How about looking in the bathroom mirror, how much do you enjoy that? Or drinking a cup of tea from your favourite mug?
I’m going to tell you why I love all three and what these three things have in common for me.
It’s all to do with savings that keep on giving which I want to tell you about in this article.
First of all, I LOVE driving my car, and not just because I enjoy driving. The same goes for every time I look in the bathroom mirror and every single time I have a drink out of my new favourite tea mug – though I recently also had a nasty shock with the mug which I’ll also tell you about.
There’s plenty more I could tell you more about & many more examples I could give which relate to this concept (as it also relates to a bit of a life choice and a certain way of seeing the world) but these 3 will do for now to introduce you to this concept (not least because I love 3’s).
Why I Like Driving In My Car
So it’s the same car I told you about in this article: Downsizing: The Beauty of Downsizing, Not Because You Have To, But Because You Want To
I’ve had the car (i.e. the Peugeot, mentioned toward the end of that article) 5 years now.
This car continues to drive really well, suits pretty much every purpose we need it for, is highly functional whilst being comfortable to drive and to sit in as a passenger and has cost me very little money at all since I’ve had it.
To give you an idea of costs, I pay for the MOT each year and usually have our local mechanic comment on what good condition the car is in. Since having the car, I have bought new tyres, new windscreen wiper blades, a new battery, had a new timing belt fitted and had the air conditioning re-gassed. All of these are actually routine maintenance things that you would do with any car, most of which because of the model and age of the car were extremely cheap (e.g. £20 to get the air-con re-gassed). The most expensive change was the timing belt which cost just shy of £300 including changing the water pump – I’m not sure if the car really needed that but it made sense to do it at the time, these are often done together and I trust our local mechanic. Also worth pointing out that whilst I love having a car that’s so cheap to run, I do also believe in looking after it and investing in it to get the most out of it (even though pretty much any car is a liability financially speaking). So this lot plus services when needed and the car has been extremely inexpensive. The insurance is also very inexpensive because it’s a small car with a pretty low resale value.
None of this is really why I like driving the car so much.
Let’s summarise all of that as the car is inexpensive.
That’s our starting point.
The car also drives really well. So I like it for that reason – i.e. I don’t think that I’ve compromised in any way in terms of the car giving me what I need. It’s safe, it’s got enough ‘features’ such as USB stereo, part leather seats, good sound system, air conditioning, ABS etc. and I’m not really missing any of the more modern features of cars these days, lane-correct, wifi, auto-parking – it doesn’t have those but I don’t really mind.
So point 2 is that the car as far as I’m concerned is everything I need in a car.
The key point though is the third one I am about to make…
As I’m sure many people do, I get the occasional urge to buy a new car. A fancy new car. I really liked the idea of buying a hybrid Golf GTE for a while and very nearly did. That would have cost me around £20K. I could easily justify it to myself, it would save me money on petrol, I could drive in London without paying the congestion charge (I live nowhere near London by the way but still saw this as a great benefit)… and I could afford it. Or I could just buy a ‘better’ car. I like the Audi A3. Or I could buy a new or nearly new Peugeot 308 which I quite like. I also thought about the Mercedes A180 but heard it got some bad reviews.
In the end, I just can’t get away from the fact that I really love my little car and when I think about getting an alternative I have a couple of options:
1). Spend a lot of money – e.g. on a new car
2). Buy another older car similar to the one I have, but just to have a change
Dealing with these in reverse order, option 2 is all about risk. There’s no doubt about it I got a good car when I bought this one. I did my research but have also been lucky that the previous owner must have looked after it well and there have been absolutely no hidden surprises. Every time you buy an older car you are risking inheriting various problems with that older car. Of course, you can’t always spot all of these and the seller isn’t always going to be entirely honest with you about every single issue the vehicle has or may have. In short, when buying a second hand car, there is always an element of risk involved.
Option 1 is the main point of this article.
The reason I love driving my car so much (point 3), is that every day I drive my car, I am reminded, whilst enjoying the experience and what a good quality little car it is, how it is still saving me money. It’s not just about the savings I made when I bought it, it is about the savings that keep on giving. I could easily have bought another car and still can, but whereas some people buy an expensive car and derive pleasure from how wonderful their car is, how exclusive it is with the price tag perhaps being a factor in their enjoyment, in the utility they derive from their purchase, I get a similar level of enjoyment for the exact opposite reason.
In economics there is something called Opportunity Cost. Here is the wikipedia definition:
“In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost, also known as alternative cost, is the value (not a benefit) of the choice of a best alternative cost while making a decision. … Opportunity cost is a key concept in economics, and has been described as expressing “the basic relationship between scarcity and choice.”
Often in economic terms the opportunity cost is discussed in terms of a ‘missed’ opportunity and it needs to be checked carefully to justify a particular course of action. Simple example, if you invest your entire budget in Investment A, then the opportunity cost of such an investment is that you can’t then invest in Investmnent B.
In the case of my car, the idea that instead of having what I’ve got, I could have something which cost me a lot more money and broadly works just the same, is something that just makes me enjoy my car even more.
So why I like driving my car so much = Point 1 (it’s inexpensive) + Point 2 (it’s a good car) + Point 3 (The Opportunity Cost – it reminds me every day I drive it of how much I could be spending on a car).
i.e. it’s a saving that keeps on giving.
The Bathroom Mirror
So it’s just a bathroom mirror, I know, but I can’t help it.
Every time I look in the bathroom mirror (which is at least twice a day, e.g. when I’m brushing my teeth) I literally enjoy the fact that I really like this mirror.
Just like the car, that enjoyment is definitely magnified by the fact that I know that as a product, it is good quality (it’s a real wood frame with a mirror inside) but also it cost very little money. Every time I use that mirror, as well as liking it aesthetically, I am reminded of how much money we saved and continue to save through using it in place of an alternative.
I also have to point out that this is not a conscious, penny-pinching thing where I rub my hands together in a scrooge-like fashion. It’s fairly sub-conscious, just in writing this I’ve realised that a lot of things I have in my life which were either very free or very inexpensive yet, still good quality products, have this effect. Some more than others and I have to say the mirror is a particular favourite. Another favourite, and obviously a bigger saving, is my car.
It Works Both Ways: The High’s and Lows of a Favourite Mug
My final example is a mug that I bought from a charity shop for just 5p.
It’s yellow it has Elephants on it (I love Elephants and they are said to bring good luck).
Loving tea, I’m also a little fussy about my mugs. I didn’t know why but some mugs I really like and some I don’t so much. Are you the same?
Let’s say a friend or neighbour spends £4-£5 on a really nice, designer mug from some fancy-schmanzy trendy shop. It’s got a nice pattern on it, some hearts or something really cute. Then there’s me with my Elephant Mug for 5p.
We’re having a mug-off.
One favourite mug vs the other.
What is really the difference between these two mugs?
What else can I say, it’s just a mug, but I love it…
Disaster Strikes – It Works Both Ways
Now who is to tell you how and why you attach value to a thing?
If you smashed my beautiful Ming Vase which I bought at Sotheby’s for many tens of thousands of pounds, you may well expect that price tag to form part of my anguish when it broke… “My beautiful Ming Vase, I paid £70,000 for that!!!”
Well, I’m telling you that the fact that I bought this mug for just 5p forms part of it’s value for me. It makes me smile to think that a mug that I like so much cost me so little. The problem is that it’s quite unique, I have no idea where it originally came from or if I could get another, similar mug.
So you can imagine that I was a little upset when my wife accidentally dropped it whilst getting out of the car (don’t ask why it was in the car, that’s a whole different story we don’t have time for) and smashed off it’s poor little handle in three pieces.
Broken Elephant mug.
OK, so I didn’t shout out “My beautiful Elephant Mug, I paid 5p for that!!!!”
but I was upset that my favourite mug was broken all the same.
Elephant Mug v2
Well, we repaired it.
Who knows how long it will last but the handle is superglued back on and it seems OK for now.
I’ll get over it in any case and have plenty of similar little things in my life to enjoy this kind of concept with – whether projects (e.g. upcycling and making really nice things from old stuff that would have otherwise gone to waste), things similar to the car, mirror or mug (I’ve got lots of these) or other choices I could tell you about (events, cooking, diet).
Why Is This Important & Why ‘Life Choices’?
So the reason this is important is because of course we all get urges from time to time to spend money on things we think we want or need.
Also today, more than ever we are bombarded by very persuasive and often very targeted marketing telling us we want and need these things…
… and we live in a world where things are more accessible, easier to purchase and essentially more attractive to us than ever – a world of consumerism on steroids if you like.
To resist all of this and decide to stick with what you’ve got is a big deal.
I mean, really, it’s no mean feat!
So was I exaggerating just a little at the beginning of this article when I said this is about life choices?
No, absolutely not.
This is not me saying don’t buy a new car, don’t treat yourself, don’t invest in things you like… nor that you have to be cheap. What I am saying though, is to be sure about what you are investing in (this includes you, your relationships, your time and your education, not just material things – and yes, this concept applies to all of those things too).
To be sure about what you invest in and make good choices (whether it’s about getting a good deal, deciding you don’t need something after all, or deciding you do), give yourself just a moments pause, then make a good decision. This decision will then lead on to the savings that keep on giving. Having made a good decision, having made a good investment, you can be sure that as time goes on that investment will continue to reward you (at least that’s what a good investment should be about).
So this whole concept of Savings That Keep On Giving is about appreciating and continuing to appreciate the great deals you’ve found, enjoying the little things in life that don’t cost a lot but make you smile and realising that often the best things in life are free.
As well as all of this it actually applies also to bigger investments too if they were good investments that saved you time and/or money, because these are also savings that will keep on giving.
People often see value in things they have paid a lot of money for.
My main argument here is that assuming the thing you have bought does its job (does what you bought it for) and does it well, then there is often even more value in something you have paid less money for (i.e. precisely because you paid less for it) – and will continue to be for as long as it serves it’s purpose.