Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the value of a dollar

Last year we gave our summer kids an allowance. The deal was that we would provide the necessities and they would buy the wants with their money, but everything was subject to approval. (In other words, no rap CDs or skull covered t-shirts!) And it became very interesting to see how we valued things differently.
For example, at the cash register in Michael's are these ugly, small, kid-appealing in pens for $2.99 At first, the kids all wanted one, and I told them they would have to use their money. They thought that was a very reasonable price. I told them it wasn't. My "faulty" reasoning was that you can buy a whole pack of pens for that price! Their line of thinking was that this was a really cool pen, PLUS ice cream at McDonald's only costs $1. I guess if ice cream at McDonald's is a $1, then a small, fancy pen should certainly be more than that.
Had the boys had the money, they would have gladly plunked down $200 for a cell phone, or an i-pod. I would never pay that for either one, but yet I wouldn't think twice about spending that same amount on a sewing machine or a nice camera. Granted, a camera and a sewing machine should last me the rest of my life (or at least half of it!), whereas a cell phone or i-pod will most likely be dead or extinct within 10 years. But it's still interesting to stop and think about why we place value over certain items, and how our mind determines why things are "worth it".
I want to say the price of a car is not worth it, but when i consider the alternatives (horse & buggy, walking, bicycle) then I think maybe it is. After all, as expensive as a horse would be in care & feed and time, I think the car might actually pay for itself. Note the word might. There's nothing like car problems to sink you deep in a financial abyss. But that's another blog for another time. And now I have my curiosity peaked...what items do you feel are worth splurging on?


gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

First of all- my kids LOVE those pens from Michaels, they got them in their stockings at Christmas:)

Next, I would definitely splurge on a good sewing machine, good kitchen appliances and cookware. Nothing like a cheap pot to make you dislike cooking:)I could care less about cars as long as it hold everyone.

Carroll said...

What a great post! Definitely something to ponder. I would splurge on travel, food, and electronics.

mrs.pabody said...

It depends on when you're asking me. For instance, I will go to Lowe's to buy milk a few cents cheaper than Wal-mart (where I do most of my other grocery shopping), but today, as a post-birthday afternoon treat, I bought one slice of marbled pound cake at Starbuck's for $1.95. When I think about it now, I realize that was scandalous. I've never been to the Starbuck's in Clayton before today, and the cake was certainly delicious enough. But... it was a big splurge! So I think my splurging changes with my context!
I'm also more likely to splurge buying something for someone else than me. It justifies it a bit in my mind, somehow! Ha!