Chinatown Parking Shell Game
A few weeks ago, my wife and I stopped by Chinatown for some lunch. Most restaurants have tiny parking lots. As expected, the lunch crowd rush took all the free spots. As luck would have it, a car on the street pulled out of a parking space. I zoomed out of the lot and snatched my prize.
One Armed Bandit
I’m not talking about Las Vegas slot machines. I am referring to Chinatown parking meters. $2.00/hour? Sheesh! I was starving so I quickly inserted my credit card. I was reading the instructions and tried to figure how much time I wanted. Before I knew it, my card was charged for two hours. I was stunned that I had no choice, but didn’t fret too much as lunch awaited and there was no one I could complain to anyway. With the extra time, I actually enjoyed my lunch more. Since I am pretty frugal, I would have elected to pay for an hour and jump back out to feed the meter if I needed more time. I was force to relax.
After lunch, we had 30 minutes left so we hit some of the surrounding shops. It was a beautiful day out and before we could fully enjoy the day, we had to turn around and rescue the car from a possible parking ticket. On the way back, we spotted a parking lot that provided all day parking for $4. We weren’t about to spend more money, but we learned a valuable lesson. Formulating a bigger picture plan trumps finding a short term solution. Granted I was hungry and felt very lucky finding the street parking. Next time we pass through Chinatown, we’re going to make a day of it and find an all-day parking lot instead.
Whether you are investing, buying a home, or battling your debt, thinking about the big picture will be your best bet for the long run. In investing, you might get lucky with a risky high flier, but can you consistently pick winners all the way to retirement? In real estate, you could buy the house of your dreams if you jump into a risky adjustable loan. But what happens if interest rates move against you? In paying off your debt, you could get into get rich quick schemes, but what if they are scams? Look before you leap or you might get taken in a shell game just like I did.