Tag Archives: financial responsibility

At What Cost Our Dreams?

4 Mar

letter I’ll be the first person to say I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m in the office 3 days a week, I teach at the university one day, and teach in the 1st grade class another. I’ve got three amazing, brilliant, healthy kids, a wife way above my station and a mortgage I can (barely) afford. People in my position are not allowed to complain. What follows is therefore most definitely *NOT* a complaint.

My dream was always the Norman Rockwell life – a beautiful wife, a house with a picket fence in a quiet neighborhood, 2.7 kids, a Labrador, and if at all possible to be able to support that family in a way that allowed for my wife to stay home with the kids if she wanted, and for me to be able to coach little league and video tape ballet recitals. Cheesy? Yes. For everyone? No. But ultimately, as of September when we finally put up the picket fence in front of the house, that’s exactly what I’ve got (even if the Labrador lives with my mother-in-law these days).

That’s it. Done. Living the dream.

But when you finish the checklist, what then? Dude’s still got to dream. Once Mazlow’s basic needs are met, the individual is free to address other less crucial aspects of survival. These, the “less crucial” dreams, are where dreams and reality come colliding into one another like subatomic particles at CERN. Here are a few “less crucial” dreams I’ve got floating around in my head – and the realities of living life that keep getting in the way.

When I compared the $’s of my “less crucial” dreams to the $’s of the interfering realities, some conspicuous coincidences seemed to pop up. I don’t know if the universe is trying to tell me something or what. I’ll let you decide.

Dream #1:

New mountain bike. Mine is from 1998 and when I take it out it gets me comments from other mountain bikers like “Wow. That’s retro.” Or, “I haven’t seen one like that in a long time.” It still works well enough. I don’t *need* a new bike. That’s why it’s a dream.

Cost: $1,900 out the door

Reality #1:

We need a new water heater in the house. There’s no telling how hot the shower water is going to be in the morning from day to day, and if it is hot it’s a safe bet it won’t last much longer than 15 minutes. If you’re the 2nd person to take a shower in the morning, good luck.

Cost for a new water heater: $1,900


Dream #2:

Vacation to Hawaii. It’s been too damn long. I need it so bad I can taste it. What I really need is two weeks, but I’ll take one if I can get it.

Cost for airfare and hotel to Waikiki for family of 5: $4,300

(Bonus Cost for production lost from me missing 3 days at work: $15-20,000)

Reality #2:

We’ve still got a balance on our home credit card after our last vacation. It would make things a little easier at home if we didn’t have to deal with that.

Cost to pay off the home credit card: $4,275


Dream #3:

Porsche Carrera. Don’t think I’ve given up on this one. I find the *perfect* one on Craigslist, or Cars.com every 3 or 4 months. Manual transmission, convertible (of course), perfect colors inside and out. It’s usually somewhere around a 2003 model with mileage anywhere from 35-85,000.

Cost: $30,000 +/-

Reality #3:

Thankfully we aren’t underwater on our house, but the housing bust was brutal on our equity. Mortgage rates have plummeted recently, but in order to refinance to a friendlier rate (on a jumbo-loan… welcome to California) we need to have a better loan-to-value ratio. Guess how much of our old loan we’d have to pay off in order to qualify for a re-fi.

Cost to refinance our mortgage to a way better rate: $30,000


Dream #4:

The home theater system. Now mind you, I’m not talking about the ULTIMATE home theater of my wildest fantasies. For that we’d need a full-on addition to the house. No, I’m talking about a home theater that UnDorkMommy might possibly be able to live with in the living room. I’m talking about a top-tier, high-def projector, a 100+ inch projection screen that retracts into an recess in the ceiling, and the 7.1 channel Bose/TXH surround sound system to go with it.

Cost for parts and installation: +/- $12,000

Reality #4:

The house needs new windows. We’ve got the same single-paned glass windows that were installed when the house was built in 1974. The house is an icebox in the winter and an oven in the summer. Both sliding glass doors to the backyard have broken their mountings and are now grinding metal-on-metal on their tracks. It takes a team of horses to open and close them. We recently had an appraisal for new windows throughout the house. Guess what the tab was going to be.

Cost for new windows for the house: +/- $12,000


Dream #5

Teaching at the dental school. I teach there because I love it, not for the $. In fact my 1-day-a-week gig there is essentially a volunteer position (technically it pays, but only enough for gas, lunch and parking in San Francisco). It keeps me current and the interaction with the students keep me stimulated and excited about what I do. When I committed to the school my office wasn’t busy enough to fill another full 10-hour day. We are now. So essentially every day I’m teaching I’m losing out on the potential production I could have been doing in the office.

Cost of teaching instead of working: 36 days/year @ $6,000 lost office production factoring in 65% overhead at the office: $75,600

Reality #5

Episode VI can’t live in the closet forever. His brother and sister both have their own bedrooms. We could certainly double them up if we need to, but it would be nice if they could all have their own rooms, and it would be nice if UnDorkMommy and I could have our own modern master bedroom. We actually had plans drawn up and investigated what it would cost to put the addition onto the house. Guess what the estimate was.

Cost to add a new master bedroom/bath onto the house: $70-80,000


Dream #6

Spaceship charter on Virgin Galactic. An exclusive space flight for me and 5 of my friends. Pioneer status on all 6 seats. 6 seats for the price of 5. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t do this if they had the chance?

Cost: $1,000,000

Reality #6

I graduated from dental school in 2005. The cost of a dental school education has only gone up since then. Students entering dental school for the class of 2016 can expect to graduate with upwards of $400,000 in debt… before they work a single day, before they buy a home or a practice of their own. The value of a moderate general dental practice on the market in California is roughly $600,000. Thankfully my numbers aren’t anywhere near those, and even so I’m nowhere near paying off my student and practice loans.

Cost of a top-tier dental education and a private practice of your own: $400K + $600K = $1,000,000


In each case the choice is clear, as is the fact that these quandries are purely first-world problems. I’m very happy with my life as it is, but still… dude’s gotta dream.

Tell me about some of the “less crucial” dreams you would indulge in if you didn’t have to be a responsible adult/parent.

-Dork Dad

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