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Want it now, buy it later

September 11, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Sometimes we don't get what we want right away.

This concept has become increasingly hard to accept over the years.

For my grandparents' generation, it was a given. They worked long hours hoping not to get what they wanted, but to get by.

My parents' generation had higher aspirations. They knew they had to do the work, but then they expected to get what they wanted.

As for my generation, we want it all and we want it now.

Many in the generation after mine want the same, and seem to think that they deserve it.

There are, thankfully, people and families who are exceptions to this trend. But our cultural expectations have shifted over time, and these ideas, in general, seem to hold true.

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Still, we can go against the grain by living and spending conscientiously, like previous generations, and by passing those principles on to our children.

I am of two minds. I choose not to work full time or pursue a career based primarily on salary. Then I question my choices as I flip through the idyllic world of Country Living magazine.

I responsibly put at bay the longing to add on a bedroom in the attic and to get the house painted. Then I consider slapping it all on a home equity line of credit.

But I must say, I never regret actively and considerately delaying material gratification.

While I was pregnant with the third of my four children, my car bit the dust. Knowing I would need a more spacious vehicle, I researched options and decided upon a used minivan of a particular make and model based on quality, performance and durability.

Because this model tends to keep running and running, finding a used one was no easy task. For three months, my family juggled my husband's commute to work, my work, holiday preparations, appointments, shopping and my children's school schedules and extracurricular activities - all with one vehicle.

There were times when a quite pregnant me felt inclined to huff to the nearest auto dealership and sign up for payments for the biggest, spiffiest vehicle that caught my fancy, regardless of financial commitment or my ability to honor it. But I waited it out.

Finally, we found the minivan we'd been waiting for. It was in great shape and in our price range and we sealed the deal.

That was five years ago. The van is paid off and still running, though not long ago we turned over 200,000 miles. It's got a dent and a couple of dings, but we've got a practical vehicle and no payment.

I was reminded of this recently as I stood dispiritedly looking into my children's bedrooms. When we had two children, each of them had a room that reflected his personality and had been decorated to the last detail. As they grew and two more children came along, so did a hodgepodge of furniture and mismatched bedspreads. A bulky drum set dominates one room. And the paint bears the scars of a 2-year-old with a crayon. Oh, how I long to finish that attic and restore order.

Instead, we are planning. We have picked up items on sale over the months, and we just spruced up one room with new curtains, rods, a duvet and an adorable bed we found for a steal. The rest will come in due time.

Maybe you desire a dream vacation, a shiny boat or a prized pair of shoes. Carefully research and consider. If you decide to pursue it, make your plan and take steps to get there. Meanwhile, be patient. It will benefit you and your children in the long run.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail.

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