WEALTH AND ECONOMICS; Community versus Country Club

By in Personal Finance, Wealth | 20 comments

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Yesterday I had an amazing day and spent nothing!!

MY CONFESSION

I’ve played tennis forever, on a variety of courts from public to private, in metro city areas to elite private clubs. I confess, I hate the atmosphere at most of the courts; snooty, exclusive, might I even say a bit racist, classist, and sexist. (There I said it!)

Yesterday was different!

El Carino and I picked up our rackets and drove  3/4 of a mile to our neighborhood recreation center. The courts were populated with good solid players of multiethnic backgrounds. In fact, I think we may have been the only Caucasians on the court (although El Carino is usually mistaken for an Hispanic :) ). The other players greeted us warmly as we walked on to the one remaining open court. After hitting for about 45 minutes, 4 guys came by and were waiting for an available court. One of the players was covered in tattoos and all were from Asian, Hispanic, or other multicultural backgrounds. They waited patiently on the side of the courts.

In my experience; in the more “Caucasian” areas, the players rarely said hello, gave a smile, or welcomed you on to the court. More times than not, if you weren’t a top notch player, or dressed “appropriately” you were given a disparaging stare.

After a few minutes, the two teens on the next court asked if El Carino and I would like to play doubles, so that the 4 new guys had an open court on which to play! Of course, we said “Sure” and had an amazing amount of fun competing with these two teenage boys. It didn’t hurt that we won!

El Carino and I have never seen anything like the warmth and inclusiveness of this community recreation center. The consideration of these young boys in asking us to play in order to give the other guys a court was unprecedented in my experience. Upon leaving, the 4 guys for whom we had given up our court asked us “Who won?” After we told them we did, they joked and said that it was clearly due to my playing!!!

John Kenneth Galbraith’s Take on Gross National Product

“The Gross National product does not measure the quality of life. But it tells us about the trend of the production of goods and services. We should use it for what it tells us so long as we know what it doesn’t tell us,” Almost Everyone’s Guide to Economics by Galbraith and Salinger.

Although the worth and importance of an economy is measured by its growth in the GNP, the measure of the wealth of a society goes far beyond that of the GNP. Furthermore, the GNP is a poor measure of a society’s productivity.

What the GNP does not measure?
• Unpaid work of household CEO’s
• Quality of life items such as the arts and park
• Good public transportation
• Intangible, immeasurable quality of life

A great and growing GNP does not ensure a sanguine society. Many attributes of a successful society go way beyond this economic calculation. Galbraith, one of the greatest economists of the last century champions the idea that a society’s importance is more than the dollars and cents of its GNP.

The Takeaway; Wealth in Life is More than Money

If you play tennis at a country club, it is assumed that you are wealthier than if you play at a community recreation center. This may or may not be so. Do those at the country club have higher net worth and life satisfaction than those players at the local park, or do they have more debt, overhead, and flashy toys? The answers are not always clear cut.

My best day was spent playing tennis at the recreation center with El Carino and some teenagers from the neighborhood. The cost was free. And the richness of the experience was certainly not included in the Gross National Product. Galbraith and I believe there is more to successful societies than that which can be measured by economic metrics.

ACTION STEP:

Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to record all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

Take an inventory and decide what things and activities provide you with the most life satisfaction. Make time in your schedule for them. You may be surprised to find that many of the things that offer true wealth are free.

For a quick overview of Investing Strategies, pick up my FREE eBook; 20 Minute Guide to Investing (top right of the page). If you like what you’re reading, sign up for my RSS feed or email subscription and follow me on twitter so you get the word immediately.

What makes you feel wealthy?

image credit; J.J. Henry

    20 Comments

  1. My most enjoyable experiences were always free! Family, friends or just human experiences while traveling is far better and special than anything else. Something as simple as a family dinner where there is a lot of laughter is better than anything. I treasure that my children want to talk to us and be with us. It is truly priceless!

    krantcents

    September 6, 2011

  2. I have never tried playing tennis and i have heard it is quite hard…

    Anjie

    September 7, 2011

  3. I love this post. I too enjoy tennis, a lot. However, I only play on local courts and I do not ‘dress’ to play tennis.

    It is so true that quite often, the more down to earth people are much more friendly. I wrote about this the other day when I had visited my old neighborhood to watch a soccer game. The city is lower middle class and yet everyone said hello as I walked by and everyone was just nice. Then I got home to where I live and it is everyone living shut-in their houses. When I go for a walk I might get a little nod, but that is about it.

    Can I come play tennis with you at the park?

    Everyday Tips

    September 7, 2011

  4. The question “what makes you feel wealthy?” reminds me of a thread from a long time ago in which some of us were discussing The True Luxuries of life today. One woman came on the thread and said: “A lasting marriage!”

    That one really stuck with me. I mean no insult to anyone who has experienced divorce. My point is that a lasting marriage is a blessing of more importance than a whole big bunch of money.

    We all get some things and we all miss out on some things. I didn’t hit the money jackpot but I hit the marriage jackpot. When I feel tempted to complain about the money stuff, I need to remind myself of that.

    Rob

    Rob Bennett

    September 7, 2011

  5. @Krantcents and Rob- Experiences, family, and those intangibles are so important. I agree that it’s really important to keep them in the forefront of one’s mind! It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s irreplacable and intangible.
    @Everyday-I totally understand your situation.Warmth and inclusiveness has nothing to do with money. I’ll play tennis with you any time :)

    Barb

    September 7, 2011

  6. True that, Barb! It sounds like you guys had a pretty awesome time at the courts. I don’t really believe GNP and other such figures since they don’t measure the true wealth of an economy, which can’t necessarily be summed up in one statistic. Put the power of money back in the hands of the people and let them make the decisions is what I believe in.

    Invest It Wisely

    September 7, 2011

  7. You know, the kingdom of Bhutan measures “gross national happiness” as separate from its GNP. You can argue about how well “happiness” can be quantified, but the fact remains: Bhutan is making a statement that GNH is as important as GNP.

    Paula @ AffordAnything.org

    September 7, 2011

  8. @Invest-Kevin, could you forward that comment to the US gov? It might help us out of this financial morass we are in!
    @Paula-I read about the GNH as well, and think Bhutan has something with that metric! Although a financial writer, I certainly believe after a certain point, “money can never buy happiness.”

    Barb Friedberg

    September 8, 2011

  9. Great post Barb. We like to do a lot of different things that don’t cost money either. Just the other day we went for a walk and took a frisbee to a park nearby and played frisbee golf. We had so much fun. I told my hubby it was like we were dating again. It was so nice to be outside and get some fresh and not spend a dime.

    Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter

    September 8, 2011

  10. tennis is a great activity. i just played over the past week, before the rains started. not only is it a great workout, you get to converse/bond with someone. much better than the gym in my opinion.

    1step

    September 8, 2011

  11. @Miss T- I love frisbee golf. I admit the last time we played was on a summer vacation to Colorado and we played on a mountain! So fun.
    @1st step-Definitely less boring than the gym! And it’s outside:)
    @Julie-So glad you picked up on the message that tennis and wealth is for everyone.

    Barb

    September 8, 2011

  12. Nicely written, Barb.
    Reminds of my days coaching pee-wee soccer at a sandlot league in the rougher part of town, versus later years watching my sons play in a more uptown rec plus league. Definitely a change in temperature… downwards.

    101 Centavos

    September 8, 2011

  13. I miss tennis! I use to be pretty good at it when I was younger and in better shape. My buddy and I use to compete against each other, and even among our other friend we wouldn’t want to play with them because we were better (at playing the game).

    Same with lifting weight, if someone was far below what we would lift, it took too long to adjust the weight downward.

    Money Reasons

    September 8, 2011

  14. My friends always say, “Do you the difference between people with tattoos and people without tattoos… People with tattoos don’t care if others have them or not.” Interesting in its simplicity and truth.

    The GNP is a useful economic indicator in this day and age, especially when comparing macroeconomics, but it was never meant as a measure of any sort of microeconomical situations such as household happiness. Anyone who seen it that way should probably read some economy 101 stuff. Oh and Bhutan measures its national happiness separately because they are a very poor country, NOT because of any statement. It is politically smart for them to claim people are happy, but how can you possibly quantify happiness or compare it to wealth produced by a country (GNP). You just did an excellent job explaining that very point Barb!

    My University Money

    September 9, 2011

  15. I know for certain that my neighbors with the country club membership had money problems…not to say all country club members do, but it’s not so cut and dry.

    I voted for you by the way. Good Luck.

    I love small communities. They are so much more welcoming than big sterile developments. Sounds like you’re settling in just fine.

    First Gen American

    September 9, 2011

  16. It does seem like wealthier areas are all about less interaction or more privacy. My parents moved to a more lower/middle income area a few years ago and all of the neighbors know each other and look out for each other. Their previous neighborhood was a bit more upper class (although we had one of the few one-story small houses in the area) and we had no idea who lived on our block. Wonder why this happens?

    The $60K Project

    September 9, 2011

  17. @101-I like the metaphor, “change in temperature.” Very descriptive.
    @Money-Yea,we are just getting back into playing, after a few years off. It is great to be playing again.
    @Tushar-Echo that, free is wonderful. Off to a “free” community festival today.
    @University-Thanks for adding to the discussion, all valid points.
    @first-Thank you for the vote. As you implied, everything is not as it seems on the outside.
    @$60k-I don’t get it. Our prior neighborhodd was filled with McMansions and few kids out playing in the huge yards. Here, in the condo complex, the parking lots and walkways are filled with little ones running around and playing. I love it!

    Barb

    September 10, 2011

  18. This is probably the greatest impressive blogs Ive read through in a really quite a while. The amount of related information in here’s astonishing, as if you essentially had written the book on the topic. Your blog is great for everyone who wants to be familiar with this unique content more. Fantastic things; please continue the good work!

    Dewey Errera

    September 15, 2011

  19. These are one of the facts of life, I guess – The economics of life. It’s pretty complex.

    Andrew

    mortgage lender dallas

    November 23, 2011

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