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Everyday Cheapskate: Your money temperament

To loosely assess your money temperament, consider the following premise, then choose the response closest to what you would do:

Your rich uncle gets wind of your desperate need for transportation. In a surprise move, he sends you $15,000 with instructions to buy a car. What do you do?

a. Make a $15,000 down payment on your dream car.

b. Pay cash for a $15,000 car.

c. Exercise extreme patience, flexibility, consumer savvy and negotiating skills to find a dandy used, late-model, low-mileage, well-maintained car for $7,500, then stash $7,500 into a savings account.

Putting aside your humble author’s obvious bias, let’s analyze the options.

TWICE THE PRICE

If you responded A, you are prone to live your life for twice the price. You don’t mind paying interest and monthly payments because that’s the way to get what you want. You’re just doing the best you can to maximize your income so you can drive a reliable car.

You depend on consumer credit to bridge the gap between your income and your expenses. It’s easy and convenient. Because you pay double-digit interest rates on your revolving debt, you end up paying twice, or more, for the goods and services you charge. You don’t think about paying double. You live for today, assuming that tomorrow will take care of itself.

FULL PRICE

If your response was B, you are OK with the full price. When you have money, you don’t hesitate to spend it. You’re a cash buyer, not a wheeler-dealer, and you prefer to just pay the asking price. No hassles, no problems. You have a cash mentality. You pay as you go. If you like it, you buy it. If you don’t, you wait.

You don’t pay attention to prices that much. As a result, your income matches your lifestyle. You don’t live beyond your means and never carry credit card debt. Still, it takes every penny to pay the bills. You live from one paycheck to the next. It seems like you can never get ahead.

HALF PRICE

If your choice was C, your temperament is geared to live your life for half the price. You enjoy the challenge of living below your means; you try to never pay the full price. You get a thrill whenever you beat the system. You earn more than you spend and save the difference.

You know your prices; you’re patient and know how to pay less than the going price for just about everything. In fact, you pride yourself on living your life for half the price. You live an understated lifestyle and find great satisfaction in being prepared for the unexpected. You live below your means, and that means contentment, joy and a financially stress-free life.

Back to reality. Of course no one pays twice the price for everything, nor can anyone be assured of never paying more than half. My point is that with every spending opportunity comes a choice. You can choose to go into debt, you can determine to not spend more than you have or you can work hard to pay half the price.

Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com.

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