If you had a choice between a piece of glass and a high-end Tesla, which would you choose?
The other day I was browsing for some video equipment and saw a lens for $99,999. That’s right: a piece of glass and metal for just under $100,000. For a lens. I started thinking about other things that would be comparable in price, like luxury cars.
If I could have any luxury car, it would be a Tesla. I love everything about them. I love the environmentally-friendly design, the look, the comfort and more. And, wouldn’t you know it, the Model S 100D retails for $99,000.
So, if you were a filmmaker and luxury car connoisseur which would you buy? Before you answer this question, let’s really take a look at what this is all about. This isn’t about the choice between two items. It’s about critical thinking and strong decision making skills. To solve this dilemma, we need to ask ourselves four main questions.
Do I need either?
Obviously this answer is setup for you to make an “either/or” choice. I’ve asked the question between two options. But there should always be a third option of “neither.”
So often we think of life in either/or scenarios. Should I stay with my current boyfriend or pursue these feelings I have for Chad? Should I try the Atkins diet or the Paleo diet? Should I take the job with company a or company b?
Sometimes we forget there are other options. Maybe you are better off alone for the time being. Maybe you should just eat well and not worry about fad diets. Maybe you should look at doing some free lance work.
Life doesn’t have to be a series of “a” or “b” choices. Sometimes it’s okay to choose something else.
What am I trying to accomplish?
If you pass question 1 and realize, “yes, I do want these items”, then you have to ask yourself what are you trying to accomplish? If your goal is to shoot a blockbuster film, it might be wise to forgo the car and get the lens that will help you make your film. Sure, that’s a big price tag for a lens, but if it’s the right lens for the job, it may be the lens you need.
On the other hand, you might see great value in a Tesla. It’s environmentally friendly and incredibly fast. You might travel a lot and love the idea of saving hundreds of dollars a month on gas to drive in luxury.
Do I need to get this exact item or will something else do?
If you’ve arrived at question three, you feel that you need one of these items and you know why. Now you need to ask if this exact item is what you need or if there is something else that will serve your purpose.
Sure that lens might be the lens filmmakers dream of, but is it the lens you need? If you are putting together a blockbuster, then perhaps you need this lens for certain shots. However, if you are putting together a more modest film, another lens might do. In fact, it could be that you are putting together a big budget movie, but you simply don’t need a lens that gives you that particular shot. It’s all about finding the right tool for the job.
Similarly, the Tesla might be a great car and much more environmentally conscious, but is it the car you need? Can you get a cheaper Tesla?
Okay, so you have made it through these questions and have come to the conclusion that you definitely need either the lens or the Model S. There’s still another question you need to ask.
Is there a different way to get what I want? There are places you can rent lenses if you only need it for a short period of time. Perhaps you can plan your shoot so that you only need that lens for a few days and rent it at a much cheaper cost.
You can also look to see if someone you know has one they aren’t using and set up an agreement to use it for a short period of time while you find some short term insurance to cover any mishaps. Additionally, you can look to second-hand sites to try to find a better deal on a used one.
You could even purchase it, taking great care with it and resell it in like new condition. It’s something I did recently with a beautiful electric guitar; I used it frequently over 3 years, but because of its condition I reclaimed about 85% of it’s value. It only cost me about $100 a year to use a brand new limited edition guitar.
Likewise with the Tesla, you could look for used Teslas. You could see if there are certain concessions you could make to stay within the Model S and remove some of the frills. You could keep an eye out for deals that are posted online or elsewhere on great pre-owned options.
Which Matters to You?
Do you need either of these items? Probably not, but it’s good to go through the mental exercise to practice wise financial planning. These four questions are useful tools to help you evaluate what’s important and what’s the best way to acquire it:
- Do I need this? Is it worth what I would pay?
- What’s my end goal?
- Is there something else that will do?
- Is there a different way to get what I want?
I hope that whichever choice you make you will find the joy in acquiring the tools and toys that most improve your life and the comfort in having a strong financial position for those you decide against.