It's amazing what you can get, or can't get, these days for $1600. A friend of mine went with three others to see the New York Knicks play the Canadian Raptors. The four of them spent $1600 in a little over 4 hours. The tickets were $285 each to sit in folding chairs that were courtside. Beers were $7 a piece and they drank a lot of them. Dinner before the game, including drinks, tax and tip, was $387. Throw in a few miscellaneous items like popcorn and coffee and they spent $1600 for a rather short period of entertainment. Okay so there were four people. That still works out to approximately $400 per person at $100 per hour, and I'm not counting the time and cost of the two-hour commute to and from New York that included train fare and parking costs.
While they were eating and watching the Knicks, I hung around home and went to see a matinee. The movie cost me $5.50 and the small popcorn and small soda were $7.25. After the movie I had a satisfying meal at McDonalds for $5.15. During the four hours that these folks were dining and watching the Knicks, I was entertained for the price of $17.90 or $4.48 per hour. My commute was only 15 minutes, round trip.
During the four hours that my friends were commuting, I entertained myself for free at home watching television and playing on the computer. My only mistake was not eating before the movie. Eating anything at the movies is really stupid. Why do people do that? $3.50 for a small bag of popcorn is criminal. My hardware store gives it away. Next time I'll go to McDonalds before the movie and save $7.25. That will bring me down to $2.66 an hour for food and entertainment. Thus, for the same $400 that my friend spent for an evening's entertainment, I can see 37 movies and eat 37 dinners. Okay, so it's McDonalds. But I like McDonalds. Obviously I don't live to eat. I eat to live. To me, ambiance while dining is like waxing a lawn mower. It might be nice, but I certainly don't want to pay for it.
The big difference here is values and I'm not talking money. I'm talking about basic values that people have that cause one person to spend $2000 on a suit while someone else spends $200. If I had Bill Gate's fortune, I still wouldn't spend $2000 on a suit. And I wouldn't be paying $91 extra for dinner ambiance or $285 to see the Knicks play unless perhaps they were a women's basketball team and were playing naked. I suppose that says something about my values.
I don't mean to say that my values are any better than anyone else's values, although I can't deny having had a few thoughts along those lines the last time I was in Wal-Mart. But I have noticed that my values are a lot different than those of many people. And when it comes to acquiring the necessities of life, $1600 will go a lot farther at Sam's Club than it will at Saks 5th Avenue.
As a Valentine present I treated my now ex-girlfriend to a five-day vacation in Las Vegas. The total cost of that was $1600, which seemed expensive at the time. But now, thanks to my friend who saw the Knicks play, I've reevaluated my expenditures. The Vegas vacation cost me $6.66 per hour per person. I suppose we could have stayed home, eaten at McDonalds, and gone to a lot of movies, but there is no way we could have spent $1600 doing that. And it wouldn't have been a very good Valentine's Day present. I do have some sense when it comes to values, but I'm not so sure when it comes to women.