The Cost of a Dream

Buying a beautiful classic car has always been one of the big dreams for Mr. Mt. He doesn’t have a lot of hobbies, but working under an old car seems to be pure joy for him. A million years ago, before we met, he had owned a few. Those are fond memories. In reality, a classic car is bonafide wasteful luxury. It’s lovely, fun and head turning. What did it really take for us to give Mr. Mt that dream? For us it’s an easy answer.

We don’t have cable TV.

That’s it.

Cable TV is also a true wasteful luxury. It just happens to be one I don’t really want. (Another post for another day!)

However, for the first two years of marriage cable was a hot button issue. I didn’t grow up with cable, and thought it was a waste of money. Mr. Mt thought it was a necessity. As in, how are normal people supposed to survive without this stuff? This was back before Netflix, Hulu or VidAngel. We had $50,000+ in debt, so I won that argument. Fast forward 14 years.

The Math

I don’t really know what TV channels would cost. I had coworkers paying $160. That seems crazy. I would never pay that. Some pay around $80-100. Let’s assume I was willing to pay $50 for cable.

14 years X $50 a month= $8400

Now this doesn’t even add in compound interest or opportunity growth. But for the purpose of the argument, we will use the lowest cost with no growth.

Want to know how much that lovely car cost?


But what about license, insurance, upkeep? There are ongoing costs with a car.

There were initial costs: Seat belts, stereo, car cover and initial repair: $600

We paid for permanent plates for the car, so these will last as long as we own the car: $160

Our ongoing cost will average out to about what cable would cost. $17 a month for full coverage insurance, plus extra maintenance.

In some ways older cars take a bit more maintenance. But this is Mr. Mt’s new hobby, and compared to our mini van, the classic is WAY easier to repair himself. He managed to replace the broken leaf springs and rear shocks in a few hours; half the time it takes just to do the spark plugs on the van.

After all of that, we are still $2,000 a head vs. cable.

There you have it. We are now the proud owners of a beautiful classic car. It’s a kick to drive around town or take to car shows.

A Bucket List dream all for the cost of not having cable.

It’s not exactly a huge sacrifice anymore. Our lives adjusted and new things filled our time. But holy smollies that first year! We had some heated talks that first year. 14 years later, now we don’t have time for more than 30 minutes of TV anyways.

If you have a big dream, why not make a small change to help fund that dream? So what if you wait 14 years for it? The most important things are worth the waiting and sacrificing.

I don’t have a lot of pet peeves, but here is one of them. People tell me, “The biggest dream of my life is____.” So my go-to follow up question is, “What steps are you taking to make that happen?” 9 times out of 10, folks are doing zero things. ZERO. I don’t care if it’s something as small as cutting cable to buy a car 14 years later. That’s a small step. But zero?

This is your biggest life dream, and you are giving it zero effort?

Here is what amazes me about people’s biggest life dreams: They aren’t that big. In fact they generally are quite doable. Write a book, travel to Paris, hike Kilimanjaro, take a cross country trip with their kids. We aren’t talking things like own a castle in France or becoming President.

As your money friend. As the person who wants to see your biggest dreams happen, even if they are a silly classic car. Do me this one favor. Before I run into you at the coffee shop, standing in line to get ice cream, or at the farmer’s market- before you come up and say hi: Find your 1 thing. Listen to a podcast about your dream, read a book, start a savings account named “Dream” and auto transfer $5 a month, find 10 minutes a day to brainstorm your dream. Give that dream something.

So when you introduce yourself, and say, “Oh my goodness, I have always dreamed of…..” and I ask my question. You will have a great response. Small is fine. And it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing.



Discussion questions:

  1. What are some of the big dreams you are working towards?
  2. What steps are you taking?
  3. Would you cut cable for a bucket list dream?
  4. If you had to wait 14 years for your dream, would it still seem worth it?
  5. You would be most likely to run into me A) At a coffee shop B) In line for ice cream or C) At that Farmer’s Market?



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30 thoughts on “The Cost of a Dream

  1. The idea of figuring out how to put a foundation under dreams is really important. I don’t even know what my dreams are. They come and go. I tend to stick more towards goals. Probably something I should work on, huh? 🙂 Congrats on the car!

    • Dreams for Penny: 1. See student publish bestselling book. 2.Travel to Montana to visit Glacier National Park and eat huckleberry ice cream with Ms. Montana.
      There you go! List started. =)

    • So good! I have been working on a post about embracing the fleeting nature of life. 3 months and still can’t publish. Maybe this weekend I will read Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly again and work up the courage. I guess we will see come Monday. =)

    • Well, to be fair, Mr. Mt. REALLY cared about cable! But there were things better than cable. He liked cable, but he LOVES his car. Some of our friends have teased us a bit about the car, like “Yeah, it must be nice to be you!” Just stop paying for cable! That’s the only magic tricked needed. =)

  2. i love the comparison. We gave up cable, without really having a specific goal. But, no cable may mean a visit to the Mouse this year or next, and as prices go, 200 channels of crap we don’t watch isn’t bad at all.

  3. This is great! I love your points about progressing towards your dreams. There’s a Bill Gates quote that says, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” I feel like people with dreams that are not achievable in one year often brush them off as unreachable instead of taking small steps to work towards them.

    • That is one of my favorite quotes! I actually wrote a whole post about it for a MOPS group last year. I think sometimes if the time line looks long, it can also help filter out what our big dreams are. If a person is willing to wait, work and make small progress for 10 years to get there, then it’s dream worth pursuing!

  4. Good for you folks! Delayed gratification at its finest and I’m sure it was entirely worth it. I look forward to the next classic car in 14 more years 🙂

    My biggest dream is to retire early while my kids are still young. I’m working hard to earn extra money, living a frugal life, and investing to win! Hopefully we’ll be ready in just over 5 years.

  5. I love this, “What steps are you taking to make that happen?” I admit I was guilty of this for far too long before I finally acted on it. It’s far easier to talk about dreams than it is to actually make these dreams come true.

  6. Definitely great advice. If it’s something you really want then you should be willing to make a sacrifice and wait for it. Honestly if you can’t wait maybe it wasn’t that important anyway. As a certified car financial who maybe missed it, what did he get? I made major cuts years ago to get a sports car. I still have it 10 years latter and my wife says having it keeps me sane.

    • It was a good deal. But the area we live has SO many classic cars. It’s oddly part of the culture. So there is a good supply. Plus we have almost no humidity, so they rarely rust out. But if we ever decide to sell, maybe we will do a little road trip to your neck of the woods!

  7. This post is inspiring. I am a very dream-oriented person. I haven’t had tv for 6 years, at $100/month, $1200 a year, that savings goes towards traveling. I have been all over the world, on a very average (below average) salary. It’s all about prioritizing your wants and searching for ways to make it happen. When a person truly has a passion, the cost to make that passion/dream (traveling, car etc) happen is usually worth it.

    • Absolutely! We love to travel as well. I love it when folks are willing to make things happen on modest wages. I think there is a huge mental challenge to overcome the, “this is just the way things have to be.” And really start looking for creative solutions. I met a clerk at Dress Barn who said she travels to Germany every year to visit Christmas Markets because she loves them so much. I was blown away! She tries to use miles to bring the cost of the ticket down, to under $500. Finds rooms around $70, and can do the whole week for about $1200. She literally only has to save $100 am month to make that happen. She could babysit 2 night a month and make that kind of money. I bet none of her coworkers travel overseas every year. But that lady was making it happen! On maybe $9.50 an hour?

  8. This is one of my favorite topics to ruminate on. I have so many goals, big and small, that I have lists of categories of dreams! But rather than being overwhelmed by the fact that it’s too much to accomplish in one or three years, I’m focusing on the big picture changes I want to accomplish which tends to make a lot of those smaller dreams happen and taking small steps to squeeze out extra value in our daily lives.

    A big goal: replace my employee salary with 2.5-4x (passive, self employment, investment) income. It costs a lot to live in SF, and I’m staring down the barrel of costly medical care for an aging parent – I’ll take leaps but they have to be calculated and sustainable. Steps: reducing our expenses so I can afford to go part time at my current job if need be to make extra hours to work at the new income-producer, whether it’s a business or five rentals.

    A small goal: travel to see his / her friends annually. Steps: I’ve set up a schedule for our large expenses and now strategically cycling through credit cards to reap bonus miles even if I don’t have a specific trip in mind for them. I want a huge miles buffer set up so we have more freedom to pick and choose a time to travel without worrying about cost.

    I made the unwise mistake of making new / solidifying old friendships at FinCon though, now my list of people to visit is even longer!

    • I love the lists of categories of dreams! I have never used flight miles, but I might start looking into that. I felt like I totally missed out on FinCon this year, so I am rolling out a new idea in today’s post!

  9. Nice post I must say, I think everyone now a days dream of everything and only few accomplish what they dream of. Especially those who plan for it and make plans. I don’t think it is necessary for one to be financially stable to achieve their dreams as it varies from person to person.
    But money does matter and one should be able to make enough resources for after retire life.

    Keep writing great posts,

    Have a good day!

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I think you are totally correct that people can achieve a lot more if they make a plan and put in the time. And no one wants to be broke in retirement!

  10. “This is your biggest life dream, and you are giving it zero effort?” This stuck with me for awhile. Our dreams seemed intangible until we started taking small steps toward them. It’s so easy to get intimidated by dreams, but that first step makes them feel real. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • That is awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and comment. I think you are absolute right. Even if our steps are small, we are on our trajectory! Trajectory is so powerful. It starts to inspire us and things start to snowball. I’m excited to see how much closer you are in a year, or 10 years. Cool things can happen in 10 years!

  11. Love the post! I think I need to start a separate account called “dreams” now (maybe I’ll just consider my “Digit” account my dreams account) 🙂 One dream we have right now is buying a home, our first step has been saving as much as possible for it, we hope to have a big downpayment in a year or so! Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Congrats on reaching for that big down payment. Every month you live there, you will be happier about having a smaller mortgage payment! Maybe you can funnel the difference into your dreams account!