Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again and this kind of a short, fun post about My “Currency”.
So let me start with a story. Back when you’re a kid, you don’t really understand the Value of a Dollar. You learn it over time. This kind of falls in line with my “Money isn’t Real” and “Value Cost Ratio” posts. However, it’s kind of so simple (and fun) that it doesn’t really merit being put into Finance Fridays.
So let me demonstrate the evolution of my “Currency” as a kid. Growing up, a dollar was a dollar — but what was it worth?
5 year old me
Well back then a Happy Meal from McDonalds would cost about $1.50 to $2, so to me, $2 was worth one Happy Meal when I was a kid. I translated dollar bills into Happy Meals because to me, the Value Cost Ratio of a Happy Meal at McDonald’s was pretty awesome as a kid. To be honest, it’s still pretty good day — it costs about $3.50 for a Happy Meal at my McDonald’s. However, the toys have really gone down in quality over the years.
10 year old me
I turned 10 years old in 1991, which is when Street Fighter II came out in the arcades. Most places it was the traditional 25 cents, but some places charged 50 cents because it was so popular. If you were good you could stay on the machine for a long time… whereas if you were bad you’d lose right away. In this way 25 cents was either a good value for an hour of game time… or a horrible loss and maybe an hour wait to try to play again. Either way that’s how I saw things. A dollar was 4 turns at the Street Fighter II machine.
16 year old me
Anyways, fast forward a few years and we get to me in high school, working my first job in retail. It was at around this time that I truly understand the value of a dollar. When you are working minimum wage getting paid $3.75 an hour, you think long and hard about whether you really need to buy that soda for $1. It’s a much better deal to walk to the other side of the mall and get a lemonade from Auntie Anne’s for 50 cents with mall employee’s discount. So to 16 year old me, a dollar was worth two lemonades from Auntie Anne’s. To me that was very high value.
20 year old me
Moving forward to college, my perception of money became skewed because I had some student loans as well as some help from my parents. Nonetheless, I also worked part-time during college, making a decent amount of money. There was this place in the predominantly asian food area known as “Durant Food Court” called “Meesha’s”. It was a gyro place, but the people who know only went there for one thing “Chicken Meesha – Extra Spicy”. I honestly have not thought about this place until just now and after a quick Google search, apparently it closed. [Sadness]
Anyways, back then I thought about things in terms of meals. $5 was a Chicken Meesha plate — a ridiculous value for what it was. Delicious chicken with the yogurt sauce and rice. The guy there knew my fraternity pretty well since we ate there so often and we already knew we’d get the Extra Spicy. It was kind of tradition.
The Medical school and Residency years
There is quite a lull here between college and now where my perception of a dollar was quite weird. The reason for this was because while I had money to spend, it was money I knew I had to pay back. As such my currency was kind of skewed — but one thing that kind of sticks in my mind is that a Big Mac Extra Value Meal would cost me around $5. So to me $5 should be a good decent meal. Spending more than meant it better be worth it.
Today I’m doing ok. Our jobs are pretty stable and the kids are in a good school. The house needs work, but we knew that going in. The student loans are being paid down. The emergency fund is looking healthy and overall, we’re doing ok i think. However, here in Hawaii, everything is expensive – including food. A Big Mac Extra Value Meal here will run you just about $10. Any lunch plate will also run around $10 with some going up to $12-15. That said, my new “currency” of choice is Gen.
Gen is an all you can eat korean bbq place. There’s a bunch in California (mostly So Cal), but we have one here on Oahu now at Ala Moana Center. The meat quality is -decent- and it’s all you can eat (in 2 hours) which is pretty rare in Hawaii. For lunch, Gen runs about $16, if you include tax and tip you’re looking at $20. So now when I think about how much stuff costs I think about it in terms of “Gens”.
For example, let’s say there is a new place to try near work. Their lunch plate looks pretty good, but it costs like $16.
“That’s almost a Gen.” I say to myself. Then I look at the more reasonable lunch plates for $10, or defer to a ramen day.
Or let’s say I have to make a big purchase like a washer and it costs $500.
“Oh man, that’s like 25 Gens!”
My “currency” through the years.
My current choice is “Gens”.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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