The Write Word

Hidden Price Tags

Cost is a tricky thing.  
We are often fooled into believing we know what we are paying.
We often overlook the fact that the price reflected on a tag, on a sticker,
or in a menu is just the beginning.
Everything comes with hidden price tags.  

Welcome to Rachelconomics 101
We will explore the hidden price tags of 
opportunity cost 
emotional cost.

For the mathematicians out there, my formula is this 
(Price + Maintenance Cost) + Emotional Cost + Opportunity Cost= Total Cost.  I know the economics majors are choking right now, and I do apologize for throwing Rachelogic and Rachemath into your neatly organized world, but roll with me ok?   

Let’s look at an example of eating dinner at a restaurant.
Since my theoretical dinner is a healthy one and has no adverse health affects requiring additional financial investment, I have $0 in maintenance cost.  
If I choose to eat junk, driving up my weight, sugar and blood pressure, resulting in health care costs, early death and lost wages,  that further financial cost would need to be factored in. 

I can figure the formula like this a $10 dinner, plus a $2 drink, with tax and 20% tip will be $15.60. So on the surface, 
the initial cost of my dinner is $15.60.

Behind the numbers, lies another cost, opportunity cost. What I spend on dinner, cannot be spent somewhere else.  Looking at it from a different angle, the opportunity cost of eating out might be the lost opportunity to purchase a house.  Over the 10-year span, one dinner out per week for a couple, ($16,224) equals a 10% down payment on a $160,000 house.  

Look at long-term opportunity cost, not just initial price tag cost.
The same couple, renting a house for an additional 10 years (at $1000 per month) equals $120,000 in lost equity.  Thus the opportunity cost of once a week dinner out, can end up giving that $10 dinner an opportunity cost of  
$230.77 PER DINNER! 

Opportunity cost is not just money.  

Thrift stores and estate sales are filled with peoples "Oh I just HAVE to have it" which eventually became "Ahhh, just get rid of it".  Sadly, often we leave houses, garages, attics and sheds FULL of stuff, but the treasure chest of memories is bare.

Things like your health, your spouse, your children and grandchildren, these all come with expiration dates.  Time spent with them, building relationships, investing in shared experiences should be considered in opportunity cost.  
The emotional cost of not spending time with them now, may cost us millions of emotional dollars down the road. 

I heard a broken hearted pastor tell his story a few years back.  He recounted how he left at the crack of dawn and returned home at dark, his entire married life.  When his wife of 40+ years died suddenly, he found himself visiting her grave everyday, spending his lunch hour there.  He told me “The time I spent doing pressing things, cost me more than I ever could have imagined.  I’d give it ALL up to go back and spend more time with her. 
Why didn't I spend my lunch with her?”  

When she was alive, lunch with her everyday seemed too costly.  
Her death has put everything in perspective.  

Health and strength fade.
Parents die.
Spouses die.
Children grow up.
And sometimes, children die.
Don’t overlook the opportunity cost
of time.

Emotional Cost
If you spend money based on your momentary feelings, you most likely will not spend it wisely.  Understanding spending habits by giving them an emotional price tag can help tremendously.
There are some emotional costs that simply cannot be figured with mere numbers. There are occasions when the stress involved in planning, preparing, serving, and cleaning up simply outweighs the cost of paying someone else to do it.  
All emotional costs are not equal. 
Sometimes, time is more valuable than money.

When my infant daughter was in the hospital, Honey Pie and I took 12-hour shifts with her.  Buying dinner to eat together in her room had an emotional price tag that cannot be reflected in numbers. 
The money we spent on those dinners bought more than our food. 
It bought us 2 hours together, with her.
When you don’t know if your baby is going to live, the opportunity cost of losing 2 hours with her vs. maybe not getting a house doesn’t even matter. 

However, when I’m just tired and don’t want to cook, the emotional benefit cost of asking Honey Pie to bring home food does not even compare to those hospital dinner costs. 
When I was merely tired, the opportunity cost of maybe not getting a house helped me suck up some reserve energy and cook! 
We have a house today because of it.

I've heard it said "Time is money" but I disagree.
Time is so much more than money; 
money you can make more of,
time is limited. 
Learning to evaluate which is more valuable to you
can help you invest them both wisely.
Don't judge an investment merely by sticker price,
because everything has
a hidden price tag.

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