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Will All That Stuff Really Make You Happy?

I used to be very impressed by fancy cars and large houses, but now that I understand how many people get them, not so much… Because of my inexpensive living conditions and my additional side business income, I do have quite a large amount of disposable income (somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 a month). With this I could easily buy a bunch of stuff on credit and afford the payments.

I could go out and buy all of the things listed below:

  • Executive Home
  • Yacht
  • Fancy Mercedes
  • Motorcycle
  • Trips to Bora Bora

So that looks great and all, right? I mean, who wouldn’t love to live in an executive home with a yacht floating in the lake behind you and a Mercedes and crotch rocket parked in the garage (not to mention the exotic trips from time to time). You might impress your friends for a few years, but when you run the calculations, all you’re really doing is spinning your wheels and renting this stuff, which would ultimately leave you broke in your retirement years.

Interest and Depreciation

I have decided not to go the route of buying things on credit, mainly for the reasons of credit interest and depreciation. In the example of the Mercedes. If I bought that car brand new, it would probably cost me about $40,000. After factoring in the interest I would pay on it over the course of 5 years, it will actually cost me closer to $45,000.

But, what is this car worth after those 5 years? Probably somewhere around $15,000 or so (due to depreciation)…

So, in order to buy this car I paid $45,000, but the value today is only $15,000. That to me just sounds like idiocy. Without even factoring in the insurance, taxes, fuel, and maintenance, this car cost me $6,000 a year, all because I wanted to look fancy in front of my friends.

It Is Just Stuff

I once owned a fairly new Nissan Altima. When I bought it, I’m pretty sure I had drool falling out of the side of my mouth. I just couldn’t wait to call it my own and drive it to each one of my friends’ houses to show it off. It did give me a feeling of satisfaction when I drove it…for about 2 weeks. After those 14 days, the high really wore off. It was just a car that got me from Point A to Point B.

I assume the same would be true for the house, the motorcycle, and the boat as well. They are just things that are fun for a while, but like everything else, they eventually get less amusing over time. However, when you buy these items on credit, you are still stuck with the bill for many years, which ultimately prevents you from getting ahead financially. With just a few bad decisions, you could become trapped for life financially.

Will It Make You Happy?

As it turns out, my experience with the Nissan Altima was not an isolated one. This is the feeling that many people experience when they purchase something new. The initial couple of weeks are fun and exciting, but soon that feeling wears off and the excitement is gone. Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote a piece a few years ago titled, “But Will It Make You Happy?” It is an excellent article and I encourage you to read it. Sometimes living simply is far more rewarding than buying a bunch of stuff.

What do you think? Would you be happier with more savings and less stuff?

Money Save Money

AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. Of all those things, I would probably only consider the trip because you could be making memories.
    Can’t put a price tag on those! Great post.

    • Great comment MFM! That is actually exactly what I read (but didn’t mention in my post). Spending money on stuff doesn’t really increase your happiness, but increasing your memories with vacations does! So, for any dad’s out there – taking a trip to Disney should probably supersede the motorcycle purchase. 😉

  2. Thanks for the shout! Glad you enjoyed peering into other peoples’ money just like I do 😉

    • I’m kind of in the middle of the list. I sure wish I was closer to the top!

  3. Thanks for the mention! I personally want to save more now than ever before. And as for that car in the photo, it’s probably closer to a $60K sticker price, not $40K!

    • You’re probably right LH, but I know Mercedes sells brand new cars for $30k, so I didn’t want to estimate it too high. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Just having the stuff wouldn’t make me happy….cars are the worst of all of these. The high of a new car wears off VERY quickly. Now, if the things I had would allow me to have new life experiences…well, that’s a different story. I’d love to take trips to tropical places, and that’s something I do plan to do – but infrequently and with cash. Own a boat? Sure..I’d love a boat IF I was going to use it to go fishing, or water skiing or fun things like that. but buying “stuff” just to impress your friends is a waste of money. If you’re going to buy something, make sure it adds value to your life!

    • It is surprising how quickly that new car excitement wears off isn’t it? And then some people are locked into payments for 6 years? No thank you. I’m with you Travis. I would much rather spend the money on experiences here and there than owning big fancy stuff.

  5. Bravo! I wish more people understood this concept, each and every day I drive by million dollar homes. I know for a fact these people have a good jobs and make good money but chances are they have a bunch of liabilities and NO ASSETS. They will be “rich” until they retire then they will be in culture shock once that cash flow ceases.

  6. It’s hard to say. I think material wealth is a prerequisite for happiness. Being poor won’t make you happy either. But with that in mind, material objects are only the PREREQUISITE. Happiness comes from the inside – as long as the future is bright and optimistic, you (and I) will be happy.

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