How can a value be put on experiences and memories? How can one determine if they are worth the cost?
Recently, an extended family trip to Hawaii got put on hold due to costs. I followed my own advice and tried to be very clear on what parts my spouse and I would be able to handle for the rest of the family – financially.
As it turns out, my estimate for a 2 week trip to Hawaii (one week on Oahu and one on the Big Island) would have been over $20,000 US Dollars. Naturally, my spouse and I had a discussion on how much we wanted to fund for our two sons and their families. That is a lot of money and I was having some sticker shock at the estimate. After discussing, he reluctantly agreed that we could fund part of it, but would leave the amount ‘up to my good money judgment’.
He didn’t want to be the bad guy and say that he would rather we didn’t go at all, let alone pay for it all.
Normally I am very frugal and a saver, but this trip meant more to me than the money involved. I found pleasure in thinking about giving our children and grandchildren the opportunity to see part of the world they might not otherwise see. I believed it would provide the chance to try new things (to see, to do, to eat). I wanted it to be a time we could all remember, a time that would add to our collective family legacy and story line and one that would expand all of our horizons. We could well afford the cost with no foreseeable problem with our own finances now or at any time in the future.
Our ideas of value differ.
I was raised in a family that went on a two week road trip every year, no matter what. Mom described herself as a gypsy (since she loved to go, go and go some more). My spouse, on the other hand, was raised in a family that seldom traveled.
Our perspectives are different on the value of seeking out and paying to have experiences and acquire memories. He thinks most vacations are a waste of money (even though he seems to enjoy and remember fondly the ones we have taken), and doesn’t see the point in consciously building memories with the kids and grandkids by traveling together. I enjoyed my travels with my birth family and love planning, organizing and experiencing travel to different places and doing new and different things. He loves sticking to routine, staying home and accomplishing work activities.
So, using my ‘good money judgment’, I suggested to our kids and their wives that my spouse and I would pay for everyone’s airfare and about half of the lodging – which would have meant that we would pay about $15,000 towards the total trip (not counting our own extra expenses – like a rental care, food, attraction entrance fees and etc); but that the kids would be on their own for the rest.
We had previously all agreed that Hawaii would be a wonderful next destination for all 8 of us (6 adults and 2 kids), but since I was now limiting the amount to be funded for them, each family weighed the cost and decided that they wouldn’t be able to go with us. One son is trying to rebuild finances after an expensive year. The other wants to pay off some student loan debt and would really rather go elsewhere anyway.
Wow! I am so pleased the our grown sons have absorbed some of our money management approaches to life. I’m glad they are budgeting and weighing pros and cons to spending.
But I am also so very deeply disappointed that I won’t be able to help them have what I think would have been a wonderful family travel experience.
Is there a way to determine if the experience and memory are worth the cost?
I doubt it. The matter is entirely subjective. The worth to one individual will be completely different than the worth to another. We can set out to justify the cost, but when we do, we merely attempt to persuade the other guy to spend the money on it!
Of course, if you don’t have sufficient funding to do the things you are considering, or if the risk to life, limb and lifestyle is too great, you can fairly easily decide that the cost really is too great and come up with some kind of alternative.
It is, as with many other marital issues, a matter of compromise. The unspoken compromise my spouse and I have made is this: I sit home a lot, working or doing things by myself – sticking to our routine and he once in awhile goes vacationing with me (and sometimes the whole family) – getting out of routine. Our verbal compromise is, I will travel when and where I want and though he is always welcome to come with me, he is not required to do so.
Do you think the cost of building experiences and memories is generally worth the cost?