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Learning of Value 价值的真谛  

2010-09-22 15:43:48|  分类: 文学品鉴 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Learning of Value

I saw something a bit disturbing last week. I had to stop at a drugstore to pick something up, and while there I saw a kid about thirteen years up buy a Monster drink, about 24 ounces of caffeine fix. That in itself saddened me, to think that this kid has been seduced by marketers and peers to think that a caffeine fix is a positive thing in life. I was shocked, though, to see the price affixed to the can: $3.49. This kid was spending more on one drink than anyone making minimum wage earns in half an hour of work--and I feel taken when I have to pay $1.19 for a large soda at a gas station when I'm traveling. I couldn't help but think that this kid never had been taught of the value of money, and of the concept of exchanging the money for something of comparable value.
I see this principal all over as I go through my day. I see rims on car wheels that cost upwards of $500, just for a little bit of decoration on a vehicle. I see people spend four or five dollars for a cup of coffee, hundreds of dollars for cell phones that they almost never use, thousands of dollars on huge television sets that they almost never watch. All around us are ads and commercials that keep us wanting to buy things that keep us dissatisfied with the way things are, and those ads and commercials are trying to convince us that if we just buy some more stuff--no matter what the cost--we'll be happier and more content.

But somewhere along the line we have to learn to make our own decisions about value. There's a common law of economics that states that many poor people will stay poor because of the decisions that they make about how to spend their money. How many people have you known or known of, for example, who have little money yet who buy a very expensive car with high monthly payments? And how many people are in trouble right now because they bought houses that were more expensive than they could afford?

While I wouldn't say that the answer to our money issues would be to skimp and save every penny and never have any fun in life, it is important that we learn about value and about when to spend how much. A few years ago, for example, my wife and I had cell phones. At the time I worked half an hour from home, I was on the road with sports teams a lot, and my wife also was on the road quite a bit. The cell phones made sense, even though we didn't use them much--at least we knew that if anything happened, we could contact one another.

Then we moved someplace where we didn't need the phones any more, for we both worked close to one another and we weren't on the road much. Suddenly, the $75 every month to keep the phones made no sense, so we got rid of them. They were now just a luxury item, no longer as necessary as they were before. They simply didn't have the same value that they had had before. And even though it had been quite convenient to make an occasional phone call from wherever I happened to be, that convenience was no longer worth the amount of money we would have had to pay to maintain it.

It's unfortunate that money is such a huge part of our lives, and that it affects our lives so very strongly. But that's the way things are, so the best that we can do is learn to define the value of our money for ourselves and to exchange our money for goods and services that have equal or even greater value. While a woman I know who is broke can go out and spend almost a hundred dollars on a new hairdo, I know that she really can't afford it, and that its value is not nearly as much as she thinks it is. When my wife and I go on vacation in a few weeks and spend $400 on a hotel room in Yosemite National Park, though--which is much more than we've ever spent on a hotel room before--we both have considered the cost, the location, and the reasons for our vacation, and we both agree that there is great value in the price that we'll pay.

Money is here, and it's a part of our lives. We can live with it and have it work for us, or we can squander it and lose it and become angry and frustrated with our loss. The choice is ours, but one thing is for sure--the path to happiness doesn't lie in exchanging our money for goods or services of little value; rather, we need to make sure that the money we spend is money well spent. Only then can we avoid the resentment and frustration that will come over having wasted money when we didn't need to.

价值的真谛

上周我看到了一件令我有点烦心的事情。那天我因故不得已在一家杂货店前停车去买点东西。在那儿,我遇见了一个大约十三、四岁的小孩买了一听含有咖啡因成分的约24盎司重的怪物能量饮料。这个孩子在推销员及同龄人的误导下竟然认为咖啡因成分是日常生活中的有益物质,一想到这件事情本身便令我很难过。不过当我看到贴在罐体上的3.49美元价格时,我更为震惊。因为这个孩子在一罐饮料上的花销超过了任何人半个小时的最低工资。对我来说,外出旅行时,在加油站花费1.19美元买一大瓶汽水都觉得是被宰了。我不由得想到肯定从未有人曾向这个孩子灌输金钱的价值以及应该用金钱来换取物有所值商品的观念。

每一天,我都能看到这样的事情发生。我看到人们仅仅是为了稍许的装饰效果就花费500多美元为车辆装上轮箍。我看到有些人花费四、五美元购买一杯咖啡,或是花费数百美元购买一部他们极少使用的手机,甚至花费几千美元购买他们几乎从不观看的大屏幕电视机。我们的周围充斥着形形色色的广告使得我们总是喜新厌旧,不断购买一些新的物品。那些广告试图让我们相信无论花费多少,只要买得越多,我们便会感到更加快乐,更加满足。

但是在某些方面我们必须学会始终由自己来对价值做出决策。一项通用经济学法则表明许多穷人之所以持续贫困是因为他们所做出的消费决策所导致的。例如,你认识或是听说过有多少人自己没多少钱却买了高月供的极其昂贵的轿车?还有多少人因为买了超过其支付能力的高价房子而眼下正陷入困境,不能自拔?

然而我并不是说正确的金钱观就是要做吝啬鬼,节省每一分钱,从而导致生活毫无乐趣可言。重要的是我们要懂得物有所值以及何时应该花费多少。例如,几年前,我和妻子都有手机。那时我的工作地点离家有半个小时的路程,我总是随运动队东奔西走,而我的妻子也经常出差在外。手机不可或缺,尽管我们不是经常使用,但至少我们清楚如果有事,我们可以相互联系。

后来我们搬了家,不再需要手机了。因为我们工作地点离得很近,而且我们不再经常出差了。这样一来,每月75美元的手机费用就变得毫无意义。因此我们就弃之不用了。如今它们对我们来说就成为一种奢侈品,不再像以前那般必要了。就它们的使用价值来说已经今非昔比了。尽管我可以偶尔用它很方便地随时随地打个电话,但这种便利与我必须支付的手机费用相比,实在不值。

不幸的是,金钱在我们的日常生活中是如此的举足轻重,从而极大地影响了我们的生活。不过现实生活就是如此。因此,我们的最佳做法就是 学会为自己定义金钱的价值,并且使所交换到的商品与服务物有所值甚至物超所值。不过我认识一位妇女已经破产却花费近百美元做头发。我想她无法负担,而且它的价值远不及她自己认为的那样。几周后我和妻子将要去度假,准备入住尤塞米提国家公园内每晚400美元的酒店房间。尽管价格比我们以前所住过的任何酒店房间都要昂贵,但是我们通盘考虑了住宿开支、酒店位置以及度假的初衷,因此我们一致认为我们要付的价格绝对物有所值。

金钱就在身边,成为我们生活中的一部分。我们可以依靠它生活让它为我们服务。我们也可以挥霍金钱,最终一无所有,导致我们因此而愤怒异常,倍感失落。选择权在我们自己手里,但是有一点可以肯定,幸福的感觉不会因用我们的金钱交换了那些毫无价值的商品或服务而存在,而是我们需要确信我们所花费的每一分钱都物有所值。只有那样我们才能避免因为不必要的花销浪费金钱而产生的怨恨与沮丧。
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