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Limited Spending Desires
Old 04-23-2014, 09:37 AM   #1
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Limited Spending Desires

I was about to post this in the Photographer's Corner thread as it concerns a camera I have been wanting for a long time, but then realized that it is really of more general interest as I experience this kind of thing often, at all levels and types of expenditure. Allow me to explain.

I have been coveting a particular camera for a long time now. Before it was even manufactured, I was wanting this type of camera. When Fuji announced they were making it at a price point that was reachable for me, I became very interested. The first model came out (the X100) to really good, but not great, reviews, so I held off. Then it's successor, the X100S came out. It was apparent from the rave reviews that all the major bugs had been ironed out, and it was exactly the camera I had been wanting for a long time. I could barely contain my excitement.

Here's where it gets a little weird for me. This camera has been out for over a year now and I have been very close to pulling the trigger and purchasing it. The total purchase price of the camera plus a few vital accessories and the software I will need to process the images from it comes to ~ $1650. It's a significant expenditure for me, but I can manage it without much of a dent to the budget. To make the financial side easier, I have some camera gear it will replace that I can sell to raise about half (maybe more) of the purchase price, to make the expenditure even easier to swallow. However, every time I get close to pulling the trigger and buying it, something stops me. I haven't quite been able to push myself over the edge and actually buy the darned thing.

Then yesterday I found that I'll be getting some unexpected money (partial payback from a very old loan to a friend that I had forgiven years ago and essentially forgotten about). This cash will mean that I can buy the camera I really want without affecting my budget at all! Trouble is - I find myself still unable to pull the trigger. My thinking is that if I don't buy it, I'll have an even healthier cushion in my checking account. Unspent money represents potential to me - and I like the thought of all those possibilities just sitting there. Once I spend a significant amount of money on something, the potential for future spending diminishes.

This sort of thing happens to me quite a lot. I haven't been to see a film in a movie theater for several years. Recently, a documentary came out that I would really like to see. The matinee is only $8.50. Although I live on a fairly low income, I wouldn't even miss the $8.50 - I'm not that hard up! Yet, the same thing is happening. I made plans to go see this documentary in the next few days and now, at the last minute, am experiencing much diminished desire to do so. I saw a similar documentary on the same subject (by a different filmmaker) online some months ago, have seen the trailer for this film, and have done much reading online about the subject. I'm telling myself that I don't really need to see the film after all, and am about at the point where I now am not at all bothered whether I see it or not. In this case, it's obviously not about the money, as it's only $8.50 - there is something else going on.

I find this sort of thing happens to me quite often. If I think about something I'm very interested in doing, once I feel I have fully researched the subject (I suppose you might say once I have experienced it vicariously), I begin to cease feeling the desire to actually do it. It happens with trips and outings, as well as large (and even small) purchases. This process doesn't leave me feeling unhappy or frustrated. I am quite content, though I don't experience a lot of highs and lows in my life - I just feel pretty good most of the time. Life is good - I have a bicycle to get around on, 3 cats who are fantastic company, and even a small number of friends, and one close friend in particular, for the human connection I do need from time to time.

I have a feeling that I will eventually get either this camera, or it's successor (if I wait long enough). This process prevents me from buying and doing a lot of things, but it seems to act like a filter, so that the very few things I really want badly and over a long period of time, do finally get done (or purchased). I am extremely good at the art of delayed gratification, to the point that I deny myself a lot of things, but I am not at all unhappy; I'm a contented soul.

Does anyone else here experience anything similar to this? Obviously, this kind of extreme delayed gratification is good for people like myself, who ER on a limited budget, so I'm hoping I'm not the only one here with this benign affliction.
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:18 AM   #2
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You are turning into a miser. Just kidding! I think your caution is perfectly rational given your relatively low NW and income. The cost of this camera would be enough to make me do a double take too.

I have similar hesitation about spending money on discretionary items unless I am sure that whatever product or service I buy will be of value to me. The last movie that I saw at the cinema was Skyfall. There is a movie that I want to see at the cheap run cinema but I have decided to wait till it comes out on Netflix. I dropped cable over a year ago and don't have a smart TV. I belong to a social club that has many activities to choose from and I find myself focusing on those that don't cost money. For example, I will not pay good money to eat out at a bad restaurant. I haven't bought any new clothes since last year. But I do spend money on travel, and I have built it into my budget. I am about to leave on a trip to Europe and my old camera is broken. I am not buying a new one unless I see a bargain in a duty free store. I think this is simply a matter of making choices and sticking to a budget. If the hesitation extends to necessities, such as basic nutrition and shelter, and becomes obsessive, then one has become a miser.
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:22 AM   #3
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I will certainly not have a large discretionary budget in retirement, and will have to be selective. But, I already do that, or else FIRE would be a distant dream.

As for movies, I enjoy going, but usually go to the second-run theater with ticket prices at $1.50 or so. An alternative is the early matinee. Just have to skip the $10 soda and popcorn...
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:41 AM   #4
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Yes been debating about a laptop for over a year. Don't really need it. Same with new golf clubs.

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Old 04-23-2014, 10:51 AM   #5
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Does anyone else here experience anything similar to this? Obviously, this kind of extreme delayed gratification is good for people like myself, who ER on a limited budget, so I'm hoping I'm not the only one here with this benign affliction.
Yes, I do with expensive car part upgrades and other auto goodies that we can afford, but don't really need (for my car). Also, DW seems to always have a list of "wants" that supersedes mine. She is ready to pull the trigger, while I seem to hold back for long periods (and sometimes never compete the purchase).

I suppose I am influenced by DW on this and wonder what I would be like if it was just me alone in retirement?
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:58 AM   #6
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If your budget can handle it and it gives you enjoyment I say go for it. As I found out 7 years ago, your health can change in a heartbeat. Fortunately I was able to beat my life threatening cancer but I learned how fragile life is.

I think there is a middle road to travel regarding gratification. Don't wait too long if you really desire this camera.

JMHO
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:07 AM   #7
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Delayed gratification implies that eventually you give in, which does not seem to be the case here. It sounds more like denied gratification to me!

Personally my desires are only limited by my budget. I give myself a few weeks to reflect on larger purchases (>$200). If after reflection I still want the item and can acquire it without creating financial hardship, I go for it.

As you know, I recently acquired the camera you have been coveting for a while. I had never spent more than $500 on a camera before, so to me this was a very expensive purchase. Despite the fact that my fun budget is pretty generous, this purchase still gave me pause. Except for airplane tickets to Europe (to visit family), I rarely spend that kind of money of a single discretionary item. Last year, I became really interested in acquiring a Canon EOS 5D camera. New, it was borderline out of my budget. So I figured I would patiently wait for a used one on Craigslist. But when the opportunity arose I didn't pull the trigger because it was still too much money. I guess we all have our limits as to what constitutes a "reasonable" purchase (beyond money considerations).

As for the movie, it's a bit more puzzling. You seemed excited about it on the photography thread, and it is clearly within your budget. Personally, I hate going to the movies (or any other place where humans are packed closely together). So I would probably wait for the movie to show up on Netflix.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:15 AM   #8
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I will certainly not have a large discretionary budget in retirement, and will have to be selective. But, I already do that, or else FIRE would be a distant dream.

As for movies, I enjoy going, but usually go to the second-run theater with ticket prices at $1.50 or so. An alternative is the early matinee. Just have to skip the $10 soda and popcorn...
I can't remember the last time I've been to a movie theater.

I've found as time goes by, the things and experiences I used to enjoy are slowly fading away. Not all of them....I still have a few passions.

The passions I have left, I enjoy. I figure one day those may slowly erode as well. So, I take advantage of them now.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:30 AM   #9
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That is a really expensive camera no matter what the budget! Wow. Back when I was trying to live frugally, I would never have even considered something like that much less delayed it.

For me, the most effective technique for spending less was to make a game out of it. Maybe that wouldn't work for everybody, but it worked for me. I would try to compete with my own lowest monthly spending, to see if I could out-do myself and I would be utterly thrilled when I managed to do that.

Also, I would try to identify low cost or no cost leisure activities that I really liked. After all, the point was not to be miserable, but to live a happy and fulfilled life while being frugal.

What I would have done with unexpected money such as you recently received, is to allow myself to spend about 10% frivolously if I felt the need to do so, and save the other 90%.

I don't like to go to the movies any more. I have started suggesting that Frank should go by himself on the rare occasion when he wants to go. The volume at theaters is so loud, the pre-show commercials are endless, and the entire experience is so bad that I would much rather stay home. He understands.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:39 AM   #10
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It's OK to be cautious about a big purchase. I have bought fewer and fewer "toys" because I have found myself with too many of them that I did not spend that much time with, nor use them to their full capability. In this particular case, I am not into photography, which to me is just a quick way to document my travel itinerary for future reviews. So a good camera is just a waste in my hands. For someone who's into it, it may be a very worthwhile purchase if it brings you thousands of hours of joy.

As it comes to little incidental expenses, I have learned to enjoy small spontaneous indulgences. It adds spice to life. I do not care to go into a cinema, but there are things I have a sudden desire to do. For example, I recall that it has been a while since I made a terrine, and I should go get some chicken or beef liver plus some inexpensive brandy to make one (can't waste my VSOP or XO Cognac in a pâté). It's time!

A month or two ago, I drove across town to a local charcuterie get some headcheese, and also some Tasso ham for a jambalaya. It was a fun and different thing to do.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:55 AM   #11
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My toys are simple living, solar and energy efficient gadgets from Amazon. I try to buy products that save more money over time than they cost. Plus I wait and get what I can from their warehouse deals. I look for stuff selling at at half off.

It is the thrill of the (bargain) hunt that is half the fun. But you have to buy some stuff eventually or else it just turns into denied gratification as FIREd posted, and that's no fun.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:21 PM   #12
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You're lucky it's a camera and not my current dream...an Airstream trailer!!!!

But life has taught me that just because I CAN afford something, doesn't mean I will get enough use out of the thing to make the purchase worthwhile....

In other words, I have made purchases over a lifetime that seemed like something I'd really like to do and develop, then lost interest....

Now, I try to evaluate the whole picture.....and in the case of a travel trailer, when I see the dozens and dozens of them out there sitting beside their owners homes for 50 weeks of the year, sinking into the ground, I say.."Nope"....

So I frequent the Travel Trailer owner forums and live life vicariously thru those folks!!!
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:40 PM   #13
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I am very similar in mindset to the OP. I have been wanting a new flat-screen TV for well over a year now to replace my 12-year old rear projector that is clearly nearing the end of its useful life. But for some reason, I can't seem to mentally get to the point of pulling the trigger on a new TV. I'm not sure it's just a money issue... maybe it has more to do with complacency. Whatever it is, it's kind of a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because I end up saving tons of discretionary money, and a curse because I am denying myself the pleasure of new things more often than I probably should.
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Old 04-23-2014, 01:58 PM   #14
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I am very similar in mindset to the OP. I have been wanting a new flat-screen TV for well over a year now to replace my 12-year old rear projector that is clearly nearing the end of its useful life. But for some reason, I can't seem to mentally get to the point of pulling the trigger on a new TV. I'm not sure it's just a money issue... maybe it has more to do with complacency. Whatever it is, it's kind of a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because I end up saving tons of discretionary money, and a curse because I am denying myself the pleasure of new things more often than I probably should.

You sound like me. Mine was 10 years old before I just recently replaced it. My GF got tired of me telling her I am getting a new TV, as I have been saying it for 3 years. It is in the garage now waiting for spring trash haul off day. I bet if I put a "free and works great" sign on it by the curb nobody would take it. It's liberating...let go and buy it, Sojourner...stay on the cheap end like I did if you worry about spending too much!


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Old 04-23-2014, 02:09 PM   #15
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I've found that I lust after fewer things and when I do buy them, I get only a temporary satisfaction from the actual purchase. I enjoy the research and the hunt more than the purchase. These days I try to buy anything used from Craigslist or eBay.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:29 PM   #16
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Have no desire to buy most things. But then again when I do want something I generally go get it after a few days of research.

Interestingly the purchases I make are higher priced, last a long time, and are used regularly (examples include motorcycles, ski equipment, TV's, golf clubs, food).

My DW on the other hand makes many purchases (of small value items) and many donations (of the same items) to the goodwill.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:57 PM   #17
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I can't see you buying an engagement ring either, Major Tom. So even without looking at your Public Profile, just by reading your OP, I can guess that you have never married. LOL.

Go see the documentary. It may present a slightly different angle or some other interesting facts than the other one that you saw on the same topic. I know you already said it's not about the money. But what the heck, You've ER'd, go do something that you find fun while you have the time and the interest etc.

Thank you for sharing your "benign" affliction. It was a fun read for me.
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:16 PM   #18
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You're lucky it's a camera and not my current dream...an Airstream trailer!!!!

But life has taught me that just because I CAN afford something, doesn't mean I will get enough use out of the thing to make the purchase worthwhile....

In other words, I have made purchases over a lifetime that seemed like something I'd really like to do and develop, then lost interest....

Now, I try to evaluate the whole picture.....and in the case of a travel trailer, when I see the dozens and dozens of them out there sitting beside their owners homes for 50 weeks of the year, sinking into the ground, I say.."Nope"....

So I frequent the Travel Trailer owner forums and live life vicariously thru those folks!!!
An RV or a boat is something one should definitely do a lot of soul searching before buying, particularly if it is new. I just read the following entry of a blog that was mentioned by a poster on a recent thread. It should be a required reading for boat and RV buyers.

See: Living Stingy: Hobbies Run Amok!

and this: Vehicle Madness - Knowing When to Unload

The above said, I have really enjoyed my second-hand class C motorhome. People said I was crazy to buy an RV + toad after having bought a 2nd home which cost more than my main home. However, for the motorhome I paid only a bit over 1/4 of its new price, and it had a mere 25,000 miles.

Once I discovered that I liked this traveling mode, I thought often of upgrading, but in the end decided against that. What I already have works great, turns out to be of the right size for me (25'), and I know it inside and out and already spent a few $K for upgrade and customization.

Yes, sometimes we have to make a jump and spend some money. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This reminded me that I need to change out the coolant in that RV and its engine oil. The travel season is but a month or two away. Spanking new set of 6 tires was already installed.
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:20 PM   #19
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Frugality is very much overrepresented on this board. That's a good thing, mostly. That hesitancy before pulling the trigger on a purchase is one of the key characteristics that have allowed most people here who are already FIRE, or able to contemplate it, to do so.

That said, I'd say when self-reflection becomes self-denial, we've moved into a not-so-great place. To me, if something is truly desired - and especially if it fits within the realm of those things we are truly passionate about - and it's within our discretionary budget, go for it!

I certainly can relate to the camera bug, as photography is one of my great passions. Just be glad you're not into Leica gear!
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:24 PM   #20
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I overcame similar reluctance and bought the x100 a bit over a year ago. I simply don't like it as I'm too used to the (admittedly bulky larger) Nikon DLSR I'd been using for years. So rather than the delight of indulgence, I'm suffering from buyer's remorse! PM me if you want a good deal on it!
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