Why Payments are Lame

Yes, I know I just used this picture last week

Financing is a great way to get what you want right now. Without waiting to save up anything at all! And making payments is pretty much a forced savings plan — only it comes after instead of before… Right?


Eh, not really at all.

You are thinking about getting a new motorcycle. You walk into the dealership and find something you really like. Your buddy has one and you want it bad. So you “sweet talk” the dealer into getting you the financing terms you want and come back home with a different bike.

And now you’re locked into payments until long after your temporary happyness fades.

Pay Now or Pay Later

I’m fascinated with the timing of actions. There’s something powerful about making them early instead of late. Actions and their consequences build up momentum over time, whether good or bad.


Let’s use money as an analogy. Money tends to earn interest when left alone, right? This can work for or against you.

When you have money, interest adds to your savings. When you owe money, interest adds to your debt. This is a natural consequence of financial decisions.

Let’s switch the analogy, and use these terms instead: the action taken, time, and the consequences involved.

The Best Product for Your Needs

What is the best computer? Which car should I buy? Is this a good price for a smartphone?

Beware of questions like these! They are not very good questions to ask. They are too unclear. The answers you get will be too objective, and none of them will be particularly helpful.


I get asked questions like these often. My first reaction is always this:

What are you going to do with the product?

Sometimes it means paying a ton. But if you don’t answer this question, you could easily spend weeks of your time and frustration using a product you should never have purchased. Suddenly, paying more is the clear win.

The goal is not to find the best product, but to find the best product for your needs!

Often we are lured in by a “good deal” on a product and then talk ourselves into it. And often, it leads to frustration. Why?

A product is not a “good deal” if it’s not good for you and your needs. PERIOD.

My technical writing professor cemented this concept in my mind. A classmate was proposing to write a paper about the best hybrid car — but the professor stopped him right there.

“What is your criteria to determine the ‘best’ hybrid car? This is not going to be a good paper. You need to start with a better goal.”

It’s too vague and unclear. There is no “best” hybrid car. Or computer. Or smartphone.

But there is a best one for you and your needs.

The first step to finding the best product for you, then, is to determine your needs. How will you use it? What features do you need?

Think about it.

  • The fanciest tablet won’t work out if you are better off with an iPad.
  • A hot sports car is counter-productive if a sedan suits your needs.
  • A great deal on a laptop, no matter how cheap it is, is a waste of your time (literally) if you need something more powerful!

Buying the “best” product — which does not fit your needs — is not the best product for you.

This is what I call The Hassle Factor.

Hassle Factor occurs whenever you prioritize money, convenience, or other things over your time and effort.

Have you spent extra time and effort for a “good deal”? How did it turn out?

Just a Pair of Sandals

I’ve had the same pair of sandals for seven years. In a word, they have been exhausted. It was past time to buy another pair. Wife read a few reviews and surprised me by buying sandals online.

There was just one problem.


They weren’t what I was expecting, and they didn’t fit like I had hoped. My first impression was a bad one. Now what?

For some reason, I chose to seize this opportunity as a lesson in contentment.

I could have ordered many more pairs of sandals in my size, ship them here, return the others, and decide among them to find the very best pair possible.

It just didn’t feel right, though. (Plus it would have been a ton of hassle for such a mild purchase. Still, that is probably what I would have done normally.)

Instead, this time, I thought about it calmly.

I know these are good sandals because I trust my wife’s judgment thoroughly.

I know they will last and will work fine.

I know they will fit better as I wear them.

And I know it will cost me time and effort to exhaustively find the best pair of sandals ever made for my feet. (This sounds exhausting just typing it!)

Instead of giving in to The Paradox of Choice and ending up very unsatisfied due to so many options available, I decided to actively like the pair I have.

If there were only a handful of options for sandals in the world, this pair would obviously shine as the best choice for me. So why torture myself and second-guess a great product just because my expectations are off?

They don’t have to fit my foot absolutely perfectly. They don’t have to be made out of specific materials I love.

They don’t have to make my year or cook breakfast or be the best footwear ever made.

They can just be a pair of sandals.

And I can appreciate them for what they are.

This is a subtle yet important step toward contentment.

PS — I now realize this is an example of satisficing, as mentioned in The Paradox of Choice. Sometimes it’s hard not to be a maximizer!

Have you second-guessed a decision because it may not have been the absolute best choice? What would it take for you to appreciate it for what it is?

Scissors and Pens

Wife brought home a brand new pair of scissors for our “pen cup.” You know, the mug with all of the pens and screwdrivers in it.

How wasteful — especially since we already had a pair of scissors!

Technically, we did have a pair already. But let’s be honest — they were pretty dull.

Wife’s family grew up with the pen cup full of writing utensils which wouldn’t write. It was some sick tradition to go through half a dozen pens each time you wanted to write something down.

It was a similar situation with scissors in her household. As if by rule, all scissors had to be dull. Worse yet, they were usually sticky from the last time someone cut tape with them.

As adults with our own household, we are officially displacing these traditions.

Wife bought a package of pens awhile back.

I haven’t purchased pens in a decade! Why would anyone need to buy pens when every bank, realtor, church, and pharmaceutical gives them out like business cards?

Well, those are the pens we removed from the pen cup — and threw away — because barely any of them worked after a few months.

I was skeptical of this “purchasing pens” habit at first, but now I’m sold.

Similarly, wife bought scissors last week. You know why? Because scissors go dull after years of regular use, and a lousy four bucks took care of that for a long time.

Between a package of pens and $4 scissors, we released tension and frustration caused by tools which don’t work well.

This was a simple exercise to minimize hassle, gone well.

What little things create hassle in your life, eating away at your productivity?