I’d Rather Have the Money, Bob


Did you see us? My husband Harold and I were on TV with Bob Barker. Before you run to check your TiVo I’d better tell you this was awhile ago. Try 1971.


We were plucked from the live audience of that old favorite, Truth or Consequences along with two other couples. Ours was a kind of “newlywed game” stunt. They put the guys in a sound-proof booth and we ladies had to predict how our husbands would answer questions.

Of course the hubs and I won. And a mighty fine prize it was: $50 and a blender! 

We already had a blender so I remember thinking I’d rather have the money. We could have walked away with $85.

Catching Bob on reruns of The Price is Right brings back fond memories. And whenever some lucky contestant wins that Show Case—a mishmash of all kinds of stuff to clutter their lives—I can almost hear what the winner is thinking: I’d rather have the money, Bob! But instead the winner gets all the stuff and has to pay taxes on the full retail value to boot. (We got off easy … not much tax due on $50 and a blender).

Every day you should be telling yourself the same thing: I’d rather have the money! Let’s say you see a great new pair of shoes you simply cannot resist. They’re on sale … this won’t last and it’s such a great deal. No matter how you pay for them (cash, credit, check), it’s a done deal. You’ve got the shoes, they’ve got your money.

Here’s where your thinking gets all messed up. Your choices, you believe, are to either 1) have the shoes or 2) not have the shoes. One is a happy outcome, the other negative, or so you believe.

How would your decision change if the salesman had the shoes in one hand and the $50 cash in the other. Would you take the shoes, or the money?

That is exactly the choice you have with every purchase. Either you get the [fill in the blank] or you get the money. Either you buy the shoes or leave $50 in your bank account.

If you could see your lifetime earnings in one big pile of money and how each spending decision diminishes the amount you get to keep, I have a feeling you would take your decision much more seriously. You’d opt to take the money more often than the stuff to clutter your life.

The next time you think to spend money—any amount—ask yourself: Do I really want this, or would I rather have the money?


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  • older and wiser

    Fifty years ago, we bought a complete set of encyclopedias while expecting our first child. How many times I looked at that set, and thought I’d rather had the money! I am still learning that lesson, but getting better every year.

  • janebice

    When I see something I think I want, I figure out how many hours I have to work to purchase that item. Working 3 hours for 1 pair of shoes puts things in perspective for me.

  • kaetra

    Fantastic analogy! “I’d rather have the money, Bob” is a fabulous mantra. 🙂

  • lindapries

    Most of the time, that is a good idea. However, I also think along THIS line. I have a lizard that eats bugs. I just went out and bought a plastic tub and heating pad.: total cost about $40. By spending this money now, plus what some of the bugs will cost. I save myself the price of bugs in the future, gas to drive for an hour (one-way) to buy them, and the inconvenience of getting out and doing that driving throughout Michigan winters. Would I rather have that $40 now or save over $100 just through this winter alone by raising those bugs myself at home? For shoes?? Heck yes, give me the money. I have a pair of dress shoes and a pair of tennis shoes, what use would more be?

  • mrsmarty

    A good friend once reminded me that even ‘saving’ on a product that’s 25% off retail price, it’s still 75% ON and money out of your pocket.

  • Emily Booth

    Great column! Yes, I would rather have THE MONEY! LOL

  • Maurice Guilfoil

    Best thing ever happened to me was when I bumped into Mary Hunt’s ideas on money. Could not find her article in the Jackson, Michigan Sunday newspaper this week which saddens me. Keep up the great work, Mary.
    Maurice Guilfoil
    P.S. Your laundry ‘soap’ idea does a great job on my clothes.

  • RJ

    A friend shared her manta with me:

    Buying what you do not need leads to needing what you can not buy.

    Put that one on your checkbook, wallet, card holder and read it first.