Better Value

When I was a child, I was constantly taught the value of things, moral values, even the maths problems said, “The value of x is 2” etc.

But as I grew up, ‘value’ changed to ‘better value’ and this is different to any values you have ever been taught. Better value means paying or doing the same and getting more- food, travel, petrol, tickets, clothes, shares, houses; whatever you may be buying or buying into.

This is reflected not just in the things we buy but also in the things we do: A school outing is now an educational excursion, an office picnic is a team building day, coffee with peers and competitors is networking, texting 3 friends at the same time is social media. Being the quick learner I am, I have wholeheartedly taken to this concept.

I have supersized every fast food meal, taken friends to the bogof (buy-one-get-one-free) lunch, drink, shoe sale and sometimes eaten both the free desserts myself. I have bought many clothes on special offers and am now the proud owner of clothes of every description, I suspect in some cases the entire colour range of socks, gloves, jackets and t-shirts that I would have never bought otherwise. In fact, they were such great value for money (every third item free) that I have bought clothes in sizes and colours that will never suit me. I have had stopovers in many cities, just because I could, at the price of the original ticket. Some of these places I’d never even heard of or actually wanted to visit.

Now a strange phenomenon seems to be taking place. The clothes in my wardrobe seem to be shrinking- I can no longer fit into the ones that were once my size. Some of the bigger sizes now seem more comfortable and I only have a few of those. Surely that is not value for money! So this better value makes me optimistic and doubtful all at the same time.

The better value concept also seems to be extended into loans and insurance. So in this chase for better value I have bought a house larger than I want, more expensive than I can afford, a car bigger than I need and a gym membership for 5 years that I will use for that first week in every new year. Well, everything was better value, just like that upsize for my daily coffee and the two extra stopovers to get value for my flight.

All this better value like the upsized coffee means more caffeine in my system every day, more fast food into my body, more clothes in my wardrobe, more mortgage on my savings, more housecleaning as my chores for the big house, more financial responsibility on my income and savings. As a result, I find myself overweight from the upsized meals and free side orders of chips. My heart races at the drop of a hat; medically not romantically – high blood pressure from the extra caffeine and financial burden. My friends and family think I am rich and try to sponge off me because they have seen my huge new house, svelte car and plush boat. Not to mention that I can now tick off many places and countries in the world, thanks to the unwanted stopovers. On seeing my medical report, the doctor himself told me to take drastic action. At the next visit, he wasn’t too impressed when I told him that I had gone out and bought funeral insurance.

Now at 45, I am wondering whether it will be better value for money, if I die before paying the second monthly instalment on my funeral insurance?

-Bewildered-

Factory Settings

Every morning, I drink a cup of responsibly-sourced coffee from some remote mountains. The caffeine jump-starts my body as some money from my coffee purchase goes towards the health and education of children in that remote coffee region. And so the multitasking begins as I rush through my morning routine, every day.

I watch what I eat, I eat what they advertise is good for me, thus I nourish and educate myself at the same time. I am paid, to know what I know and store in my brain what I read and use it effectively to dispense more information to other people. I try and use multimedia to educate myself every day about health, politics, corporations, parenting, sharemarkets, food, foreign countries, taxes, sales in my favourite shoe store.

All day, I feed my mind with endless information, news from the radio, articles online, podcasts in the car, gossip on coffee breaks at work. Plus, all the usual… newspapers, grapevines, magazines, newsletters. I look at social media photos to compare holidays, homes, car sizes, children’s achievements, their looks, dress sizes, ageing husbands and personal wrinkles. This who, what, where, when, how and why of everything from the eccentric neighbour to the reigning politicians affects my moods, my clothes, my appetite and my relationships. I try my best to store most of this information in my brain and on my laptop so that my phone can share it too.

Even my glasses multitask. Myopic glasses are also reading glasses and sunglasses with numerous prescriptions and tints on them. I do not have to waste time switching between glasses, sunglasses and reading glasses. All the time saved, is put towards gaining even more knowledge and information. Some of which I need and the rest, I must have, because I can.

I wear a device that tells me the time as it records my heart rate, blood pressure, steps I walk, stairs I climb and calories I burn; wearing a watch would be too simplistic,  monofunctional.

My phone has replaced my watch, diary, alarm clock, address book, camera, maps, torch, weather report, music system, shopping list, emails and credit cards. My handbag now, is much lighter but the demands on my time have become heavier. I am now, my own secretary, travel agent, photographer, DJ and I shop online, even for groceries. All this multitasking keeps my day full, my family life restless and my relationships dependent on that last post I ‘Liked.’

I thought multitasking would free up some time to be at peace but it only makes more demands on my time. By the time I go to bed every night, I am tired. My brain is full, it has been like a sponge all day.

Early every morning, I go to a meditation session where I pay to be guided to empty my mind like reverting to ‘Factory Settings’ on a smartphone.

And I can start all over again.

-Bewildered-