For a while I resisted the idea of turning our backyard into a playground for our kids (ages 6 and 3). Virtually all of our neighbours either have a swing-set, trampoline, or elaborate playhouse in their backyard. I didn’t want to spend the money, and I justified it with these not-so-rational reasons:

  1. I never had a swing-set or playhouse as a kid and I turned out fine.
  2. Why can’t they just use their imaginations?
  3. Just send them out front to play in the street like we did when we were kids.
  4. I won’t be able to mow the lawn around all the extra equipment.
  5. All the neighbours have some kind of play-set, just send the kids over to their houses.

My wife, not one to give in to my irrational frugality, persisted that we needed something to keep the kids entertained, active, and out of the house. She also wanted to be able to keep an eye on them and not have to worry about a petulant 3-year-old running off down the street unsupervised.

Ours kids had their eyes on this modest backyard play-set from Costco, but we compromised with a swing-set from Canadian Tire – on sale for $159.99 – and an 8-foot trampoline from Jysk for $199.

Backyard playground

David Chilton used the term “joy units” to describe the relationship between the price we pay for something and how much value we derive from that item. The first moments of a new purchase is worth a lot of joy units, but our affection usually wanes over time.

We purchased and assembled the swing-set and trampoline two weeks ago and since then our kids have enjoyed countless hours playing in the backyard (without fighting!). I’m willing to admit that our new backyard playground will provide infinitely more joy units then some of the throw-away toys that kids are used to getting for birthdays and Christmas. Even if it takes me a few more minutes to mow and trim the grass.

This week’s recap:

On Monday I used an analogy from my days in the hospitality industry to explain how to engineer better outcomes for investors.

On Wednesday Marie asked if you could feed your family for $5 a day.

And on Friday I looked at the steep price of consumer loyalty – your data and privacy.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I show how I earn 11.5% cash back on gas purchases by using the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card at Co-op gas stations.

Weekend Reading:

With that reluctant purchase fresh in my mind, I enjoyed John Heinzl’s article about when saving money becomes an irrational obsession.

As prices at Disney World continue to climb, critics say the iconic theme park has moved its target market from the middle-class to the upper 10 percent of family incomes.

A great piece in the Globe and Mail about the effect of money on empathy, greed, and ethical behaviour.

If you have big dreams and small savings, read this article by Paula Pant on the Afford Anything blog.

Sandi Martin explains the real reason why budgets don’t work.

Alexandra Macqueen looks at the research that shows whether spending declines as we age.

The U.S. is set to raise interest rates for the first time in years and Adam Mayers shares what that turning point means for us.

Ben Carlson wonders if retiring baby boomers will ruin future market returns.

A leading expert on retirement income planning lists 7 financial challenges that must be taken into account when planning for retirement.

Is retirement overrated? You might be surprised by the answer.

One of the NHL’s most hated players talks about his transition to retirement and life after hockey.

Bruce Yaccato of the National Post says you’d have to be crazy to buy real estate right now.

We’ve done away with the penny, now it’s time to end the Canada Savings Bond.

And finally, Dan Wesley shares some simple money rules that are often overlooked.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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