I Wanna Remain Special! The Allure Of The Hedonic Treadmill
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I first came across the term, “Hedonic Treadmill” courtesy of Physician on Fire.
It was definitely a fascinating concept which boils down to the fact that we soon become acclimated to whatever we buy and it no longer provides the same “rush” that it did when it was first purchased.
By craving that former dopamine surge, we try to counter this acclimatization by buying something even higher on the expense scale.
Much like substance abuse addicts, we embark on a never ending quest for the next high and thus the Hedonic Treadmill continues to increase its speed.
Much like a normal treadmill, if you set the speed too high you ultimately fall down and get flung across the room.
Although the exercise treadmill mishap scenario at least has the makings of a potential America’s Funniest Home Video’s clip, there is nothing funny at all when your financial treadmill is ramped up to warp speed.
My personal hedonic treadmill demons.
The cool dad on campus.
In December, 2015, I made one of my biggest, not real estate related, purchases, a brand new Tesla Model S 90D.
Because of where I live, I owned the only Tesla for miles (I estimate at least a 20 mile radius).
Even at my place of work, a medium sized city, 35 miles away, I only saw 2 or 3 other Teslas around town.
I cannot lie. I felt quite special driving it around.
I remember taking my daughter to a local Starbucks and we could see a group of kids gathering around oohing and aahing over it.
On more than one occasion, when I came to a stop, I could see in my rearview mirror the driver behind me take out his or her phone and snap a pic of my car.
Even putting groceries in the parking lot, it was not uncommon for someone to drive by and say “nice car.”
I felt like a mini-celebrity and I was lapping it up.
The biggest ego boost was the reaction I got when dropping my daughter off at school or when I gave her friends rides.
I was by far the cool dad on campus.
Time passed and soon other Teslas started populating the roads around me.
Even in my rural neck of the woods I began routinely encountering Teslas such as the Model X and Model 3.
I was no longer special.
Originally I was the first physician to have a Tesla in the doctors parking lot.
Now two more Teslas have been added to the ranks.
I was no longer special.
And my daughter’s school?
Because my daughter goes to a private school, a lot of parents there are quite well off.
Pretty soon these parents had Teslas in their stable as well (one such parent now owns three).
You guessed it, I was no longer special.
To add salt into the wound, the majority of these Teslas were far newer models than mine with more bells and whistles (I have the first generation Autopilot with only 1 camera (the current top option has 8 cameras and on the verge of being fully autonomous)).
I can’t recall the last time I caught someone taking a pic of my car.
And those drive-by compliments?
A thing of the past.
Yup my 15 minutes of fame was over.
It would be a lie if I said I never thought about changing my car out for a newer model.
My car is approaching 5 years old and has clocked close to 120k miles already.
I certainly could talk myself into getting a newer model and, in this stage of my financial life cycle, it would not cause too much of an adverse impact.
But I haven’t pulled the trigger and likely will not for a few more years.
The major reason being is that my next car will likely be the one that carries me through retirement and I would like to have it as new as possible when I do get to that stage of my life.
For those of my readers with kids, you already know it is impossible to keep a car pristine.
Before I regained full custody of my daughter I was meticulous in keeping my car looking like it just came from the showroom.
However after a few years of serving as the de facto school bus/taxi for my daughter I have given up (a similar phenomenon is concurrently happening with my household furniture).
I figure when my daughter leaves for college it would mark the perfect time to upgrade everything that has felt the ravages of her childhood activities.
Since I was able to hold on to my far inferior previous daily driver for over 11 years and 230k miles , keeping this Tesla for the next 5 years is, by comparison, a walk in the park.
No longer wanted to be an OG (or 4G for that matter).
I have actually been quite good when it comes to not upgrading my cellphone despite the media telling me how great the latest offering is.
For those who remember my “Going Cold Turkey” post, I was the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which was the cutting edge technology at the time when I purchased it in January 2015.
Despite multiple iterations of the note since then, I held off upgrading my phone.
I was fortunate that it was able to be on the 4G Verizon network which was accessible even in my rural neck of the woods.
But alas all good things came to an end and, after 4 years of loyal service, my phone took its last breath.
Like before, I splurged an upgraded to the highest model offered at the time, the Samsung Note 10+.
After 4 years, the technology had advanced considerably.
My phone’s 4 cameras each put my solo Note Edge camera to shame.
Improvements in processing made this phone lightning fast as well,
An extra bonus was that my new phone phone has access to the Verizon 5G network when it finally hits my neck of the woods.
If I could last 4 years with my previous phone, I should be set for the long-haul with this version which was light years ahead in improvement.
But feeling special with the latest tech was short-lived as a new flagship model from Samsung made its debut shortly after.
For some reason I was tempted more than I have ever been before with the latest media darling, the Samsung Galaxy S20.
The ads were quite seductive to say the least but in the end I was able to stave off their advances.
It is easy to see how quickly one can get caught up in the tech hoopla that occurs with each new phone introduction.
In the end I will just have to find another way to be special.
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