This realization is not new to me.  In fact, it’s a deliberate tactic.  Buy the car…  and then the fun part begins when you buy tons of new shit for said car.  I first did this many years ago.  A $750 Alfa Romeo eventually led to thousands of dollars of tools, a milling machine, a lathe, a mig welder, two air compressors, etc.

I’m quite happy to report that I don’t use this to sneak purchases past my wife’s veto.  She couldn’t care less.  We have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.  What she wants she buys, what I want I buy.  We trust ourselves to be responsible.  And that’s where I need to employ the tactic…  my personal responsibility filter is surprisingly conservative.  When I begin lusting after a new toy, a part of my brain lights up and dutifully raises the red flag.  That’s when I mobilize the rest of my brain to rationalize those red flags away.  This weekend I’m actually employing multiple tactics towards that end.

Trojan Horse tactic:  Buy something which does not trigger the filter, but almost certainly will require subsequent purchases.  In aggregate those purchases will certainly not pass muster… but considered individually, they sneak past.

Now or Never justification:  Have some event coming up that would benefit from some new purchase.  Where your responsibility filter might have let you postpone the purchase indefinitely, now you have a way to counter it.  “If I’m going to buy it eventually, I might as well buy it now so I can get good use out of it.”  This is also handy for justifying expedited shipping.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate gambit:  This takes advantage of the synergy between some goodies.  This is another aggregate trick… but this time it’s used to pass the responsibilty filter by stacking the deck on benefits over cost.

New crystal for my Cristal :  If you buy something really nice, you can’t pair it with things below it’s status.  A nice suit demands sharp Italian shoes, a nice Swiss watch, etc…   again there is a synergistic effect between high status items.   Each new addition highlights the contrast between the ok and the sublime.

The Sistine Chapel:  Michelangelo didn’t do a half-assed job when he painted that chapel…  This looks at the synergy between various purchases from the other direction.   If you are going to do it, do it right.  Or to put it another way “Go balls out”

The Lexus approach: Their tagline was “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection”  It hints at the asymptotic nature of perfection.  Each step closer to perfection is a smaller step, but one that requires exponentially greater effort to reach.   Buy something nearly perfect, and then spend a lifetime (or a fortune) making it more nearly perfect.

(I’ve got more but you get the idea.)

Concrete example:

  • Buy a clean, nearly perfect Lotus Elise…
  • Plan a “must do before I die” trip to Nurburgring
  • Long trip justifies some creature comforts: order new Alpine stereo
  • Long trip justifies: snatching good deal on new perforated leather Lotus Elise S2 111S seats (and crucially ones with just a little padding) on E-bay
  • Long trip + track justifies: new tires, CG-lock seat-belt harness, maybe some driving shoes, gloves, etc.
  • Also justifies: shift & throttle linkage upgrade, which requires a low-profile jack (car is damn low to the ground.)

Ok…  I’m going to stop there before my house of cards logic topples under its own weight.  As I’ve said before and will now say again:


Catch me if you can…