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Price, cost, value

A few years ago, I wrote a column for a Monmouth County pub (I live part-time in Little Silver) about price, cost and value (http://www.ahherald.com/jobpath/2004/jp040205_value.htm).  In short, there’s a difference between the price of something, what it actually costs and how we value it.  Reasonable enough on a theoretical point, but I’ve had many occasions recently to revisit just how often there is a disconnect in day-to-day life.  Especially now that I’m running my own business and watching cash flow like a hawk.

Take our home in Little Silver, for example.  We don’t set it up for TV or Internet b/c at $40/mo minimum and just a few days per month, the price per use seems high.  The cost isn’t just the $40/mo or $500/yr, but it’s that expense creep we all experience where we add things into our budget and then it’s tough to get rid of them later.  I don’t want to get sucked up into a lifestyle so I avoid adding these ongoing items where possible.  However…there have been times when I’d readily pay upwards of $500 to have that Internet access in Little Silver just those times, much less a whole year of times.  Those single times make me think that a $500 hit over time is a good value.

Or take our Mets series plan (my husband is a rabid fan).  I am aghast at ticket prices for each individual game and at the number of games you have to buy to get a plan.  That doesn’t even reflect the true cost of the time you spend on the games, the ancillary costs of food and transportation, and an endless supply of small pencils to score the game.  However…when I think about the overall cost (as high as the $ figure gets) and the overall value (we’ve had series plans since 1993 and getting guaranteed tickets to playoff games was probably worth the cost altogether) it seems like we’re still ahead spending the money.

So I always have to check myself — that I don’t let the short-term price and cost hit distort the long-term value.  I’ll keep my personal trainer, professional development classes, housekeep help, and other short-term hits that produce long-term value.  Someone remind me I said that when I start to think short-term…

If you follow your bliss, you will always have your bliss, money or not. If you follow money, you may lose it, and you will have nothing.”  Joseph Campbell

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