Something exciting happened the other day. In one fell swoop, as my spouse notes, I exceeded his expenditures over 20 years on his classic car restoration hobby, though not by much. I’m slightly skeptical of the math on this, but the one fell swoop part is true.
I bought a piano. It’s a rebuilt 1926 Steinway L, from the “golden age” of the Steinway grands. It’s beautiful and so fun to play.
We’re freaking out about it when we’re not rejoicing over it. It was delivered Friday but we forgot to call our home insurance company. Lying awake in bed that night Dale said, “What if we have a fire and lose it?” I said, “I could care less about the piano if we have a fire, as long as we are all safe. Also, I promise we won’t have a fire before Monday when we’ll call the insurance folks.”
We’re feeling some guilt about going big on this, bigger than first intended. To keep things in perspective we remind ourselves of our modest spending elsewhere. We tell the children, “It’s an investment. We got a favorable rate on the loan, and these Steinways appreciate so much that it’s like putting money in savings each month.”
I worry about being judged. I judge myself. This purchase demonstrates our privilege and access. I may need a piano, but this one exceeds my need. There would be much more responsible and just ways to use our money.
I make more excuses. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. We’re supporting a local craftsman and business. I want to have several decades to enjoy the last piano I’ll ever buy. It will get played. A lot. We’ll be good stewards of a historic instrument.
These moments of panic, guilt, and justification are deeply rooted in how I think about money. It’s probably healthy to work through this with any large purchase, a process that could lead to positive new commitments and priorities.
No one is asking me to justify, and it may be most elegant to simply say, “I love it and I’m grateful to have it.” I guess I’m not doing the elegant thing with these reflections, but I’ll try in future conversations. I love it and I’m grateful to have it. And now I’ll go play it.