It was a fantastic trip to Manhattan! I went for a purpose opposite of the Wall street protesters: to learn. Sharp minds shared at an economic form where I was given brilliant analysis on the economy. Spending time walking the streets of New York was fun as well! I noticed many bright lights and loads of people shopping. It served as a powerful pictorial insight on economic activity! We even asked Cops where to get NY's best cheesecake (it was my friend, I swear...).
On the day of leaving, we toured NY looking for souvenirs for my 2 girls. Despite dozens of shops with thousands of items, I found nothing that was remotely priced relative to it's value. I saw, "give me your money and I will give you a token of value in return...but it will say I Love NY, so we'll call it even". Can't say I've ever been a sucker for consumerism. Then, it hit me...why would I waste lots of money on a little widget token, when I can have a real token! We hunted for 6th and 47th street, (Jewellery stores) and eventually found some silver coins! One lady wanted spot price + $20/coin. Being in the jewellery business for 5 years, I knew to take a pass. We found another store and bought American Eagles for spot + $4. A much better deal. We got our coins! Then I began to think of what I was doing...I wanted my kids to get something of value, so I bypassed several $35 useless tokens, to get a $35 real token. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I asked myself, "Why am I willing to make sure the kids do not get a useless widget, but one of value, but I buy useless widgets?" Which prompted, "What area's in my life am I embracing useless tokens and by default giving up a real token of value?" The most obvious example that came to my mind was a case of beer. I never put the purchase of beer into a context so powerful: I am choosing to consume 1 case of beer in exchange for 1 ounce of silver. Depleting value, versus real value. A false sense of security for a temporary time versus contributing to real security over a long period of time. By getting the kids a silver coin, I taught them about 'value' and 'saving's'. Alexis was so excited to tell her cousins about the silver she is saving (and the princess on the front)! Equally important was the lesson I learned about savings and value. It was both embarrassing and humbling to realize I made value decisions that did not at all serve my family. I have decided to hold the coin in my pocket (yep, I bought some extras) to remind me of real value before I make each discretionary expense. Regardless if it is excessive food outings, or a case of beer, I will have a tangible picture in my hands and head: what do I want more, these silver coins (real value, wealth) or what I am about to buy? Wow! I boldly encourage you today, what discretionary spending do you think is good value, and what items should we take a pass on and re-invest in something else?