Thursday, August 16, 2007

the new Pirate Ship: HMS Frivolous

The Pirate just bought a new ship. It's this:


Not to replace his nice, practical little Skoda, mind. In addition to. For fun on weekends and for something to tinker with and restore. (The structure and engine are sound, but it needs a load of cosmetic detail work. The perfect fixer-upper.)

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm happy for him. He's been an Aston Martin freak all his life (inherited from his father), and he's just bought his first, his very own, AM. (It's a 1973 Vantage.) Yay for him.

But it's such a total frivolity. To behonest, I'm just not comfortable with that level of decadance. Even if I had a million pounds, I probably wouldn't buy something that totally unnecessary.

But is that me being a hypocrite? I'm pretty sure that if I had a million quid I would buy something unnecessary, probably several somethings. So is it that I'm genuinely uncomfortable with this kind of decacance in a world where so many people are suffering, or is that I just prefer differenct luxuries, like a giant garden, my own scull, 4 dogs and a cider press?

Is it fair to make a distinction between small luxuries (like a really nice meal out), medium luxuries (like a new scull), and huge luxuries (like a sports car)? It's just a matter of scale, really.

It seems to me that for people our age (30 minus a tad), spending money on non-necessities isn't wise. The time value of money makes clear that saving now will pay off hugely in the future. So if I'm rich when I'm 50 and have no money worries, then will I be comfortable with decadance? Or am I just too tight-fisted by nature (having grown up in a home that was super-frugal by necessity) to ever feel comfortable with spending such large sums on things that aren't needed? And is that a bad thing? What are the implications of that for our long-term relationship?

I suppose I'll have to express these feelings to the Pirate at some point, but he's so damn happy, I really hate to rain on his parade. I surely don't want him to think I'm being disaproving or trying to make him feel guilty.

Or is that exactly what I'm doing?...

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, if someone wants something, especially if it is something they grew up with and have been a "fan" of all their known life, you aren't going to control that at all.

You are talking about a common issue between couples that have been there since the dawn of time. It may not be all couples but I can guarantee you it is 99% of them. One wants something but the other can't see the need or want of it. You can't change it, you can't fight it and if you do, you will just cause unneeded and unwanted problems. If he was spending money that he didn't have and putting himself in the poorhouse, then I would say be concerned. If not, then be happy. Someday you will want something that he may feel the same you feel about this. You can't change that nor can you fight it.

First Nations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
First Nations said...

everyone likes toys. (I am sad to report that i thought this toy was, at first glance, a 70's vintage AMC Matador. duh.) my Biker goes through toys by the metric shitpile, but we've never wanted for anything necessary and when things got crunchy the toys were the first thing to go...often relieving the crunch in lavish style! my ex, on the other hand, put his toys first, ahead of everything, and it was really hard for me not to worry about the Biker, but he's just not that kind of man. THANK GOD!
the BEST advice you are going to get is right now: get into it with him. even if you have to fake it at first and you don't know the first thing about cars or care about them. start taking an interest in it, read the enthusiasts magazines, go with him to the inevitable swap meets. most importantly, ASK HIM QUESTIONS. at the very least you'll make him happy, and at best you'll find a new interest yourself. (and with an informed point of view, you'll be able to insert stops and checks into the mix when necessary! hey, i aint stupid.)
this is that whole catholic guilt thing at work. 'why should i have x expensive thing when there are children starving in africa'. there is nothing morally wrong with having toys or being comfortable. your karmic payments get a little higher in addition, but you can afford them too. when you forget to pay back into the circle is when you fuck up, and poor people are just as guilty of that as rich people are.
now go, and sin no more.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

anon: i recognize that i'm not going to control it, nor do i want to. i guess my concern that this is indicative of disparate values when it comes to spending, and that the difference might be significant enough to suggest we wouldn't be compatible long-term.


FN: even if faking my delight goes against my conscience? Think of it this way: I look at an uber-rich guy like, oh, Sir Philip Green, and I am nauseated by his opulent lifestyle. Even if I had that kind of money, I wouldn't spend it on a 100-foot yacht and hire J-Lo to sing at my kid's birthday party. There comes a point where decadence crosses the line into social iresponsibility. But while I consider a nice meal in a restaurant a luxury, I do not feel it falls under the same category of obscene decadence. So the line is somewhere in between. A year ago I would have put an unnecessary sports car in the "grossly over-decadent" category. So I'm finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that someone I love and trust and respect could display that kind of decadance.

Or is it just human nature that we all feel that we each have struck just the right balance of frugality and frivolity, and anyone with less than us is deprived and anyone with more of us is priveledged and undeserving and we resent them. Ack! More wisdom, please!

Geosomin said...

oh...my husband used to have one of those until it broke beyond practicality of repair and got impractical. S'pose it's a manly thing...
And I must say, it WAS fun to drive...it really was. And I'm not even really a car person.
Just smile and wait for when you want something he thinks is bonkers and it'll even out...:)

The Muller said...

Right now, Mr. Pirate has some spare cash and an opportunity to indulge himself. Frivolous? Yes, without doubt. Selfish? Probably, especially when the many deserving causes are considered. But is that really the issue?

A restoration project such as this, if it is done properly, will swallow some cash, and a lot of time. But a nicely restored car will be an object of admiration and a very valuable asset, worth much more than the money spent on the project. In addition, the restorer may well get a “buzz” out of knowing he has done a good job.

As I understand it, the “M” word was mentioned recently, but a definite proposition has not been made. Assuming the current position advances to the point where CB can apply for a UK passport, and a Pirate crew appears, will Mr. Pirate be in a position to indulge his whimsy? The fiscal arrangements will certainly be different, and time will become much more critical resource. This may be Mr. Pirate's last chance to indulge himself, so why piss on his parade?

Anonymous said...

ok, I will not say that I don't personally indulge in monetary items that may not be needed. My better half will remind me of that everyday. I know where the line is though. Do bills get paid? Yes. Is there money if needed for emergency items or future items? Yes, not tons but yes there is some. Do I or my better half spluge on unnecessary items? yes but only after the above mentioned items are done.

If he was putting himself into the poor house then I would be concerned but your friend FN has a good point to make. Jump in and take part in it with him. That is the only way you will be able to understand where he is coming from. Ask him questions so you know what he is thinking. You can't complain to him about this right now because you don't know what is going through his head and you may not know the reasons for this. Ask the questions, get involved. That is the only way to know if this is a problem or not.

Just because you may not splurg on something like this doesn't mean that you are not compatible. Compatibility is not what someone does and why someone does it and if you agree to it or not. It is the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

Dave said...

Clearly you are totally incompatible, and you should chuck him immediately.

What you need is an older man, who already has a sports car.

Lorna said...

It's a tough one - the whole financial reponsibility thing. I swing from feeling that we should be saving every penny to feeling that we certainly aren't going to be able to afford any fun when we have a Cambridge-sized mortgage and a batch of small librarians and physicists to look after, and to keep supplied with books and nitro-glycerine.

In general, though, YM and I rub along well financially, despite having totally diferent views of what constitutes necessary expenditure (he's just blown £60 on an 'essential' panama hat, even though it makes him look like the Man from Del Monte). Generally, I lean towards the tight, while he leans towards the frivolous, but this doesn't seem to be a problem as we always keep track of things/budget etc. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the occasional splurge isn't a problem, provided all the bills are paid and there's still money in the savings.

Just a question: is he keeping the car that shade of brown?

GreatSheElephant said...

wahay Dave - I take it you have a sports car.

My take on this: stop thinking about it as an additional car and start thinking about it as an overwhelming interest or hobby. Like rowing for example. Or indeed cricket. Anyone who doesn't get sports would see the amount of time and money sports enthusiasts spend on their activities as intensely wasteful (you went rowing when you could have been doing voluntary work at a homeless shelter?).

Honestly, I think you are way wrong here. It's not your money, it's his and he gets to choose what he does with it.

And the advice above about faking an interest is very good.

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Geo: even if someday i wanted something unnecessary, just for fun, i couldn't spend upwards of 20 grand on it. my conscience just wouldn't allow it. i could never enjoy it because of the weight of the guilt.

Mr. Muller: everything you say is true, but your arguements are not mutually exclusive to my gnawing sense that this level of luxury is simply wrong. maybe deep down i'm just a puritanical yankee (there's a terrifying thought!), but the "last chance" arguement doesn't hold if the thing being done is unacceptable. To use an (albeit extreme) analogy, isn't that like saying "I'd better kill someone else now, because after i go to prison next month I won't have the chance again." Ludicrous to the extreme, I admit, but do you see my point?

Anon: you're right about compatibility being the whole 'kit 'n kaboodle,' but there are something things that are just flat out 'deal-breakers.' my stance on gay rights, for one. if the Pirate was against full civil rights for people of a certain sexual orientation, I couldn't date or marry him. end of. and given how many couples divorce over monetary squabbles (second most common reason after the obvious adultery) it seems to me that how people spend money is a pretty fundamental compatiblity issue, especially when it speaks to larger issues of basic values regarding thriftiness and indulgence.

dave: you're probably right, but i think Liam Neeson already has a bird.

lorna: surely there's a difference between a £60 hat and a £25,000 car?! Isn't there? Oh, I don't know. I don't know anything. This is doing my head in. But to answer your question, the photo doesn't do it justice. It's actually an attractive shade of metallic burgundy. It will need to be repainted in a few years, though, and I have no idea what color it will end up.

GSE: *sigh* Apparently I'm not very good at conveying my thoughts in words. It seems that absolutely everybody has misunderstood me. I know it's his money, and I have no intention of telling him how to spend it. But I do have a right (and indeed, obligation) to consider if the ways he spends his hard-earned money are ethically acceptable. If he was buying and stockpiling weapons with his money, I would leave him. That would be an unnacceptable use of money from my standpoint, and I don't think many would question it. Again, it's a matter of degrees. I don't have any compunction about his other indulgences (like cricket and model railroading, both of which cost money, but neither on the scale of a classic car). If he had just bought a 100-foot yacht, I would have a problem with that. That would be more luxury than I could ever be comfortable with, and would always see as an obscene and a-moral display of wealth. So somewhere between a model railroad and a 100-foot yacht there exists a point where acceptable indulgences cross a line into unacceptable. A year ago I would have put the purchase of an unnecessary (ie, second) car on the foul side of that line. So I am having a tremendously difficult time reconciling that purchase with a man whom I believe in all other ways to be good and moral.

Or maybe it's just a simple matter of we come from somewhat different class backgrounds and I feel out of my element. Who knows. My brain hurts now.

GreatSheElephant said...

So is morality on a straight line that can be measured purely in terms of volume of cash? I can think of plenty things worse than spending money he has worked hard to earn on something this benign. Who exactly is it hurting? The only thing that seems to be damaged here is your image of yourself as frugal. But, again, it isn't your money.

GreatSheElephant said...

Actually your point about class differences might be a good one. This reminds me of my ex husband who could get quite purse lipped about the idea of spending money on ostentatious things (behold my £200 engagement ring) but thought nothing of dropping £5k a year on a football season ticket, because that was working class.

Again - you can't measure morality in money terms only. What's worse - £25k on a car or feeding £5 worth of dope to your baby to stop it crying? In purely utilitarian terms, I cannot see the harm of this car if he can afford it.

jd said...

cars > chicks

Anonymous said...

Well, in the long run it is always up to you and what you feel. If you feel strongly that this is a concern, maybe you should talk to him. When you say that most marriages end due to money problems, they do only because the two people involved don't talk about it. Divorce is a cop out. There are reasons to divorce someone but in this day in age, people use it as a cop out and that is it. No one wants to take the 5 minutes to actually talk about what is going on and what the problem(s) is/are.

Only you can do what you want and only you can know if this is what you want or not. Yes, you should get involved with him so this is not something that for the rest of your lives he does alone and you feel like it is against you or just to piss you off. Find out what he likes about it and try to see it through his eyes and mind. If you do that, and then you can also calmly identify your concern. If this is something that he has wanted for a long time, it may only be a one time thing. Everyone has thier indulgences whether they want to admit it or not. I am sure you do too. Maybe they aren't as expensive as this but they are indulgences.

Again, as long as the bills are paid, no worries.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

GSE: no, of course morality is NOT merely a stright line measured in terms of cash flow. but the way someone spends their money can and ofent are decisions with moral consequences. My instinct is to consider a $25k unnecessary luxury somewhat amoral. the question today is whether or not that instinct of mine is correct or justifies.

JD: as pithy as ever. how's things?

Anon: I would very much like to talk to him about it but, as has been stated earlier, I don't want to piss on his parade. As for my indulgences, I readily admit to having them, but as I said in my first response to GSE, it's a matter scale, and I think there is a distinction to be made between minor indulgences (a meal out) and major ones. To say there's no difference between them is like saying there's no difference between stepping on someone's toe and cutting off their leg. In either case you've injured them, so surely the moral repercussions are the same, which obviously they're not.

Lorna said...

It wasn't the first hat, by a long chalk... Then there were the ipods, the digital photo-frames, the refusal to stay in anything less than 4* hotels...

I have to say I think GSE has a point. At the moment, it is his money, and if he doesn't make a habit of doing things like this then you probably don't have a problem. Seriously, though, if you're vey worried about this, you should talk to him about it. If he's worth his slat, he'll listen.

GreatSheElephant said...

Amoral - fine. Immoral - you've got a problem. Pretty much everything we do on a day to day basis is amoral. Who is this hurting? Cricket isn't moral or immoral...

In one sense it's a moral act - refurbing a vintage car instead of sending it to landfill is quite 'green'. An old Aston Martin was probably made by unionised workers in the UK - again, morally better perhaps than spending the money cumulatively on a stream of frugal items made by low cost labour in China. Certainly better than buying a new car as a second car in green terms.

Ultimately, I think you need to think very hard indeed about why this bothers you and if it truly does then he probably isn't right for you. If I personally was in his position and you were to come to me and call me not moral for spending my money that I had worked for in that way, I would be absolutely livid.

jd said...

CB: I'm tired, stressed, sick of working. So the usual. Thanks for asking :)

It looks like a nice car. I'd be inclined to respray it dark blue and fit some nice cream leather + navy trim to the interior.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately is is your choice. If you feel that upset about it, then talk to him and let him know how you feel but do remember this, you are not married, it is his money and he can and will do as he wishes and wants. If you guys do get married, then obviously it is both your $$ and you will have to both decide if purchases like this are worth the effort and spending of said $$. Until then, it is what he wants to do.

You should talk to him though and just let him know how you feel if this is really bothering you. Personally, I think unless he does this often, you shouldn't worry about it. There is no morality to buying an expensive item and everyone does it every now and then. Cars are expensive items and if you get one that you really want and like, it may cost a few bucks extra. Hell, my most recent vehicle myself was $35k.

Lorna said...

'Slat' - God, my brain really is melting. I meant 'Salt', of course.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

lorna: again, it's just a matter of the scale of the thing. there's indulgences and indulgences, y'know?

GSE: yes, I am trying to think quite hard about just why this bothers me, because i'm genuinely not sure. that was part of the whole point of this post, i guess. this evening i began comparing the car to a work of art, which has a load of other implications which will probably be the subject of the next post, along with my sage father's advice.

JD: blue is nice. i like the burgundy, too. the interior is tan leather. warm, rich colors.

anon: like i said before, i readily acknowledge it's his dosh to do with as he pleases. that doesn't mean anything he does with it is OK.

lorna: i knew what you meant, hon. (slat has a nice ring to it, tho.)

Dave said...

I must admit that I felt very guilty when I spent £10k on my mid-life crisis (sorry, sports car) earlier this year.

I rationalised that it was my money, for which I had worked, and I felt I needed a treat after all the unhappy things that had happened to me in the previous 12 months.

It felt selfish to spend so much money on myself (even though I have no-one else on whom to spend it, doing anything just for me is, technically selfish, and my guilt feelings constantly remind me of that).

I still get a big grin when I drive it though, so I think it was worth it.

Oh, and of course, it pulls the birds terrifically.

Not.

GreatSheElephant said...

Did he consult you about the purchase beforehand? If he didn't, that would bother me.

As a matter of interest, if you had that amount of money available and spending it would in no way impact your future prosperity (which is the one thing about this level of expenditure that would concern me) or anyone else's wellbeing, what would you spend it on?

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Dave: that's the most reassuring thing anyone's said yet. You know I'm not a believer, but there is still some programming deep down hard-wired that whispers in my brain "if it's ok for a clergyman to do it, it's ok." (clearly this does not apply to paedo priests.) You are definately entitled to a little fun and enjoyment after everything you've been through.

GSE: of COURSE he didn't consult me first! as everyone has (rightly) said, it's his money to do with as he pleases. I don't get a say in how he spends it. All I can do is observe his decisions and respond to them.

your question is difficult to answer, because spending money now will always impact one's future prosperity. but let's imagine a situation where someone comes up to me and say "i'll give you 25G pounds to spend in the next year. if at the end of the year you havn't spent it, i'm taking it back," thus removing the possiblity that i could save it. in that hypothetical scenario, and assuming all my university debts were paid off, here's the order of spending priority:
1. house. i'd either buy one or knock a big chunck off the principle of the mortgage. but that is not a fun answer to a party question, so assuming i already owned property,
2. rowing equipment. I'd get my own scull, and probably a double, too, so Pirate and I could play on the water together. That would account for a bout 10k.
3. antique books or original works of art would probably suck up the rest. i am a bibliophile and i believe in patronizing the arts if possible, but these would also be investment opportunities i could sell later if i was desperate for the cash.

did i suprise anyone, or was that totally predictable?

GreatSheElephant said...

hmm, I think his purchase was the moral equivalent of 2 and 3 combined - hobby plus investment in something of beauty, not that I think that morality has much to do with it, as I've said.

So you're not bothered that he didn't discuss it with you first? Are you sure? After this amount of time, that's the thing that would bother the hell out of me, although, as I've said, it's his money so the ultimate decision would be his.

Anyhow, sorry I was a bit sharp yesterday - was feeling rather grumpy.

Lorna said...

I just realised it was £25,000 he spent: I was misplacing a decimal point somewhere and getting £2,500. Oops... I see your point about scale.

llewtrah said...

Hmm. My ex got a sporty bright yellow car when he hit his mid-life crisis. He also traded me in for a sportier model. I don't see the point of such vehicles (impractical), but just make admiring remarks and make sure the Pirate is not having any crises and that the only passenger is YOU!