Don’t Mistake Spending Money for Motivation

After spending the better part of the last 18 years with a passion for modifying cars and some sort of project goal that I am working towards, I have learned that this time in mid to late November tends to be one of high hopes and high motivation- at least for those of us building cars here in the Midwest. Most of us have just gotten our cars put away for the harsh winter months ahead and no doubt have some shortcomings we experienced with our vehicles during the season that we now finally have the time to address. I know with my own cars, it was often a mechanical failure or issue that forced an end to the season- sometimes a bit earlier than I would have liked.

While it’s not true for everyone, the winter off season provides us with plenty of time to work on the next round of improvements for our builds. If you didn’t managed to get your car out at all this year, it signals a clean slate- a fresh opportunity to spend the next five months or so getting it together to ensure that you don’t meet the same fate next seaspn. I’ve been in that boat as well in the past.

Whatever the case for your specific situation, there’s no denying that one event this time of year can make us all feel a bit more hopeful and motivated for our projects- Black Friday. It’s easy to think that throwing a few thousand dollars at that shell sitting in your garage during the last week of November is going to be the saving-grace that helps you get across the finish line and finally lands you with a car you can be proud of. And hey, you might even save a few dollars and score a free t-shirt in the process.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have fallen prey to this mentality many times in years past. Vendors can convince us that our lack of activity, motivation, and progress during the past year can be cured by capitalizing on special savings. To be honest, it almost makes you feel like you are missing out if you don’t buy something for your car on Black Friday. Only in the last few years have I managed to make it through without spending a dime and feel OK with it.

While there’s no doubt there may be some great deals to be found out there, don’t let yourself get sucked into spending a lot of money on that junky old car that’s been collecting dust for as long as you can remember without first coming up with a plan of attack. I’m not saying it is always a mistake to make purchases during the notorious holiday shopping season, but I’ve seen a lot of people spend tons of money on parts they got during Black Friday sales mistaking spending for motivation- only to abandon the project a few months down the road and sell everything at a steep loss.

My advice to anyone out there trying to build a car right now (specifically an S13) is this: come up with a plan. It’s always best to go into any long-term project with a detailed idea of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to go about it. I always find it helpful to split the build into categories and tackle them one by one: Drivetrain, Suspension & Brakes, Interior, and Exterior. Come up with a blue sky list of what components each category would include, then go back through for a second sweep to rule out things that aren’t must-haves or may break the bank from a budget standpoint. It’s important to prioritize- and even plan for multiple stages of the build if it’s helpful- to get you on the road as soon as possible. There’s no connection with a car you’ve never even driven, and that makes staying motivated pretty difficult.

With my cars for example, I have sacrificed things like having a cool Japanese-branded clutch or suspension arms in favor of having genuine JDM OEM aero components. While I have a specific mentality and set of standards I like to maintain with my vehicles, I’ve had to take a step back and prioritize which things mean the most to me in recent years- especially with owning two of them. I don’t have the funds to do everything I want to, especially not all at once- so I have to make compromises on certain areas to get other aspects of the build where I want them. Compromising on certain parts doesn’t have to mean cutting corners.

Once you have a plan, put in the work on the car itself. Don’t mistake spending for motivation. While it may work for some people to drop some serious coin and harness motivation from it, if you haven’t touched the car in six months and don’t feel like putting in the time and effort, spending a few thousands dollars on parts that are just going to collect dust isn’t likely to make you feel any more love for the project. It’s easy to dig yourself into a hole financially that will only lead you down a bad path- one that often ends in selling the car and quitting the game completely.

I get it – there are sometimes going to be key components that you need to buy in order to make progress on your build. I definitely understand this and have been there many times. You’ll find that there’s just no way to move forward without certain components, and you’ve got to save up and make those purchases when you’re able to to make progress. Those are the types of parts you should be trying to score on Black Friday. Spend the minimum needed to get you through those next several tasks on your to-do list, combine it with a healthy dose of time in the garage, and you’ll probably see massive strides in the project. Sure, you may spend $20 more on a part six months from now than you could have gotten it for this week, but are the savings worth derailing the entire project?

I don’t exactly know where I was trying to go with this post, but I guess I wanted to share my two cents as this has been on my mind a lot watching all of the Black Friday deals fly in on Instagram over the last week or so. I chat with a lot of younger folks on Instagram trying to put their cars together and thought they might like hearing an old timer’s take on the subject. I’ve been there before and it’s still something I struggle with getting sucked into at times.

In any case, do what you will with one guy’s opinion. Have a detailed idea of what you want to create. Make a spreadsheet to track what you need and a checklist with the tasks you need to complete. Once you get rolling and can celebrate some wins, the motivation piece will probably take care of itself.

Thanks for stopping by as always and good luck with your build. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


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2 Responses to Don’t Mistake Spending Money for Motivation

  1. Orlin says:

    No picture post. Feels like the old dayz

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