Boys will be boys

boy and his toys

Being a personal finance blogger and someone who is working toward financial independence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I regularly discuss money related topics with Mrs. T. Unlike many households, money isn’t a tabooed topic in our household. I believe it will be very important that we continue this practice once Baby T1.0 and T2.0 are older. Since we are staying with Mrs. T’s parents while we are in Denmark and they know about this little blog of mine, they have been very curious about the blog itself. Naturally this has given us a number of opportunities to discuss about money and investment. The other night my father-in-law came up with a quote which I  thought was simply brilliant.

Boys will be boys. All it changes through time is the size and price of their toys.

(Sorry the quote is perhaps a bit sexist but please allow me to go on…)

If you think for a moment about the quote you will realize that it is very accurate.

The progression of boys and their toys

When we are young some of these toys that we play with are…

Most of them do not cost a lot of money and are small in size. Often we get these toys as birthday and Christmas gifts.

Then we grow out of childhood and become teenagers. Toys that we play with become more complex, slightly bigger, and slightly more expensive.

We play with these toys by ourselves and with other teenagers; we learn how to share and how to play with other people. Quickly we learn the concept of asking for more toys to satisfy our wants.

Eventually we grow out of teenage years and we enter adulthood. As we start working and start figuring how to be an adult our tastes for toys change. Most of us no longer play with “childish” toys. We now have our man-toys to play with.

  • Cars
  • Motor bikes
  • Laptops or computers
  • Electronic gadgets
  • Smartphones
  • Golf clubs
  • Art collections

Once we get closer to 40’s or 50’s, some of us begin to feel stressed and worried. Because it seemed that we have not done anything with our lives. Therefore, mid-lief crisis sets in and we are wired to buy uber-expensive toys to distract ourselves from reality. This resulted in the purchase of

  • Uber expensive sports cars
  • High end expensive sports bikes
  • Expensive recreational boats
  • A McMansion (if that counts as a toy)

Like my father-in-law said. Boys will be boys. All it changes through time is the size and price of their toys. The size and price of the toys get bigger and more expensive. It’s like a never-ending game that we are playing with ourselves.

How to avoid buying more and more expensive stuff?

Luckily I am here to help you avoid this fallacy of buying more and more expensive stuff as you get older. The solution?

  • Separate wants and needs. Does purchasing this item satisfy a need or a want? When you can differentiate the two this is when you can start avoid buying unnecessary and expensive stuff.
  • Learn to give. Rather than consuming and buying simply to satisfy your wants, learn to use giving as a way to fulfill your wants. Giving those in need like donating food, time, and money will create more satisfactions than the mindless purchasing of more expensive stuff.
  • List non-material things in your life that make you happy.  There are non-material things in your life that can’t be bought that will make you happy. It’s a great idea to list them out and figure out what’s important to you in life. When you have a list it is easy to realize that happiness doesn’t rely on materialist things.
  • Spend time away from your toys. Spending time away from your toys will give you perspectives that you don’t need your toys to enjoy life. Happiness is not a fish you can catch, it comes from within.

Conclusion

It is totally fine to remain a boy at heart. But don’t let the desire of wanting more toys to cause you any financial burden or hardship. Controlling your wants is a vital learning process in the quest for better personal finance and eventually financial Independence. There is so much more to life than the never-ending-mindless-spending-and-consumption.

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Joe
    December 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

    I hope you and your family had a great Christmas. I splurged a bit this year and got some very cool Star Wars toys for my kid. Toys are much cooler these days than when we were kids. Although, kids will figure out a way to have fun even if they don’t have all the latest toys.
    It’s tough to avoid buying more expensive toys especially when your friends have nice stuff. Buying nice toys are okay, but you just have to make sure to take care of your financial foundation first. A lot of people spends way too much on material things and don’t save enough for the future.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 8:54 am

      We had a great Christmas but got sick (more on that later). Star Wars toys are cool the little guy doesn’t get the idea that more will be coming. Agree that it’s tough to avoid buying more expensive toys when your friends have nice stuff. There’s nothing wrong with buying nice second hand stuff to save some money. And yes, if you have your finances in check it’s fine spending some money on toys. It’s when people don’t have their finances in balance and still buying expensive toys, that’s when they get into serious troubles.

  • Reply
    brian503
    December 28, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Wishing you and the family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! All about having a plan for your money and not buying material things that you don’t have the cash for, or don’t value. We can still enjoy toys no matter what age we are, as long as they don’t impact the other goals we are trying to achieve.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Thanks Brian, hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! It’s definitely about having a plan and execute the plan.

  • Reply
    Primal Prosperity
    December 28, 2016 at 11:24 am

    You should watch the documentary “I AM” by Tom Shadyac. He is a very successful Hollywood Director, but he realized that all his toys weren’t making him any happier. So, he sold off most of his stuff and downsized drastically, including commuting by bicycle. It is a wonderful concept of what is truly the good life, and I think your whole family will enjoy it.

    When I was married to my first husband, we had all the toys…. airplanes (yes, real ones); his and hers motorcycles, plus and third one for off-roading; three cars for a 2 person family; my own music room with all the instruments for a full band…. etc… When I left him, I downsized drastically and have continued to downsize ever since. I’m waaaaay happier without all the toys. I feel a physical and mental freedom that money can’t buy, and I know I can rent anything that I want. Plus, I have found that the things that truly make me happy, are not things that I can “own”… nature, community, libraries, movement, intellectual discussions, love, sleep, etc….

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Sounds like a great documentary that I need to watch. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

      Wow airplanes as part of your collection of toys? That’s crazy! Some people need their material things but I believe the sooner we can get away from attachment from these things, the happier we will be.

  • Reply
    freedom40guy
    December 28, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Hope you had a great Christmas. I certainly enjoy some of my toys – but I’ve also learned over time that for me, I get lots of enjoyment and satisfaction out of some pretty simple things – like books, spending time outdoors, playing basketball, etc. None of these things costs much money. Often at work my colleagues ask if I play golf. When they hear I don’t they inevitably tell me I should start. I always say I haven’t because I’m afraid I’ll like it too much and then go and spend all my money on a sport that doesn’t even make me much healthier!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Hope you had a great Christmas too. The key, I believe, is finding a balance between having some toys and delayed gratification.

  • Reply
    ChrisCD
    December 28, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Another sexist generalization:

    Trauma Vs. Drama

    Boys usually require more bandaging bruises, scrapes, cuts, and breaks. Girls usually require more “bandaging” hurt feelings. So in finance it could be considered a one off charge (trip to the ER to set the shoulder) vs. on going expenses to repair the heart (multiple trips to Starbucks, nights on the town, etc.). One of charges usually end up being less than subscription/recurring fees.

    cd :O)

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 8:58 am

      That’s an interesting generalization. Something to think about. 🙂

  • Reply
    ambertreeleaves
    December 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Great conclusion with useful tips on how to be happy with life without wanting stuff…
    Check out also the toys for boys book. Maybe buying that book can help not to buy the stuff inside…

    Right now, I am working hard on my need muscle. My Nexus 5 will not get the next Google upgrade. Nexus 5X dors. It is “only” 300 EUR… a bargain, right? and it comes with a finger scanner… why wait…? Well, the Nexus is still fine, still gets security updates and still takes pictures… that is why i have to wait…

    Happy 2017

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Funny you mentioned about Nexus. My Galaxy S5 from work is on its way out so need to look for a replacement phone soon. But I probably will get something in a reasonable price range so I don’t have to pay out of pocket. Definitely get your reasoning for waiting if I had to pay for my own phone. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    December 28, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Loved this post Tawcan! My boys mostly got used toys for Christmas this year, but we did get a couple beginner lego sets from the Grandparents.

    I’m big on building toys, (like Lego’s) so I know I’ve got a bit of a soft spot there. I’m hoping we can teach the boys to use their imaginations for entertainment, instead of money.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 29, 2016 at 9:01 am

      That’s awesome that your boys got a lot of used toys for Christmas. Baby T1.0 got a number of lego sets too but mostly because we’re in Denmark. 🙂

      Although he’s only 3 he manged to put together some lego sets meant for 6-12 (with some help of course). It’s also cool that I got to play with lego at the same time. Brought back some childhood memories for sure. Lego is great. 🙂

  • Reply
    Route To Retire
    December 29, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Great post, Tawcan! I don’t have boys, but I was one of those myself back in the day – my wife still says I am!

    Definitely a tough trap to help your kids avoid as they get older. My daughter isn’t focused on the boy toys, but she sees a lot of toy commercials where she can’t help think she needs whatever it is. The good news is that my wife and I are pretty good at helping her focus on spending time away from her toys… we’re far from perfect but it usually goes pretty well.

    Hope you have a great New Year!!

    — Jim

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 31, 2016 at 7:53 am

      That’s great that you’re helping your daughter focusing on spending time away from her toys.

  • Reply
    Physician on FIRE
    December 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    My Dad used to wear a tee-shirt that said “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

    There will be one big auction some day, hopefully not anytime soon.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      December 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      That’s certainly an interesting choice of t-shirt.

  • Reply
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    December 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I think it’s totally fine to discuss money openly in the family as you get to address the problem head on or immediately, and I think your kids will get used to this once they’re growing up and will be financially responsible. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Mrs Smelling Freedom
    December 31, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Girls like expensive toys too 😉

    I totally agree that money talk should not be taboo. In fact, the more openly we talk about it the better. That way our kids will know that money does not grow on trees and that building wealth takes sacrifice and effort.

    Happy New Year Tawcan!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Yes the post could have easily said “Girls will be Girls.” 😉

      Agree that money talk should not be taboo. We should all openly talk and discuss about money topics.

  • Reply
    Can an Hour on a Jet Ski Help Him Make Smarter Spending Decisions? - Make Smarter Decisions
    December 31, 2016 at 9:09 am

    […] he’s been waiting to be old enough to do is drive a jet ski. As Tawcan posted a few days ago, “Boys will be boys” and as boys enter adulthood – their taste for toys change. Jet ski’s certainly fit in […]

  • Reply
    Dividend Life
    December 31, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Tawcan,

    It’s funny how money is a taboo / uncomfortable subject. Yet it’s part of everyone’s lives.

    No toys here for Christmas. We just went out for a meal. We have pretty much everything we want so buying gifts for the sake of it is a bit pointless.

    Best wishes for 2017 and safe travels!
    -DL

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      That’s awesome for no gift. Hopefully you were able to give to people that are less fortunate.

  • Reply
    Sanjib
    January 1, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Hey Tawcan,
    A very Happy New Year. And its amazing to know that I am not the only one out there with a fetish for expensive “toys” that I totally splurge on. I so needed an article like this to sort out things in my head and plan out my finances better. It is true that if God has graced us with an ability to pay our bills, we must respect that money and not waste it in futile expenditures. Once in a while it is okay to treat ourselves, but we must definitely use your idea and charter a plan for our expenses as a resolution this year.

    Hope you have an amazing year ahead.
    Sanjib

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      January 1, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      It’s OK to have expensive toys, as long as they don’t impact your overall financial health. It’s a shame that many people are getting expensive toys on the cost of getting into consumer debt.

  • Reply
    Dividends Down Under
    January 17, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Good conclusion Tawcan. It is a funny thing, the obsession with expensive things. I can think of many cheaper things that I’d enjoy a lot more than all the expensive things you mentioned. Oh well – more for the investment account I suppose. 🙂

    Tristan

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