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Dollars Per Unit of Fun

Greater Than Financial | By Wakefield Hare | Fri May 27 2022

How much fun did you have this week? Did you do anything enjoyable or amusing? Do you find joy in seeing other people have fun? Does your pleasure go down when you see that someone else is having “more fun” than you? Have you had a rich or fun experience recently you didn’t post on social media? 

How much is the joy of an experience stripped when you realize how much the experience cost? That could be cost in money or cost in the hours of the people who had to work to pull it off for you.

Rich, fun experiences seem harder than ever to come by. Why? I think it has a lot to do with social media. There are two constant pressures on families today: the pressure to live up to the hype of others’ experiences (keep up with the Joneses) and the pressure to capture and share our experiences so others will see (make the Joneses work to keep up with me). And once you start playing the “keeping up” games, you better have DEEP pockets.

Marketers are skilled at convincing us what fun, meaningful experiences should look like for our families. But if we are getting our ideas from marketers, you know it’s going to end up costing a lot of money. Instead, you need to establish your own clear framework, or way of thinking, for creating fun experiences for yourself and your family.

Think back on the best experiences of your life, whether as a child, student, adult, or senior. I’m guessing some of those memories came with hefty price tags. Trip to another continent, a night of lavish luxury, a week at a Disney resort. 

But other experiences we remember didn’t cost a dime. Getting head to toe covered in mud with cousins, winning a basketball game, sitting around the dinner table laughing with family til tears. 

Which past experience did you value most? How will you figure out how to spend for future experiences?

The best tool I’ve used is a simple formula: dollars per unit of fun. Here’s how it works. Make a list, or have your kids/spouse make a list, of all of the fun experiences you can think of. Set a time, say for 3 minutes, and don’t stop thinking and writing options until time is up.

Next, go through the list and have each member of the family rate those experiences on a 10 point scale, with 1 being the least fun, and 10 being the most.

Once you have your rankings, then write down the approximate costs of each experience. Don’t get nitty gritty, just guesstimate for this exercise.

Finally, simply divide the approximate cost of each experience by its units of fun, and you have effectively figured out the most rewarding experiences you can do as a family.  My kids rated a weeklong trip to Walt Disney World Resort as a 10 on the fun scale, but that would cost us probably around $5,000, so that would be $500/per unit of fun. Those same kids rated an adventurous evening on the 102 River beach as an 8, with the approximate cost being $50 if we get some great campfire food. That cooks out to $6.25 per unit of fun!

Now, if we do the 102 River once per month, the fun scale measurement would certainly go down. This doesn’t mean we’ll NEVER do a Disney trip or an ocean trip or a ski trip. But it’s incredibly freeing because it causes us to pause long enough as a family to realize some of the richest experiences don’t cost a boatload, and in many cases, they are downright inexpensive. 

Would love for you to share your lists with me Here’s to a rich life!