We’ve all made money mistakes. Literally every single one of us. How do I know that… because we’re all human, and money is not an innately human concept. We struggle to weigh our needs and wants with what we think (or know) is the safest choice for our money. My money mistake came in the form of a motorcycle somewhere around my 24th birthday.
The Sad Truth
To truly understand how this came about we need to step back. I was raised a tomboy by my dad who was determined to make my life as fun and entertaining as possible as long as our hobbies aligned. He was the world’s biggest kid and was constantly surprising me with trampolines, dirt bikes, and remote controlled boats that we promptly sank in the lake. But as I got older he started to work more and more hours, and spending time together became more difficult. There was, however, one thing we were determined to do… we were going to buy motorcycles so we could tour the New York countryside together.
But life is messy and plans don’t always work out the way you think they will. When I was 17 my dad started to get sick frequently. He was always the one telling me that sick days were for the weak (bad advice by the way), so he pushed through and it never occurred to me that something bigger could be happening. From the time he was diagnosed with cancer to the time he died, he was on a fast decline. One night when he was in the hospital, he looked up at my mom and I and said, “If I ever get out of here, I’m buying a motorcycle.” We smiled and nodded knowing he deserved to finally have his motorcycle. I hoped more than I believed that it might happen.
Fast forward to my 24th birthday. At this point I’ve graduated college, secured a lucrative job, bought a house, and I’m ready to make another big investment. I wanted to by my own motorcycle. Not only for my own enjoyment, but to honor my father and to ensure that I wouldn’t live with the same regret.
Here’s where I went wrong
I don’t regret buying a motorcycle, but I do regret how I went about it. Originally, my intention was to buy an old bike, something I could learn on. Instead, my emotional need to bring a bike home ASAP led me to chose a brand new Honda off the salesroom floor. All in all the bike cost me $7,000. I rode the motorcycle for maybe a year before I decided that I had cheated death long enough and it was time to pack it in. I sold the bike for about half of what I had paid.
Financially, I could have approached this completely differently. If I had stepped back and thought about it for a while, I likely still would have bought a motorcycle, it just would have been a used motorcycle that still would have allowed me to cross this item off of my bucket list. Instead, I let my emotions drive the decision before I had even stopped to realize what I had done.
What You Can Learn From My Mistake
Psychology is a huge part of finance, and pretending otherwise is a dangerous game. Step back and think about the emotional purchase you want to make. Maybe you can’t live a regret-free life without it, or maybe you will regret the purchase in a few years. Forming this connection between our emotions and our wallets is crucial, but it’s a skill that has to be trained. Awareness is just the first step.
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Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is an accountant, turned writer and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband, and enjoys taking their adorable mutt for walks or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.