Any good poker player knows, decisions at the table should rarely involve how much money is involved. There are good plays and bad plays. There are good decisions and bad decisions. There are good calls and good folds. If you're making those decisions based on how many double cheeseburgers you could buy with the money, you're not using the correct decision-making process.
In life, however, it is fiscally responsible to make decisions based on cost-benefit analysis. We do it all the time. Does L'il Otis really need another Pixar film? Does Mrs. Otis really need a .38 Special and a Doberman to keep her company while I'm skulking around the local card rooms?
These kinds of decisions are personal and vary from father to father and husband to husband. However, I think I've developed a pretty good poker-based rubric for making financial decisions.
Note: This rubric should only be used when making decisions based soley on money. If you think your kid is getting spoiled or your wife is taking advantage of you forgetting to get the pre-nup drawn up, you should be thinking in other terms--like maybe why your kid is a brat and your wife is already sleeping with someone else. And while I might appear to be writing a bit tongue-in-cheek here, I am 100% serious.
The Orphan Pot
The pot has been raised pre-flop and you are the only caller. The pre-flop raiser has checked to you on all streets and the action is now on you. You have ace-high and decide to make a bet to pick up the orphan pot. It doesn't matter whether you are good here. What matters is the amount you are willing to put in the pot.
The next day your wife requests to sign up your kid for an educational program with a monthly cost the same as your Orphan Pot bet. You're not sure if the program is really worth the money. Nonetheless, if it's worth a bluff, it's worth your kid learning to salsa to ska music...or whatever it is they are teaching the kids these days.
There has been action on all streets. You flopped top pair with top kicker and have not improved by the river. You think there is a chance your opponent has top pair as well, but are somewhat concerned he has made two pair. Your opponent bets the pot and you make the decision to call.
The next day your wife asks if she can fly to Dallas to see her best friend from high school. If the plane ticket costs less than the TPTK call, tell the wife to fly safe and don't sleep with any of the Cowboys. Except maybe Tony Romo.
The Pre-Flop Raise
In any no-limit game, the amount of the pre-flop raise varies from player to player. Some people stick with a standard 3x the big blind. Others mix it up. In your mind, you have a certain amount with which you're willing to raise pre-flop on any given hand.
So, it's one of those days you're walking through Target and your kid is being a good boy. He said, "Daddy! Can I have that?" If the decision is one based on money and the object of the child's affection is less than your standard pre-flop raise, you find your spot in the check-out aisle. It's time to play "Sorry, I Ate Too Many Watermelons!" on the coffee table.
The Stop Loss
You're the type of person who employs a stop-loss or only brings as much money to a game as he is willing to lose in a night.
Now, your wife wants new furniture for the living room. If said furniture costs the same or less as your nightly stop-loss, you must say yes. (Note: You can still say no if the furniture request has already been made once within the past two years).
The Third Raise
You have pocket kings and have re-raised a pre-flop raiser. You and your opponent have both doubled your initial buy-ins. Your opponent moves all-in.
If you can call with your kings, your next vacation with your wife must equal or exceed the amount of the pot.
You have called a pre-flop raise and see a flop with two opponents. The pre-flop raiser leads out, the second caller raises, and you believe you have 15 twice against at least one of the players. All three stacks are deep.
If you're willing to push,the amount you're willing to put in is no more than you should be willing to spend on a bi-monthly car payment for your wife's new ride.
There's a guy named Jackpot Jeff who doesn't really enjoy playing poker, but he does get off on gambling. The game you play allows him to straddle in any position for any amount he wants. In this case, he has straddled in his own big blind for 100x the amount of the blind. It is folded around to you in the small blind. You have A7 offsuit and have the bet covered. Jackpot Jeff is all-in and still blind.
The next night, your wife tells you she has made reservations for one of your town's nicest restaurants. If the cost of your meal is less than the amount with which you could call Jackpot Jeff's blind all-in, put on your bib, boy, because you're going to eat some grub.
These are just a few examples. Feel free to post your own in the comments. All of this, we should remember, is based on on the principle that none of these decisions should be made in reverse. That is, if your kid needs a new pair of shoes (set of braces, car insurance, etc) that cost the same as a tournament buy-in and you think, "Well, I could buy him a lot more shoes if I WIN the tournament," you shouldn't be buying in.
Of course, when it comes to our families, most of us know that--whatever the cost--if we have the money, we will spend it. However, there are days when we can't convince ourselves that our family really needs a machine gun or a G.I. Joe with the Wil Wheaton grip. Those days, the Otis Rubric will help.