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Perceived Value

01/30/2011

How do you categorize the value of something?

Perceived value is something that I’ve been thinking about off and on for the last couple of weeks. Most of us have a limited income and are some sort of budget. Whenever we can save some money, we try to. But just how much are we saving, and what is the value of what we are saving?

Let me give you some real life examples that I wonder about. First off, the serious stuff. What is the difference between buying a pair of shoes for $80 versus buying the same pair of shoes for $40? Obviously $40 is the better deal on a limited budget and income, but what is the value there? If that pair of shoes lasts for 240 days, it only costs you either 30 or 60 cents per day, either of which are absolutely affordable to most people, so why do we always then choose to not spend the $80 if we can afford it, and instead hold out as long as we can for the $40 value?

Now how about entertainment value. I used to collect comic books; I have a collection valued at roughly $16,000 (if I can find a buyer in this economy). Arguably, I’m maybe only paid 1/4 of that, getting many of the comic books during sales and with bundle deals. In the last few years, however, I haven’t been able to afford to buy comic books or devote much time to them, although I keep current by following online news stories or getting trade paperbacks from the library.

But, now that I’m in a position to begin buying comics again, what should I buy? Obviously I have a limited budget, but I’m following the principle of Deut. 14:26 here, so I’m not just throwing money away and forsaking my debts and responsibilities and generosities. Typically a single monthly issue of a comic book costs between $3-5. A trade paperback consists of about 6-8 issues (so a value normally of $18-$40), and typically costs around $15-20. Technically, that’s a better deal; so why then am I so resistant to choosing the better deal? It’s because in the immediacy of the now, $15 seems too high.

Is all value perceived value? This TED talk seems to think so. I must admit, it’s a compelling argument. Here’s a great quote demonstrating the concept in a humorous way –

What on earth is wrong with placebos? The seem fantastic to me. They cost very little to develop. They work extraordinarily well. They have no side effects, or if they do, they’re imaginary, so you can safely ignore them.

I highly recommend that TED talk (found via Get Rich Slowly). It’s funny and very informative, as most TED talks are.

Can all problems in life be overcome by “tinkering with perception”? Possibly.

Side comment – what is the perceived value of God and salvation to most people? I imagine it varies from Christian to Christian, but how much is it our responsible as Christians to try to increase the value of God and salvation to those who don’t believe? Is that part of the entire “use the law to beat into their head they are sinner before telling them God loves them” type of evangelism?

And something a little bit closer to my thoughts…what is the perceived value of an engagement ring? Those things are expensive! But is the high expense more or lesser value than winning the hand of a young woman for life?

Stuff to ponder…

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