Saturday, May 9, 2009
Today a friend stopped by for a drink and to BS for a bit. After he left I got to thinking about two topics that rarely intersect; alcohol and personal finance. There are a million finance pundits and gurus out there who preach the uberfrugal approach to personal finance and want you to live on tuna and wonder bread. To these finance "experts," anything that does not directly improve your net worth is a financial sin and therefore must avoided at all costs. Something like buying a case of beer everything month is viewed as an unnecessary expense and nothing more. I am stepping on my virtual soapbox today not to advocate drinking, but to challenge that lifeless view on personal finance and propose a slightly refracted viewpoint on the subject.
I am not a scientist, but I imagine that the devastating effects of alcohol abuse can affect all human beings regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. It is the same non discriminating factor that makes alcohol so dangerous that also serves as the source of my argument that even drinking can be an investment. All kinds of people drink. Having a drink serves as common ground and a social expression across the globe.
Our lives revolve around social connections. We are social creatures that thrive on interaction with other human beings. Having a drink serves as a common action or reason to meet up. How many times have you said to even your best of friends, "we should get together to talk tonight." A little awkward especially for males. Getting together to have a drink is the lowest common denominator excuse for getting together for no reason other than to converse. Through communication we build relationships that not only open the doors for opportunities in the future, but make our lives enjoyable and worth living in the first place.
Is it that far of a stretch to say that having a beer is not only the farthest thing from a waste of money, but an investment into the quality of your life and the expansion of your social network? I can here the anti alcohol police coming at me from a mile away, but alcohol is not the point. The point is that the traditional approach to how you spend your hard earned dollar is typically a linear thought process that realistically just isn't that simple. You can substitute the alcohol with dinner, running, racquetball, or anything else that is an expense financially yet an investment socially. Being a guy that loves business and finance yet hates numbers and math I find that the status quo advice is often way too calculated. Let's blur the lines, lets get a little fuzzy, lets talk about the art instead of the science. If everything was linear or a calculation then it would just be "the way." The fact is as humans our lives are based on emotions, on our worldview, on biases, on the information at hand, on relationships. Invest in things that make you a better person to be around and things that facilitate your interaction with other people. Not only will it make your life more enjoyable, the intangible benefits are bountiful as well.