Last month I claimed that we live in an entertainment economy. Let’s expand on that as I think we need to be careful. I’m writing to myself as well because I like to be entertained too. As we try all of these experiences, we can start losing our value system regarding our money. It’s easy to say we need more money, but complaining will rarely put money back into our pocket. Instead of waiting for someone to give financial independence to us, we have to plan for it and pursue our goals. I think the first step is to learn how to live in this entertainment economy.
I enjoy fishing. My favorite spot was a trout farm in North Carolina’s mountains. It was perfect because it was wheelchair accessible and they would clean your fish. It could get expensive, but it was worth every penny to me. Once a man was fishing beside me and I noticed he took a break. I only had one or two trips a year to this place, so I fished until Dad forced me to leave. I thought the man was crazy for wasting his fishing time, but what he said has always stuck with me. “When it starts to become work, it’s time to stop.”
He was talking about fishing, but his advice can be helpful for navigating our entertainment economy. When entertainment starts to become a chore or obligation, it may be time to stop. For example, I’ve always enjoyed going to sporting events. In an entertainment economy, there are sports opportunities throughout the year. I would go with friends, but as lives became busier, they couldn’t go as often and physically it was starting to become a chore for me. I realized that attending games had become an obligation costing me too much time and effort. I could still be a fan and watch on television.
We all wish we had more time. Each day is still 24 hours, so maybe we should eliminate some activities instead of using modern conveniences. There are real costs to these “time-savers.” Eating out used to be for special occasions. Now it is routine because we are always in a hurry. We grab a burger after work before taking our children to an event. With fast food becoming a standard, we have to reward our families with a more expensive meal. Instead of a happy meal for getting a good grade, now the child goes to Olive Garden. Not to mention we haven’t even added the costs of attending the events. It adds up quickly!
In our entertainment economy we’re going to have to use a new level of self-control. We have to remember the fisherman and ask if our constant entertainment is bringing us joy or is it just another obligation? We live in an age where we can access the world from our phone, but our stress level continues to rise. So, are we actually being more productive or are we just spinning our wheels?