Lately I’ve been spending some time browsing on the Harley Davidson website and daydreaming about a purchase I would like to make next spring. Telling you that makes me feel like I should possibly explain myself a little.
It’s purely economics. My car will soon be paid off. I’ve recently had to spend some money on maintenance and repairs, so I really don’t feel like going out and getting a new car payment. I’d rather drive it until the wheels fall of it, frankly. And a motorcycle, which I could drive a majority of the time for eight months or more out of the year, gets better gas mileage than nearly everything, outside of the hybrids. That makes sense for my budget, and it does some good for the environment.
Not that this has anything to do with any midlife crisis, or me envisioning how cool I would look riding around on one of those powerful, beautiful wonders of American engineering and craftsmanship. Nor have I ever pictured myself, and how I would look in a pair of black leather chaps, either. Really, I haven’t.
The problem is—as is the case with any purchase I make, no matter how small or how large—I suffer from buyer’s remorse before I even risk any capital. I analyze (and over-analyze my different options, and I look over my budget, and I compare different makes and models, and prices of anything I am considering to buy. I will spend hours on the internet doing research, to make sure that when I do buy something, it is the absolute smartest choice for my need.
Then I ask myself if what I am about to purchase is actually a “need to have,” or a “want to have,” and a whole other round of questions and concerns crop up. I developed this habit during the lean years, and it has served me well. It has prevented a great many impulse buys. If only I could teach my daughters this same decision process.
The thought that worries me most whenever I spend money I might consider to be frivolously let loose: what is it that is sure to happen just as soon as I have handed that cash over to someone else, and may instead be needed for some sort of priority or emergency? When you have felt the sting of financial challenges or difficult times, you tend to worry this way. I always want to expect the unexpected. I always feel like the other shoe is about to drop, so to speak. I worry like this even more so when I remember that I may be the only firewall between happiness and misery for those whose care I bear responsibility.
After I have let someone pry cash from my hands, the real buyer’s remorse usually sets in, and I wrestle with that for several more days. In fact, I have been known to buy something and leave it setting on my desk for a number of days afterward, still in the unopened box and with the receipt neatly taped to it, just in case I either change my mind or have something happen that would cause me to return it and use those funds for something that is more of a priority. I never have had to return something, but I’m just certain that if I ever did break that chain of habits, my financial sky would come falling down, and I would be destitute in a matter of hours.
If all that caution remained restricted to my spending habits, it would likely be no more than frugality erring a little bit on the eccentric side. But, it doesn’t, and sometimes that causes angst in other areas of my life.
Sometimes, I will tell myself that even the simplest of enjoyments are just too good to be true. I tell myself that there must always be a tradeoff or a price to pay if something is that desirable. I see things as guilty pleasures. It doesn’t always stop me from doing them anyway, but I worry about it the entire time, and that makes whatever experience I am trying to enjoy a little diminished. It takes a little edge off the pleasure. If it is something like a trip somewhere, or a grand event, it only becomes more magnified in relation to the expense. It also becomes a part of that typical post-vacation blues I typically feel when I arrive back home and have to settle back into my normal life.
It makes me cautious, and, at times, it gets in the way of living the moment, or even enjoying the temporary bliss. Where relationships have been concerned, it has even made me somewhat inaccessible. I end up undervaluing the here and now. I forecast the eventualities and different scenarios in my head, and if it looks like it is not going to play out perfectly, or like there may be a price to pay, or that there is emotional risk involved, I withdraw my investment of time and effort; I retreat to the safety of what I can control. I’ve sometimes bailed suddenly, and even hurt someone in the process, which only adds to the things I find myself considering the next time an opportunity arises.
I should know better. Life experiences, and relationships, are not boxes I can leave on the desk with the receipt taped to them, ready to cash back in because I anticipate later regrets. As they sit there languishing in their idleness, while I choose to not pursue them or invest in them, I miss ou on the time I could have been enjoying them.
When I think back over my record of having never returned a purchase, I should probably take a lesson from that, and instead dive in from the very beginning. I should remember that I have never really been destitute because of any major purchase, and that my worries about such things are pretty small matters in this world. For all my worrying, it’s nothing like the parent somewhere who wonders where the next meal for their family is going to come from. Or the species that will quietly go out of existence today, recognized as it happens in its own collective conscience, but noticed as no more than a whisper by the rest of the world.
My concerns are small. And, in my most challenged times, I’ve never been without the love and support of a few close friends and family around me. Things work out for me, eventually, no matter how trying they seem at the time. In my privileged circumstances, life finds a way through the cracks. Maybe I should remember that more, and worry less. Or, at least worry less for myself, and reserve my concern more for others.
Anyway, I have between now and spring to convince myself of all this, and decide between the Dyna Wide Glide or the Softail Blackline. Because, it’s all about the economics, and I can’t very well park a Harley on my desk for a few days after the purchase.
© 2012 Cody Kilgore. All Rights Reserved worldwide under the Berne Convention. May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission.