The way I think about money & spending has been impacted by numerous thinkers, ideas, research, as well as (largely) my own personal experiences. Here are two ideas that have challenged me over the years:
Many years ago, when TEDTalks were only just beginning to be mentioned at dinner parties and were only available by slow release on iTunes, I watched one by Dan Gilbert. He is a Harvard psychologist and “happiness expert”; the key argument in all of his work, I suppose, is that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy.
What I remembered for years and years was a story that swum around my brain and poked at my own perception of money:
Of course, this is not how our brains naturally work; we are not wholly rational beings and our brains are predisposed to compare according to the past, to scale, etc.
All I know is that this story (and there are numerous examples in his talk) stuck with me and began to challenge the way I perceived my own car/stereo spending. Here is the whole video (including Q & A; the talk is the standard 10 minutes), if you want to watch it later:
Here’s another story, this time from one of my faves, Chris Guillebeau. He wrote a book The $100 Startup, that was incredibly helpful and motivational when I was beginning dignify. This story was from a chapter on how to price products or services in a way that balances the value an item provides with the kinds of psychological barriers mentioned above.
How much do you judge a product or service on its value to you and how much is on camparison with other ways to spend your money? When or where are you most irrational with your spending choices? Share your comments below!
We've listened to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman countless times in my house (or, as my music app tells me: around 30), and the chorus of this song — "Never Enough" — keeps ringing through my head.
The song itself is about love (ie. without you, all the amazing things in the world will never be enough), but as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year, I feel like "Never Enough" is the battle cry of retail marketing.
“We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.”
I have often written about my love & admiration for Father Greg Boyle (Father G) and the work he has done with the gang population in Los Angeles with Homeboy Industries. It is not an easy thing to promote the dignity of people who have been involved in violent criminality, finding kinship in mutual love and respect.
This line — “We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.” — is a perfect description of the complex dynamic of running a business that is, at its core, motivated to employ a marginalized population.
For many of us — perhaps especially if you have kids in school, or an affinity for fall —, September is the perfect time for a fresh start. I wrote last week about my fresh exercise start after a summer of indulgence!
Whether it is the new calendar year, or a new school year, milestones offer a great chance for fresh starts. I think it is a fantastic time to dream about what will be different, what systems can change & improve, and how to begin well.
But here we are, mid-way through September, and I want to offer another thought:
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