In every purchase we make, we should ask ourselves how much is it worth to me? It’s a very simple question, but in many cases, the answer may surprise you. And it applies to much more than items.
Let’s try a few examples.
I’ve been keeping my eye on LCD HD receiver televisions. With the big switchover in February and all the fear marketing going on about the loss of signals, my family may need a new television. We don’t currently subscribe to a cable service, so we get our tv over the airwaves and will need a HD tv or a subscription to cable. The tv’s that I’ve been looking at are in the $500 range. Not a huge amount for tv’s nowadays, but quite a bit for my debt averse family. Each time I look at them, I have to ask myself if having television is worth $500 to me. We currently don’t have cable and we only receive one channel over the air. And to be honest, it wouldn’t be a huge loss to us. Except. Except that I like to watch Football in the fall. Except that my wife is addicted to COPS. Except. Except. Except. With each exception, the TV or cable subscription becomes more and more worth it to me. I become more willing to spend the money to get the TV or Cable because of them.
Much like cable, there are some services that demand the question too. In my hometown, there is only one full service gas station. All the rest are self service. The full service station charges $0.02/gallon more for their gas. This is a non-question for me. I don’t mind filling my tank up. I only end up filling up about once a month, so it isn’t a big deal if I have to stand and pump gas for a few minutes. However, with temperatures falling (it’s about 30 here today) I can certainly see why there might be some people who are asking themselves if the extra $0.02 per gallon is worth staying in the warmth of their car while someone else fills the tank.
The more my wife and I budget and track our money, the more often I find myself asking this question. Is this service or that item worth the extra money? Is the convenience worth paying more for or am I just being lazy? More and more, I find that the answer is No. In many cases, the convenience isn’t worth a little more slavery to debt. Each penny that I spend on that convenience is another penny that I cannot use to pay down debt. Maybe my answers will change when we get rid of our debt, but I think by then our lifestyles and attitudes will have changed significantly enough that the answer will often still be no.
I started this blog to share what I know and what I was learning about personal finance. Along the way I’ve met and found many blogging friends. Please feel free to connect with me on the Beating Broke accounts: Twitter and Facebook.