, in a consumer culture, the things we consume help define our identities to other people. So, in some ways, we are defined by the music we like, and the car we drive, and the clothes we wear, and the blogs we read. None of us, even the frugal, are totally immune.
Are we defined by the blogs we read?? Haha… I better stop reading all those porn ones, I mean….
“Things are nice, but power is better.” Great quote! I used to definitely admire the goods that my friends and neighbors collected and it made me feel powerless. Now I think about how most of it is a waste of money and the realization definitely feels powerful. :-)
Dude, I love that maxim. It’s so true! I work in the auto financing industry and I can totally attest to the first one! It makes me sick to see the financial state of some of the people who are rolling around in Land Rovers and Benz’s. It makes me even more sick when I start to think, “Hey, if they can, why shouldn’t I?” But as MMM put it best (as he usually does), the desire for ever-increasing material luxury is weakness, and living a life of weakness if not fun—http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/11/11/get-rich-with-the-position-of-strength
BAM! Well said indeed, man that guy’s good…
And you’re actually in the perfect position to really SEE the types of finances these cats have… so you can judge purely based on the facts – you lucky bastard ;)
I have lived in Miami which I’m convinced is the leasing of expensive cars capital of the world, worked at a private golf course, so I’ve seen a couple really nice expensive cars and I’ve had 2 thoughts during that time. The college me said I will own one of those cars one day, the FI blogger now looks at those cars now and thinks usually a combo of what are they thinking they can’t afford that! and good for them, I’ll assume they paid cash and it’s less than 10% of their annual income.
I like your “Anyone Can Buy That” thought process as well.
That maxim is very true though I think I’d still be envious of people who could afford to buy their expensive stuff and not go into debt.
Yeah, it def. doesn’t suck to be them ;)
It goes to show that people who buy stuff in order to feel better are stuck in a crazy spending cycle. If you learn the mind trick of saying no to your wants, you just evolved and now can experience personal finance bliss. I do not want a TV taking away 3 months of my freedom or a jaguar taking away 6 years of my freedom. I want my freedom as soon as I can get it.
So true. It’s just stuff. Nothing wrong with stuff, but it’s nothing compared to feeling free and in control.
This reminds me of what my father always told my sister and me: “Don’t confuse having things with having money.”
BAM! Smart dad.
Power is better! Thank you for the reminder!
I loved this post so much that I came to comment on it after getting off the train! It is so easy to get caught up on the lives of everyone around you. I was just at a friends house this weekend and their TV dwarfs ours. At first I came home all caught up in my feelings of an inadequate TV (seriously wtf) but then I snapped out of it an told myself “hHy, we don’t even watch that that much TV any way!” Now I have something else to remind myself of. Thank you. It’s needed in today’s age of social media and hyper-connectivity.
Awww, thanks for totally making my morning – you’re sweet to stop and leave a comment :) Glad you enjoyed the post!
Ha! Short & sweet and so true.
So goes the saying: “You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.”
You know it.
There are so many things that I want and tempted to buy, but I always have to remind myself that I don’t want to work the rest of my life. I want to take control of my life and work toward that freedom.
So true. There are so many people out there who get so caught up in their ability to buy something that they forget to process whether or not they should buy it or even need it.
Yep. Anyone can buy that, but not anyone can afford to. Big distinction.
Love the message here J. I routinely fight a battle with the idea of wanting more. Each time I squash it I feel more and more in control. But, like many things, the temptation to think that way never quite goes away.
It does if you stay in your house and never watch tv or go online or ever talk to anyone ;)
Love this! You are so right, well, except for maybe the big house. Not anyone can buy a mansion as they wouldn’t get a mortgage if they didn’t have at least close to enough in income, but your basic point makes sense and I actually use that mantra myself whenever I start to feel jealous of what someone else has. Then I check my retirement savings and bank account and realize I’m way better off not buying every little thing that catches my eye.
And thankfully the banks are better about putting in these barriers than they were pre-Crash too! People will still find a ways to wiggle around it, but at least it’s much harder than it used to be.
Does anyone buy plasma televisions anymore? I don’t know if that would be a step up.
I wouldn’t know ;) I still rock an old school box TV… though it is 62″, haha…
We recently bought a “new to us” car and we paid for it with cash. One of DH’s co-workers bought the same make but a newer model and of course it has more bells and whistles than ours. But when I calculated the costs that the person shelled out for it, financing, insane insurance costs, sales tax at DMV etc.. I looked at Jeremy (yes I name my cars) and felt proud that we stayed within our planned budget and that we’ll be in a position to retire much earlier than the average Joe with the money we save.
Wow, that’s pretty good – well done. I’ve never paid cash for a car before and my last one cost $3,200! Haha…
So true! I always think that when I see someone in a huge house or an expensive car. I shouldn’t judge, but my first thought is always “wow, they’re in a lot of debt and that sucks for them”, then I just feel sorry for them. haha
I find myself feeling envious of people who take their families on great vacations. I would love to do that! But not while we’re making our way out of debt. In the mean time, I am taking note of the fact that the kind of memory-building, family-bonding experience that I associate with family vacations can actually happen in very simple moments – like when my husband and I played an hour of cards with our youngest daughter – or when I treated our second oldest to a smoothie and muffin yesterday after she passed her driver’s test.
Awww, there you go :) Watching others take family trips is def. a hard one cuz it’s not just “stuff” they’re buying but memories. Which most people agree is a better route for your money. But fortunately you can spend quality time with each other in thousands of other (cheaper) ways too, as you guys know :)
Never compare yourself to anyone else, you’re only comparing your best to their best.
Well that quote still works here:P Good reminder to be happy with what you have and not look at other people and want what they have!
Love that quote!! Hadn’t heard of before! :)
I had that thought of “We can buy anything we want” when my wife starting working full-time and I changed jobs. Our income over doubled! But we just wanted a modest house to a raise a family in the future and work towards financial independence. Got the modest house, now need to work on that net worth…
Its a really freeing feeling to know you can buy something, but have the self control to want to keep your money more. :). I was so jealous of my friend because she lives in a gorgeous gated community, big house with marble counters, recessed lighting and a tile mosaic in their driveway. Little did I know, they were leveraged up to their eyeballs to have that lifestyle and literally lost everything in 2008-2009. :( I must confess that I felt a bit of schadenfreude when all that happened, & it made my modest home that we can afford on one income seem incredibly smart even if it’s not fancy. We sailed through 2008 unaffected and I love my friend and keep her story as a cautionary tale about living beyond your means. Now I say yes anyone can afford that, but at what cost?
Holy crap – a perfect cautionary tale indeed! Way to stick to your own lifestyle and keep pushing ahead. It’s not always fast or sexy, but it’s always smart!
Even before i start reading this post. i can already feel the strength in those 4 words. WOW!
GOOD! Music to my ears :)
I find myself doing that a lot lately. Now that my net worth is going up, I find myself looking at expensive/luxury items that I can afford and think “I could by that,” followed by “But I don’t need to buy that to feel wealthy!”.
It’s ok to still splash out on things now and again, but the truly wealthy don’t really care what other people think of their wealth.
Great mantra. It’s so easy nowadays to go in a dealership and drive off with a brand new luxury car that day without giving up any money. Maybe that’s what that person in front of you did. Or maybe they bought it with cash. In either case, it doesn’t matter because anyone can buy that and you decided not to.
Marketers would hate to see this post because making other people jealous enough to buy their product is a big part of their strategy. Great post!
Haha yup! Exactly… though they do always get me on shiny toothpaste boxes :) The more they sparkle the more I feel like my teeth will! Those bastards…
Haha, you got me, J$! I saw your tweet today, “Comment on this article of mine,” and I thought you were inviting me to comment on a new post about marketing (not to re-visit a prior one that I had already read).
But now that I’m here I’ll comment. Your tweet might be interpreted as an ad for this post, and that it was your intent to mislead me into thinking I was going to read something new. (Though I rather doubt that.) Most likely it’s just a grammatical misunderstanding, with an implied descriptive modifier–“Here is one reader’s”–prefacing the noun, “comment,” which I mistook for an imperative verb.
You may recall that I tend to over-analyze, and I am super-sensitive to the issue of intent because it has such a pivotal role in my guest post here of April 4, 2014. To me, that’s still a hot-button issue, worth revisiting too because it might save us taxpayers a ton of money.
Now aren’t you glad you got me here?;)
Haha… you’re too much my man. I meant it as “Here is one reader’s comment.” I hope that cures your curiosity and possible frustration with me ;)
Ha, I have a similar thought when I notice people spending gobs of money (including myself). I always wonder how many more years they will have to work in order to enjoy that particular luxury. How many more years will it take to maintain and finance and replace $80,000 cars for 30 years versus $30,000 cars? How many more years to pay for that extra 3,000 SF of living space (and heat and cool and furnish and clean it)? It applies to small expenses too. An extra $100 a month on anything not only reduces your saving/investing ability by $1200 a year but also means you need to save an extra $30,000 or so in order to generate enough income pay for that expense in retirement.
YUP – exactly.
The less you need to live, the less you need to work later. Such an easy concept, yet we always make things so complicated :)