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The Moneyist: I’m 46 and single, have $120K in cash and $400K in retirement, and own my home. Should I buy my dream $30K motorcycle?


Dear Quentin,

I’m 46 and single, and I have no kids. I am currently having an internal debate as to whether to buy a $30,000 Indian motorcycle. It is a want, not a need. 

I have the deed on my home, which is valued at $360,000, and own both my vehicles outright. I have over $120,000 in various checking and savings accounts, and approximately $400,000 split between a Roth and traditional IRA on a popular robo-investing platform.

I’ve lived within my means my entire life, and though I have an eye for quality and expensive things, I’ve never really put things on credit and have only purchased items I’ve saved for.

‘I bring in $6,000 per month as a 100% disabled veteran and through a position I have on the board of a small nonprofit.’

I bring in $6,000 per month as a 100% disabled veteran and through a position I have on the board of a small nonprofit. I have no credit-card debt — or any debt, for that matter — and my healthcare and dental are fully covered by the VA with no copay for life.   

Each month, I end up with approximately $1,500 to $2,000 after all my bills and expenses are paid. A previous career will afford me an $1,800-per-month pension, which is vested and begins paying out at age 55.   

‘Though I have an eye for quality and expensive things, I’ve never really put things on credit and have only purchased items I’ve saved for.’

Given my debt-free status, I could potentially be contributing more than I currently do to my retirement accounts. I have line-of-sight to over $9,000 per month when I retire before I factor in minimum withdrawals from my retirement accounts, so it’s not as big a concern.

It’s hard to spend a dollar instead of placing it in my retirement account with compounding interest and my time horizon. I could also be doing more with my checking and savings as my emergency fund has swelled, and I know I could put some of that money to work for me in better ways with higher returns.  

Should I buy the bike?

Frugal Bike Lover

Dear Frugal,

Don’t you hate it when someone says, “Do you know what you should do?” As someone who loathes the word “should” when used in reference to others and probably still uses it far too much, I’m reluctant to say whether you should do anything.

People who say, “Go for it! Buy it!” are often living vicariously through others. What they really mean is, “I can get a similar thrill by encouraging you to buy this overpriced coat, and I don’t have to pay a penny.” So it’s rich for anyone to say you should or should not buy something. That said, I’m not a motorcycle fan and I have no desire to ride one. I won’t be living vicariously through you if you do buy it.

It’s not the best use of your money. You already know that. But you are in great financial shape for someone of your years: You own your own home, you have a close eye on your retirement income, and you are cautious about going into debt. You are a veteran and you’ve served this country — and, having looked up the bicycle in question, I have to say it’s a thing of beauty.

I have one suggestion before giving you my answer. Why don’t you try the motorcycle out for a while by renting one before committing $30,000 to it? You can see if the novelty wears off, and if it brings you all the joy and freedom you expect from this piece of machinery. It will also save you the hassle of reselling it if you decide it’s not for you.

I’ve previously steered people away from buying a $30,000 bracelet and purchasing a Tesla TSLA. However, this time is different. For all of the above reasons, if you want it, go for it, enjoy every minute of it and ride carefully. In this case, I don’t want to ride roughshod over your dreams. Just do me a favor and wear a helmet. There is precious cargo underneath.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

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