One of my friends remarked that I'm really obsessed with value. It's true. I love spending money on things that are great value and I hate spending money on things that are a bad value. I thought I'd share a few examples of ways I've spent money that feel like good and bad values.
Island -- Good
The island may be the best money I've ever spent. I'm here now, bugbitten, sunburned, and happy. It's a pretty untamed forest that my friends and I constantly hack away at and build in, and that opportunity is what makes it a great value. Maybe some day we'll come here a relaxing getaway, but for now it's just work and connection with nature.
Fancy Meals -- Bad
Just about any time I spend over $30 for a meal, it feels like a colossal waste to me. Chipotle costs me about $13 and is a perfect meal, so I hate spending more than that. I really appreciate the craft of cooking and high quality ingredients, just not enough to pay more than $30 (and even that much is very rare).
Art -- Good
I bought my first painting thinking while simultaneously thinking that I was an idiot for buying it. But I was surprised at how good it made me feel to look at the painting and how it deepened my appreciation for art. I also like that other people can come over and see my little museum and hopefully also benefit from it, like I do when I see other peoples' art.
Bentley -- Bad to Neutral
I bought the Bentley knowing that it was in some ways an incredible value (lots of extremely high quality engineering and materials at way below cost), but in others a terrible value. I bring this one up because it provides a ton of value that doesn't mean all that much to me. If I cared more about projecting a powerful image, maybe because I had clients of some sort, it could be an incredible value. All that said, I'm glad I bought it because it gives me perspective and is really fun, so I think it's probably neutral for me. Good in some ways, bad in others.
Tea -- Good
I've found that money spent on high quality tea is a good value for me. It's an interesting one because it provides many types of subtle value rather than one main thrust. It makes me a little healthier, gives me a little time to think, allows me to nerd out about something, and promotes social activity. The one to four bucks per pot to make it at home or ten to twenty at a teahouse always feels worth it to me, even if I find out I've spent hundreds on tea in a month.
Travel -- Neutral to Good
I love travel and have gained tremendously from it in my life, but have noticed that not all travel is the same. At first I got a lot of value out of any travel, simply because I was somewhere other than home and was experiencing the world. Now I've found that it's only a really good value if it's to visit a friend or travel with a friend.
Learning -- Bad to Good
Learning is one of my favorite things in life, but it's only a good value if the cost makes sense. The couple years I spent in college were primarily worth it because of a few friends that I made. The learning was worth a pitiful fraction of what was paid. On the other hand, I just signed up for pottery lessons and I think it's a great deal. Same with one-on-one instruction like I've had for violin and Chinese. Books are also an incredible value (which is part of why I write them to).
Value is an interesting concept and is entirely subjective, which is why you need to think about what's a good and bad value for you, and determine how much of your money is being spent in each category. I find that most people don't do that, and end up spending a lot of their money on really bad values. The tragedy of that isn't the lost money, it's the lost potentially good values they could have spent on.
Photo is the marshy area of the island. I'm currently here building my own little cabin! It's going to mostly be a tearoom and an office and have a bed.
Good hand soap offers surprisingly good value. Can be many multiples more expensive than a cheap generic soap, but it'll give you a moment of joy for such a long time that the cost per joy is silly cheap.
Interesting reflection Tynan. I think value is very personal and it's about getting to know yourself better and better. I've found that occasional fancy meals are incredibly high value for me, as long as it is with good friends and over the course of a few hours (eaten slowly & enjoyed). This surprised me because I grew up in a thrifty immigrant family where we never spent much on eating out. I assumed it would feel like a waste of money when I did.
I'm with you on travel and learning though. Travel is worth it with friends, education is worth it in some cases.
Expensive cars, boats, campers, jet skis usually turn out to be BAD values. They depreciate quickly. You have to maintain them all the time (expense) and you rarely use them enough to get your money's worth. I think your island purchase is good because you did it with friends and it will always be there unless a storm sinks it.
I have also found that when I bought big houses that it wasn't worth it to me. I spent all my time, energy and money on upkeep. I only had a few visitors or get-togethers to enjoy the house. I like to keep my overhead expenses lower with a small house which leaves me more resources to do things I enjoy.
It's early and the whole day is in front of me. How will I spend my time?
When I was in middle school, frozen yogurt was served during recess for fifty cents. Sometimes I had fifty cents, other times I had to borrow it, and other times I didn't get to have frozen yogurt. Back then, it seemed like a pretty big deal. But now, looking back, whether or not I had frozen yogurt had no impact on my life. I don't really remember how it tasted or any particular times that I ate it. If there's any impact, it's probably that I lost a few hours of expected life by eating it.
It's interesting how things that seem like good ideas, or even seem important, can turn out to be completely irrelevant. The anguish over young love, which seemed so strong and so important back then, yet now isn't much more than a blur. The hours spent in school learning things like biology, which have now been totally forgotten. The acquisition or denial of that amazing gadget that we just have to have for Christmas. I waged a yearlong campaign to get an Atari Lynx, and considered not geting one to be one of the toughest struggles I had gone through back then.
I don't bring all this up to say that what happens in childhood doesn't matter, though. Not at all. In that same era, I think about how I met my childhood best friend, Charlie, who taught me Chinese and took me to Taiwan with him. Even today, those experiences (along with many others) are with me. We were issued TI-85 calculators back then, too, which was the first device I ever programmed on. I learned a lot. My parents never really let me watch TV back, and that, amongst so many other good decisions they made, have shaped me in positive ways.
It's 930 tomorrow.
By tomorrow, I mean the day after I am supposed to write my hour. Shit.
So I fell into the same mistake that I have fallen into a fair few times before. I go to bed, thinking to take a nap before doing my hour (because I have put it off till the end of the day). The alarm fails to awaken me, and I miss my hour for the day.
The solution is clear: stop doing this. Either I write my hour while being exhausted, or I write it earlier (before dark).