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Let’s say you just went to a ticket booth and bought some tickets for that show/game/concert you want to attend. Let me ask you, what did you just buy?

Sure, you did just buy a ticket. Then again, we could have just ripped off a random piece of paper and gave it to you. Hey, that’s a ticket too. Ah, so you didn’t really want the ticket, but what the ticket represents! That is, you paid money to be able to enter the event of your choice when it happens, with the ticket being a symbol of your right to enter.

However, the keyword here is your right to enter. That means you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. If your mother was dying or something, you would probably miss the event right? So what you’ve bought is actually the option of being able to get into that event. It’s kind of like voting. We have the right, but we’re not forced to do it.

When you buy a tomato, you buy the right to hold it and eat it. You can also throw it away for any reason you chose. When you buy an airplane ticket, you buy the option of being able to fly at a particular time. You can choose not to fly if you don’t feel like getting up in the morning. When you buy a laptop, you buy the option of using it as a computer. If you so choose, you can use it as a pillow, or a welcome mat.

Because we tend to use the things we buy, it naturally becomes a habit to use them and to use them for their intended purpose. This can be a bad thing because it locks us into just one option, so we don’t get everything we paid for. For example, if you bought some non-refundable non-transferable vacation tickets for a few thousand dollars, you may feel like you have to go on this vacation. If you happen to win a contest that also gave you a vacation ticket, but to another spot that’s better than the one you had originally planned, you might hang on to your original plans because that’s the one you paid for. However, you would’ve given up a vacation that you liked more.

Before we buy something, all we have is one option – to live our life as it is without that thing. After we buy it, what we have is the option to use that particular thing if we choose to. If instead, we thought of it as something that we must do because we paid for it, then we’re once again left with just one option – to live our life with that thing. That could be just as limited an option as living without the thing you have bought!

Thinking this way has several advantages. First, you can pick your best option regardless of your “sunk costs”. That way, you can make a decision in the best interest of your future self. Secondly, when the thing you’ve bought doesn’t work out as planned, you are much less stressed out. Afterall, it’s only an option to use that thing, so this would just be one of those times where you don’t exercise your option.

So go ahead, keep your options open. You paid for it!

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One Response to “What Do You Actually Buy With Money?”

  1. Dan on September 28th, 2007 12:17 pm

    I love your blog as I’m an INTJ as well. I subscribed to it and I’ll check in frequently.