Last week I went out to lunch with a few of my colleagues: our VP of Finance, our Director of Channel Sales and our Director of Integration. All smart and successful people, and all of which I respect. Somehow the conversation got around to the poor excuse of a vehicle that I call my car. I conceded without question that my 12 year Geo Prism is certainly no luxury vehicle, but I told my friends that for my 12 mile round trip commute (a total of 30 minutes per day), I really need nothing better. I also explained that driving this junker is extremely cost effective and told them exactly how much money I spent on maintaining my ride last year. This drew two distinct reactions: the first was amazement - folks were shocked at how little money I spend on my car. The second was surprise that I actually know how much money I spent on my car.
I don't particularly value cars. If my commute was longer and I had to spend much time in my car every day, I suppose I would feel otherwise. However, I live 15 minutes away from the office, and we do have a more respectable Toyota Sienna 2005 which we use when the whole family is going somewhere. For me, the Prism is simply a cost effective way to get to work and back. The one time I felt uncomfortable about owning such an old car was when my son started kindergarten, and I noticed all the shiny BMW's and Lexus's the other parents were driving. I have since gotten over this embarrassment and never looked back.
Now the real question: why is it that smart, successful people - including a VP of Finance, who does budgets as part of his day job - are surprised that I know how much money I spent on my car last year? How can you control and manage your spending and savings if you have no idea where your money goes? This is beyond me.
One more thought - once we got into the whole budgeting discussion, I told the guys about the fact that our third largest expense last year, after rent and childcare, was medical spending, this in spite the fact that we have medical insurance and in addition to the insurance premiums which we pay. We all agreed that this is completely screwed up. None of the others had more than a general sense about how their money was being spent. Strange.
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