Parting with money is difficult in most circumstances.
But if we trade money for something we really want, it can bring a certain amount of pleasure.
Washington Post columnist George Will once talked of “consensual transactions,” to differentiate between those in the private sector and taxes, which no one likes.
But there are many different feelings we can have when parting with our money. Not all “consensual transactions” are made with pleasure.
Hated transactions in the extreme are forced transactions, like taxes and fines. When someone robs you, and forces you to give him money, that’s another forced transaction.
Other transactions that displease to a lesser degree. If one’s car or refrigerator breaks down, the transaction to repair or replace it is not necessarily forced, but they are less than “consensual.” One would have difficulty living without refrigeration or transportation, so one must do what one must do. They can leave the consumer vulnerable, because circumstances dictate a purchase, at almost any cost.
Other transactions give you something you need, but anger you because of the cost. Gasoline, utilities and the like can cost you too much. Again, it’s difficult to live without those services. These are the expenses you look to minimize. Paying less for necessities can bring a certain amount of pleasure.
Consensual transactions in earnest might be the cup of coffee you buy each morning, or the decadent pastry you might buy with it. You don’t think about the cost, only the pleasure you’ll receive after consumption. These costs, though, don’t seem much at the time, but can really add up over time. Making your own coffee at home, or buying pastry in a grocery store — if you must eat pastry — can give you just as much short-term pleasure at a lower cost.
Real pleasure transactions might be that dream vacation you want to take. They might be that big-screen TV or other gadget that you’d always wanted. Sometimes, you want things so badly it doesn’t matter what they cost.
But these pleasure transactions can lull you into paying more than you should, or can lull you into buying something you really don’t need, or can’t afford. Make sure that purchases in this realm fit well into your income. Also, don’t scrimp on things like saving for retirement to buy a big-screen TV or take a dream vacation. You’ll pay dearly for that down the road, if you do.
It boils down to looking for value in every transaction. It also comes down to behavior and choices. Good behavior and smart choices can keep more of your money in your hands. Don’t go without affordable pleasures, but don’t overdo them either.
We all would like to earn more, and spend less. For one of the best ways to do that, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Pleasure abounds when more money comes, and stays, in your hands.
So not every “consensual transaction,” as Will might define it, is desired or pleasant. If you are in business, you would love people to find pleasure in giving you their money. Make sure if you have to work with less-pleasant transactions that you minimize the displeasure. If you work with pleasurable transactions, take advantage with care. People don’t want to feel ripped off, no matter what they are buying. Learn to take “no” for an answer, and don’t try to sell someone upgrades they don’t need or want.
If you collect taxes or fines, ease the payer’s discomfort as much as possible.
Not all transactions are consensual. Let’s make sure yours are, at least, sensible.