We were walking home from school drop-off and chatting to a neighbour; the usual June chatter: what are you up to this summer? Heading out of town or sticking around? Camps? etc.
He said, “Well, we bought a tent trailer this year, so we’ll try to do some camping. I thought that our vehicle would pull it, but it’s very slow & heavy, so I guess we’ll be getting a new one.”
It goes something like this: I don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars a night for vacations, so we will invest in camping instead, which is WAY less costly.
It seems true. Until you buy a trailer. And a new vehicle to pull the trailer. And $20 away your financial margin on gadgets and tools and second items to live in the trailer.
Loads of people love camping and are delighted to spend the money; it’s exactly what they want to do. If that's you, fantastic! Maybe you will use that trailer for years and years and the financial equation will totally come out in your favour. Maybe it's not about money at all, and you want to access places you wouldn’t otherwise, or there are benefits that you can’t replicate in a single location rental. If all of that is the case: great. God bless. Enjoy!
Here’s the thing: I’m not really talking about camping.
This conversation is a perfect example of our tendency to look at money in isolated, incremental ways, rather than the big picture. The first thing my husband said, after we parted ways with the neighbour, was, “I wonder how many weeks of a timeshare we could get for the cost of all that camping equipment.”
His comment obviously reflects his own holiday affinities much more than a dedicated camper, but it also reveals why he’s rarely had regrets when it comes to money he’s spent.
It’s not just about comparing between types of trailers or types of vehicles… as Dan Gilbert said: money doesn’t know what it’s being spent on, whether it’s $100 saved on a car or on groceries. Do I want to spend $15,000 on camping-type vacations, or $15,000 on a house rental on a lake, or $15,000 on renovating my home, or $15,000 to give to disaster relief or refugee assistance??
It’s all the same money, and we’re too smart to let it slip away in “I guess we need a new vehicle now.”
This summer, go in eyes wide open. Practice the art of comparison! Think about the value, to you, of holiday purchases & spending choices. It may sound like a hassle, but trust me, you will actually start feeling better about your money, not worse.
And, if you're going camping, eat a s'more for me! ;)
A few stories, as I parse through the complexities of privilege & justice…
We spent time visiting in Dhomina’s relatively large home. The space had been expanded to include a separate cooking space — built upon because of the income she earned making kantha for Basha, for us. Amazing!
I've shared my favourite reads in the past, and today I'm sharing some faves to cook.
This is not a cooking blog (obviously) and I haven't styled any plates or hired any food photographers. I am no expert, but I do cook great food. This assertion is not self-congratulatory! I have little (no) inherent skill and I attribute all of my good cooking to 1) other people's excellent recipes, 2) access to fresh, reliable, & varied food, and 3) time (ie. the time I currently have currently to cook AND the many years of practice).