What Does Personalization Say About Your Priorities?

They say that hens do cackle loudest when there is nothing vital in the eggs they have laid.
–Ambrose Bierce

Monogrammed towels, engraved cufflinks, personalized license plates. These conjure up the trappings of wealth, prosperity, and well-to-do. After all, if you care enough to get your shirt sleeve stitched with your own initials, then the shirt must be worthwhile.

What do these really say about you, though? Let me throw out an alternative version, one that might not leave you warm and fuzzy. You’re blowing your money on things which don’t matter to impress people you rarely see and who won’t have a long-lasting impact on your life. How often have you held a deep friendship or a great respect for someone because of a monogrammed cufflink? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

The myth that is perpetuated is that you have to look good, but looking good is defined as things which don’t matter. Clean, well-made clothes which look good on you are not the same as clothes which have a polo pony or some other design on them. I know. I have some of them; they’re admittedly a relic of a time when I thought that my well-being was defined by the types of symbols that I wore rather than the friends I kept and the good that I did in the world.

Ever make a friend because you pulled up next to someone at a stop light and they were impressed with your car? Ever close a business deal because someone saw your monogrammed initials on your shirt? Ever gotten just that much drier because of monogrammed towels? Compel people to action because of the message on your license plate?

How much did that extra vanity cost you? Will you look back in 20 years and think that was a wise way to spend your money? Keeping up with the Jones can be the most expensive hobby you could pursue. Stop it and get off the hedonic treadmill.

A monogrammed yacht? Now, we’re talking!

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Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

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