I have been awaiting approval on … an older historic horse farm on several acres … my goal has always been to live as far below my means as possible while accumulating wealth.
This generated some debate, which eventually boiled down to the following well known saying:
Never invest in anything that eats or needs repairing.
Attributed to Billy Rose, the famous Broadway producer and investor.
But, you can’t always just distill your life down to the pursuit and saving of money – there is a word for being too frugal: it’s called being a miser! Sometimes, you have to make a lifestyle decision …
For example, buying a house to live in may not be the best financial decision in the strictest sense (but, still a sensible financial decision for most people) yet we often buy them for the emotional values: sense of ownership, stability, a house is a home, my wife will divorce me if we don’t and so on.
Put simply: there are many acquisitions that we want to make in life that are lifestyle acquisitions not investment acquisitions.
And, the real financial question associated with them is: I really want it but can I afford it?
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on these things … so I came up with a fairly simple financial decision-making check-list that you can use:
1. Are you saving at least 10% of your GROSS income? If not, do not buy.
2. Are you putting aside enough to meet your future obligations (e.g. college fund, donations, family medical expenses)? If not, do not buy.
3. Have you paid down all of your consumer / bad debt? If not, do not buy.
4. Do you have all of the right insurances in place and have you saved and put aside a 3 – 6 month buffer against emergencies? If not, do not buy.
5. Have you bought your first home? If not, do not buy.
6. Have you paid down your mortgage sufficiently (and/or has the equity risen sufficiently) to ensure that you meet the 20% Rule (i.e. no more than 20% of your current Net Worth as equity in your own home)? If not, do not buy.
7. Are you Investing at least 75% of your Net Worth? If not, do not buy.
8. Have you saved enough money so that you can pay cash for the item without changing your answer to any of the above and still meet all of your current commitments? If not, do not buy.
9. Can you afford to pay all of the associated expenses (insurance, repairs & maintenance, running costs) on the item without changing your answer on any of the above and still meet all of your current commitments? If not, do not buy.
10. If you have made it all the way to this Step without triggering a ‘do not buy’ …. what are you waiting for?!
… you’re a hard-working adult, if you really want it, go ahead and buy it … you deserve it!!
There you have it … 10 Steps to Whatever It Is That You Want, simply designed to ensure that you can buy the things that you want as long as you put things of lesser long-term intrinsic value (maybe of a higher emotional value) behind activities that:
Keep you out of the poor house, and keep you heading towards your ultimate financial goal. There is a short-cut if neither of these goals are important to you: Buy now and hang the expense!
But, I don’t recommend it 😉