I remember like it was yesterday when Shaquille O’Neal entered the NBA in 1992. I was in the middle of an all out sports card craze and couldn’t get my hands on his rookie card fast enough. There was this one card from the brand Upper Deck that you had to be lucky enough to get the card in the pack, but then you had to mail it in and they would send you the “part 2” card in the mail. So cool. If you’re wondering, yes, I still have every single one of those cards today and no, they are not worth even close to the amount that I would have expected after 30 years. Yet here I am today, with those cards in a binder, yet also remembering where I was when I opened up the pack and struck gold so long ago. The question that I have been wondering is what if money were the same as these trading cards? One of the greatest innovations of our capitalist society is how incredibly easy we have made it to spend money. Amazon literally holds a patent on the “one click” purchase. It is to the point where money almost detaches from reality as you hardly ever have to actually stare at your hard-earned dollars in the eye as you part with them. What if that wasn’t the case? Would that change how, when, and on what you spend your money?
Picture this… what if every time you earned $1, you received it like a trading card. Arrives in the mail and then goes right into its slot in the clear three-hole punched sleeve and into the binder. On the front, good ole G.W. looking kind of judgy, in my opinion, but stately nonetheless. On the back, the date, time, AND what you were doing to earn that money.
Date – Monday, February 3, 1992
Time – 9:00am – 4:00pm
Work – We had a Nor’easter that left the neighborhood covered in 17 inches of snow. My friend Chris and I shoveled every driveway and the last one of the day was the longest by far, and the old lady gave us each a piddly three dollars.
Date – Friday, April 14, 2006
Time – 12:00 – 3:00
Work – Sent a couple emails, then researched apartments, before ending the day playing garbage pail basketball in the office. Wouldn’t call it a hard day’s work, but it’s Friday baby!
Something tells me those “grueling” Friday afternoon trading cards might be easily used for a round of drinks later that day, but I’ll let you be the judge 🙂 In the distance between cataloging your dollars and one click purchasing lives the happy balance worth striving for. Not every purchase, or investment for that matter, will be a good one. Not every dollar earned will carry the same meaning or require the same amount of effort. In the realm of personal finance, long term success comes from working hard to fill your binder in the first place, and then learning when it’s appropriate to let that rookie card go.