I Want That Pair of Sunglasses

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Cynthia has been eyeing that pair of branded sunglasses for the past week at the optical shop near her office. “That really looks good on you, Cynthia,” said her colleague.

Another colleague said, “If you like it, go ahead and buy it!”

Inside Cynthia’s head, thoughts were swirling round on whether she should or not. RM1,250 is a princely sum to pay for a pair of sunglasses. Besides, she already owned one and that money can pay for a lot of household expenses.

Cynthia is married with two children. Although her husband is an executive at a Bank, they have heavy commitments. Two housing loans taken to pay for a dream home, her aged mother staying with them and the need for a maid to care for the two school-going children and her mum.

The optician who also owns the shop offered her, “Cynthia, why don’t you pay me a small deposit today and take the sunglasses with you.  You can pay me back in three instalments.” Without another thought, Cynthia jumped at the offer, gave a RM50 down payment and almost skipped out of the shop.

For the next 3 months, she stinged on her lunches and cut down on non-essential expenses to meet the instalment for the sunglasses. It was indeed a painful 3-months and when she finally paid the full sum, nevertheless, she kept her word to pay in full.

Across town, Lesley just lost her sunglasses. At the same time, her optician told her that the lenses of her current pair of glasses needed to be changed as her eyesight has deteriorated. Furthermore, she should wear sunglasses when she goes out in the sun to protect her eyes.

She decided to pick up a pair of frames which can double up as sunglasses so that she has one item to carry and run the risk of losing it again. She picked a reasonably-priced but nice pair of frames with the help of her optician.

Then came the decision on the type of coating for her lenses which is photosensitive, allowing the lenses to darken when exposed to UV light found in sunlight and revert back to normal in the shade. Photochromic glasses come in different grades and hence, different prices.

Her optician explained, “ the difference is the speed in which it turns colour and reverts as well as the shade it turns.”

After weighing the pros and cons and considering her available budget, she decided to pick the middle-range one which costs her RM750.  The better lenses would have cost her RM1,680, some 50% more. She told herself that she would pick the cheaper lenses for now and save up for the better one later, when her eye power changes again.

With that, she paid the initial amount and will return to pay the balance when she collect her glasses. Quite happy with her decision, she went back to start working on her budget for her next pair of glasses.

This article is contributed by Linnet Lee, CEO of the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM)

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