Got the urge to splurge?

May 21, 2001

Giving in may not make financial sense, but it can yield treasures of a different kind: fun, and priceless memories

 

A Medical Economics Web Exclusive

Got the urge to splurge?

Giving in may not make financial sense, but it can yield treasures of a different kind: fun, and priceless memories

By Talia Krohn

Ever buy something extravagant that you knew you couldn’t afford? We talked to some doctors who did, and they’re convinced that they got their money’s worth.

James W. Brown, a gastroenterologist in Wenatchee, WA, is one of several physicians whose splurge relates to vacationing. "Several years ago, while we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, we caved in and bought a time share," he says. "This is something we thought we could never be talked into doing. Since then, we’ve returned to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks every February, and we’ve loved every minute of those trips. We’ve also shared this with family and friends who’ve accompanied us.

"If we hadn’t bought our time share," Brown concludes, "most likely we wouldn’t have taken regular winter vacations in 80-degree perfect weather, surrounded by these friendly people."

Some doctors prefer to vacation in colder climates. FP David L. Sharp, of Houghton Lake, MI, recalls, "Four years ago, for her birthday, I surprised my wife, Babs, with tickets to the Rocky Mountaineer Railtours’ Canadian Rockies trip. We flew to Vancouver, took the train on a two-day, 35 mph see-it-all tour, stayed overnight in Kamloops, BC, and ended up in Banff. The vacation cost us $2,000 each, but it was incredible and worth every dollar."

Casey Boyer, an internist in West Palm Peach, FL, splurged on a weeklong stay at The Benjamin, a luxury hotel in Manhattan. "We stayed in a one-bedroom suite," says Boyer, "which included a sofa, Bose Wave radio, galley kitchen, minibar, and a choice of more than 10 kinds of pillows." Though it cost him about $350 a night, Boyer figures he got a decent deal, "considering that the Waldorf-Astoria across the street quoted me $750."

Not everyone traveled hundreds of miles to drain their bank accounts. David R. Rudy, an FP in Chicago, bought a Bösendorfer piano, which, at the time, cost twice as much as a comparable Steinway. "It has the sweetest sound," says Rudy. "It’s the Rolls-Royce of pianos. I’m not the best pianist," he admits, "but I’ve never regretted buying it."

Another doctor took up a new hobby. "I was sort of desperate for a project early this spring, to keep me occupied at home," says FP David P. Watkins, who practices in Angola, IN. "I was really interested in flying, but I didn’t have the time to get a pilot’s license, so I did the next best thing–I got involved with radio-controlled airplanes. I bought a ton of stuff, but spent only about half of what my last vacation cost me. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from my experience in just a few short months. I’ve made a few good ‘flying buddies’ and had countless hours of pleasure."

FP Brian K. Stratta of Naperville, IL, on the other hand, took to the sea. "Last summer, my wife and I were vacationing in Michigan, along the lakeshore," he recalls. "We went to Saugatuck, a small town with a fairly large marina, and walked up and down the pier admiring the boats and commenting on how it would be nice to own one. As the summer went on, I kind of got the bug for a boat. One weekend, we went out to Starved Rock Marina in Ottawa, IL, to check out the boats. I ended up signing for a 31-foot Bayliner on the spot.

"It was definitely more than I could afford," Stratta continues. "But the joy it has brought has been wonderful. I look at it as my summer home and use it as such. It’s a world away from my busy schedule. One night, I went out on the top deck to watch the stars. I can’t remember a more peaceful time in my life. The only sounds came from the water passing by and the crickets on the shore."

Cars are a very popular splurge item. Internist Steven Curland of Norwich, CT, bought a year-old Mercedes that had cost $105,000 when it was new. "I paid $71,000," he says. "I wasn’t looking to spend that much, but I still have the car and it’s the best one I’ve ever bought."

Splurging for a car apparently didn’t work out quite as well for another doctor, who jokes (we think), "I bought a Ferrari Testarossa and wasn’t able to send my son to college. He now works at Burger King."

The author, a junior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, wrote this article while serving as an intern with Medical Economics.



Talia Krohn. Got the urge to splurge?.

Medical Economics

2001;10.