That’s right, it was Cardiac and Hernia in the same week…. and I LOVED IT! No, it wasn’t health issues, although it certainly could have led there were I not in at least the middling shape that I am. No, Cardiac and Hernia are two particular hiking trails at our local Boy Scout Camp. Covering about ¼ mile distance, they also cover 200 feet of elevation change. And my son and I covered it up to 4 times a day as a part of the Webelos Camp that we attended together.
Have you looked at the cost of attending camp lately? For the two of us to attend a three-night camp was $170 plus time off, gas to get there and back, meals along the way, and of course ice cream after one particularly brutal day of activity. Perhaps that cost is where the cardiac and hernia come in. But the frugal person (miser) that I am, I don’t feel bad at all about the cost of the camp. It all comes down to opportunity cost.
So what did we get for the +/- $200 we spent? He completed 5 different badges in two days, we had a large block of great time together doing things we both enjoy (often hard to get done in our society), we met some amazing people that we may well keep in contact with over time, and all I had to do as a ‘responsible adult’ was show up and participate. The camp provided the programming, staff, facilities, meals, entertainment, and opportunities.
Looking back, I in no way regret the money spent on this camp. The opportunity cost tipped the scales way too far to be worried about the money that was spent, even for a frugal person such as me.
What’s opportunity cost? Investopedia defines ‘opportunity cost’ as “the benefits an individual, investor, or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.” Applied to this situation, the opportunity cost was the experiences of camping with my son that I would have missed had I chosen the alternative of saving the money and not going to camp.
While I would definitely recommend this camp, I also understand that the opportunity cost consideration may come out different for you.
Perhaps the alternatives are going to camp or being able to make rent this month. Were I in that situation, I would probably choose to make rent. That tends to be a more immediate need.
All I ask is that, when making money decisions, you consider the opportunity costs. I’m not inherently against spending money. After all, the freedom of spending it the way we want is one big reason we work hard to make money. At the same time, as hard as we may work for it, rarely is money unlimited.
One idea that I’ll teach in our financial literacy classes is that ‘yes is no’. If I say ‘yes’ to spending money today, what am I going to have to say ‘no’ to in the future? Or, if I say ‘yes’ to saving my money today (not spending it), what opportunity and resulting benefits am I saying ‘no’ to?
And then the big question – “IS IT WORTH IT?”
Sorry, but I can’t answer that one for you. That’s a call you have to make for yourself. It is a personal choice that will be made over and over. As much as I like to help, I may actually be unavailable to help with that decision. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But there will be future camps I attend with my kids that will make me unavailable to answer that question for you, so you might as well learn to go through that thought process now.
Some times, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ isn’t really that simple to discern. But when we apply the impact a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ has on our other opportunities, it can actually provide motivation for sticking to a plan (aka ‘budget’ when we are talking about money).
So what choices do you have coming up? What opportunities are before you? What are the costs of taking or passing on those opportunities?
As I have been typing this very blog, another opportunity has come to fruition. It’s one I’ve not taken lightly, but one I am quite excited about. But that’s for another blog on another day. I’ll give the teaser that it involves Iowa, Scout camp many years ago, carpentry, sheets, and I think a club. How’s that for pleasantly vague? I guess you’ll have to check back in the future to find the connection.
In the mean time, always consider your opportunity costs related to your spending. If you aren’t entirely sure, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help you work that out. An impartial ear to listen, they can help you discern how opportunity costs can reflect your bigger priorities and goals. All you have to do is call 605-330-2700 or go online to schedule an appointment.
written by Breck Miller