Valuing Things vs Meaning

I'm currently reading Alchemy, a fascinating book by Rory Sutherland that I'm not sure how to describe. Part marketing, part economics, part psychology. 

I came across the following this week:

"We don't value things; we value their meaning. What they are is determined by the laws of physics, but what they mean is determined by the laws of psychology."

Sitting nearby me right now, and pictured above, are a set of hand-recorded, hardbound journals of accounting expenses from an auto dealership dated from 1924. I don't necessarily love cars, nor accounting - but I keep it. And enjoy looking at it periodically.


Because it's from my great-grandfather P.N. Hogg and his car dealership in Atglen, PA. 

I'm relatively confident there is negligible economic value to these books - but I ascribe a great deal of meaning to them, because family lineage interests me, as does the theme of entrepreneurship in both my Mom's and Dad's sides of the family (and my wife's side as well). 

And the same goes with other things in our life. The 401k balance, the emergency fund, the family camp up in the mountains. What makes them valuable isn't only what they represent on our balance sheet - it's what they represent to our values. Freedom, or security, or family memories. 

So next time you're tallying up your personal balance sheet - or looking around your office - keep in mind not just the value of the thing, but the value you ascribe to it.
Interesting Resources

1. A Wealth of Common Sense - Why the IPO Market Is Different This Time (Reading time: 4 minutes) 
Initial Public Offerings (IPO's) are when a formerly privately held company is listed on a public stock exchange for the first time, and anyone can buy it. They look like quite an exciting idea - finding the next Amazon or Microsoft or Apple. And in 2019 we saw a number of big names IPO (Slack, Pinterest, Zoom, WeWo-- umm, nevermind). But just because something is exciting doesn't mean it's a great investment. From 1980 - 2017 more than 8,300 stocks went public - but over the ensuing 3 years, underperformed the market by nearly 18% in total. The real money to be potentially made is investing in these companies before their list publicly at all - which is difficult, at best. 

2. Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way (Book)
"Blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive." I'm re-reading this book currently, and was struck again by these words, which actually lose some of their power if explained much more. Process the words in your own mind and think how they could apply in your own life. And go get the book if they really resonate. 

3. CalibratingCapital - Financial Addiction (Reading time: 5 minutes)

Recently, I was reminded how I'm addicted to caffeine - which led, naturally, to me thinking of how this applies to finances. I created a top of mind, non-exhaustive list of things that we all could potentially be addicted to in our financial lives - and how we can tell if we're addicted or not. If we were to lose them, would we be disappointed - or would we be devastated? 
Did anything come to mind in your own life that might not have much (or maybe it has a ton!) of "economic" value, but has tremendous (or maybe very little!) personal meaning to you?

This subject really fascinates me, and I would love to hear your thoughts. Just hit reply.

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