There are a few moments in life that are truly momentous. Births, Deaths and Marriages are all an easy inclusions in that category, but big buy moments are always filled with significant first world anxiety.
When I say big buys, I am not talking about that time you went to Costco and came home with enough toilet paper to last you until the next passing of Hayley’s Comet. I am talking about an exchange of dollars that could be anywhere from two months to twenty five years of your salary. When you talk those sort of spends, it is enough cash to make a Prozac factory anxious.
I would say cars, houses, quality furniture and holidays fit into this ‘big buy’ category. In the last year I have invested in all of these, except for a holiday which now seems unattainable in light of the other purchases. Who needs a week in Hawaii when you can have a long weekend at a costal caravan park decked out in Hawaiian print shirts eating pineapple and ham pizza?!
Just this week I was on my way to buy a second car, a run-about, when the seller called me and told me that during my 1 hour commute up the highway he had sold it to another party. I was annoyed the deal had escaped me, but also relieved. These big purchases always come with a big sense of anxiety.
It was a 2006 Astra so it wasn't a lot of cash that I was parting with, but it was more than I would be willing to spend on anything other than a house or a round-the-world holiday. I will eventually have to purchase another car, so the anxiety is starting to again build.
Houses, they say, are the biggest investment you will ever make. I suppose this is true unless you are an owner of racehorses, an investor in tech start-ups or have desires to start a cocaine cartel.
I’ll assume you are like the majority of people and your house will be the biggest spend you’ll ever have. For most of us, it isn't even our money. It’s the banks! Cars also involve handing over a large amount of cash or bit coin. With both of them unless you are buying/building new, you never know quiet what you are getting! Did some die or give birth in them? Are they stolen? Do they have something structurally or mechanically wrong? Where is that weird smell coming from? What do you think that stain is?
Furniture is an interesting one. The concept of quality furniture creeps up on you. It was never discussed as a child or in school, the didn't teach on the need to attain well crafted chairs, tables, beds and bookcases. They were more concerned with arithmetic, literacy and reproductive health rather than sprucing how to determine a quality ottoman.
This year I’ve bought my first, and probably only house. I will now spend the rest of our lives paying down the debt, working jobs I don't really like to pay for a life we are not sure we want. The house required furniture that would last a lifetime, so we invested in quality. We are pretty confident the Italian neon-colour pop stained marble table will be timeless enough to last a life time. We also invested in a King bed, which cost about the same as a small car and is about the same size.
I’ve realised with all these long-term investments comes a sense of peace. I can now forgo the associated material desires and concerns, I have ticked them off the list. This house is a house I can die in. That bed can be my death bed. That second car will probably end up taking me to my death when its brakes suddenly fail. I have realised it is all just stuff. Just like us, it may last for another 60 years or it may die tomorrow.
That is why when I next look at a 2006 Astra or similar, I will be reminded of the fleeting nature of life and cherish that I am alive and breathing….then I start daydreaming of a holiday in Hawaii.