Friday, December 19, 2014

The cost of irreverent, silly myths

"You deserve it." A seemingly innocent tagline found in much of today's advertising justifying frivolous short-term purchases often at the expense of true purpose and long-term stability.  You may also remember McDonald's longest running ad campaign reminding us all that we deserve a daily McBreak (with a side of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes).  Heck, even pickup trucks, originally designed to haul crap,  have gotten bloated with luxury to the point where they're ridiculously expensive and questionably useful for their original purpose.  Fair warning, I'm going to jump on a soapbox here, not from the standpoint of coming out the other side on this issue but as one who is immersed in our wasteful and immediate-term thinking culture. 

I recently had a conversation with someone who stated that the air conditioned seats offered in the GMC Acadia were a large part of their decision to buy an Acadia over its Chevy equivalent the Traverse. Not sure what the cost of the option itself is, but the base price alone of the Acadia is $3155 more than a Traverse leaving a $6200+ hole in future you's pocket 10 years from now versus if you had instead invested that money earning 7% of compounded interest over that time.  Looking on a larger scale, those air conditioned seats will cost close to $50k (approximately 1 year's freedom) over the course of a 40yr working career which begs the question, how much is a chilled bum really worth to you??  As my most referenced blogger said in this post: "Maximizing your luxury and convenience right now may feel like a reward to your present self, but the belly full of expensive food will be converted to a turd on the conveyor belt by the time your future self retrieves the results"  just like that fancy Acadia will be a pile of rusty scrap metal around the time that $50k could have really come in handy. 

My men's group has been doing a study of spiritual disciplines and I thought the guiding verse for the study (1 Timothy 4:7) aligned well with the content of this post: "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness."  Although most of the junk I buy usually isn't subject to mainstream advertising (unless you consider Turbo by Garrett's Facebook page mainstream), there have been many times that I've been bitten by the "I deserve it" bug and have found this verse a helpful reminder to remain focused on what really matters in those instances (or after they occur in some cases).

I realize this is all somewhat hypocritical coming from someone who drives a fancy hybrid with auto climate control and doors that unlock based on proximity, but numbers not only helped us decide what type of car to buy but also talked us out of a shiny red Prius a couple years newer and into our little white driving appliance. Sure the immediate $5k vs $500 out of savings was basically enough to fuel the decision but $35,255 hole it would have left by retirement age was the real kicker, a number arrived at using this calculator populated with our magical 7% interest number. We've found that guiding data to go along with a guiding verse allows for sound decisions based on the long-term cost of a purchase instead of just the immediate outlay or monthly payment.

And another handy verse, Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

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