What is enough?

March 30, 2010 · 22 comments

Are you a good judge of when something qualifies as enough? You know what I’m talking about. It’s the line between crappy and excessive. For example, say you are in the market for some new headphones. Well you could go to Rite Aid and buy yourself a $2 pair of cheapy headphones, but the quality of them will probably be less than adequate. Then again you could shell out $400 for some crazy awesome earbuds, but if you aren’t a huge music buff you probably wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate them. See the dilemma? Two dollar headphones are not enough, and $400 headphones are too much. How do you know where to draw the line? Is it the $10 pair, $40, or $200 pair?

If you’re like me you find yourself making the “enough” decision in many aspects of your life. Here are a few areas where I’ve battled with this.

Rent:

Holy poop, San Diego rent can be expensive. When I graduated college, I was forced to move off campus and had to start renting a place of my own. I ended up paying $700/month to share a bedroom with an old friend in a nice part of San Diego. After about two months of it, I had enough. I knew I could find cheaper rent, but still enjoy where I lived. Luckily, I found a two bedroom apartment in a not-quite-as-nice-but-still-nice part of town for $1175. That means my roommate and I both pay $587.50 per month. We have lived in said apartment for 2.5 years now. By slightly downgrading my housing, I have saved over $3,700 dollars in rent. That’s $3,700 I never would have been able to see again had I stayed at the first place.

Food:

We all are probably guilty of frequenting the restaurants a little more than we would like to admit. Before I was living on a budget, I was dropping about $300-$400 on dining out and another $100-$200 on groceries each month. Since I didn’t track my spending I had no clue I was dropping so much cash on food. Yeah I know, I’m an idiot. Once I started using Quicken, I was able to track my money. I about peed my pants when I realized I was spending $500/month on food. I quickly shaped up and downgraded my dining habits. I’ve managed to lower my dining/grocery budget to about $250 per month. Changing my eating habits has been a huge financial blessing.

Technology:

I am a gadget whore. I love electronics. I don’t care what it is, if it uses electricity I want it. I’ve really had to learn to control my desire to blow all my money on toys. For about a year and a half, I really, really, really wanted a digital SLR. After being a good/patient Ninja I got one this last Xmas. I knew I didn’t want to get the cheapest SLR on the marketĀ  as it would lack many of the features that I felt were necessary. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be frivolous and get a $4,000 professional grade camera that I wouldn’t even know how to use. I ended up with the Canon XSi, and I’m in love. It was the perfect camera for what I wanted. It was “enough”. (Here’s a picture of Girl Ninja and I, taken with my camera)

If you are anything like me, you have tried to cheat the system and operate outside of the “enough” parameters. That is a bad choice. This is when you end up with a guitar you bought for super cheap, but never play because it sounds like a dying cat each time you strum the strings. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, you felt like going big so you bought a top of the line mountain bike, only to let it collect dust in the garage because you don’t ride it as much as you thought you would. You have to figure out what enough means before you go and make the purchase, not after.

I am currently in the process of trying to figure out what “enough” will mean for my life with Girl Ninja. Should we live in an apartment complex with amenities, even though it will cost more? What kind of cell phone plan should we get? Do I really need to hold on to my iPhone? Blah, all the planning and contemplating is stressin’ me out.

What are some areas of your life, where you have been trying to figure out the perfect balance between not enough, and too much? Is it a car payment? Home decorations? Debt repayment? Do you always make the decision on your own, or do you generally consult your peers/spouse/family?