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Self-Dealing

Rand Spero, 3:07 am ET

ARE THERE TIMES when we waste too much energy in pursuit of a good deal? I have clients who get so caught up in proving they’re smart consumers that they can neglect their own needs.

One client runs a successful business. She’s saved more than enough to retire early, should that become her goal. She’s an outstanding negotiator. The problem is, her diligence can sometimes cause her stress.

She and her husband have young kids. They could use a new minivan. Amid the pandemic, dealers are demanding far more than list price for the few vans they have in stock. She feels she’d be a chump to buy when prices are so high. The situation is causing her tremendous frustration because it’s unclear how long the shortage will last. While she understands that this “overpriced” purchase wouldn’t measurably affect her family’s savings, her concerns have stopped her from moving forward with the purchase.

An elderly couple that I work with was also having issues buying a car because of today’s tight supply. Their current car had been breaking down, so they had safety concerns, as well as repair bills. The lack of reliable transportation—even to important medical appointments—was nerve-racking. Still, they fretted about “overpaying” for a vehicle that a neighbor had bought for well below list price a year earlier.

It’s clear that ego can influence our buying decisions. This raises some questions that may be helpful to others:

  • Do some of us take such pride in always being smart consumers that we forget that money is only a medium of exchange?
  • Are we so concerned about not getting taken advantage of that we impose unnecessary limits on ourselves?
  • Is our habit of being clever—as opposed to wise—always helpful?
  • Are there situations when we should just accept unfortunate timing and move on with our lives?

Clearly, if any purchase jeopardizes our finances, we should be cautious. That’s just good planning. But if we’re fortunate enough to comfortably afford a purchase, our energy may be better spent being grateful rather than being shrewd customers.

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Roboticus Aquarius
Roboticus Aquarius
13 days ago

Yes, sometimes you bite the bullet. We went through the Van situation 20 some years ago. Toyota Sienna was a new model, and very few on dealer lots. I’m usually all about getting close to best price, but if we wanted one anytime soon we knew we’d have little leverage. So we offered full price, but pushed them on their rates. Having good credit helped us win over two other offers for the same car, if the salesman’s word is to be trusted. We got 17 years and 275K miles out of that van.
In the final analysis, it was a very good purchase.

Last edited 13 days ago by Roboticus Aquarius
Rand Spero
Rand Spero
13 days ago

Glad it worked out for you. Having the opportunity to extend the purchase life for such a long time has its benefits.

Charlie Warner Jr
Charlie Warner Jr
13 days ago

Our COVID economy certainly has two sides. Yes we are paying higher prices and yes our portfolios have reflected higher returns…….

Ormode
Ormode
13 days ago

If you want to be dealing with honest and capable people, you have to allow them to make a decent profit. Yes, you get what you pay for.

Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
13 days ago

Great thought provoking insight…money seems to be the tool by which too many things in life are measured against…how sad for us.

Last edited 13 days ago by Mik Cajon
Rand Spero
Rand Spero
13 days ago
Reply to  Mik Cajon

Good point. We can quantify monetary transactions.
But emotional wear and tear is much more difficult to measure.

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