The perfection complex

In the May issue of NY Magazine, there is an article which asks “Are You Suffering from Perfection Anxiety?” , which quotes an article by AA Gill in a recent Vanity Fair (I’d provide a link, but it doesn’t come up easily – too much traffic?). Though I assume the article is more than a bit tongue-in-cheek, it got me thinking about “comparanomics”(definition: having what someone ELSE has be the foundation for what YOU spend your time – and money – pursuing). As one art expert in the article points out: the return on a $60M piece of art is likely to be…below $60M – but doesn’t that assume it’s measured strictly in terms of $? What if the return was measured in impact: say the purchasers decided that the coast of installing complex security systems (or hire a manager or dedicated security person to watch over the painting) in their new LA home was more than they needed to pay – especially since they only intended to spend a month or so here and there in LA. So they decided to leave it in the museum where it resides – on the condition that they could close down the museum a few times a year for a select gathering of their closest friends and family – to get together, socialize and celebrate their great taste in art. So now, they have a beautiful painting, they have one less thing to worry about protecting, they will gain extra benefit (or at least studies show they have the potential to) and happiness by DOING something with the art instead of just HAVING it, and the museum will still have people flocking to see the art (in fact, attendance may rise because of the publicity). So: return = $ cost of art + impact? As they say in the MasterCard ad: “priceless”. How would that affect the perfection complex, I wonder?


How many “variables” do you control?

There’s a lot to read about financial advice, investing and retirement – and as I read yet another article this week about “planning for retirement”, in which the author was suggesting that advisors adopt a model long used by institutions to plan pension obligations (“how did that work out?” I hear some of you asking – for another article but THAT issue is one of inflow.) and articulated 18 points, I paused and wrote two lists “things you can control” and “things you can’t control”. And guess what? There are 5 things you can control (things like: having no plan, overspending, trapping yourself into the “illiquidity box”) and 13 things you can’t (interest rates, inflation, the market – not to mention the length of your life and whether you will have a catastrophic health event). So, given that there are almost 3x as many things you CAN’T control than the things you CAN control, and given that THAT list is relatively short, it seems there are two choices: 1. give up because the things out of your control are overwhelming OR 2. do what you can and leave the 13 uncontrollable chips to fall where they may. Maybe because I’m an eternal optimist, I’ll choose to take the short list: doesn’t mean I won’t get frustrated about the long list and, in the end, the plan won’t be perfect – but I’m willing to give it a shot….

Surviving – actually thriving – in our economy

On Friday, our guest on ‘Money In Your Life’ was Meredith Elliott Powell – and what a great conversation it was! The premise of our radio show has been that in the world of money and advice about money, the conversation has been pretty one sided for a long time – for lots of different reasons, but it just has. (pause here while you think about it: how many times have you questioned financial advice you’ve been given if it didn’t feel right to you? How many of you bought a bigger house than you because you were caught up in the frenzy of the housing boom? Now, take a deep breath, consciously relax your jaw or shoulders and read on.). Meredith was a breath of fresh air – urging us to shift our thinking and embrace the “pull” rather than “push” economy (depends on which side of the equation you are on, but, basically, “pull” opportunities your way instead of waiting for them to find you. “Pull” your best deals to you by asking. Give it a try.