My dad called me the other day. We talked about what’s been going on in our lives, his recent trip to New York, and my job.
During our conversation he asked me, “so when are you going to buy a new car?”
The question kind of stunned me for a second, because no one has asked me that, mainly because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the used car I bought several years ago.
“Why would I buy a new car dad?
“Oh, I just thought you’d want a new one now that you have this job and you’ve been there a bit and…”
My dad is really good with money. He and my stepmom live a very comfortable retired life in suburban Detroit. They have a glass of wine every day at 5pm, spend time with my stepmom’s grandkids, regularly golf, and take really nice trips a couple times a year. They are in good health and their retirement money should last them the rest of their lives.
My dad even asked me how I afforded NY when I visited about four years ago. His comment about his recent visit there: “Tonya, it was nearly $400 per night!”
“That’s because of how YOU visit NY dad, not me. I stayed free using hotel points.” Or now I would use Airbnb, a concept that is completely foreign to people like my dad and stepmom.
My dad and I have radically different viewpoints of money, yet neither one of them are wrong. It’s just making sure that your money philosophy is in line with the life that YOU want to live…not anyone else’s. And this goes for all your values, not just about money.
Growing up I was under the influence of my dad, and many “types” like my dad. You work hard (probably at very few companies or jobs), maybe had a family, took family vacations, bought a house, and worked until you were 65-ish.
If someone was on a path to retire in their 30s, you never heard about it because the internet (and certainly blogs) didn’t exists until I was well into my 20s.
I remember buying my first car (I should say my second car, but my dad and grandparents bought me my first car-brand new), which was a Saturn. I didn’t even blink an eye when I signed up for a 6-year loan (probably with really high interest rates). It’s just what you did. Adults have car payments. And hey, dad was with me when I bought it so with his approval, I must be doing something right!
I had a 7-year loan on my next car, a 20-ish thousand dollar Subaru. Not only was I under the influence of the money lessons I learned from my dad, but now I was beginning to take cues from my peers, and since I lived in the Pacific Northwest and took up snowboarding, it seemed only logical to get an AWD car.
I remember one time that a company I was working for, brought in a financial planner to go over our portfolios. We did some basic number crunching, and boy was I relieved that if I saved just 15%, I could probably retire at 67!!! Whoo hoo! I thought I was a financial bad-ass!
Influence happens all around us, and most of us succumb to it in one way or another.
See all your friends getting married in their 20s and 30s? While you may not rush into marriage, you may find yourself depressed and wondering, “what’s wrong with me?”
When you see your friends getting promoted in their fancy jobs and taking lavish trips, you may find yourself copying that behavior, which may or may not be right for you. Or frankly even them. But that’s none of my business.
When my long-term relationship ended and I got laid off from my job, beach volleyball and the people involved, lured me in to classes, private lessons, tournaments, and lunches, dinners, and drinks out. Never mind the fact I had no business doing that financially!
Thank goodness my 40s brought me so many new perspectives, which gave me different options on how I want to live my life, although it’s still not easy to tune out those outside influencers, even if they mean well.
I’ve had friends almost sound personally offended when they hear I’m forgoing something now so I have something even better (for me) later. That, I cannot figure out.
What will probably never change in our lives is the influence that is around us that can have a tremendous pull.
Even last weekend I had a glass of wine and walked around this artsy mountain town and picked up a candle and asked my friend, “should I get this?” He said “yes!” And I did. Momentary lapse of judgement.
Not that a candle is bad, but it was a TOTALLY mindless and unnecessary purchase (again, for me). Not something many people think about, but I do! Well, at least I do most of the time. And some will argue that I’m being too hard on myself. Again, THEIR opinion. THEIR influence.
So what the hell do you do?
Good question, and something I explore almost daily through reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts (btw, I’ve had people give me strong opinions for and against those avenues of learning too). Oy vey!
I think the answer for me is really exploring and getting rooted in my baseline values. Be open to anything, but always come back to what it is I really want.
For instance, I just watched the movie Minimalism. The movie featured Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle, who travels around the world with barely anything, and let’s his readers pick his next destination. “Whoa, cool! Maybe I should do that!” Influence.
“But wait…let’s get quiet and think about this,” said my inner voice. “Don’t you hate non-stop travel? But you know what? You do need to get rid of some clothes and other junk, so tomorrow, let’s do a little de-cluttering!”
Ah, you’re right inner voice. While it’s awesome to glean nuggets from what you read, see, and hear, learn to really know YOURSELF and what YOU…and only YOU really want out of life. Know your values and explore your deepest desires. That will always help you return to YOUR baseline. Or, as I’ve been hearing a ton of lately, “you do you.”
Remember that for every one opinion on what you should be doing with you life (use credit cards to earn points for travel!!!), you will find an equally opposing and just as valid opinion (only use cash if you want to be sensible with your money!).
So dad, I won’t be getting a new car, as new cars seem completely and utterly asinine to me. My little VW Rabbit will work out just fine.
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