Sweat the small (and big) stuff
are constantly barraged by advertising messages that tell us how we can be beautiful,
successful and happy. Attaining these goals the way Madison Avenue would have
us do it invariably requires us to part with cash.
the image of success, we must buy a luxury sedan -- never mind the burdensome
monthly payments that go on for several years. To be beautiful, we must dial an
800 number and order an advanced anti-aging cream that will dissolve 10 years
from our faces in a week. Yeah, right. To be cool, we must get the latest fashion
colors in major appliances. Huh?!
We can resist these imperatives.
But if we act on them, we find that the bloom of happiness associated with a purchase
withers after a few days or weeks. It sometimes takes a lifetime to learn that
money can't buy things that bring lasting fulfillment.
day we face choices that could cost us or save us a lot of money, even on a small
scale when projected over time. Let's examine the trade-offs of buying cheaper
versus more-expensive products and services that we regularly use, as well as
how much we can earn on the difference if we invest it in a tax-deferred retirement
|This exercise focuses on only three
categories in which consumers must make decisions, but the list of possibilities
|The trade-offs of modern life|
choices: To be well-groomed is essential. Most of us need haircuts every
four to six weeks. Do we need to get manicures? That's debatable.
can go into barbershops or unisex salons and spend $12 or less on a haircut. But
women can easily spend much more.
My friend Jeanette saves
money by cutting her own hair, but this is a rather extreme measure. I don't recommend
it, and I tried to tell her that she really should go to a professional hairstylist.
Brutal honesty characterizes our friendship. She in turn has told me that I really
need to wear more makeup.
But what you spend on a haircut can
vary dramatically from one establishment to another. I go to one of these chains
-- the Hair Cuttery -- that charge only $13 for a haircut, $5 extra for a blow
dry. I confess that I walk out of there looking like a wet rat most of the time
and go home and blow dry my own hair, though lately I've been indulging in the