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09 March 2009 @ 12:09 am
Philosophy of money  
Most of us seek money. That money then goes first to food, second to shelter and third to clothing our selves and keeping ourselves warm. Beyond that we start buying entertainment, status symbols and small comforts. We want to save for the day when we can no longer successfuly seek money and have enough to still obtain our list of needs and wants that seem reasonable.

Each of us has a feel for what money is worth to us. For most a dollar is nothing. If it flew out of hands in the wind, we'd say shucks and hope it found a good home with someone else. For some, it's much needed food. Once we meet those basic needs and have a sensible (as much as we can know) savings plan, how do we set the worth on the luxuaries, the toys, the comforts, the entertainment? Is it purely realtive? For one meal out, I could have two DVDs and I should decide which is better for me? Or is there some other strange structure of worth? I personally don't understand ever paying multiple hundreds of dollars for shoes, but for some people that's "worth it." Should we feel ok spending money in ways that make us happy as long as we don't short the important things? Or is it criticle to make sure your benefit per dollar meets some minimum. There are some things many of us just accept. Cars, for instance. Are they realyl add as much value to our life as we pay? Espeically those of us with access to good public transportation?

In this world where people think that $30/month for cell phone is "cheap" should I feel bad about buying a silly toy for $330?

Some people play the game of just trying to make the numbers big without asking why.

This ignores the tyrany of stuff, but it's a complicated enough issue that I feel that's worth ignoring for now.
A Sage With a Slight Flaw in Her Charactereccentrific on March 9th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
When pondering whether or not to purchase something, I often do in fact figure (or at least approximate) dollars per enjoyment. I figure the enjoyment is cumulative, so I'm much, much more willing to pay a lot for something that I will use every day than for something that will amuse me a short while and then be over or for something which I will use only rarely.

So yeah, I'd pay a couple hundred for a pair of shoes that I wear every day without thinking twice, because cheap shoes are uncomfortable and wear out quickly, and having comfortable shoes makes my life much better. But if I'm thinking about paying a couple hundred for a toy, I have to think really hard about whether this is something I'll enjoy for a long time or whether the novelty will wear off quickly.
Binkbinkbink on March 9th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
My $7 shoes I bought in 1972 are still serving me well, every day.
My $12 shoes from 1960 have been stored a while because I don't wear brown anymore, but I wear them for muddy situations.
My $4 K-Mart sandals wore out and I want to buy more but the only thing close is $70 Birkenstocks because all the modern sandals seem to have a toe peg, so I will do without.
The clothing thing is odd. If we can find the same thing for $4 or $400, why pay more? I really love my $5 pants but can't find the same thing in a store, anymore, for any price.

When I decide on whether something will give me value, I also try to decide what the cost of its place in my home will be. Much as I might want one, even if I could find a $100 treadmill, I can't imagine finding a space to put it in.

There is also a threshold effect. If I could save $5 a month turning my heat down one degree, it hardly seems worth it. Saving $300 a month turning it down 20F is well worth it. Being paid $1000 to wear hat, sweater, and socks in my house for a few months, looks like a good bargain to me. On the other hand, spending $5 on something isn't easy unless that something has evident good value and can't be contributing to the latte effect. But spending $1000 on getting my well working or opening my main sewer is a no-brainer.
Alas, spending on "good" investments for my retirement turned out to have false value. I was better off buying restaurant meals so great that I remember them 40 years later, even though keeping a roof over my head is now difficult and the price for repairing that roof is totally out of the question.

The problem with the $300 toys is the mega-latte effect. If you add up all the little $300 toys after 40 or 50 years you might be dismayed to find you would rather have the $50,000 (plus interest if that ever comes back) and the memory of an awesome trip, or fresh carpets and a new bathroom, or one last car, or the comfort of knowing you won't outlive your food money. I'm betting that you will remember very few of the toys as fondly as I remember that meal at Jimmy's that started out being just one plate of escargot and escalated.
And I am betting that very few of the $300 toys will still be working by then, too.
At least my books don't suddenly stop their data feed one morning because a capacitor aged out.

Would you rather have that toy or new carpets?
And what will the next toy be?
Would 10 little toys satisfy longer?
Could you cancel your cell phone for 10 months and feel it was a fair trade?
And of course, why now? Will it be cheaper in the summer?

I don't spend $100 a month on a hair salon as many do, I don't buy expensive clothing (lately I don't buy -any- clothing), makeup, and the like, I don't smoke, my food budget is tiny, and I have a car that sips gas, yet I barely get by. I wonder how folks manage to support those "necessities" on a pension.

I think what I miss most from my prosperous days is having a healthy beautiful house, and being able to spend on a little luxury like a candybar without angsting over it. Not the toys.