Understanding outcomes key in making decisions

“Life is all about trade-offs,” one of my friends told me when I was lamenting that I didn’t have as much time to spend with her anymore due to some changes in my life. I was happy for the changes, but the trade-off was that I had less free time for friends. I realized that for me the changes were worth the loss of free time.

I started learning about trade-offs as a teenager when my parents gave me a clothing allowance. At first glance I thought this was great. I would get so much money a month just to buy clothes. However, that money had to pay for all of my clothes including less than exciting things such as underwear, which was more expensive than I realized and easily ate up most of one month’s allowance. How was I going to spend my money? On new underwear, which I really needed, or on a new shirt or pair of pants? I had to decide what was most important to me.

A friend told me of a similar experience she had with her teenage daughter when they were clothes shopping. Her daughter really wanted an expensive pair of name-brand jeans. My friend pointed out that several pairs of pants could be purchased for the price of one pair of the name-brand ones. After thinking about it, her daughter decided she would rather have the name brand jeans. My friend was OK with that since her daughter had considered her options and was willing to accept the trade-off.

Trade-offs of how we spend our time also need to be considered. Some decisions are easier than others. I know I need to get necessary tasks done before I do things for fun, but deciding how to spend my free time can be hard. Do I play a game or read a book? There’s not usually time for both, so I have to decide which is most important to me at the time.

My children also have taught me about trade-offs. With a limited budget, we don’t go to many movies in the theater. One summer I suggested we go see an animated movie they had expressed interest in seeing. My sons proposed seeing an action movie instead. They knew we wouldn’t be going to both movies in the theater and decided they would give up the animated movie to see the action movie’s special effects on the big screen.

As I read about the issues surrounding the proposed Riverwalk bridge to connect the People Trails under the Second and Third Street bridges, my friend’s statement came to mind. The proposed project would be neat, but I wondered about the trade-offs.

If the city spends money on the Riverwalk, what other projects will not happen or be deferred? Do we purchase the metaphorical name brand jeans or do we spend the money on less exciting, but needed projects? Would other options to connect the People Trails be just as effective although not as flashy as the Riverwalk?

I was happy to see that others had similar concerns and that more consideration was called for. Any time large amounts of money are to be spent, it is always good to look at all the options and consider the trade-offs.

I encourage you to consider the trade-offs and determine what it most important to you when you make personal decisions about life changes and how to spend your time and money. Additionally, we should encourage our elected officials to do the same with plans that affect the community.

Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at editorial@therepublic.com.