Once I told the subscribers of mi newsletter the story of Ramón, a childhood colleague whom life was not treating too well. As far as money was concerned, he was miserable.
And this despite the fact that his starting position was not bad: an engineer and, both he and his wife, with good salaries.
I think the story is good perfectly illustrates the financial situation of many Spaniardsso I have decided to share it here, with my friends from El Blog Salmón.
I’ll quickly tell you about his adventure.
The safest car, the financial origin of evil
It all started with the birth of her daughter.
Any father (or mother) will know the emotional rollercoaster experienced when having a child for the first time: everything for your child, it has to be the best, they can’t lack for anything…
Under these premises, Ramón and his wife decided buy a car. But not just any one. It had to be a very safe car, the safest. His little girl deserved it.
They took a Volvo XC60 which they said was “the safest car on the market”.
He, I suppose paraphrasing the commercial that sold it to him (and between proud laughs), called him “the safest car”.
Apparently that model had won I don’t know what safety award that guaranteed that her daughter would travel safely. (I do not judge, I would buy my daughter the Falcon that our president likes so much)
The Volvo cost about 50k and they paid for it on credit, as it should be.
Well, during the months of maternity/paternity leave everything went well, they went to the pediatrician in the safest car and on Instagram everything was hearts.
But time passed, and since this is not a Nordic country in which the birth rate is encouraged, it was time to go back to work. You had to pay bills and bills, including the car safest on the market.
They couldn’t afford a leave of absence.
Then came the big question that most of us parents ask ourselves at some point in our lives:
“What do we do now with the girl?”
Because they didn’t owe favors, they didn’t want to give it to their grandparents (you know how it is), but hiring someone to take care of it was also too expensive, so they had no choice but to park it in the nursery.
And here comes the paradox of Ramón, pay attention.
The paradox of Ramón, his car and his daughter
The problems came right away:
- The first day of care the girl returned with a fever.
- Then a child took a bite that almost took an ear.
- On top of that, the nursery was far away and the caregiver seemed “a little stupid”.
Two weeks later that same caregiver called them, the girl would not stop vomiting. Ramón had to go look for her and take her to the emergency room. He took her in the safest carof course.
With just six months he had to Park her baby with a bunch of strangers, away from her parents and surrounded by rotavirus because couldn’t afford a babysitter or a leave of absence.
But if the safest car. I guess you get the irony.
Look, I don’t know if you have children or what you do with them. I neither know nor judge. Each one can do with their children and with his life what they think is appropriate.
However, do you know what is important? Control the money that enters and leaves your wallet.
If Ramón had not committed innumerable financial shits (the package Volvo was only one of them), when his daughter was born would have had options:
- He or his wife could have taken a leave of absence.
- I could have switched to a company closer to home.
- Request a reduction in hours.
- Hire someone to take care of the girl.
I don’t know, I could have had options and decided what was best for the kid and for the family.
But he had no options. The Volvo, among other things, had eaten them.
So she had to swallow the nursery and, worst of all, the run run in her head that the girl spent more hours with the stupid caregiver than with her parents.
But do you know what Ramón and his wife did have? They had the safest car.
Ramón’s mother-in-law, the new guest at the party
The months passed and something called a pandemic came into our lives. With nurseries, schools and companies closed, he had to work from home. In family. Confined.
Ramón and his wife lived in a small flat in the center of Seville, I don’t think it was more than 70 meters long, so you can imagine the work hell that was.
At first they took turns working: while one worked, the other took care of the little girl and tried to keep her quiet so she wouldn’t bother.
But there came a time when they had no choice but to ask for help. In order for both of them to be able to work 8 hours a day part-time, someone had to stay with the girl. They had no other.
Solution: Ramón’s mother-in-law went to live with them.
Think about it.
70 square meters, a little girl, a mother-in-law and two people trying to work. Meanwhile, the fucking Volvo in the garage. Crazy.
And the worst was not that. The worst thing is that giving gallons to the mother-in-law had her consequences. It is normal, when someone spends ten hours with your son, they end up telling you what to do with him.
Wow… Your mother-in-law telling you how you have to live your life and, meanwhile, the 50k euro car gathering dust twenty meters below.
And wait, there’s more.
The best thing is that between the girl, the mother-in-law and the Thermomix, many days Ramón ended up going to work in the garage, in the fifty thousand euro car. So he did feel safe.
No matter where you look at it, the situation is bizarre, and all because Ramón had closed his options.
The compound interest of his bad decisions had condemned him: I wasn’t in control, I wasn’t behind the wheel. Of his life, I say. Not from the car.
But don’t go just yet: we can draw two huge financial lessons from this story.
The financial lessons of Ramón and his car
Very very attentive:
1. Bad financial decisions have a very long life
If instead of being fooled by the Ramón dealership he had bought the same car, but second-hand, or another more affordable one, perhaps his wife, or he, could have taken a leave of absence so as not to have to park the girl nowhere.
Or they could have hired someone to help them with the housework and avoid having to smell the mother-in-law.
But they couldn’t, they had lost the possibility of deciding.
And all for wanting to smell something else…
I don’t know what perfume it will be more expensive. Well, yes I do, and I think you do too.
Be careful, I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to buy a new (and safe) car, what I’m saying is that you don’t have to be a financial nerd and damn your future (and your daughter’s immune system) for a lousy decision.
Curiously, a terrible decision that, in the case of Ramón, was applauded at the time by everyone around him. It was all pats on the back and congratulations on the great car you just bought.
“As you can tell you have plenty of tickets, Ramón”they told him.
If they only knew… Oh…
And second lesson:
2. It doesn’t matter what you spend your money on, you’re going to get tired soon
Whether it’s a Volvo, an iPhone or an Emidio Tucci blazer, the passage of time will wear away your affection for everything you buy. no matter what vain you’ll be.
What smart people do, those who make good financial decisions, and what you should do, is look at expenses with the perspective of time.
When you go to the dealership and you have your covered car, waiting for you, and the dealer uncovers it for you, you feel like the king of the world. But it’s a passing feeling, fleeting, the excitement drops even faster than the market value of your new unit.
When the smell of new disappears, other smells appear, which are usually worse, and more expensive, and long-lasting.
Not penalizing your future for a fleeting sensation, or for receiving a pat on the back, is the A of controlling your finances.
We’ll talk again soon
Image | drobotdean
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