The summer is county and state fair season. As we rush past the various barns and buildings with our cotton candy and fried dough, we glimpse the numerous contests going on in the show rings. To the uninitiated, it can be hard to tell the difference as to why one animal won over another or why one quilt did better when you preferred the fabric and pattern on another. Nonetheless, from baked goods to brown cows, the ribbons won represent pride and accomplishment. The ultimate in bragging rights. Yes, there are monetary premiums, but often they don’t even cover the first day’s feeding. It’s about the competition and being part of a community.
What you don’t see behind the ribbons, is the effort. We are talking years of effort in many cases, great expense, hard work, unrelenting diligence, blood, sweat, and tears. Effort applied every single day, 365 days a year. Farms take no breaks because it’s the weekend. Animals always need to be fed, watered, groomed, and their stalls cleaned. Some of the hardest working kids I have ever seen are 4-H members. Congratulations one and all!
We go to the fair and spend countless dollars to win stuffed animals that we could have bought for $5. We buy food that isn’t exactly healthy and then spin ourselves silly on rides. We clap along to music and watch a wide range of entertainment from daredevils and demolition derbies. While we have a good time, volunteers are taking their vacations to make sure the fair experience is amazing for each visitor, and we don’t always appreciate these sacrifices. Take the time to say thank you!
As these experiences often do, they remind me of financial life:
- There are those who enjoy the fruits of their labors because over the years they applied consistent efforts to work toward their objectives such as retirement or education. These people get the blue ribbon of comfort and security.
- There are those who go for the thrills and shiny new objects and don’t think about the opportunity cost, such as paying $100 to win a cheap stuffed animal that rips the minute you get it home. (Honestly, where does one put a giant teddy bear anyway? Today’s prize is tomorrow’s trash pile).
When the calls of the barkers on life’s midway tempt you, a financial advisor may help to provide discipline and balance to help you reach your long-term objectives.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Seek advice from a qualified professional before taking any action regarding your finances.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place
Albany, NY 12203
(518) 867-4000 x105