The Television Conundrum

I live as a "bachelor" in Mumbai.

If you are from Mumbai, you'd get it. If not, its a (often derogatory) term used to define people who are un-married, live without parents in accommodations that are sparsely furnished (no beds, tables - just the bare minimum furniture). Often these bachelors "engage" in wild parties, keep the place unclean and in general, lower the standard of living at the community you live at.

From personal experience, in large part this is true. And in some parts, as far from truth as things could be.

Of course its not unusual to live as a bachelor. Blame it on urban mobility, concentration of jobs in certain pockets etc. What is unusual is that at my age, very few people live like that. Either they get married (India!) or they step up enough in life to start owning assets and make enough money to actually buy designer furniture, state-of-the-art gadgets and other things vain. None of the above two is true for me.

So I've lived like a bachelor for about 10 years now. In cities like Gurgaon, Chennai and Mumbai. And because I've had a fairly limited access to money, I never had the fancy places. And while I have wanted to buy things that could take me out of the perceived bachelorhood, I havent been able to afford those. Plus whatever little I could buy, I did not because my sense of decor is fairly fucked.

And I've always remained light. I mean when I moved last, I had 2 bags of clothes, 1 guitar, 1 writing table and few cartons of books. Unknowingly I was being Steve Jobs ;P

The point is, I did not have any material possessions. And because I was growing old (not up), I saw all these friends, acquaintances around me growing old and up and getting things that I've dreamt of since I was a kid. And of course I am / was jealous and I long /ed for them.

So, when in the last year I made some money I started to splurge on things. I bought a book shelf. I got a shoe stand (to make space for those numerous pairs of shoes that I buy by the dozen and do not wear). And I got a TV!
The next in queue, after a TV is a car and then, a house. And then, world domination! 

The TV Conundrum
If you ask the brand planner in me about three things that transform a house from a bachelor pad to a home, I'd say it would be a double bed with a proper mattress, a clean and functioning kitchen and a television!

The place that I live at came with a double bed and almost functional kitchen. So all I needed was a TV.  And I have wanted one for a long time. I dont know why. May be to tell myself that I am not too far behind from my peers?

Anyhow, since I got the TV, I have rearranged my entire house to make the TV the focal point. I mean I don't even remember how the hall looked like when we did not have a TV. I mean the houses where they don't have a TV, where do the sofas and other seating structures face? Ask Simpsons ;P

The Reason
So, coming to the REAL reason why I started writing this post. I want to analyze the decision. And then may be bookmark this post, remind me often of the foolishness that I epitomize. Yes, I believe that buying the damned TV was a wrong decision.

When I had the money to be able to buy one and I decided that I want one, I knew of a few things. Here is a list, categorized into positives, negatives and neutral.

  • A TV becomes the focal point of the house and the bachelor pad starts looking like a home. I wanted that (as mentioned above). Call it my mid-life crisis. Or call it the rat race. I wanted one. While this looks like a negative, this to me is a positive. 
  • Allows my parents to kill time when they visit me. If they visit me. Thats all they do now that they are retired. Not trying to be derogatory. But thats how it is. And thats ok. Not everyone is on a mission.  

  • Its a good to have thing. Like a checkbox in that long form! 

  • Money. My budget was 50K. No, its not a small amount by any stretch of imagination. For 50K I could've bought a holiday and dont know what all. 
  • Maintenance. I will have to lug it around when I move houses (I still live at a rented accommodation - and its contingent on whims and fancies of the owner of the house). Plus its an electronic product - it will get damaged and will stop working. It will give me unnecessary heartbreak when that happens. 
  • Time sink. With Netflix and others, a TV is such a time sink that its not funny. No wonder its called an Idiot Box. 

Apart from these three, here are few more notes that I dont know where to categorize...  
  • It was not an impulse purchase. For some weird reason I wanted a TV for a long time. I actually looked online. I went to the stores. And I sat on the decision for at least a month. And then finally one fine day I got it. 
  • Since I've got the TV, after the first few days, I have hardly used it. Key reason being, I dont have cable TV. I rely on Netflix and since I have a bad connection at home, I cant spend time on it. Which is a good thing. 
  • A great influencer on the decision was the 15K worth of reward points that I had on one of my credit cards. It made "sense" to buy a 60K TV for 45K. I could see a bargain. I made the classic mistake of looking at potential savings and not at the money I'd have to spend. A great case where points look good to you, but are bad! 
  • Ideally, in life I want to be at a place where I dont have to think too much about money and these decisions. But till the time I reach that point, these incidents are interesting milestones, to help sharpen the decision-making acumen. 

As I was making the list, I automatically realised that the list of cons outweigh pros already. I dont have to think too much about it. The decision was a fucked one. I shouldn't have bought the TV. But just to make a list, the mental models at play were Loss Aversion (did not want the points to expire), Validation aka Social Proof (from society about not being a bachelor), Constant chase of excitement (I bought it when I was probably not doing so well in personal / work life - though I have no way to validate this), FOMO (obviously), Envy. These are the ones I can think of. And I am sure there are more at play. What could those be? 

That's about it. You are welcome to see the Smart TV I bought :). And here's to making wiser decisions. What do you think waise? 

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