Lessons in Value Part I
I love to shop with coupons, partly because I have a big family and partly because I love a good deal. In August, Smith’s had an amazing sale on cereal. I sorted and clipped dozens of coupons and purchased 72 boxes of cereal, paying approximately $.70 per box. At the same time, the Idaho State Journal was having a contest to see who could save the most money using coupons at the grocery store. I submitted my receipt and won the $125 prize.
So I paid $50 (plus tax) for enough cereal to fill my entire car and made $125 for the effort. Needless to say, I was proud of my accomplishment. But because I really paid nothing for the cereal, I placed little value on it. Whenever the kids wanted a snack, I sent them to get a bowl of cereal. And within two months, all 72 boxes of cereal were gone. Now that we have to pay regular price for cereal again, I wish that I had valued our stockpile a little more.
I can’t tell you many times this scenario has played out with my coupon purchases. I think it is an inherent human tendency to value things based upon what we paid for them rather than how much they are actually worth to us. Sometimes the amount of work and struggle and effort we put forth to obtain something does indeed imbue it with great value. But in the regular course of life, I think it is worthwhile to ask ourselves if how much money something costs is really indicative of its value.
I love this quote by Earl Nightingale,
“Things that are given to us for nothing, we place little value on. Things that we pay money for, we value. The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true. Everything that’s really worthwhile in life came to us free — our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our intelligence, our love of family and children and friends and country. All these priceless possessions are free.”
“But the things that cost us money are actually very cheap and can be replaced at any time. A good man can be completely wiped out and make another fortune. He can do that several times. Even if our home burns down, we can rebuild it. But the things we got for nothing, we can never replace.”
I am not suggesting that my cereal (or any other thing that can be purchased) rises to the level of value Mr. Nightingale is describing. But both the quote and the cereal stockpile story illustrate that cost is irrelevant to value and that something of true value is not easy to replace.