Kim and I just returned from a speaking engagement in Florida. This was the view from our hotel room on Clearwater Beach. When we checked in, our original reservation was listed as “garden view,” but we were offered the option of upgrading to an “ocean view” room. As appealing as “garden view” sounds, I can assure you that it is usually hotel speak for “ugly air conditioning units view.” Because we stay at this particular chain of hotels often, the cost of upgrading for both nights of our stay was $40.
Now, many people would stay with the “garden view” room, pocket the $40, and rationalize that at least they were near the ocean. A few years ago, that would have been my thought process too. But that all changed when I read a semi-controversial book by Randy Gage, “Why You’re Dumb, Sick, and Broke.” I also had the chance to hear him speak last year in San Diego at the National Speakers Association Convention.
One of his key stories was about a trip he and his mastermind group took to Tahiti. For lodging, they rented a glass-bottomed bungalow, which was stationed directly over the water and offered spectacular views of the brilliantly-colored fish swimming below. He noticed that there were plenty of similar bungalows left unrented, while all of the beach bungalows (with no glass bottoms and no spectacular views) were booked solid. As you might expect, the bungalows on the beach were a couple hundred dollars less.
Randy was perplexed. He noted that it’s not cheap to go to Tahiti, and you don’t usually go there often. After investing all that time and money and effort, why in the world would you chump out on the best view for a few hundred dollars? He chalked it up to a disabling mentality of lack thinking.
That story and the point he made really stuck with me. I try to keep it in mind often. This mindset is what inspired Kim and I to try parasailing last December. It was on our life list as something we eventually wanted to do, but it was pretty pricey. We did it anyway. After all, who knows what life will bring? Maybe that would have been our only shot. At the time, it was tough to drop that kind of money — money we didn’t have. But I can tell you this: the view we enjoyed floating above the Gulf of Mexico was priceless, and seeing dolphins swimming below us is a memory I’ll never forget. And you know what? We’ve never missed the money.
So, when offered the chance to get the “ocean view” room, we went with the upgrade. And we milked it for all it was worth. We enjoyed watching the sun melt into the Gulf of Mexico from the comfort of our bed. We fell asleep and awoke to the soft sounds of the ocean surf. And I wrote most of this post from the balcony overlooking the white sandy beach.
Don’t get me wrong; too many people are buried under a mountain of credit card debt primarily because they have no self control and recklessly buy whatever their little heart desires. I’m NOT advocating that. Kim and I operate on a fairly strict personal budget. I think we’re a dying breed. If there are any of you out there who are more likely to put the dollar you find on the sidewalk in a piggy bank rather than a vending machine, my message is simple:
Live a little.
Those little splurges make life way more fun. And the view is simply breathtaking.
It’s always worth it to get the ocean view, unless you particularly like the view of the dumpster at the Holiday Inn next door. Life is supposed to be fun!
We had a very good family friend who was realtively welathy and successful. He owned his own business that made mirrors and lamps and sold them to big stores at a good profit. He built the company from the ground up and it was truly a family business.
One day my mom asked Harry when he was going to retire…he was about 50 at the time. He told her he wanted to retire then, but he felt like he’d work for a few more years, pocket a little more money, and then live the good life.
A few months later, Harry was diagnosed with leukemia and died 6 weeks from his diagnosis date. He never retired.
He left a 50 year old widow with a lot of money, but not enough memories.
Yes, go for the ocean view room!
Thanks for sharing! A truly great and poignant lesson for us all…
Great post and I want to read the book you mentioned. It sounds like a winner.
My 16 year old son got a job a couple of months ago and is enjoying seeing a paycheck every two weeks. When he got his first one I asked him what he intended to do with it. Having been raised in a frugal family (that just became debt free except for the house!), he said he would tithe and put the rest in the bank to save for college and a car. I commended him for his wisdom, but also made a suggestion that he take a little bit out of each paycheck to invest in just enjoying life. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and a burned-out-on-this-working-thing boy. Thankfully, he took my advice and it’s a joy to see the big smile on his face when he uses his very own money to do something he really enjoys.
I think too often we pass up the little pleasures along the way because we are so focused on that “big” picture thing down the road that may not even come. It’s great to have goals, but not if we miss out on the best parts of life along the way.
Great points, Bonita! You provided your son with great advice, too. A good mix of responsibility and enjoyment of life.
Steven Sauke says
Great reminders! This article brought back happy memories from when I lived in the Philippines. We rode glass-bottom boats once in a while…the coral reefs were breathtaking…and sometimes we would bring our snorkling gear and go off the side of the boat into the water. WOW!! Talk about enjoying God’s creation!
Kent Graziano says
Great Post! Sadly many years ago my wife and I were the ones in the beach side hut in Tahiti instead of over the water. Yup, that was a dumb move. It was still a great trip but being over that water would have made it even better. And who knows if we will ever get back. We have learned our lesson though and now when we vacation with our little boy, I will spring for the nicer room and rent the surfside umbrella and chairs.
Along the same same point Bonita made, just last week my son (soon to be 6) wanted to count the money in his piggy bank since it was full and very heavy. Before we counted we agreed that he would split the money between charity (of his choice), savings, and buying something he wanted. Even splits. So 1/3 is getting sent to our church, World Wildlife Fund, and the Humane Society, 1/3 is back in the piggy bank, and the other third was used to buy a Star Wars Lego kit. The left overs from that purchase is in his wallet to spend in San Antonio (at Sea World) this weekend!
Hey, it’s always good when we can live and learn, Kent. Great lesson on teaching your kid about money, too. I hope he grows up to be Treasury Secretary someday.