Prompts for the Promptless: True Cost is a term for the often-overlooked, comprehensive expense of something, including the time-related and emotional costs.
(Example: You can purchase a cat for money. Let’s say $100. That’s the basic cost. The True Cost of the cat, though, is in the litter box, food bowl, cat carrier, food, vet bills, litter, the time spent on the cat, shirts that are torn by tiny kitten claws, the worry you experience when the cat is ill, and the grieving if the cat passes away before you.)
You can try to calculate the true cost of things, but I’m betting once you get started you’ll wish you hadn’t bothered. I thought for this prompt it might be interesting to add up all the insurance premiums we’ve paid over the years. Because, let’s face it, we like to insure ourselves and everything around us against every possible calamity imaginable. There is home insurance, insurance for household contents, fire, theft, auto, health, illness, mortgage, accident, travel, property, professional and personal liability, LIFE….and of course alien abduction. That last one we were never offered and so we don’t have it. Now that I’ve admitted to being lax about purchasing that particular insurance, no doubt the aliens will be around later tonight to take us away without any fear of being sued.
Just making this list of all the types of insurance was traumatic enough, never mind calculating actual dollar amounts. No point in making myself suicidal.
I also considered discussing the true cost of purchasing your own house. We own a home which is mortgage free. I always thought it would give me such a wonderful feeling of pride and contentment to be able to say that. Now I realize the house actually owns us. We are its caretakers. It has NEEDS. Once the mortgage is paid, the house feels free to start falling apart. Appliances break down. Floor coverings wear out. Paint peels. Furnaces die of old age. Windows need replacing.
Being done with mortgage payments simply means there’s some extra cash left at the end of the month to put towards maintenance and upkeep and renovations. Or in other words, keeping the damned place from falling down around you while you sleep.
I’m no accountant, but I think the cost of owning your own home is probably equal to your entire monthly take home pay plus about 15%. You can own it free and clear for about five minutes. Then you’ll have to dish out more money to keep it nice.
So, here’s my advice to all you people out there who are obsessed with knowing the true cost of something. Stop worrying about it. If you want something enough, (like pets or kids or ridiculously huge amounts of life insurance), ultimately the true cost is just a number. You will work hard to make your dreams happen, you will do whatever you have to do, even if it all seems at times to be hopelessly out of reach. If its important enough to you, you will find a way. And true cost be damned, you will be happy you did.