If this were just about money I’d be calling it ‘how to be cheap’, but it’s not. It’s about value in general and how we value vs. dispose of the things in our lives including both our possessions and our relationships.
A friend of mine once taught me that if you keep a car for five years after you’ve paid it off, you save 30K. Do it for ten years and you save 60K.
This got me wondering what it is that makes us so quick to dispose of things anyway. Cars, clothes, electronic equipment, phones, etc.–we are addicted to the upgrade. And let’s not forget relationships.
In my work I see it over and over again: nice couple gets married, has a few good years, things begin to get challenging as they fall into those typical marital patterns we all know and love, and, finally, they get rid of each other.
Now, of course, there are plenty of exceptions. People habitually cheat on each other, or hit each other, or gamble, drink, or do drugs. Marriages cannot often survive such assaults.
But for many relationships, the main ingredient that was missing was valuing the commitment and the relationship itself.
Okay, back to possessions.
Why are our things so disposable? How do we get so caught up in spending that we need ever-increasing amounts of money just to pay our minimum bills? And how much time do we take away from our relationships with our families in order to work those extra hours or extra jobs?
It never ceases to amaze, how I’ll be talking to someone who essentially fits the definition of being financially poor, and I’ll learn that they’ve got a huge car payment on a new or close to new car, or that they’ve got the latest and greatest e-toy like an iPad or iPhone 4S?!
I drive a ten year old car and I got my iPad for free, otherwise I wouldn’t have one. I am by no means a cheapskate, but I’m literally overwhelmed by the stimuli of all the new things we’re supposed to be buying all the time.
So many people I know lease or buy new cars every couple of years and pressure me to do the same. Unfortunately, I see the same patterns in many of their relationships as well.
I am a strong believer in investing and building value in people and possessions.
I’ll drive the same car until owning it becomes more expensive than selling it. After all, I really like my car, which is why I picked it out at the car dealer’s in the first place.
I’ll have the same wife ’til death does us part–I really like her too, ditto as above.
But most of all, I think it’s important that we not distract ourselves with constantly replacing the things (and people) in our lives.
Instead, we really need to get off the treadmill and enjoy our lives and the people and possessions in them for a good, long while.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)