Don: Honey, I need a refrigerator in the shed.
Don: Because I want to have cold drinks out there, so I need a fridge.Now, his shed/workshop is a 12 x 30′ shed with power, lights, and air conditioning. It’s also approximately 80 feet from our back door, so (at least in theory) he could bring a cold drink with him from the house. So the conversation continued…
Me: So, what you’re saying is you NEED a third refrigerator in the shed (yes, we already have TWO; one in the kitchen, and one in the garage) because you can’t just take a cold drink out there with you? And having that third refrigerator is a higher priority than adding another $150 to our savings right now?
Don: Not a big one, honey! Just a little one for drinks! It’s not that big of a deal.Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that he was seriously mis-using the word “need.” This conversation brought to light a question I’ve been contemplating for a while:
What does your money say you prioritize?And, perhaps just as important:
What does your money say you believe?To take this to an extreme example – Don’s request for another refrigerator is saying: I value the convenience of having drinks within arm’s reach over everything else I could do with that $150. Wow. What else COULD he do with that $150 (assuming we buy a new, small 3-4 c.f. refrigerator)? For argument’s sake, let’s list a few of the other, theoretically higher priority, items that we’re supposed to be focused on right now:
- Adding $150 to our long-term savings and investments, resulting in additional income for years to come
- Paying off $150 of debt, reducing our interest payments
- Spending one night traveling or exploring the world (assuming $150 will cover a night’s hotel)
- Taking two trips out fishing on the boat ($150 = enough to cover fuel for a couple of small trips)
- Performing routine maintenance on my car, extending its life
- I believe it’s very important to teach my son healthy eating habits early on. I want him to eat when he’s hungry, and not just because his Italian grandmother is guilt-tripping him for not finishing his pasta (which is what happened when I was a kid!). However, our weekly-or-more trips through the drive through for dinner because we haven’t left enough time between activities for a home-cooked meal isn’t reflecting this belief AT ALL. In fact, it’s saying “I prioritize convenience and speed over healthy eating.” Ouch. This is why we’ve been working on meal planning recently.
- I would like to see smaller, local merchants succeed over a huge behemoth like Walmart. And while I wouldn’t say we spend a ton at Walmart, the convenience of having everything in a one-stop-shop has made our trips there more frequent than they used to be. So, right now our finances are saying “We love Walmart – to heck with the local merchants!”
- The continued existence of a very expensive storage unit where all of Don’s old stuff is stored translates to “We would rather spend money keeping old junk that we haven’t used in years just in case we need it than anything else we could do with $2,400 a year.” Again, ouch! This one is more security-related; I think it makes Don feel better to know he has a 10×20 storage unit full of belongings in case he needs them. I suspect it’s a holdover from periods of his life where he owned almost nothing, and didn’t have the means to buy what he needed.