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"What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-21-2005, 01:12 PM   #1
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"What are you saving for?" part 3

Cut-Throat asked that question a few months back and it's stuck in my brain. Then TH raised a similar question on the Humberto Cruz variable-withdrawal thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notth
How do you reconcile those wild waves of variable life style? There will always be 2-7 year bulls and the same bears...do you just ride them up and down, living the high life while they hit and lamenting the good old days when they're long past, or is some sort of middle ground really a better bet?
I think it's the middle ground. Although for us it's probably more like the low ground.

I'm no Mr. Green and I don't think giving money to school administrators is such a hot idea, but I have a tough time adapting to the "variable lifestyle" idea.

It's not that we're "saving for something". We're just not finding anything to spend it on.

It's finally dawned on spouse & me that we're "value spenders". When there aren't any underpriced stocks then value investors aren't buying. When there aren't any bargains, then we're not spending.

Here's one example-- surfboard technology has recently produced a new type of material that's more ding-resistant, more responsive, and lighter. It could probably be used as a hull for the space shuttle and I believe it's priced by the ounce. It makes a great board, but in my case it's pearls before swine. Although it might actually help me LOOK better, I don't think it'll necessarily help me LEARN to surf better. I don't carry that analogy to extremes by surfing koa logs, but I have a reasonably-priced retail longboard that I'm learning to surf reasonably well. When I can rip like any of the guys on my local beach yet still look as smooth as Rabbit Kekai, then I'll see if I'm worthy of a new board.

Another example: our honey-do list includes "fix lanai" and "fix steps". Someday we'll hire a concrete contractor (with a big grout pump!) to resurface our lanai (I'm thinking a nice slate-embossed topcoat) and to level the stone steps. We're not saving the money for this project-- we have it already. We're just keeping an eye on contractors, concrete technology, and timing. We visit homebuilder's shows, we watch HGTV, and we talk to people who have nice lanais. Someday we'll hit the combination of a company/craftsman we trust, a great long-lasting look, and a discount time of the year. Frankly I've been spending too much time surfing to make concrete a priority.

A bad example: Our kid has a Crest spinbrush (battery-powered rotary toothbrush) that eventually grounds out when it gets wet (great design). Other electric toothbrushes have timers that my kid claims don't have a manual shutoff, so they can't be used with braces. (I don't think that's correct, but I've learned to choose my battles with claims like this.) Apparently the only suitable brush is something called a SonicCare (I'm mangling the brand name) that "retails" for $110.

As my spouse was choking over the idea of a $110 toothbrush, the kid pointed out "My braces cost $600 less than Michelle's & Erin's, and their Sonic brushes were given to them for free by their orthodontists, so even after we buy one of them we'll still be $490 ahead!"

Impeccable logic. She displays financial skills worthy of supportive nurturing. And we do have the $110 in "discretionary" savings. But this proposition has zero value! I absolutely refuse to spend $110 for ONE toothbrush when I can burn out 15 Crests and STILL be ahead.

What else would we do with the money? Diving Palau? Well, yeah, we'll probably get to that someday, but we're not exactly diving our assets off at any of our favorite local spots right now. New cars? No perceived value above our current vehicles. Another 2 KW of solar PV panels? Sure, but worldwide demand is crazy now and another year or two of prospecting might save 50 or 60 cents on the dollar. (Besides I'm too busy surfing to spend a lot of time on it.) Buy a pair of $125 sneakers for our kid, or a car for her 16th birthday, pay for any college of her choice, or leave her a six-figure inheritance? You gotta be kidding!

One brainstorm was that I'd probably stop flying coach and fly first class. Three problems-- I'll never do this with our kid because I think it sets an unacceptably high standard to which she'll rapidly become accustomed. (Why torment her!) Second, if it's not fair to the kid then I wouldn't "cheat" by doing it when (if) I travel alone. And third, I remember how I used to live on a submarine, which makes flying coach seem like a BB pellet in a racquetball court. I'd rather spend the money on something with more value. And someday I'll figure out what that is!

We have implemented one manini idea. When I was at a training command I probably spent three quarters of my time inspiring students grubbing for budget money under sofa cushions. Whenever I stole found funding we'd spend it on cheap projects that came from the instructors, not on the administration's lofty program ideals. The idea eventually caught on that if you had a good idea that needed seed money, then Nords would eventually find a way to make it happen. Life became very good in that atmosphere of uninhibited creativity, and we scattered around plenty of awards & promotions.

So to honor that money-grubbing spirit, we keep an eye on our kid's teachers. Every year or so we find one that really impresses us with their creativity, their inspiration, or their plain good old-fashioned teaching ability. (The more our kid complains about certain teachers, the better they probably are.) When we find a good one then at the end of the school year (after our kid will no longer have that teacher again) we give them $100 cash in an envelope and tell them it's theirs to spend however they want. No strings attached, no accounting required, spend it at the spa if you think you deserve it-- you've earned it.

Any other value-spending ideas?
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-21-2005, 08:28 PM   #2
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

* Nords .. you've given me a new line: "I'm not cheap. I'm a value spender."

* *Dh umpires youth baseball, and was mentioning the other day that while many of his fellow umpires buy the "package" of shirts, pants, equipment, etc, he has a congolmeration of brands -- all purchased though careful shopping.
* *Me, I'm in the market for a new dryer and dishwasher. I'll be looking for the best price (thanks again for the help on the dryer, TH) with free delivery/installation* thrown in....
* * Could we just walk into the sporting goods store or the appliance store and buy the stuff outright? Sure, we're at the point where it wouldn't kill us. But I'm mindful that we're still accumulating .. so I'd still prefer to keep the extra $$ in my account, thank you....

* * Great idea on the $100 teacher's gift. ...* *

* * And those orthodontists can afford to give out $150 brushes.* They either have a sweet deal with the brush maker, or their prices are way too high.

* * And one more thought: * I suspect a lot of folks out there do ride the waves. Live it up while the money's coming in; crash and burn when the layoff hits, or take the $$ out of the house and keep on.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-21-2005, 08:51 PM   #3
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

I've said a lot on this, but I can add that an oral-b toothbrush that doesnt shut off can be had for $39. I use this one (actually got two of them in one box from costco for ~$50 seven years ago and both still work fine), while my wife uses a sonicare. She likes the sonicare, I dont particularly look forward to sticking a vibrator in my mouth. Go nowhere with that. Please.

The oral-b can take a single rotary brushhead, more or less like the el-cheapo crest only it works. It also has a double head brush, one rotaries, one goes side to side. I've used both, the double brush costs too much and the plain old single rotary works fine. Spendy heads, so buy them at costco or sams in bulk. Consumer reports rated this one ahead of the sonicare some years ago, for whatever thats worth.

VoyT - what became of that dryer? Sears is offering free delivery after rebate - i've used that twice in the last couple of months and the rebate came in a few weeks. Not too harsh. They also have some frequent "no payments/interest for 1 year" deals if you use a sears card. My new whirlpool fridge is free until next year.

Back to topic... (silly rabbit)

I think splurges are a good idea. Its nice to treat yourself once in a while. I dont think I could take a variable cost existence based on how much my port came back with. I'll buy the wife a nice car in a couple of years when one of our other cars starts getting a little too long in the tooth. We kill a few crustaceans now and then. When we sold her house we "tch tch'd" the box wine and bought a couple of $12 bottles. Which werent any better than the box by the way.

In the meanwhile, I would and always have felt like a schmuck for not getting value for my money. Sometimes the value is in the experience, sometimes its a story, sometimes its real value. I wont pay more just to get a little more, but I'll pay what it takes to make me happy.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-21-2005, 10:27 PM   #4
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by VoyT
Nords .. you've given me a new line: "I'm not cheap. I'm a value spender."
We're gonna use that line until our kid is sick of it. Should take about six hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Notth
The oral-b can take a single rotary brushhead, more or less like the el-cheapo crest only it works. It also has a double head brush, one rotaries, one goes side to side. I've used both, the double brush costs too much and the plain old single rotary works fine. Spendy heads, so buy them at costco or sams in bulk. Consumer reports rated this one ahead of the sonicare some years ago, for whatever thats worth.
Yeah, I gave our kid my single-head Braun/Oral-B and I'll go buy another one (or even a Crest Spinbrush).

If the Braun doesn't survive her tender ministrations then I know it's operator error. I've beaten it to death for two years and never had a complaint-- except the $6 replacement heads. Luckily Bangkok's MBK sells them for ~100 baht each...
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-21-2005, 10:49 PM   #5
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Notth


VoyT - what became of that dryer?* Sears is offering free delivery after rebate - i've used that twice in the last couple of months and the rebate came in a few weeks.* Not too harsh.*
* *
* * *It's still on the radar (and the old one's still limping). We've gotten involved with a couple of home projects and a satellite dish installation that somehow managed to stretch over 3 days. (tho I shouldn't be surprised. at my house any home project takes 3 times longer than anticipated.)* Sears here is offering free delivery with a $399 purchase, so I need to do a price check
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 12:41 AM   #6
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Notth
I've said a lot on this, but I can add that an oral-b toothbrush that doesnt shut off can be had for $39. I use this one (actually got two of them in one box from costco for ~$50 seven years ago and both still work fine), while my wife uses a sonicare. She likes the sonicare, I dont particularly look forward to sticking a vibrator in my mouth. Go nowhere with that. Please.
AWWW!!! I thought of two jokes immediatly involving chipped teeth and a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song!

My problem is blowing money too often. We had some short term cash flow issues these last few months. We had been such tightwads for 5 years, and we found that once we let slip a little, we totally lost grip. In the process of re-tightening down.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 07:20 AM   #7
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
AWWW!!! I thought of two jokes immediatly involving chipped teeth and a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song!*

My problem is blowing money too often.* We had some short term cash flow issues these last few months.* We had been such tightwads for 5 years, and we found that once we let slip a little, we totally lost grip.* In the process of re-tightening down.*
I "tightened" about 10 sizes when I ERed. Been "slipping" ever since.
Working spouse and nearness of SS contributed to this. A less
significant factor is just getting used to ER. Yesterday I bought a
pretty big fishing boat for use in Texas. Five years ago I would not even
have considered such a purchase. Now, I think I can make it work.
We'll see. Anyway, it's a hard asset which can always be sold if things
got "chewy".

JG
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 12:29 PM   #8
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
AWWW!!! I thought of two jokes immediatly involving chipped teeth and a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song!
See? You went and did it. Mine involved blondes and/or polish prostitutes and/or paris hilton with an occasional chipped tooth thrown in.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 12:57 PM   #9
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

We are now spending quite a bit on furnishing our new house. This is one of the things we saved for and we are not skimping much. Since moving in February we have:

Installed highend hardwood floors in the foyer and living room
Installed upgraded carpet in the rest of the house
Had a stamped concrete patio installed
Installed highend granite countertop in kitchen
Had interior painted
Had additional insulation added to attic
Bought leather sectional sofa for family room
Bought sleep sofa for office
Bought coffee table and end table for living room

Total price: $26,000

We still have some decorating to do- window treatments, lamps, etc.

During accumulation phase I would never have considered these outlays. We got to this point by LBYM. Now we are pretty well set and can afford to loosen the strings a bit.

Grumpy
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 01:24 PM   #10
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Get a baby and/or a dog...that'll cut down on your interest to pay a lot of money for stuff for them to drool or barf on and/or drop hair on.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 03:23 PM   #11
 
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

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I dont particularly look forward to sticking a vibrator in my mouth.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 03:24 PM   #12
 
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Sorry, I don't have any control over the stuffed beaver.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3
Old 06-22-2005, 03:46 PM   #13
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Re: "What are you saving for?" part 3

Nobody does, Al.

Nobody does.
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