Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One of the things I am not is greedy.

I have a life style that is fairly comfortable and I'm happy this way. I have no real desires to get rich and have a whole pile of toys. My hobbies are shooting and booting around in a 20 year old Miata sports car and I really don't have to spend a whole lot on that because I reload my own ammunition, although components are going up in price these days. Still, it is affordable.

That and a little gardening in the summer. Seeds are cheap.

I don't really aspire to own, for example, a Ferrari or something along those lines. I can scare myself enough with my little $1200 Miata if I decide to. What is neat about the Miata is that I heated it up by beefing up the suspension and removing a few of the things that bleed horsepower like the air conditioning unit and the power steering system. I probably have under $2500 in it and the fun I've had with is is priceless.

A lot of the parts I put into it I either got off of Craigslist or eBay. It goes like the hammers of hell considering it only has a 1.6 liter engine. It holds the road like glue on sticky stuff.

I live in a little cape that is paid off and I generally do all of my own work if I can and it's in pretty good shape these days. My pickup is a simple two wheel drive Toyota that I paid cash for because I could.

I'm pretty much a minimalist. If you come by for dinner sometime you will be served a meal on a halfway decent set of dinnerwear. The flatwear will be inexpensive and most of the glasses will match pretty closely. It most certainly will not be bone china.

You'll eat pretty good, though. I'm a pretty good cook when I feel like it.

One thing I have a hard time figuring out is why so many of my coworkers seem to have so many problems with money. I can see it if you are raising a brood of kids, but if you are not I can't seem to figure out why.

Actually I can. It's an attitude.

It seems that a lot of people are caught up in the trap and have fallen for the smooth talking devils on Madison Avenue. The think that they need a whole lot more than they do.

A four wheel drive truck is nice to have on a snowy day, I'll be the first to admit, and the power of a 440 cubic inch V-8 feels pretty good when you start to stuff raw fuel into the afterburners, but it is expensive.

My pickup is a 4 cylinder two wheel drive and for maybe one or two days a year I have to wait a little bit until the streets are plowed a bit before I leave. To me, it isn't worth the thousands one spends on a monster machine.

My job is nothing more than a job of work that pays a halfway decent wage and I can live well on it if I am even the least bit observant. Back to the pickup. It ran me about $17,000. The guy the sister ship of mine has a huge four-by that cost him well over $50,000. That's a lot of money. On a 5 year note that's about 10K/year, not counting interest. Do the math. There's a $33,000 difference in our vehicles and they both get used for the same damned thing; they haul us to work.

This doesn't even begin to go into the additional expenses of insurance, lower gas milage and maintenance, which adds up pretty fast.

Me? I'd rather have the $33,000 plus, pay lower insurance rates, get good mileage and quietly commute in my Tacoma.

My home is really nothing too special, it's a small 3 bedroom cape in a wonderful neighborhood. It's paid for, and has a beautiful back yard. There are deer, birds, squirrels, chipmunks and occassionally, turkeys that wander through the yard and almost every summer a doe gives birth in my back yard. It is a wonderful thing to behold, and the neighborhood is a great place to live.

Still, it is a modest home with no frills and nonsense. It's not on top of the hill and it isn't eight bedrooms and I don't get to brag a whole lot, but I can say that it is a whole lot nicer than where about 85% of the rest of the planet lives when you look at the big picture.

I live well and I am satisfied. I haven't fallen into the traps that seem to abound and put a large percentage of us in bondage.

I listened to one of the guys brag about his big Dodge pickup a while back. He told me what it cost him and I shook my head sadly. He said it was a lot more comfortable than my little Toyota. In the next sentence he told me he was working overtime and I asked why. He said he had to catch up on some bills.

I wryly told him I had to catch up on my fishing and got a dour look.

We had both bought our trucks at about the same time. I looked at him and asked him how many miles he had on his and he told me. I commented that I had twice the mileage on mine.

He asked me why and I told him that I have more time to enjoy my things than he does because I don't have to work overtime to pay for them. He looked confused.

I told him that it sounded like he was a slave to his posessions; he didn't own them, they owned him because the time he lost paying for them was time he should be enjoying them but couldn't because he was too busy working.

Let's look at his truck, a four wheeler. The man lives on the coast of North Carolina on a flat and fairly level section of the state. He doesn't have to climb Mount Everest to get to his home and snow is really not a problem. He drives down the street and parks in a fairly level driveway just like you see on TV. It's simple, as issued in fact.

Of course, he'll insist he needs a four wheel drive and when you call him on that, he'll say, "Well, I do a lot of four wheelin'."

Yeah, right. First of all he doesn't have the time to; he's at work most of the time to pay for all of this. Besides, the guy is pretty picky about the appearance of his V-8 behemoth and the chances are pretty slim that he's going to go out into the boonies and tear up his truck, at least if he has half a brain.

Truth is, he needs a 4 wheeler to satisfy his ego and prove to everyone he's some kind of a big shot.

Ask him how much he puts in his 401K and I'd just bet it's not a whole lot. He'll tell you he can't afford it. He's got car and house payments to make because instead of a modest home he has a castle atop the hill somewhere and the moat has to be dredged annually and drawbridge maintainence is not cheap.

In short, it is keeping up with appearances that is driving him. He's a slave and is competely convinced that if he doesn't have the latest Blackberry or the newest computer, then he is doing it all wrong.

My all time favorite out here is the guy who got a call telling him that one of his kids had gotten in trouble with the law. He turned to me and was pretty upset, of course. I simply told him that maybe it was time to stop working so much overtime and spend some time with the kid and get him back on the straight and narrow. Good advice in my book.

He looked at me like I was from Mars and with his lower lip quivering he stated that he now had to make even more money yet. He turned and called straight in and asked for more overtime yet, even though he hadn't been home in ten weeks. His answer to everything was simply to make more money.


How in hell is all the money in the world going to make up for time spent being a father?

How about intelligently spending the money you have?

Right now I am writing this on a $200 surplus laptop that I bought because I knew it will be able to take a few hard knocks. It isn't the newest or the biggest or the best, but when I am done writing this and I post it nobody will know what kind of computer it was written on and when you look at processors they are only as fast as the ISP is. Most newer computers process a whole lot faster than their service provider. Chasing technology for the average guy is a complete waste of money.

Service rifle season is coming up and someone asked me if I was going to rebarrel for the upcoming season.


At 600 yards the barrel I have still hangs in there a whole lot better than I can shoot it. When it gets to the point where I can outshoot the rifle, I will bebarrel. Putting a new Krieger barrel on it at this point is just dumb. Let's just wait until the one I have wears out and then we'll rebarrel. When it loses accuracy I'll put on a Krieger. Quality pays.

This is not to say that I am cheap. I'm not. Quality costs money and in general is the most cost efficient way to go. There's no savings when a cheap tool fails and breaks an expensive part. There is no gain buying an inexpensive house in a neighborhood that is going down the sinkhole.

It's just that I do not consider thinking to be an option when it comes to spending sums of money.

The truth is that every so often you have to look at things and put your brain into gear and ask if you truly need something or are just feeding an ego. You have to ask yourself what good something is going to do for you and think a little. In this life, thinking is not an option. Spending your life in slavery to a bunch of stuff or having time for the things that matter is a choice many of us can make.

Of course, when I see a bunch of ATVs, boats, firearms, cars and other toys being sucked up into a hole in a cloud I might change my mind. That means that someone figured out a way to take his stuff with him after he died. Until I see that happen I am not going to worry about it.

Do I want my freedom or do I want to be a slave to a big house or a monster truck or some other spendy little toy I don't really need?

Remember, you pay for your toys with your time. It's your choice. I made mine and I'm pretty happy with it. Although I haven't gotten myself a whole lot of toys in this life I've had the time to do a lot of interesting things. I simply opted for fewer toys and more time to do things.

My advice is to choose wisely.

my other blog is: http://officerpiccolo.blogspot.com/ http://piccolosbutler.blogspot.com/

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