They looked at me oddly. I didn’t care. I almost danced to the Ballot Box, dropped in my ballot – and then danced a few steps. I voted! And it was a lot simpler than the various media outlets make it seem; and that includes social media. It hasn’t been easy, trying to live simply when simply living can be a challenge, but sometimes the most important things are the simplest, and the simplest become the most challenging.
No. I’m not going to tell you how I voted. As I’ve written before, I’m an extreme independent moderate, or a moderately extreme independent, or an independently moderate extremist(?). Nah. Not that last one. I think the best way to make progress is to understand the extremes, but gather the most support by finding something more moderate. And I’m moderate because I haven’t found a political party that matches my personal platform.
Besides, if we don’t find what we have in common, we’ll no longer be United. The Untied States of America are closer than most realize. (Nods to a good friend who expanded on my observation.)
I’m also not going to tell you how I voted because: 1) the way to protect privacy and the sanctity of the secret ballot is to respect that secrecy, and 2) one way we may get back together is to concentrate on what needs to be done, not on what we did.
I will however, pass along how I keep it simple.
I’m old; or a least old to most people half my age. Most of my friends consider me young, or at least younger, but I know I’ve lived long enough to know the essence and the roll of the political system in my life. Debates, brochures, town halls, information packets, are all things available every election. Rarely are they as important as one document delivered once: the Voters’ Pamphlet.
Hearing all of the discourse for months or even years makes it sound like this is a tough and important decision. Important? Definitely. Tough? Get real. Really. I open the Washington State Voters’ Pamphlet and like the way it is formatted. This side this page. That side that page. Repeat as necessary. Rarely do I see a narrow distinction between the two sides. Usually it comes down to a few key phrases that the person is proud of, something they emphasize for their side. The politicians make the choice simple. It takes me more time to pick between various obscure referenda and non-partisan positions that who wants to be President of the United States. (emphasis because everyone emphasizes it) I wish the media would spend more time on the topics that require a finer distinction. They may not be as pervasively important, but they’re also more likely to have a direct effect on local issues.
For me, it is similar to what I see when I go shopping. Notice how long it takes to decide what to pick from a menu. Give people enough choices and they can spend more time deciding than eating, all for a short term experience that is quickly – passed by the eater. A meal is perishable, temporary. And yet, some will buy a car or a piece of furniture on an impulse. If food is that important to you, great! But optimizing every meal takes time at every meal. How much time do we have?
I enjoy cooking and eating, a dangerous combination when it is more difficult to exercise. (Oh, I miss dancing; and my waistline proves it.) So, I’ll spend more time planning what I’m going to cook; but picking from a menu? A good chef makes anything on the menu taste good. I trust and respect them and let them spend their time. A privilege I (rarely, lately) pay for. At home, I have fun cooking even with it doesn’t come out perfect. (Perfection? Ha!)
It happens in personal finance, too. People commonly spend more time planning a vacation, another temporary event, than they do planning their career or retirement. The classic example (until 2020) has been couples who spend half a year’s income on a wedding. Sure. Have a good party. Make it memorable. But, it is easier for older folks to understand the impact of investing that much more in their mid-twenties. Compound interest rules! Start with a small event, and enjoy many more and larger ones, later.
For most people, investing can be greatly simplified with regular investments whenever income exceeds expenses for long enough to build a cash reserve. Low-cost mutual funds exist because they can be as successful as many other strategies, but take much less time and maintenance fees. For me, it’s like that cooking analogy. I like buying individual stocks, understanding the companies, and trying to find that better balance between risk and reward. Those people that picked off the simpler menu could’ve exceeded my returns many times. (And yet, I continue because I know for my risk tolerance there are also potentially higher rewards. It’s worked before. And neither has guarantees.)
Part of being frugal is being aware of money and time. Frugal is frequently interpreted as cheap, only concentrating on money. Time is more valuable. Important things don’t have to take a lot of time. A quick decision doesn’t negate the decision’s importance.
I voted. Now, for me, the rest is theater, suspense for sure, horror/thriller possibly, probably not comedy, but almost certainly stranger than fiction.
The real question is, when can we get back to dancing? Maybe I should cue up a musical. Dancing down the sidewalk was fun, but it wasn’t the same without a partner or a soundtrack.