Here’s a few things that feel vaguely related to me. The first is Garrick van Buren’s response to me about retirement and money. He picks two points he disagrees with me on, neither one of which I think is actually related to what I think. I don’t even quite understand #1, where he points out that we have the capacity to do our lines of work even as our bodies get old. He thinks retirement as we know it will not exist in a decade. Umm, ok. I think my retirement will be a lot like what I do today, except that there is no requirement that any of it make any money. Retirement will give me the luxury of spending my time in unmarketable pursuits. I imagine there will be blogging and podcasting and open source, but also lots of reading of books and watching of movies. It’s not that I can’t work into my 70s, it’s that I don’t want to.
His second point is kind of with the straw man, not me. He argues against this statement: “Sacrifice today inherently creates opportunity tomorrow.” Umm, ok. In particular, I have been talking about not spending money on luxury items or where the price far exceeds the utility value. I’m not against buying things in general, particularly when you need them to accomplish something. It makes little sense to me to pay $40,000 for a car when the $12,000 one I have does everything I need but I know people that do it. I won’t pay $4,000 for a TV set, regardless how good it looks, when the $200 one is serving my needs. I did pay $600 for a Marantz PMD 670 and I’ve used the living hell out of it and got my money’s worth. In the latter case, the utility value was higher than the price and I’m happy.
In this vein, Uncle Warren distressed me a little in this comment about how he didn’t purchase some DVDs because of me. Again, I don’t want to be the poster boy for not spending money per se. If you are going to get the value out of it, you should buy it. This assumes you have money to buy it, though. If it’s a charge you are going to be carrying, you should probably skip it until your consumer debt is paid down.
However I do think this is why it helps to get your debt paid off and a savings plan going. Once you have that set up, you don’t have to sweat every nickel. My 401K and IRAs are fully funded and we have savings happening every check. The money we have we can spend and the only real issue is about getting full value out of it. I opted not to buy the new computer because I’m still fine with my old one and the longer I can wait to upgrade the better value I’ll get.
Lastly, Joi Ito posts about the difference between happiness and pleasure. That’s what it is all about to me. Everything I’m talking about is trying to create happiness, which sometimes is at the cost of some pleasure. I can live with that, and I like the way he thinks about them explicitly. We make these tradeoffs all the time, and I’ve never really thought about it in these terms until today. It’s worth some introspection to examine what we do and whether that is ultimately creating happiness for or others.