Price vs. Cost

This morning I read an interesting article from Seth Godin’s blog. The subject, though not expressed in this way, is essentially was price vs. cost. Price as in the monetary commitment required to buy-in and cost as in the resources expended over time to maintain said item. Sure, it’s not a revolutionary concept; but, it can always be helpful to reflect on concepts in a different light or hear someone else’s perspective. The same thing is supposed to happen when you read scripture, right? 🤔

Here is Seth’s thought-provoking question: I know what the price tag says. But what does it cost?

Don’t just think of cost in terms of money. Cost can also be your time, stress, not doing something else (also known as opportunity cost). Lifehacker says, “More often than not, figuring out something’s cost is more important than figuring out its price.”

Here are a few examples:

  • You buy a dog that costs $500. The $500 price tag is a one-time expense, what it takes to buy-in. The cost, however is: dog food + doctor visits + dog-sitters + 15-minute walks each day over years, many years. The cost is on-going and can be more than 10 times the price.
  • You buy a luxury handbag that costs $500. The price tag is the same as the example above; however, the cost, in this case is nominal – maybe you need to clean it, have a few repairs, etc. but not very much in the grand scheme of things. The cost of the luxury handbag is less than the price.

Here’s the thing: as I am typing this post I am learning / acknowledging my own personal buying behavior and preference. I prefer high price, low-cost items. 💡 Meaning, I’d rather spend money up front (higher price) and have minimal cost. Some people prefer the opposite approach. Or maybe more correctly stated, our attitudes are different depending on what the “thing” in question is: a house, a trip to Paris, a steak dinner, a vintage car, a membership in a club or group, golf lessons. I do think most people have a pattern. Sure, you can bring value into this discussion but that’s subjective. Cost and price are quantifiable, very easy to measure.

So what’s the takeaway? The next time you consider the pice tag (“buying in”), take 30-seconds and think about what type of price-cost arrangement you are getting yourself into. Whatever your choice is, enjoy!