On Choices

After landing at Charles de Gaulle airport at 6:30 pm on Saturday night, BF and I hopped in a cab to head back to our apartment in Paris.

See, we’d taken an Uber car to the airport a week earlier for the reasonable price of €30. We’d looked into the cost to take the metro, but at around €10 per person plus added confusion and an unknown amount of time, we decided to spend the extra €10 for Uber.

We thought the cost wouldn’t be that different this time around. Yes, cabs are a bit more expensive than Uber, but it was Saturday night so we figured there wouldn’t be much traffic and the ride would be quick and cost efficient.

Well, we figured wrong. It took us about an hour to get back into Paris, which left us with a €70 tab. Ick.

When you feel stuck

About half way through our ride, I started to get really agitated. I was annoyed at myself for not having taken the train. I also felt trapped. I felt like I was stuck in the cab no matter how long the ride took. The traffic was completely outside of my control, so I was just left to deal with the consequences without being able to impact the situation.

But then I realized that we had an alternative. We could ask the cab driver to drop us off at the nearest metro station, and get on a train from there. And with that simple realization, all of a sudden I had a choice. I had a hand in the outcome. I instantly felt calmer and my anxiety dissipated.

Having a choice makes all the difference

This isn’t really a post about a cab ride. It is a post about how different the same situation feels if you think you have a choice about the situation. The cab ride made me realize how import having some ability to control, or at least impact, a situation is. At least for me. But I’m guessing that a lot of people feel this way.

I was still sitting in a cab stuck in traffic (and ultimately decided to stay in the cab instead of taking the train), but just knowing that it was my choice to do so, that I had another option and it was by my own hand that I was in the situation I was in, made me feel different.

Spending money is (almost) always a choice

Much like staying in the cab or getting on a train, spending money is a choice. Yes, I have to pay my mortgage every month, but I chose that condo, I agreed to that mortgage, so I have only myself to thank (or blame) for that bill. I get to decide how to spend my money, how to make tradeoffs and balance my many wants and needs. I make the choices; I deal with the consequences.

I think that a lot of people feel helpless when it comes to money. Maybe this is because they feel trapped by it. When I feel that I don’t have a choice, I feel helpless. I felt trapped in the cab, spending money I didn’t want to spend. Perhaps you feel trapped by debt, or high rent, or overly ambitious savings goals.

Acknowledging that nearly every spending decision involves a choice helps me feel more agency in my own life. It helps me think creatively about what the alternatives are. It is so easy to feel like a choice has been made and now I’m stuck with it. But I might not be. It’s my choice.

Do you feel that you have a choice in how you spend your money? How does having this choice impact the way that you spend?


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2 thoughts on “On Choices

  1. Wow. I’ve been seeing those news reports from Paris of the taxi companies protesting Uber, burning cars and all that, and now I see why. They can get 70 bucks for that same trip!

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