Having Standards and Learning From Life Experience

by TTMK on July 29, 2013 · 4 comments

Have you ever known someone who simply has high “standards” for themselves?  To the point of possibly being excessive?

Thinking about the recent surge in home prices locally, I thought about an old coworker of mine.  Actually, he really was older, at least compared to me.  I believe his kids were out of college at the time (or at least 1 was), so he definitely had a lot work experience.  Also, one would presume, a lot of life experience.

Anyway, he had recently moved into the area to take a job at this place.  He moved from a different state, coming from much lower cost of living area to suburban Chicago.  He liked to talk a lot, and I think he needed an ear to speak to.  So for whatever reason, probably because I try to be patient, I became the person he would chit-chat with at work every now and then.  He was also at a level higher than me in the organization, so it seemed like a good idea to deal with it a little it.  He was a decent guy, I should add.

In discussing his move, he told me about how much more expensive things were in the Chicago area.  Specifically, real estate.  He talked about how he had a nice place where he lived before, and how much more you could get for your money where he came from.  Then, he proceeded to tell me that they had to spend way more than they have ever spent before on the home they just purchased.

I brought up the idea of downsizing, and he quickly mentioned that there was no idea that he was going to do that.  He had – in his words – “standards”.  If I recall correctly, I think he mentioned not wanting to lower his standards, when getting a home for he and his wife.

Keep in mind that was during the peak of the real estate boom in the previous decade.

A few years later, and the housing market plummeted.  That area where he bought a home seemed to show particularly lower prices, as the housing setback appeared especially sharp there.

Now,  I know he’s in very good company in terms of losing money on housing.  He was a smart guy otherwise, so it seemed.  There are probably many thousands of intelligent people who got burned in that way too, buying an overpriced home.  Things happen.

A couple of things I picked up on and filed away from this experience were:

  1. Sometimes our “standards” have to be flexible.  There are wants, and there are needs.  Sure, it has to be tough to go from bigger home to a smaller one.  I’ve had to do it.  But you learn that the most important thing is that you take care of needs as a priority, and that you stay within budget as a priority.  Busting a budget to buy something you simply “want” isn’t always a good move.
  2. We must learn from experience as we get older.  Clearly, despite having a lot of life experience and being bright, this guy didn’t apply the collective life experience he gained to make a safe move.  Risk was taken with little promise of return.  Hopefully, we can all strive to learn from our experience.  I know I make mistakes, but hopefully will make less with age!

My Questions for You:

Have you ever noticed anyone having unrealistic expectations or standards, and spending too much to meet them?

How do you try to learn from experience, and make better decisions as you get older?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

funancials July 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Have I ever noticed anyone having unrealistic expectations or standards, and spending too much to meet them?

Yes. Roughly 99% of Americans.


TTMK July 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Ha! There is some truth to that, unfortunately. Maybe it’s more like 80%, but still you have a point.


Edward Antrobus July 30, 2013 at 6:17 am

Of course, even if he had bought a smaller home, it would have still lost value. But I think it’s rediculous to buy a home you have trouble making payments on. When my wife and I were in the market last year, we had a number half of what mortgage calculators said we could afford, simply because I wanted to be comfortable with the payment.


Matt Becker July 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

Part of the issue as you age is that you also get stuck in your habits. Experience is a 2-way street, both good and bad. I definitely think it’s important to periodically re-evaluate the things you deem to be “necessary” in your life. If we constantly simply stick with what we’ve done in the past, we miss a lot of opportunities to improve our situation.


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