Timing what you buy

I have a relative who wanted a sports car since he was young.  He finally bought it in middle age.  “I don’t want to have this car now,” he complains.  “I want to have had it when I was 20!”

I notice this frustration.  Long-term goods like houses would ideally be bought early on so you can enjoy them as long as possible.  But young people don’t have the money to buy a house they want to live in for a long time.  One traditional solution is for older people to give durable goods to young people.  But the incentives aren’t the same as for something you buy yourself: young people are notoriously bad at caring for, say, cars that daddy bought.

I’m realizing that I ought to change my spending patterns based on this.  I currently buy a mix of short-term pleasures (food, flowers, clothes that I probably won’t like forever) and long-term ones (furniture, a sewing machine, books).  I would do better to prioritize long-term goods now so I’ll have them for longer, and later buy more short-term goods.  I’ll enjoy chocolate the same whether I have it now or in 40 years, but a banjo gets more use the longer I have it.

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