For the past 8 years, I have lived, with Mirror Image, in a neat little cottage in an established, if not a little worn, quiet neighborhood. I have had 3 cars since moving in (future post!) and have had 4 different full-time jobs as well.
We have bought clothes and furniture. We’ve donated clothes and furniture. We repainted rooms, replaced plumbing and hosted more delicious, laughter-filled family gatherings than I can remember. I have exercised religiously in that house, and eaten full sheets of homemade white chocolate chip cookies on the living room sofa.
Since I moved in, I have had 7 different mobile phones in that time from 4 different carriers, while Mirror Image has had 2 phones from discount provider FreedomPop. We have also watched tv with 5 different cable packages from 2 different cable companies.
We have enjoyed 2 beautiful loving dogs and sadly, lost one.
I have also saved, consistently and sacrificially, to various accounts like – Mirror Image’s College 529, Roth IRAs, Emergency Funds, Vacation Funds and several mutual funds through Schwab. This is in addition to my 401K savings throughout the years.
This is what I do. Purposefully and frugally I save 25-30% of my annual salary. I also donate another 11%. This means I sometimes don’t purchase what others have. At least not right away. It means putting my future ahead of my present. And I am just fine with that.
And then there is Mirror Image. With her constant awareness of trends and commercials advertising STUFF, she is more interested in consumerism. Her questions and desires have made me wonder lately, what would my life look like if my savings and donations budgets were less or zero. So I decided to turn it into a game… These are some game titles I liked
- The NO Vision Board
- A Game of Spends
- The Walking Consumer
Here is how I would “win” the game:
My cute, relatively easy to clean cottage with an $867 mortgage payment would be replaced with either a 3,000 sq ft house or a kick-butt downtown loft at minimum $2,000 monthly payment
My gently used, new to me Nissan Rogue with no monthly payment, would be replaced with a 2017 Audi Q7 starting at $54,800. So even with a 20% down payment, that’s a $1200 payment each month for 3 years. That’s only if I don’t add any upgrades.
Mirror Image would be carrying the new iPhone potentially priced at about $1,000 and combined with a $50 phone plan from one of the major carriers. By the way, ALL of the classmates have the latest cell phones (she reminds me daily). This would be in place of her FREE plan she has now with FreedomPop.
Not to be outdone by my kid, I would have the latest Samsung Galaxy priced at about $700. Also with a $50 phone plan. This would be instead of the $10 plan I have and love now with Republic Wireless.
We would travel first class when we fly. Because “why not?” So, conservatively $1,000 each domestic round-trip ticket.
I would buy more clothes to fill the now gigantic closets of the new house/loft. Our clothing allowance would rise from around $200 each August and December to coincide with Back to School and Christmas shopping to at least $200 per month to accommodate our new social life, fashion seasons debuts and those times when we realize, after perusing our bulging closets, we have nothing to wear. I would also need new clothes to accommodate my anticipated weight gain because…
Our restaurant budget will increase. Instead of going out to eat an average of less than once per month, we would likely go out to eat 3-4 times per week. spending roughly $50 per meal would be a conservative guess.
I would also need to hire a housekeeper to clean the larger home. A dog walker because I will be too busy eating out and showing off my fancy clothes to do it. I would need to allocate more money to hire a travel agent to handle my upclassed travel. I would also need to pay someone to clean my car weekly because a beautiful machine like the Audi Q7 should be kept in tip-top shape. And people in my new neighborhood don’t wash their own cars.
Did I really ‘win’?
I see the appeal in the trappings. In fact, before having Mirror Image, I lived some of these trappings and yet still saved regularly. Being a SINK for me meant being RICH. Fancy travel, shiny cars, big house with double car garage (with only one car) and lots and lots of eating out with friends.
But that is not my life anymore and now the price of a fancy meal isn’t the meal cost but a lack of investment in the future. Paying for that fancy car means not being prepared for job losses during a fickle economy. Buying more of those important things means maintaining, insuring and worrying about them.
I think I will just have to accept the richness of my life as it is. Great kid, safe house, dependable car, good health and access to awesome homemade food. I will accept these genuine riches as I build my future instead of paying to look rich in the present.
What would your game title be?