Moments or Materials?

When it comes to spending money, I’m either boiling hot or polar vortex cold.  90% of the time that cash is staying right where it is in my pocket, but when it comes time to actually use the money for something, is it better spent on a moment, or something material?

I was out shopping at the Pen Centre over the weekend with my girlfriend, as I had become aware of a slightly urgent need for new jeans.  (Holes are things you fall in, not something you wear.)  After searching for the best looking and cheapest pairs to expunge the money from my tight miserly hands, we came across a men’s jacket at RW&CO.  I had merely popped in to see if anything was on sale to cover my legs, and had no intention of trying anything else on.  That changed when my girlfriend saw the jacket out of the corner of her fashion-forward eyes…

“OHHHHHH!  You should try it on!”

Here is the sequence that fires in my head when it comes to shopping for clothes: A) See item I need to pick up. B) See specific item in grouping that meets my criteria for visual acuity. C) LOOK AT THE PRICE TAG.

As I walked over to find the price tag, the build up continued…

“You’d look SOOOOOOOO good in this!”


Even THIS guy looks like his girlfriend made him try it on.

“Great” I thought to myself, “she’s selling herself on it so I can disappoint her when I see how much it costs and we walk out empty handed.  I don’t need a jacket, I need pants.”  Sure enough I find the bar-coded stop sign tucked inside the sleeve…$129.99.

I reply immediately. “Nope, it’s $130.  For a jacket.  I need PANTS.”

The barrage continues…

“Just try it on, you’d look so good in it…”

Succumbing to an argument I have no chance of winning, I relent, remove my coat and put on the jacket.

“Oh ya.  You look REALLY good.  That’s SUCH a nice jacket on you.”

I know I don’t have to say this out loud, but I’m going to anyway…things that are expensive SHOULD look good/taste good/smell good/work well/solve world hunger.  Mission accomplished expensive jacket, you cover my arms and torso nicely.  So do the other jackets I have.  I relay that last thought to my girlfriend…she doesn’t hesitate with a  reply…

“But this a SPRING jacket.  You don’t have one of those.”

Removing the jacket I decline any further conversation on the issue with a brief statement: “I’m glad you think it looks nice.  I’m here to buy pants.  If I fall into $130 I’ll remember to come back and get this jacket because you like it.  I don’t need it right now.”

Thus ended that chapter of “The Jacket.”  It was something material I felt I didn’t need, so it was left behind and “forgotten.”

Ah HA!

Fast forward to yesterday where I wake up with the World’s Greatest Idea©.  We should drive to Toronto and catch a Blue Jays game.  My wonderful girlfriend, just two minutes removed from a Rip Van Winklesque slumber, agrees without hesitation and the day is set.  I go online and buy the tickets ($40), top up my gas tank ($25), drive to Toronto and park the car ($15), purchase two beers and a pretzel ($26), later in the game buy a hot dog and nachos ($13), and after the game we head to the Old Spaghetti Factory for a light dinner ($60).

You already see where this is going. ($179.)

As I was sitting at the game I remarked how I hadn’t worn my Blue Jays jersey much the previous year (because they SUCKED) and I hoped to wear it more this year.  My girlfriend had bought it for me as a Christmas gift, one of those things I wouldn’t have bought myself because I couldn’t part with the money to pay for something that screamed “I support this team even though they SUCK.”  At that moment my brain started to analyze something…

…this jersey is $130.  I only wear it a few times a month.  (I remember shopping.) That jacket is $130…I’d wear that almost every time I go out. 

Justification is a wonderful thing.  You can convince yourself you “need” almost anything if you try hard enough.  But the follow-up is what clinched it:

You just spent $150+ on a moment.  You’ll always have the memory of what you did today, but nothing physical or tangible to enjoy afterwards.

Moment or Material

Moments or materials.  That’s the choice you have to make with your money.  Last year the girlfriend and I took an eight day road trip from Boston to New York City to Washington D.C., and all we declared at the border was a bookmark, a hat, three shot glasses and two bottles of alcohol.  Almost all of our money was spent in moments; restaurants, museums, tours, baseball games and so on.  Other than the pictures and videos, the only things we have as a physical reminder of the trip are those shot glasses.  I’d never want to take away any of those moments, but looking back, a few more materials would have been nice too.

If I could justify spending $150 on a last-minute moment, why couldn’t I on a jacket that was becoming more and more clear I could actually use?

That’s how I justified buying a $130 jacket I’ll wear four months a year.  It only took 900+ words to validate it. relationship relationships



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