“A Volvo? I didn’t take you for a Volvo girl. You’re a Mercedes girl,” our friend told me as I was used car shopping several years ago.
Huh? A Mercedes had never even crossed my mind.
But the more I sat with the idea, I thought “Yeah. I AM a Mercedes girl. I work hard. I deserve a Mercedes, damn it.” Andrew knew better than to give his two cents worth. Not that I would have listened.
So, a Mercedes it was. A real steal of a deal I found online (NOT). And there I was, tooling around town in my new (used) Mercedes SUV.
I won’t lie. I really liked driving the car. At least until the repair bills started trickling in. Then, not so much. My love affair with my Mercedes tarnished.
It took me a few years but I finally realized that I liked the IDEA of driving a Mercedes more than I actually liked the actual vehicle. After all, a Mercedes is just a car, the purpose of which is to get me from point A to point B reliably and safely.
My car payments were outrageous and I finally (begrudgingly at first) concluded that my vehicle choice was impractical and our money would be better invested elsewhere. You know, little things like sending our kids to college and saving for our retirement.
My mom graciously stepped up and offered me her second vehicle (I told you my mom has a shopping problem, right?!), a 2010 Toyota Rav-4 that only had 40,000 miles on it. No brainer.
I jumped at the offer and drove the vehicle home from Virginia last month.
I sold my Mercedes at a loss, accepting less money than I still owed, but I decided I had to stop the financial bleeding. Which brings me to the point of my email today.
Let’s talk about choices.
We can afford to do anything we want but we can’t afford to do everything.
We have the time to do anything we want but we don’t have the time to do everything.
We can eat anything we want but we can’t eat everything.
We live in a time of abundance. Abundance of choices. Abundances of resources. Abundance of stuff.
We are bombarded with advertising messages everyday in our car, on tv, on billboards, on social media, our email, and websites, telling us that we can have it all.
But it’s a lie.
We can’t have it all.
We can have anything we want. But we can’t have it all.
Yes, I could afford to drive a luxury vehicle. But, I can’t afford to drive a luxury vehicle AND send two kids to college debt-free AND continue to travel and take time off.
Abundance is good! Lack is bad.
That’s a lie too.
Too much of anything turns into a bad thing.
Ten pairs of shoes sounds about right but 100 pairs? I think not. [No judgment, but you know who you are!]
What if instead of obsessing about having more, we instead focused on having just ENOUGH.
Enough is the sweet spot. Not too much. Not too little. Like Goldilocks, enough is just right.
So how do we decide what enough is for us? Society and current cultural norms certainly are no help.
Because what advertisers and society doesn’t tell us is in its quest to cram more into our lives is that we have to make choices.
We have to prioritize what is important in our lives.
Then, once we know what our priorities are, we can choose to spend our money, time and other resources in a way that reflects our priorities.
But that’s not what most of do.
Most of us unconsciously spend, spend, spend.
We spend our precious money, time, and energy on stuff and activities that society says is worthwhile, on things that will supposedly make us better people, more likeable, more respectable, more powerful, prettier, more desirable, more loveable.
I’m tired of being a mindless squanderer of my precious time and money.
So, after some soul searching, I’ve come up with the following list of my values and priorities:
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Spend time keeping my body, mind, and spirit healthy and happy.
- Spending time traveling, having adventures and new experiences.
- Spend time learning, growing and creating.
These are the activities that make me happy. In addition to choosing to spend my time on these pursuits, I’m also going to use this list as my litmus test on how I choose to spend my money.
You’ll notice that nowhere does driving a luxury vehicle show up on my priority list.
Planning a family vacation to Ecuador this Christmas, a place that’s been on our family bucket list for years, is consistent with my value of spending time with family, traveling, and pursuing new adventures and experiences.
Thoughtful choices are the key to a happy, fulfilling life.
And the cool thing about being thoughtful and taking the time to come up with your own list of values and priorities is that your list will look different from mine.
Travel over the holidays may not show up on your list of priorities. Many of my friends would never dream of traveling over the holidays because they instead value family traditions at home and make that a priority instead.
To each her own, I say.
Choices. It’s the key to a happy, fulfilling life.
Kristen “I’m a Toyota girl now” Marks
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