And My Budget Is...

Almost always, when someone asks for a component recommendation, they always finish with "and my budget is $X". And I'm wondering how they arrived at that figure.  Now I'm not encouraging frivolous spending by any means and I would never make a purchase that is not financially responsible, so stop right there.  But maybe setting an arbitrary budget is not the way to do it. Back in 2004 when I re-entered high-end audio after a hiatus from the 80's, I went to audition a Naim CD player at a dealer in NYC.  At that time "and my budget is" was $1500, which to me was a lot of money for a CD player.  So I listened to the $1500 player and it was good, but nothing to get excited about.  When I expressed this to the dealer, he smiled and installed the $3000 model.  Well, I could not believe the difference. I had never heard a CD sound that way.  The realism of the whole experience just transported me to another level and I purchased it on the spot.  Yes, I did think it was expensive, but I shifted my priorities around after listening and said that the extra money was worth it to me and that I would restructure my budget in other areas to make up the difference.  So what I am saying is - rather than just setting a budget of X, maybe the better way is to listen to something you really love, that is not ridiculously out of your price range and then decide whether the difference is worth it to you. I would think that most everyone here spends more on audio than the average person would believe possible and many could stretch from that $1000 dac they say they want to that $5000 dac they love if they really wanted to. When my wife passed almost 7 years ago, I thought my life was over, but as I pulled myself out of the pit and built my life back up, I started living by this principle: Treat yourself responsibly well. Responsibly well.  And I think you should too.  Be healthy. 
I loved Radio Shack. Esp their Optimus Pro LX-55 speakers with Linaeum tweeters...
RS was the Home Depot of electronics.
The most captivating speakers I ever heard were Linaeum Model 10 with the one dipole Linaeum tweeter on top. Radio Shack had a cheaper version of this tweeter. The Model 10 had its flaws but captivating 3D imaging was not among them. I have mentioned Linaeum half a dozen times now. Finally someone knows what I'm talking about. Even if only the Radio Shack version. Thanks!

Great post. My wife has terminal cancer and I have cried bucketfuls of tears - I am not sure how i can face her death without coming apart. 

In any event, since I find solace in music, I have been responsible, but I have not punished myself through denial of things that I enjoy, because otherwise the bleakness creeps in...Thank you for sharing!
I will be the contrarian here.  I like it when people state their budget in posts.  How many threads have you read where people ask for help, let’s say for a turntable.  In response someone types paragraphs recommending something like Air Force One, at $50 K or whatever, only to have the OP say their budget is $200?  I try to tailor my recommendations to the budget stated, but I will frequently recommend something above that budget and say “if you can stretch it, X is really worth the extra cost”.
  The OP has had quite a loss in his life, and earns my sympathy, and if I had experienced a similar loss, and had only myself to be accountable to, I perhaps would be a bit more free spending.  As it is, I frequently go over my initial budget on just about everything I buy, and my wife rarely, if ever, utters a peep, but we are both looking at retirement and analyzing our finances and trying to decide where we want to retire.  I would love to trade my excellent DAC for a dcs Stack, and could if I wanted to, but really?  If I was a Widower perhaps I would, but no amount of money blown would ever make me get over that loss