I had two conversations with friends over the holidays that speaks to the question, “When is good enough good enough?”
Case 1: a person (not a client, a DIY investor) has brokerage accounts all over the place. Reason? It just bothers him to have all of his assets in one basket. Most of us who work in the field would see very little advantage to his strategy but a very real cost in terms of time and energy to manage multiple accounts when one would do just fine. Him? He says it helps him sleep better. Good enough.
Case 2: a young family has two cars even though they rarely use the second one. They both have good incomes and good savings so the additional cost of the second car has no real impact on their immediate bottom line. Yes, they know there is a cost (maintenance, insurance, depreciation) but it’s not enough to bother them. They are very happy on the two to three times per month they both need a car at the same instant, even if that might be the most expensive option (compared to a ride-sharing service, taxi, or something else). Good enough.
Optimization of life, particularly in a world of faster, more-available data has enormous initial appeal. I am as guilty of it as anyone, right down to tracking my workouts, physical activity, cash flow or hours of sleep at night.
Optimization, like money itself, is a terrific servant and a horrible master. It turns from one into the other when we pass the point of “good enough” in search of some unattainable perfection.
The hard thing (and therefore, the most valuable thing) is to recognize the moment we pass the point of “good enough” into something else that seems more desirable, but is not.
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