Mach 3

Mach 3

In 1998, I flew to Colorado for a wedding. I was still in the Coast Guard at the time, so this was to be in Full Dress Whites. Except I forgot my razor. I’m not hirsute, but it would have been noticeable if I didn’t shave for a couple of days. I asked the groom to borrow a razor.

What he gave me was the Mach 3, the fancy razor at the time. I had been using the cheapo single-blade razors and nicking my face relentlessly. The Mach 3 was smooth and frictionless. I said, “Hey, I have to get some of these razors!” So, I switched from the cheap razors to the expensive razors, and I have never looked back.

I have a saying: “You miss out on a lot of life by being cheap.” That’s actually my saying. I made it up. And it’s true—you miss out on a lot of life by being cheap.

I’m not just talking about razors. Maybe you are going to pass on a trip to Europe because it’s going to cost $10,000. Well, if you’ve never seen Europe, you should see Europe. It is worth the trip. Maybe you go an entire lifetime without staying in a hotel for more than $150. Well, if you’ve never stayed in a really nice hotel, you know there are quality differences for sure, and I’m not just talking about the minibar. That’s not to say you should stay in a $600 hotel all the time, but you should at least do it once. Otherwise, you miss out on a lot of life—especially when you have the means to do it.

By the way, 26 years later, I am still getting the expensive razors. And the funny thing about expensive razors is that they last a lot longer than the cheap ones, so you are probably breaking even in the end, without bleeding all over the place. This is true of a lot of things.

Financial Research

You know what it’s also true of? Financial research! Newsletters are a funny thing to get cheap about. After all, one trade can make multiples of the cost of the newsletter. Even if you never traded on any of the ideas in the newsletter, how much would you pay to get smart about money?

I’m not hawking my newsletters here. It’s funny, after almost two decades doing this, there are periods when people really want research and periods when they don’t. In 2021, greed took over, and everyone wanted to subscribe to a newsletter. In 2022, fear took over, and everyone wanted to subscribe to a newsletter. In 2024, with nothing going on, nobody cares, and everyone turns into a CF.

Lately I have been buying a lot of furniture for the new house. I economize where I can, but let’s put it this way—I’m not putting a lot of cheap furniture in the new house. I’m buying what is the equivalent of the Mach 3 razors, stuff that is timeless and classic and will last for a few decades. I will get use out of it and amortize it over time. I’m not getting the $800 couch that has the cupholders that fold down. There’s a lot of money going out the door all at the same time, which is stressful, but soon enough, money will stop flying out the door, and we’ll settle into an equilibrium.

Here’s another way to look at it: Buying expensive furniture is short-term pain, long-term gain. Buying cheap furniture is short-term gain, long-term pain. You’ll be sitting in your living room with your crappy couch with dog hair and pizza stains all over it.

Not a License to Spend

You probably think I vulture into your inbox every week and tell you to spend money. If you don’t have money, don’t spend money—that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Don’t spend money you don’t have. But there are two things that you absolutely must spend money on, without question:

  1. Air conditioning

  2. A mattress

No matter how little money you have, you need to spend money on air conditioning and a mattress.

You spend a third of your life in bed. Don’t cheap out on a mattress! That is the absolute worst thing to cheap out on in the world. If you buy a cheap, uncomfortable mattress, you’ll be miserable. And there is not a big price difference between a bad mattress and a good mattress.

And we all need good air conditioning, especially in the South. You don’t want to be suffering for three months out of the year. I know some people who set the thermostat to 80 in the summer to save money, then sit around, sweating. Don’t do this. It will cost you an extra $40 a month to set it at a reasonable temperature. You can spend the $1.33 a day to be cool and comfortable.

Cheap out on everything else if you want to—but not the air conditioner and the mattress.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian, MFA

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