I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life regarding debt. I only wish I could go back in time and redo some of my spending decisions I made when I was younger. Obviously that is impossible, but maybe this post will help younger individuals who are about to go out and do something they might regret later in life.
I remember when I was 26, living in a nice area of San Francisco with three roommates. It was a good fun time in my life and I have several great memories from this period. I was very good with my money overall, but every once in a while something would come over me and I would do something that I would later regret.
When I was younger, I saw this new television at Circuit City (remember them?); I still remember the exact TV model. It was the Hitachi 61SWX10B and the price was $3,500. It was a rear projection television and was quite large; a 61″ unit that had a built in stand.
Of course, I was not going to go out and drop that much money on a television at that point in my life, but when I heard I could go out and get a new credit card with 6 months no interest financing I thought okay I can make this happen. My plan was to just put $500 down and then pay off $500 a month and I would get that TV without paying any interest.
I executed my plan flawlessly and I was the big man in the house; all my roommates loving that TV for all it was worth. Guest would come over and tell me it was the best TV they had ever seen and I ate it up. We watched movies, played video games, sporting events, we all enjoyed it.
About a year later, all of our lives changed and we went separate ways. Then it hit me, I was now stuck moving this massive television and the burden of moving it to my new place was quite a hassle. All my former roommates got to enjoy my big awesome television for free and they simply moved on. I was stuck with a $3,500 bill and now moving into a place that I could barely accommodate a television that size.
As it turned out, over the next couple of year’s plasma televisions started coming out and my once super mac-daddy televisions seemed ancient. Within 4 years of my purchase rear projection TVs were no longer desired at all. I couldn’t even sell it due to its large size, so when I moved I simply posted a free ad on Craigslist. Obviously, I gave it to the first interested party instead of trying deal with something that big and heavy with little to no value.
It would have been totally reasonable for me to just buy a $500 television, which also would have been a nice television, or to look into Craigslist and buy something there for an even better deal. But unfortunately, like most people can probably relate to, I had to get the biggest and best product on the market. Looking back I realize it was a very poor decision on my part.
It was clearly not the end of the world, but being 41 now, if I would have not have bought that $500 television and invested the other $3,000, today the money I spent would be worth more than $20,000 and in another 20 years, it would be close to $200,000.
These are the typical decisions that everyone makes, especially the younger society, not necessarily bad decisions, but definitely irresponsible ones. We all make them, as we don’t actually think about the long term effects of what we buy.
The key is to cut back, save and invest. It might look like you’re not building much over a few months or even a year, but continued savings over a decade or 2 can have dramatic jaw dropping effects. Do you want to give your 20 something self the latest electronics or do you want to give your 40 something self a better, easier life?