“A penny saved is a penny earned”, is a quote famously uttered by someone. I like to think that the geyser who wrote this was a coupon fanatic or a general deal hunter of some sort. I know that I have spent a great many hours at my laptop or cell phone pondering over the best way to make a purchase. My brother actually called me out on this recently and said that from an economic perspective my time might be better spent elsewhere. I still stand behind the fact that I enjoy maximizing my value. However, I feel that I must stress there is quite a difference between buying cheap things and maximizing value.
I believe that anything you buy has an individual worth that is unrelated to the price that a company places on the item. For instance, if I get a hotel at the Howard Johnson for $75, but their normal cost is $100 is this a deal? I guess it depends on perspective. An argument could be made that you “saved 25%”, but I tend to think paying $75 a night for a low quality hotel is overpaying by at least $25. I would rather spend
My goal is to always maximize fiscal value without sacrificing quality. This is a tactic that is lost on far too many people. For example, car salesmen love to ask, “How much do you have budgeted for a payment?”. I imagine the reason this is a common question is because it is effective. From a psychological perspective it diminishes the true amount paid on a car, it also makes you feel good about staying within a budget. Many people just want to know the price they pay per month and that’s it. The most important thing to me is the total price I will pay as a function of the car’s value. When I bought my current car 18 months ago we had not been actively looking. We ended up getting our car for $4,000 even though Edmund’s and all the other car buying websites put its worth at about $6,500. Even though I have driven it for over a year I am confident that I could still sell the car for 125% of the price we paid! To me it’s not the price paid, but the value. The last car guy that I talked to seemed utterly confused that I just wouldn’t give him the number I was trying to hit. Once you do this you have lost all negotiation power with any salesman. Now he knows your budget and can keep bringing out crappy cars until you take one. Sticking too strictly to a budget keeps one from making good value investments.