Paralyzed

September 30, 2002

I am still struggling with purchasing a Powerbook G4 laptop. I have rationalized it over and over again, and yet, when I get to the point of actually making the purchase I get stuck. I want someone else to tell my it's okay, I want someone else to be responsible for the ultimate decision. To her credit, my wife won't play that game with me. I want her to say, "Mark get the laptop. I think it is okay and that you should make the purchase." If she were to do that it would move her into a parental role for the boundaries of this purchase. I would be the child, absolved of responsibility since the adult made the choice. This would not be healthy for her, our relationship, or me.

Since I don't want her to make the decision, and given that I am not moving forward with the purchase I realize that there is something else afoot that I am not acknowledging. There is some other emotional piece that I hadn't sorted through to my satisfaction. In my private thoughts I wonder about the fiscal responsibility of buy such an expensive toy when we have some obligations to meet. Even though I am qualified for the Apple loan program and can spread the cost of this purchase across many months if I desire, I am hesitant to oblige us in this manner. We spent over 2 years paying off all of our unsecured debt. Today we only owe on our cars, the house, and the pool. We got rid of all our credit cards and now we only buy things that we can afford in the moment. Buying this laptop is a break from a pattern that is well established; it is perhaps a step backwards.

I guess I am afraid that using the Apple loan scares me because this would be the second purchase made on time in almost 5 years. (The first being a refrigerator for our home.) It feels very good to have qualified for the Apple loan, especially since we have difficulty getting unsecured loans due to the marks on our credit from using CCCS to pay off our debt. I know that this laptop loan would not be unsecured ~ the laptop could be repossessed if I didn't pay for it ~ and that is why I qualified. Still, it feels very good to be accepted and I want to act on that acceptance and use the loan program to give myself this new object. The conflict comes from that part of me that worked so hard to pay off our debts, from that part of me that is proud to be debt free. I am loath to step back towards buying things I can't pay for immediately.

We do have enough money in the bank for me to purchase this item outright. That is also a great feeling. However, as I am independently employed I have to be careful about depleting our savings. The total purchase price for the top-of-the-line model represents about 8 days work for me. I could work extra days for a couple of months and have cash to make the purchase without regrets.

That last thought resonated with me; I like the idea of having no regrets about this purchase. In rereading this posting and the others on this same topic, I see that I am really struggling with the perceived aftermath of making this purchase. How will I feel about it afterwards? If I knew that I would be satisfied and happy, with no regrets or remorse, then it would be easy to make the decision. However, I feel as if I am going to have some remorse unless I find a way to make this purchase in a way that feels fiscally responsible to me.

I understand that I associate my emotions about a purchase with the purchased item afterwards. If I buy something when I am in a good space emotionally then that object always feels good to me. If, however, I purchase out of fear, or unexpressed emotion, then the object always makes me feel uneasy. Once upon a time I leased a new BMW when I was feeling very depressed and anxious emotionally. For the entire term of that lease I fretted and worried about that car. Most of the enjoyment of owning it was lost in the worry and stress it caused in me.

Currently I have a bid against a Powerbook in an online auction. I have place a maximum on the bid that I can afford to spend without feeling any regret afterwards. If I am successful and I get the laptop I will be very happy. If I am not successful then I will continue to save my money and watch the auction sites for other opportunities. Whether I find one for a good price online or save enough to buy one new, I will have acquired this object in a way that respects me. I won't have any remorse afterwards, and I will be able to fully enjoy my purchase.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.