In Hard Choices Part 1, I listed my family’s current want/need list:
1) Dental Work (Both) – $500 to $2,000
2) iPad or Tablet (Kids, Me) – $600
3) Organic foam mattress or topper (Both, more me) – $1,000 – $2,200
4) Airplane ticket to home country (Spouse) – $1,300+
5) Semi-professional camera (Spouse) – $1,800 +
6) Car #1 Repairs (Spouse) – $1,000
7) Car #2 Maintenance (Me) – $200 to $500
How would you prioritize the above needs/wants if that was all the information you had? Now I’m adding in details or justifications (in red) for these wants/needs. Does this change your original answer?
1) Dental Work (Both) – $500 to $2,000 – Have been delaying this for 2 years. These are not cosmetic needs.
2) iPad or Tablet (Kids, Me) – $600 – An excellent speech therapy program for Autistic kids is only available on the iPad. That program costs $200, too! Recommended by kid’s therapist who have described incredible communication gains with other clients.
3) Organic foam mattress or topper (Both, more me) – $1,000 – $2,200 – Had current mattress for over 10 years. It feels OK, but we often wake up with sore backs. Yes, we can settle for a non-organic mattress that would be cheaper..
4) Airplane ticket to home country (Spouse) – $1,300+ – Spouse wants to see his aging parents plus some old friends he hasn’t seen in years. Has not been home in 4 years.
5) Semi-professional camera (Spouse) – $1,800 + – We own a consumer camera that is so-so. Spouse is very passionate about photography and wants to make this hobby into a career. He has actually been paid for photography jobs twice.
6) Car #1 Repairs (Spouse) – $1,000 – Have been putting this off for months. Check Engine light keeps coming on. This is the primary family car.
7) Car #2 Maintenance (Me) – $200 to $500 – Check brakes and make sure car is in kept in good shape. This car has more miles (over 100,000) than Car #1. This is primarily used for my commute to work.
Do the “justifications” above make you change your mind in terms of priority? Or do you stick to your original answer? I’ll detail our decisions in another post.
This is one in a series of tips/ideas to help you stay middle-class (HTSMC). Whether you consider yourself on the lower- or higher-end of the spectrum, you can probably find some useful tips to help you stay there and find save more for retirement even as wages stay stagnant.