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Man Sells Motorbike, Experiences Bliss

It’s the weekend, and the MMM family is deep into our annual Summertime in Canada tradition. That makes it an ideal time to run a little side story from my Ottawa* friend Mr. Frugal Toque.

He and his lovely supportive wife are now approaching their own financial independence milestone, just 8 years after us. It shows that you don’t have to copy Mr. Money Mustache exactly, to have a successful financial life. But he’s a quick study, as you’ll see from the wisdom exuded in this article.

Stuff Holds You Down

by Mr. Frugal Toque

CBR600F2_leftSide

It seems almost cliche, doesn’t it?
Here comes another lecture about how you have too much stuff and how it’s holding you back from growing into the person you could be.
But I have to speak up because I’m still reading stuff like the following:

“MMM, it feels good to spend a little money on frivolous things.”
“I don’t outspend my income, so what if I have a ‘do whatever’ column in there?”
“Stop sucking all the fun out of my life. I deserve this.”

You know, I kind of get it.
I see that 64Gig USB thumb drive with a foot print of a penny and I buy it and I feel this endorphin rush. Woo! I own something shiny and new!

Then this voice whispers in my ear: Come, let the Consumerism flow through you. Let it permeate every vein in your body, then your journey to the Clown side will be complete.

Sure, it feels good – for a little while. Sure, you’re staying inside your budget. I’ll even assume that, like me, you’re a relatively decent person and that you, in some sense, deserve a 64Gig USB drive, a new pair of heels or whatever strikes your fancy.

But now I ask you to look in your garage, your attic or your basement; wherever it is that you store all the previous results of your Clown purchasing habits. Perhaps you have even achieved Super Clown Status and you’ve had to rent space in a self-storage facility of the type that is currently cropping up all over North America to appease the purchasing habits of the middle class. Think about that for a moment: the population has massive credit card debt but doesn’t even have room for all the stuff it’s buying.

What is that stuff doing for you? It’s rusting, falling apart, cracking, drying out or otherwise deteriorating. It’s an asset, but it’s declining in value instead of earning you more money and funding your retirement.

You need to store that stuff, don’t you? Is it taking up too much space, forcing you rent storage? Do you feel the clutter, closing you in, shortening your breath?

If you want to shorten your commute or take a better job somewhere else, you have to take all that with you don’t you? Do you feel the harness around your body, tying you to your purchases of days gone by, slowing you down, holding you back?

What if there’s a fire or a flood? Don’t you have to insure all that stuff? Do you sense the leak in your cash flow, lengthening your working years and setting back your retirement?

Stuff holds you down. You should be able to feel that now.

Until a few days ago, I owned a motorcycle. It was an absolutely beautiful, perfectly tuned piece of modern engineering. When I drove down the street, it sounded like an intensely powerful, gasoline-powered sewing machine. I’ve been told that it could do 240 kilometres per hour, though I’ve never been there myself. It was a gift, believe it or not, from Mrs. Toque – an engagement present, in fact, so take that “Tradition of Buying Jewelry.” Mrs. Toque very much enjoyed being the Official Passenger.

The bike, however, was also expensive. Insurance in Canada is unpleasantly high, over $100 per month for the months I could actually ride it. Because it sat around all winter, there was always something that had to be fixed come spring. On top of that, once family life set in and I began bicycle commuting, there were few chances to ride the motorcycle.

On days with terrible weather or days when family travel was necessary, the economical car is now the mode of transportation. On solo days, it’s the bicycle. Doing the math, I was riding the motorcycle once a week during the summer and it was costing me in excess of $40 per ride.

So, last year, the bike sat in the garage. I didn’t insure, didn’t license it, didn’t ride it. But I didn’t sell it, either.

Did I mention it was beautiful and, more importantly, a gift from the woman I love? I’m sure I did. Emotions can slow down rational decisions. In some sense, that’s what this blog is about: letting science, logic, statistics and financial rationality take precedence over preconceptions and emotions.

One week ago, we made the decision. I got the motorcycle running and posted an ad on the local Kijiji and Craiglist sites. Within 24 hours, I had about a dozen replies. (As an aside, why do people still offer trades when I say “no trades, please”? One guy offered a crossbow …) Of the people who wrote to me, it was the second one who showed up, tested the bike out and opted to buy it.

There was a funny feeling as I counted out the cash and signed the ownership transfer papers. It got funnier as I helped the guy and his friends push the motorbike up the ramp into their pickup truck.

Yes, I was sad. So was Mrs. Toque.

But I also felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t have to worry any more about the thing in my garage getting older and perhaps breaking a seal or rusting away a bolt. Gone from my mind was the burden of gasoline going stale. Out of my circle of concern were the maintenance and insurance issues.

That’s why I’ve written this. I want to convey to you, the few people who are still piercing themselves in the rump on the pointy edge of the “Buying things makes me happy” picket fence, that all that stuff you’re buying is not a source of happiness.

In the end, that stuff is a burden you want to avoid. It’s going to make you less happy, less mobile and later in reaching retirement. It’s going to impinge on your freedom.

I invite you to examine your possessions. Do they really improve your life, or do they sit there, silently mocking your Clownish behaviour while holding you back from becoming the individual you could be?

 

MMM note: I too have many of my joyful memories of youth mixed up with motorcycles. A 1982 Yamaha DT125 dirt bike before I was of street-legal age (bought on a minimum wage income), then a classic 1983 Kawasaki GPZ550 throughout high school.. and finally a 2001 Honda VFR800 up until 2008. Although they were ideal adventure companions for a young guy growing up, the freedom and simplicity of having only leg-powered bikes right now suits me even better.

*Ottawa: So you live here and want to have a huge meetup with all the other local Mustachians, preferably in a friendly environment while watching the sunset with food and drink? Fine, bust out your calendar: Saturday, July 20th at 6:00PM, location to be announced, but probably somewhere central yet convenient to all modes of transport. More details to come in a post.

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  • Kelly August 1, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Shucks! I started reading your blog a few weeks ago and have been going through it in order when time allows. I’m almost caught up, but realize I missed a possible meet up with like minded individuals in the Ottawa area just last week. I hope it was a fantastical time. Hopefully I’ll be in the know next time.

    On another note, I have an old pick up that’s been sitting in the driveway for over a year now. I drove it for many a year across the country and realize part of the reason I have such a hard time selling it is the sentimental/emotional connection to memories of days gone by. That being said – I’ve got some pictures of it and will be posting it soon. Won’t get much for it, but it will open up a spot in the driveway and be one less thing to clutter up my life. De-cluttering is hard, but oh so satisfying.

    Reply
  • Bobby Broughton August 7, 2013, 6:03 am

    I just sold my 2005 Nissan Altima that had a $167 a month payment, for a 1998 Toyota Camry that I paid $800 for. Sure, the Camry doesn’t have a cd player, but really, would you like a catheter and bedpan with that (sorry, couldn’t resist). Anyway, I’ve freed up that payment, and saved insurance costs by being able to drop full coverage.

    Reply
  • David August 7, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Great article however I cannot live without my motorcycle(s). I am moved to sell my camper, give my ATV to my parents who can use it on their 40 acres, and will consider lightening the load on other things. If it is just sitting around it will be out the door!

    Reply
  • Karl August 20, 2013, 1:41 am

    On the topic of clearing out material things; I cleared out a large collection of old bicycles that I had bought cheap from Gumtree (a very popular version of Craigslist here in Aus). I sold three of them off all at a moderate profit when I moved house as I decided that I didn’t have the time to restore them and two bikes for one person was enough to lug around. Best thing I’ve done. Since then I’ve sold off or given away a lot of excess gear that I had picked up for free/cheap over the years and have been holding onto ‘just in case’. Having simplicity in life is a valuable thing. Only owning things that are useful and serve a purpose is liberating.

    Reply
  • Chris August 28, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I just sold a motorcycle and am still feeling regret for the 3 year money pit I created and threw money into. Waiting for bliss to kick in.

    Reply
  • Ishmael October 4, 2013, 10:57 am

    You don’t own stuff; stuff owns you.

    Reply
  • frank October 4, 2013, 11:02 am

    Followup.. I sold my airplane.. Took the $85k and bought a Vanguard VTSAX ETF… Just finish chaning the cell plans to Airvoice and we are living WAY below our means..:)

    Reply
  • Morgan December 12, 2014, 7:02 pm

    I am so glad I just read this article! I’ve been making my way through, and I just happened to have donated my car this past Monday! I can completely agree with the feeling of a weight being lifted. My car needed so much work, and she was just sitting in the driveway/on the street, getting weathered and developing problems. I am so much happier now! If you are contemplating selling or donating, it made a huge difference in my happiness and stress level.

    Reply
  • Weekender June 29, 2015, 10:45 am

    Glad I found this. I’m 57 and have been riding since ’71 on an uncle’s pair of JT-1 Mini-Enduros. I’ve kept bikes a long time so have only had a handful. ’73 Hodaka Wombat, ’73 Yamaha RT-3, ’76 Suzuki GT500A (new in college), ’81 Guzzi V50 Monza, ’84 Kawi GPz750 (new), ’86 Guzzi LeMans (new and still own), ’90 Guzzi California Touring, ’91 BMWR100RT, and a few ’70s Montesa 247 and 348 Cotas for AHRMA. Guess I have had a few!
    For the last ten years the Guzzi LeMans has been my only bike and it sits. I rode it around town once last year and on a 600 mile day round-trip. This year I’ve put 100 miles on it, maybe.
    I gave my wife of 20 years her first ever motorcycle ride on it in ’88 when we were dating. I’m don’t use it but it owns me. A short ride rekindles all I love about it and motorcycling. It’s Italian, red, unusual, mechanically simple, loud and gorgeous. I should sell it but I can’t bring myself to not have a motorcycle in my life, which does not make sense as I don’t enjoy it as I once did. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept motorcycles for most of my life but now it’s in the way in the garage. It’s a hot rod I spent thousands on with the premier Guzzi engine builder of the ’80s.
    What is it that has me feeling I’ll lose my identity if I sell it? My kids are 14 and 15 and I’m very involved with their lives and activities, my work, volunteer activities and family. I despise rallys yet no longer enjoy the solitude of riding.
    Why does this motorcycle hold me so?

    Weekender

    Reply
  • EarningAndLearning June 8, 2017, 12:45 pm

    Mr Frugal Toque, I love your comments in each blog post & loved this article! I will soon be selling a few items that I’d been holding onto for years beyond their practical use, because I “loved” them. Looking forward to the extra cash in hand & the extra load off my shoulders.

    I liked what you said about how once sold, this item was no longer in your “circle of concern.” Simplifying the number of items and events (and even people) in your circle of concern is key to having daily peace and happiness in life, IMHO.

    I had a friend who bought a brand new Kawasaki motorcycle, about 10 years ago. Like you, she rode it less and less over the years, and I told her she should just sell it & recoup some capital. She was reluctant because she had paid so much for it & the money she would get for it would be SO much less, it was just too painful to do. “But if you sell it next year or the next, you’ll be getting even LESS money as it depreciates,” I pointed out, but she just couldn’t do it. Eventually she moved to the States from Canada, driving her now 6 year old motorcycle there with her Canadian insurance but never really imported it properly into California because of the costs associated. Her Canadian insurance expired, and in the end, she GAVE it to two friends of hers, so got NO MONEY for it!

    Incidentally, this woman is terrible with money — huge student loans, loses her wallet regularly, buys coffee out daily, loves to buy expensive brands, and is just generally wasteful & disorganized with money. But the thousands she lost on that motorcycle still make me shake my head today.

    So, good on you Mr Toque for taking the plunge (and taking the perceived loss, relative to purchase price) and selling the damn thing! :)

    Reply

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