justsit wrote:A recent topic mentioned that someone couldn't "afford" to purchase an item. That got me thinking, as the subject has been lurking in my mind for a while, and I would be interested in hearing others' views. That is, what does it mean to say that one cannot "afford" a particular financial expenditure? In American society, many people have credit cards, savings accounts, IRA's, 401K's, equity in a house, etc, all manner of financial resources. So, does "can't afford" mean - maxxed out on the credit card, flat broke and living on the street, don't want to dip into savings, can't make rent unless I skip Starbucks, or ??? This often comes to mind, too, in relation to attending dharma events, where it may be noted that no one is turned away for financial reasons - what does that mean?? How do you determine if you "can afford" a particular expense?
Please note, this discussion pertains to money only, not time, emotional energy, repercussions at home, etc.
Thanks in advance for your input.
In my case, some things simply stretch the budget a bit too much and alternatives need to be entertained.
For instance, I'll need a couple Mandala plates pretty soon. Two will set me back about $50 with shipping. Now, because I'm a thrifty sort, and more importantly, my wife is a thrifty sort, I have to ask myself, "Should I save up my sheckles and buy a couple purpose-made pans for $50 or might I save a bit of money on something ( a circular cake pan) that will do the job even though it wasn't made for it and spend less than what one purpose-built plate would cost. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out those mathematics.
A simple brass mandala plate stamped out in a factory in Nepal somewhere where material and labor doesn't come to a dollar is selling for $25 or more here in the states. Quite frankly, I don't care who's making it or why. The money I spend on the pan isn't going to house nuns, get robes for monks or educate orphans. It's makeing sombody wealthy with unreasonable and unfair markup. If someone can make and sell a pro-grade aluminum cake pan for $6, how in the hell is a smaller, poorly made brass unit worth four times as much?
To buy such things for practice, in a way, seems unskillful. I'm asked to pay way more than the thing is actually worth. I'm being asked to pay a premium price based almost soley on the cachet of it being made in a farway land by some mythical hard-working craftsman.
Because of the needs of my practice relative to my living situation, I'm currently converting a storeroom into a shrine room. I'll have to spend a couple hundred bucks to make the room useable (paint, carpet shampoo, etc.). I have bills to pay, a mortgage, a dozen birds and two dogs to feed, Sangha dues, I'm saving for a short retreat in late april, my wife's birthday is six weeks out, I've got a CT scan to figure out if my cancer is growing I'll have to pay part of in May, and blah, blah, blah.
Now, if I need $50 for something related to my practice, I'll have it, but I need to give some thought to perhaps finding something suitable at a lower price. If an item is simply not worth the money being asked, I can't afford the luxury of over-priced practice supplies.