Or, Don’t Forget to Live, Dammit!
By all accounts, a hot tub is a big, stupid waste of money. Especially in a climate with a seven month heating season.
So why do I, Captain DIY, saver (not savior) of all that is good and just, ridiculer of all inefficiencies, have this big, stupid money pit sitting in my backyard?
It’s A Very Good Reason
Mrs. DIY and I love sitting out in the hot tub on a cold snowy night watching the flakes fall. The incredible serenity and silence, coupled with the soothing caress of hot water surrounding us is our little slice of heaven.
That’s right. We spent money frivolously on ourselves! Gasp!
Ok, maybe frivolously isn’t the right word. In reality, we hemmed and hawed a bit, we researched options forever, and we found a great deal on a “scratch and dent” model that, upon close inspection, appeared to have not a single scratch or dent. It seats four adults comfortably, as long as you don’t mind a little footsie.
Sure, we could have gone to the local hot tub place and just rented one for an hour when we felt like it, but there are a lot of advantages, we feel, for having one at home.
We can hop in after the kids have gone to bed. No need to hire a sitter. We can just hop right in.
We can do a Family Hot Tub. Sometimes after dinner we all run out and play in the hot tub for a bit. The kids love it, and it’s kind of like taking a bath. Without the soap. Or shampoo.
We control the temperature. We found that the local hot tub place keeps their water insanely hot. Not sure why, maybe it’s a health thing. We would rent one for a half hour, and by the time 15 minutes went by, we’d be sitting on the side trying to cool off. With our own personal tub, we can set the temp to whatever exact degree we want. When the kids want to go in, we bring it down a little bit so they don’t die.
It Can’t All Be Good
To be sure, buying a hot tub isn’t the best choice for everyone. I mean, it is, but most people don’t do it. Why is that?
For starters, it’s an expensive purchase. We bought ours for $2000, plus there was the cost of the crushed rock and high-density concrete that make up the pad (around $100, I don’t remember exactly), plus a few sections of privacy fence (about $13 per section for the cheap stuff), and the associated electrical equipment needed to make it work (about $150).
Obviously, hooking it all up was done by yours truly, and it really wasn’t such a big deal to do. The hardest part about it was digging the trench for the conduit. I also chose to run heavier gauge wire so I could use the more expedient setting, hopefully gaining a bit of efficiency in the process.
There is also the cost of water, which I don’t quite know offhand, but my tub takes around 200 gallons of water. Last year I drained and refilled it once during the winter, so figure 400 gallons of water used per year.
There’s also the cost of chemicals. I bought a “spa kit” when I bought the tub, because I had no idea what I was doing. That cost me $50, and it came with all of the chemicals needed plus a handful of test strips.
On top of all that, there is some maintenance involved if you don’t want the tub to become a new biodome. So there’s a little bit of work involved.
I’m Starting to Think This is a Bad Idea
Wait! No, come back! I haven’t gotten to the whole point of this article yet!
The point of it all, the big picture I’m trying fruitlessly to present here, is that we made this purchase with the realization that it was at the expense of lengthening our financial goals.
All of that money we spent, plus the $140 or so we spend on extra electricity to run it for six months per year, could have gone to our investments, thereby bringing our realization of FI that much closer.
But we still did it. We knew it would mean more time under the thumb of The Man, and we went ahead with it anyway. Why?
Because life is happening now. Of course we are preparing for the future, in ways we never dreamed of just a few years ago. We feel, however, that you can’t put life off until the future; you have to be able to enjoy life now as well.
What if the glorious future you have laid out for yourself never comes? What if something horrible happens, and all of a sudden the future you have sacrificed everything for melts away before you?
Now, I’d like to say that I call bullshit on the whole YOLO trend, and I don’t advocate ditching any saving or investing plans for fear that the future may never come. Chances are that it will, and if you ignore those chances there is a high probability you will regret it.
I’m definitely not suggesting you sell all of your VTSAX shares and buy a yacht and a bunch of prostitutes. Definitely not. Definitely, definitely not.
All I’m saying, and I’m starting to feel like I’m beating a dead horse here (gross), is that the quest for future comfort should not be pursued by sacrificing happiness today. Like Paula Pant says, “you can afford anything, but not everything.” So go out and get that one thing you really, really want. If you can afford it, of course. If not, maybe come up with another, less expensive thing.
Just don’t throw away today in an expectation of a better tomorrow. The only time we have is now. Don’t forget to live.