mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Of roofs, Porsches, and deferred gratification...

I've been thinking about money a lot lately. Actually, that is not unusual - I've always thought about money a lot. But lately I've been thinking about spending it, not just about making and saving it.

Thanks to frugality, occasional overtime, and some good ebay/hamfest sales, my savings account has been growing, to a level close to what it was before I put the down payment on my house. The only debt I have is my mortgage and a student loan that I could pay off, but since the government keeps lowering my interest rate - it's now less than 2.5% - I can't really justify paying it off. It doesn't make sense to me to pay off a loan with that low an interest rate, and then later end up needing to borrow money at 6% or more if I need to buy a car or something.

And that is precisely what I've thought about doing - buying a second car. I've always been a little bit of a car nut, and the idea of something sporty and topless is appealing. I've noticed that the price of a used, several year old Porsche Boxter is about what I would spend on a new car. So my thought is in a year or two to buy one, and keep my current vehicle - a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup that is paid off and has ~43k on the clock right now - as a winter beater/hauler.

Financially, it's a completely stupid idea. I don't need two cars, especially not an expensive to maintain and insure German convertible. But at some point, having money is no fun if you don't spend it. Having a sports car is more fun when you are young(ish) and single like me, rather than waiting until, say, I'm retired. If I live long enough and am physically able to enjoy it at that point in my life.

My dad was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He was planning on retiring in another year or so, but it looks like he'll probably be retiring sooner, once his vacation and sick time are used up, since he can't really do much of anything right now - he gets dizzy standing up or moving his head. I can't help but wonder if he regrets not retiring early, or not traveling or doing anything else while he was in better physical shape. I don't want to be in that position - I don't want to regret not doing something I wanted to do because I've reached a point where I can't do it anymore. I've also seen a few people - coworkers, a friend of a friend - die unexpectedly, in accidents or from unexpected killers like cancer or a heart attack. I can't spend money if I'm dead.

But I also want to be responsible. I'm also hoping at some point that I meet a girl, get married, maybe have some kids - in which case there are probably better uses for those savings than a car with the trunk in the front. I can't say I've had a whole lot of luck so far making that happen, but maybe the unexpected can happen in good ways sometimes.

But I may have to put my dreams of having another set of keys on my already-bulging keychain off for another reason. I've been wanting to get new gutters and some other minor repairs done on Casa De Mad, my 31-year-old money pit of a townhouse. I had an estimator over a few days ago, and he recommended a new roof as well. The home inspector when I bought the house 3 years ago said the roof was probably 8-10 years old (although he also said the AC was fine, when it turned out that the previous owners had only replaced half of it and that it was spewing huge amounts of water into the basement), so while it's on the low side of being due for replacement, it's not completely implausible that it needs to be replaced. That means dipping into the savings, which means putting off being able to show up in a dubbed-out buggy. I'm supposed to meet with the contractor this week to get the estimate, so we'll see. Spending several grand on a new roof sucks, not only because it means putting off other, more enjoyable purchases, but also because you don't get a whole lot of enjoyment out of it, like you do with new carpet or a remodeled kitchen. Nobody ever says "hey, I really like your roof" - but they probably would say something if it wasn't replaced and was leaking on them.


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