That is the question
I truly live as simple a life as I possibly can. My lack of sophistication about various types of loans, including mortgages and auto loans has been intentional. I haven’t purchased a new vehicle since 1989. I have purchased a couple of good used cars, some of which I have financed. I pay little to no attention to ads about cars and trucks otherwise. In fact, the only time I have paid any attention to TV advertising was when I was taking a class at school many years ago and had to watch TV specifically for the ads. So, where I usually mute the sound during commercials, I watched different kinds of shows for this assignment, just to see what kind of advertising they had. I muted the TV shows and only watched the ads for this assignment. I do like to watch the new ads that come out every year during The Super Bowl. I don’t watch the game, just the ads. Now you can watch just the ads the day after the game. This is the best option for me. I don’t usually even like the half-time show on the Super Bowl anymore, because I don’t know most of the artists. But you can tell who the advertisers are trying to attract with certain shows, by watching the ads aired during that show, so that’s kind of interesting.
When I was younger, the ads on the shows I watched were for Clearasil, 10-o-Six, Maybelline, Bain de Soleil suntan lotion, Summer Blonde hair bleach, and various kinds of chewing gum. Now, the shows I watch mostly advertise for big pharma. I liked the first batch better.
The ads during football games are usually for more fun things like cars and trucks and beer. I usually like the Budweiser commercials, with the horses. Those have always been great commercials! That said, Budweiser isn’t my favorite beer, even if it did make Bud wiser.
Since I pay relatively little attention to TV ads though, I was never aware that some car companies offer zero percent loans at times. I guess they do this if they have a type of vehicle that isn’t selling very well, and they want to unload all of them before the new models come out. I can see where a person might be interested in this, but I think the loans are mostly offered on new cars, not used cars, and of course, as we’ve all been told numerous times, a new car loses about 20% of it’s value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Over 5 years, a car loses almost 60% of it’s new car value. When you think of it that way, you realize that even if you get a zero percent loan, you’re still paying up to 20% annually for the chance to enjoy that new car smell that’s probably killing you anyway as the plastic expels fumes.
As I drive around looking for scenic, photographic locations, I often find myself in the same place as campers. I’m not a camper, although I have recently developed an interest in maybe getting a teardrop camper, or some small camper like that. Then I found out that a new teardrop camper will run me about $30k. After that, it seemed less interesting to me. I sometimes see people on the interstate driving these huge camping behemoths around and I wonder about how the cost of owning one would compare to spending the night in a cheap motel, which is my usual M.O.. Some of these cheap motels seem kind of cruddy and downright scary, so it makes me wonder sometimes if getting a small camper would cost me about the same overall. So, I did some research. I can get a cheap motel room off the beaten path in Utah or Wyoming or Arizona where I like to practice my photography, for about $100 a night, give or take. When I was doing this more regularly, that meant spending about 2 nights a month in a cheap, crummy motel. Then, I need to add in the cost of gas and food, so doing this one weekend a month costs me about $500.00. The cost of a loan for an RV or a camper is often higher than that for a car it turns out, with current rates being about 8% to 9%. Gassing up your RV will run you about $500 a tank. RV or van life is a thing right now though, and people are still doing it and apparently loving it. Some people sell the family home and live in their RV for some period. People who do this, do it because they want to, even though it may not make any sense money-wise. I get that there’s something to be said for just doing what you want to do, if you can afford the payments, and if you’ve sold the family farm and have lots of cash, go for it! Who knows? Someday I may decide to sell my home and take a world cruise or something…still, for now, I must be a bit more careful with my money. If I spend it all now, the world cruise won’t be an option when, as and if the time comes. So, in looking for the cheapest way to go for now, I have decided to just drive my old 4Runner and stay in cheap, crummy motels.
When I first got into nature and landscape photography, I was amazed at the beauty that most people never see because they’re not hunters or fishers or campers. I’m not a camper either, but I’ve driven and hiked through many parks where campers are staying. Yes, by camping, they’re paying less per night than I’m paying to stay in a motel, and they’re closer to the fishing and early morning light than I am. It means I must get up even a little bit earlier and drive some distance before arriving at my photo location. I haven’t found this to be a deal killer for me. I like being out in nature, but I like having a home to live in as well. I like going home after my weekend photo trips to sleep in my king-sized bed and spend time with my cats. I think most cats don’t enjoy camping as much as dogs do and I also think camping with cats has some inherent negatives that I won’t describe.
Hunters and fishers and yes, even photographers, get to see some amazing natural beauty and I’m grateful that my love of photography has opened that door for me. Nevertheless, dropping large amounts of money every month on an RV or camper, hasn’t appealed to me either. So, I continue driving my 4Runner and staying in cheap motels when I head out.
The photo that accompanies this blog was taken near the campground at Colorado River State Park in Fruita, Colorado. It was winter, and no campers were present. I was alone which suited me just fine.