Too expensive? Don’t listen to that little voice
Tue 29 March 2011
, www.directionsforwomen.com, LEAP
When was the last time you told yourself, “No, it’s too expensive”? Was it a rational decision or are you a knee-jerk self-denier? Or the opposite: an automatic self-indulger? Like the advertisements with the woman always saying: I’m worth it! Read about the registers of value that we use in this article that appeared on directionsforwomen.com. And make the right decision next time.
Some of us have banished this phrase from our vocabulary or say it in a voice so tiny, it cannot be heard over the loud beckon of something that we want. We don’t like telling ourselves “no,” with the result that the mental chatter in our head consists mostly of justifications for the “yes.”
For others of us, “too expensive” is an automatic barrier we erect to keep us from engaging fully with what the world has to offer. We don’t take the trip, go out for a nice dinner, buy the premium brand, or sit in the best seats, nor do we even let ourselves be tantalized by these luxuries. No mental small talk here. The price is too high – discussion over
There is, of course, a vast middle range between the automatic self-indulgers and the knee-jerk self-deniers. It’s here where questions of value reside – where we have to do a bit of thinking as to whether a given expenditure is really worth it.
Actually, it can involve a lot of thinking. Value is an elusive and highly subjective concept, not to be confused with price. One woman’s trash can be another woman’s treasure, as any inveterate prowler of Saturday yard sales will attest. Taste, too, may play a part – if you don’t like caviar – you’re unlikely to appreciate, let alone pay the going rate for those exquisite, slimy eggs.
There may be as many different registers of value as there are individuals. Generally speaking, however, these registers fall in one of the following categories:
- Affordability. In this case, we make our determination as to what we will pay based on what we CAN pay. While this approach has the merit of keeping us out of cash flow trouble, it discounts the importance of quality in our purchase decisions. The warning “you get what you pay for,” can be relevant here.
- Cost/benefit analysis: MBAs and economists favor this approach to value, particularly when evaluating alternatives. The most valuable option will be the one with the most benefits per unit of cost. Sounds sophisticated and scientific, but benefits (as well as costs) can be highly subjective and emotional. Name brands use this subjectivity to their advantage. Branded products or services almost always cost more than generics, while offering virtually the same features. But when it comes to choosing a bottle of ketchup or aspirin, the thought that Heinz or Bayer was what “Mom always used” trumps the just-as-good generic every time.
- External reference: Sometimes we decide what is valuable based on what others think, do, and spend. When we are teenagers, this shows up as “peer pressure” and is, unfortunately, very powerful. The problem is, however, not all of us grow out of this way of thinking. In its adult form, this is referred to as “keeping up with the Joneses.” Either way we are looking outside ourselves for our measures of value.
- Internal reference or self-esteem: When we truly appreciate ourselves, in the sense of knowing ourselves and how we choose to live our lives, the question of monetary value becomes simple. We don’t need accounting or economics courses to know if the price is right, and we certainly don’t need advertisers or trend-setters to tell us what to buy, and for how much. We define value as whatever best honors us and sustains us. Our use of money – what we buy, save, or give – is not a source of shame or indecision, but a form of personal expression.
At Directions, we believe self-knowledge is the first, and perhaps most powerful, lesson of personal finance. This knowledge will not, of course, eliminate those occasions when we must tell ourselves “it’s too expensive” or “I can’t afford it.” But this self-talk is no longer about denial, but affirmation that we are making a choice that honors what is most important to us.
Articles in Money
- Are Men the Real Winners with the Rise of Female Breadwinners? (article, 09-04-2012)
- Wage gap still there, unless you are a house-sitter (article, 26-03-2012)
- Oproep Kroes verzandt in gedateerd gesprek bij Pauw&Witteman (video, 15-03-2012)
- Emotion Analytics: The Missing Ingredient in Risk Management (article, 13-02-2012)
- Mine's Bigger than Yours: Challenges of Being a Female Breadwinner (article, 05-12-2011)
- 10 Things Baby Boomers Won't Tell you (article, 21-11-2011)
- Negotiate for…your family, friends, colleagues (article, 15-11-2011)
- 5 Tips to remember next time you negotiate a raise (article, 07-11-2011)
- Female leaders share advice at Wall Street Conference (article, 24-10-2011)
- Sonia Trocmé on CCTV (video, 24-10-2011)
- An inspirational journey (video, 10-10-2011)
- It - literally - doesn't pay to be nice (article, 05-09-2011)
- Effect van loopbaanonderbreking op salaris vrouwen (article, 18-07-2011)
- Aandeel e-shoppers in 2010 verder gestegen (article, 04-07-2011)
- Leuk werk? Alleen geld telt... (article, 27-06-2012)
- Bubble story (video, 05-06-2011)
- Serious Play: The Business of Social Currency (article, 17-05-2011)
- Banksparen steeds populairder (article, 02-05-2011)
- Remaking Portugal Telecom: An interview with CEO Zeinal Bava (article, 03-05-2011)
- Inkomen Japanse vrouwen passeert dat van mannen (article, 19-04-2011)
- Nu gaan vrouwen de best betaalde banen inpikken (article, 11-04-2011)
- Too expensive? Don’t listen to that little voice (article, 29-03-2011)
- Bedrijven scoren beter met vrouwen (article, 22-03-2011)
- Vrouwen werken meer voor minder (article, 15-03-2011)
- Whose money is it? (article, 25-01-2011)
- Ladies, Should You Ask For It? (article, 25-01-2011)
- Budgets are sexy (article, 18-01-2011)
- Young British women reverse pay gap (article, 12-12-2010)
- Lehman Sisters Wouldn't Have Failed (article, 07-12-2010)
- Chocolate will be the future caviar (article, 20-11-2010)
- Banking on gender diversity (article, 08-11-2010)
- European employees: ‘management are fraudsters’ (article, 19-05-2010)
- Women and money (article, 03-04-2010)
- Making cash with ‘socialnomics’ (article, 29-03-2010)
- ‘Can you afford your life?’ (article, 25-03-2010)
- Review: The four pillars of investing (article, 23-03-2010)
- Beat the tax office to it and start now! (article, 09-03-2010)
- ‘Every quality has its price’ (article, 02-02-2010)
- Suze Orman’s 2010 personal finance tips (article, 22-01-2010)
- Success in your work, success in your wallet... (article, 01-01-2010)
- Poll: I manage My Money at home... (article, 01-01-2010)
- Your money and you: (article, 01-01-2010)
- My money… (article, 01-01-2010)
Columns in Money
- The remedies for capitalism (25-04-2011, Paul Polman)
- Capitalism for the long term (19-04-2011, Dominic Barton, McKinsey/ Harvard Business Review)
- Review: 'The four pillars of investing' (16-04-2010, Alberta Opoku)
- ‘The Total Money Makeover’ (26-02-2010, Alberta Opoku)
- Make your money work at home too (21-12-2009, Marie-Pauline Luger & Dorieke Mulder)
- A tricky question (05-09-2009, Henriëtte Prast)