How I Buy Anything I Really Want


by Don Smith

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My wife often complains that I'm impossible to shop for when it comes to Christmas or my birthday because I already have everything I want. So why do I already have everything I want? Because if I really wanted something, I had already gone out and bought it!

Now you're probably asking, “Don, how can you afford all of that? You've got 5 kids!!!”

Good question. Let's dive in with an example.

How To Buy Anything You Really Want

In Robert Kiyosaki's book Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!, he talks about the difference between how rich people think and how poor people think. I don't agree with everything that Kiyosaki writes, but I agree with one particular section.

When my poor dad wanted something that wasn't part of the budget, he would deny himself that item, saying, “We can't afford that.” When we kids wanted a special toy or to go on a trip, my poor dad would deny us that, saying, “We can't afford that.” When my mother wanted a fancy dress, my poor dad would deny her that saying, “We can't afford that.”

My poor dad had a mindset of scarcity. Conversely, when my rich friends and their families wanted something nice, they would get it—maybe not right away, but eventually.

What was the difference? The answer was found in one simple yet life-changing phrase: “How can I afford that?”

Though they didn't always have the money sitting around to buy whatever they wanted, my rich friends' parents were financially intelligent. Instead of saying, “I can't afford that,” they looked at the things they wanted to buy as motivation to help them put their money to work so that they could afford to buy them.

Rather than let their finances defeat them, they looked at their finances as a game that they would win. As a result, they nearly always found a way to get what they wanted, even if it took a little patience.

My kids are probably reading this right now saying dad…you ALWAYS sound like the poor dad saying, “We can't afford that!” or “It's not in the budget!” And that's sort of true and not true. I know that it is possible to get nearly anything I desire with enough effort. I also know that having a bunch of stuff isn't going to make my life better and that, many times, there are other things I want more.

The key is the questions I ask myself when I see something I desire.

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. What will I have to do to get it?
  3. How BADLY do I want this?
  4. Is there something I'd prefer to do with the money?
  5. Is there another way to get the desired effect?

Let's dive into that a bit, and I'll think you'll see why I said I buy anything I really want.

1. Why Do I Want This?

To me, this is always one of the key questions when I'm deciding to do anything. Why? I'm going to use a boat, for example. A boat sounds fun. So why is that?

If we had a boat, I could take my kids out on the lake from time to time. I could go fishing, skiing, and bring friends out. I could make memories and have lots of fun.

2. What Will I Have To Do To Get What I Want?

Well, a decent boat could run me around $27k after you figure in maintenance, taxes, and insurance.

$27,000 is pretty expensive. Now, how could I go about buying that?

Well, if I wanted to buy it in 2 years, I would need to figure out a way to earn $37 a day ($27,000/365/2). If I wanted to own it in 5 years? That would be about $15 a day or $105 a week.

Doesn't sound too bad, I'm guessing I could find an extra job to do that would net me $100 a week. Maybe clean a couple of houses, mow some yards, shovel some driveways, fix some computers or cars, do some more business consulting, sell some stuff, the ways to do that are endless. It wouldn't take too much extra time to do that, especially if I got my kids to buy into the idea and put a few bucks into it each week as well.

I could also rent it out when I wasn't using it and turn it into an asset. The going rate on rentals is around $300 around here, so I would “only” have to rent it out about 90 times to pay for it. That's probably the best way for me to do this, and it's how many people buy yachts, vacation homes, and private jets. Hey…I just figured out how to buy a boat, and on top of that, make it earn me money!

3. How Badly Do I Want This?

Well, it'd be nice to have a boat, but am I willing to put in the extra effort each week to earn that much extra or cut back on expenses far enough to save that much? Do I really want to deal with taking care of a boat or renting it out? Seems like a lot of work…guess I don't want it too badly.

4. Is There Something I'd Prefer To Do With The Money?

This year, my wife and I flew to Florida for several days and stayed on the beach. That trip cost me a little under $2,000. Personally, I'd rather go on a nice vacation to the beach in Florida a couple of times each year for the next 5 years than own a boat!

5. Is There Another Way To Get The Desired Effect?

Doing a little checking in my area, I can rent a boat for around $300 a day. Let's see, $27,000 divided by $300, that's about 90 days. Now how often am I really going to do this? A handful of times each year? If that's the case, I'd have to rent for nearly 20 years before I equaled the cost of buying a boat! That sure sounds like a lot less hassle!

I could also find a friend with a boat and go for a ride with them.

Now that's really what I want! A friend with a boat!

Hey, on a totally unrelated matter, do you happen to own a boat and live around central Illinois? Maybe we should be friends…

In the end, after going through my questions, I decided I don't really want to own a boat. Now, if I decide later that I want it, I've also figured out exactly what I need to do to get it, and I'll buy a boat!

So how about you? How do you go about getting what you want in life?

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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