Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Opportunity Costs of a Saturday Night

So my old man comes to visit me.

"How's the career?"

"Fine, busy as snot."

"How's the dancing?"

"Fine, busy as snot."

'How's the running and hiking?"

"Fine, busy as snot, hell crazy hiking schedule planned for Montana"

"How's the love life?"

"Non-existent, busy as snot."

"So there are no lovelies in your life?"


"Why not?"

"I'm too busy with work, and if I get a break I'd rather play Raving Rabbids than go to the bar or dance club."

And this perplexed him a bit as to why his eldest would prefer to play a video game about rabbits than go to the local discotec and flirt with the ladies on a Saturday night. But my father, who was not trained in the Economic Arts, does not fully comprehend the concept of opportunity cost and expected rate of return which warranted a lesson in economics that I think we can all enjoy.

Picture if you will it tis a Saturday night, like it is at this very moment while I am writing.

You have this precious evening off without the reminding responsibility that you must go to work tomorrow. Most people view this as the best time of the week since they are truly, and very Americanly "free." So how you spend this time is very important as you would like to get the absolute most out of it. Leaving you, me and every other red blooded American bachelor out there with the classical, philosophical debate of our time;

"Do I go out and scope out chicks, or do I stay at home and play video games?"

Yes, this great and unsolvable question has plagued mankind for thousands of years. Ever since the Atari 2600 came out (thousands of years ago) bachelors of all colors, creeds, religions, regards, stripes and sizes have asked themselves;

"Do I stay in and play video games? Or do I try to hit on chicks?"

And you girls may mock us, but we truly do debate this in our minds. And more so than you may think.

When it comes to any other decision, we spend less time making it than we do the aforementioned. For example;

"Do I want Chipolte or Jimmy John's?" - Decision time 10 seconds. "which is closer?"

"Do I want Amber Bock or Miller Light?" - Decision time 7 seconds, "which is cheaper?"

"Do I want to hit a jazz club or a rave?" - Decision time 14 seconds, "what has the lower cover?"

But when it comes to a Saturday night and you've just recently purchased yourself a video game where you can beat cute little rabbits senselessly, that easily takes up 2 hours of contemplation.

And the reason is two fold;

Opportunity costs and expected rate of return.

It's MY Saturday night. This precious and rare time of the week where I am truly free. Now, do I go and spend it chasing down the local lovelies, trying to enchant them with some witticism or line, only to find myself $30 poorer and with a phone number that only has 6 digits or starts with "555" and maybe, MAYBE if I'm lucky land a date that isn't psycho? Or, do I look at that 6 pack of Samuel Adams in the fridge, remember I have Halo 2 and call the guys over to engage in a 10 hour, Sam Adams-sponsored Halo-killing-fest-extravaganza where I am guaranteed, GUARAN-freaking-TEED to;

1. Have a blast
2. Get drunk
3. Have a blast while getting drunk
4. Have a blast while getting drunk and blasting away my best friends with the plasma rifle
5. Spend at tops, TOPS, $7 on beer, and if lucky, I'll end up with a surplus of beer because they'll forget their beer as they go home half-inebriated.

The second issue is expected rate of return. Sure, I'd like to go to the local hoity toity bar and find myself a rich, Selma Hayek look alike, but that has not happened in the past 16 years, so I don't know why it would happen now. However, I am guranteed, GUARAN-freaking-TEED once again to have a good time with my buddies, playing video games, grilling, and having a beer.

And I think both the universal and age old paradox of what to do with a Saturday night and a rule of financial management governs both decisions in retirement planning and what you do with your Saturday night.

When you are young and foolish, you have all the time in the world. You can invest or engage in outlandishly risky ventures where the payoffs are high, but very unlikely. Invest in a hedge fund, trade options, do what you want, because you have all the time in the world. But as you get older, you need more for-sure things. You want that fixed income. You want that guaranteed rate of return with little to no risk. Therefore Saturday nights and portfolio management theory have much in common for as we wise men of bachelortude age, we look back at our youth and see how much time and money was wasted at the clubs and the bars. And when we did land a date, what kind of quality and caliber it was that we succeeded with.

And thus, in our old age, we realize that it's more important to get a rate of return than to effectively gamble hoping to win the lottery. That a night playing vids with the guys, watching a good flick, or heck, who knows, blogging about the opportunity costs of a Saturday night is going to provide us with a higher expected (and more often) realized rate of return than putting on the old gear and heading out to chase after some girls. Alas, therefore you can forgive if I return to playing my video game.

(Coincidentally, it is a REALLY funny video game. Here and here are examples of the game I'm playing. You don't even have to be drunk to enjoy it, besides how can you NOT play a video game with these guys;


Thart said...

I would have to agree with you on the Rayman Raving Rabbids being an insanely fun game, but the single player was kind of short, and in my case (married) don't always have people over to play multiplayer with.

Do you have a 360? You being a fan of the WWII, I would have to suggest the xbox live multiplayer of Call of Duty 3. It's totally addicting, and just last Wednesday I spent a full 7 hours glued to the TV. GUARAN-freaking-TEED fun!

Smart choice on your Saturday night!

Anonymous said...

I hope you're playing that on a Wii!

Captain Capitalism said...

Hi Guys,

It's on X-Box 360. The Wii just looked a bit young for me and my crew. I have played and conquered Call of Duty 3, but haven't gone online yet. Can't find reason in spending the money, but also I don't really play video games enough to warrant it. That being said I'm fortunate in that my company let's me take the LCD projector home with me and ever since I've been playing video games on a wall about 12 feet wide and 9 feet high.


Thart said...

I think the online would be well worth it, even if it's for 2-3 hours a week. Don't have friends around, hop on and instant action, and if you do have friends playing with you, you can share the account and play co-op capture the flag, or war mode.