I bought my first motorcycle at 20. It was a black 1982 Honda FT500. You’re probably thinking, “Why did her parents let her do that?!” The short story of that is, well, because I could. My dad always tells me “You can do or have whatever your heart desires…as long as you pay for it.” I wanted a motorcycle and had the cash, so I pulled the trigger and bought one.
At that time, I didn’t make a lot of money and buying a motorcycle was a one of the biggest financial commitments I had made in my entire life. Looking back now, my first bike gave me some insight not only on motorcycle ownership but also keeping my finances in check.
Do your research
Each motorcycle brand offers tons of options to pick from. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when picking out a motorcycle. At the end of the day though, you have to choose the one that best fits your needs. After all, you’ll have your bike for a few years. If you don’t enjoy it or like it, you won’t ride it. You might as well have thrown that money in the trash. Doing some research before you go out and buy your motorcycle will save you a headache later.
Financial decisions can get overwhelming, too – especially if you have no clue what you’re getting yourself into. Before blindly walking into a big financial decision, like a getting a mortgage, do your homework beforehand. Become familiar with the elements of a mortgage, what the process entails, and how it works before jumping into it. The same research goes for pretty much any other financial decision you make. Having knowledge gives you the confidence to ask the tough questions, whether it’s opening a simple savings account or getting a mortgage.
Motorcycles and finances can be complex
A lot of parts work together to make a motorcycle run. Sometimes the smallest broken component can prevent a motorcycle from operating properly. You might understand the larger components; however, if you don’t look at the smaller parts and figure out how those work with everything else, you might get stranded on the side of the road.
Small financial mistakes could create bigger problems. For example, not paying your credit cards on time might lower your credit score. Having a low credit score impacts the interest rate you get on another credit card or loan – costing you more money later. It could even prevent you from being approved for a loan all together. Understanding how one poor financial decision can affect your future is important.
Call in a pro when you need help
I know how to perform basic maintenance, like oil changes, to keep my motorcycle running well. When it comes to more complex jobs, I call in my dad. He rode and worked on Harley’s for years. I trust his experience and knowledge to help me.
When I wanted to transfer my old 401k to a Roth IRA, I had no idea what I had to do or where to even start. I spoke with a financial planner at my credit union. He broke down for me step by step what I needed to do to get things rolling and provided guidance on which investment strategy would work best to meet my goals.
Whether you need to set up a retirement plan or buy a home, ask an expert for help – especially if you have no clue where to start.
Perform regular check ups
Motorcyclists know that before every ride you do a walk around of your bike. We check the tires, the oil level, the chain or belt and a few other items before taking off. If any of these things are in questionable condition, we look deeper to see if there’s a larger issue at hand. The smallest thing that’s not working right could result in an accident.
Do you check your finances often? If you don’t, you might have a problem on your hands that you don’t even know about. Catching errors early can save you from disasters later. I regularly check my credit card statements for errors. A few years ago, I discovered a fraudulent purchase on my debit card. Thankfully, it was a $20 charge and my bank reimbursed me for it. Had I not paid attention though, my checking account could’ve been drained and I would’ve had no idea.
Spend money on experiences
Robert Persig put it best in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”: “You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment…On a motorcycle the frame is gone…You’re in the scene, not just watching anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming….”
The best financial lesson I learned from my motorcycle was to spend money on experiences. I have tons of great memories from the many rides I’ve taken over the years. There’s something freeing about riding a motorcycle that nothing else I’ve bought since has fulfilled – SCUBA diving comes super close though.
Skip the $400 game system and spend your money on something memorable: concert tickets, fine dining, mini vacations, etc. Your interests only limit the options you can explore. Don’t just take my word for it. Many psychologists note that spending money on experiences helps you live a happier life.
I bet you didn’t think that finances and motorcycles were so connected. Do you have an important financial lesson you think others should know about? Share your thoughts with other Zing readers below!