24 February 2010

Currency Exchanges

What exactly does a new TV cost? Or a new car?

I was taught to think about items in terms of how long it took me to earn the money. That thinking got harder the more I made - it got easier to spend more. The time value shrank to quarter hour increments instead of hours. Having stuff, being able to afford all the nicest things, was not making me happy. And then came last year's stuff experiment.

So, I've adopted a new exchange value for the stuff I think I need or want. One that makes more sense to me now. It’s not about how long I have to work to earn it, but what is the item really worth? Do I really want to spend $3000 on a new TV, our would I rather spend a month traveling around the South Island in New Zealand? With the choice in front of me like that, I may not have purchased the pretty TV that is not worth half that today. There is an important exchange value for every penny spent.

I could spend $480 a year for a landline telephone, or I could use that for a flight to Hawaii. I could buy a cute pair of shoes, or I could take tango lessons in Argentina for a week (maybe two). Seriously, I don’t need another pair of wedge sandals. The $30 kitchen gadget (which is good for one thing only) could also be meals for a week in Southeast Asia. Choosing the cheaper dinning table and chairs (saving at least $300) could be a week in Istanbul. By giving up dinner out four times a month, I could have a flight out of town for the weekend, a few nights in the Czech Republic, train and lift tickets to ski in the Alps for 2 days, a week of kayak rentals in Costa Rica, or a sailing trip between Caribbean islands.

When I lay out things like this, the answer is clear. Of course, I love travel, but this little game can work with almost anything.
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