The Problem With Getting Your Money’s Worth

Being interested in personal finance, I try to optimize my money as much as possible. One of the ideas behind this is getting your money’s worth. If you’re going to spend the money on something, you should try to get as much use out of that item or service as possible.

The problem with this is that it’s almost always to our detriment.

Here’s an example: After a year of cheap internet, I’m now back on broadband. Although I’m getting the introductory rate for a year, it’s still expensive at $39.99/month.  Since I don’t have cable TV (only antenna at my house), my inclination is to use streaming services so I can “get my money’s worth” and make a dent in the huge allotment of data I’m given each month.

It’s not just the price of streaming services — I share Netflix with a friend so it’s rather cheap — but instead the time that I’m spending streaming videos.  By trying to optimize my internet, I lose valuable time every month. And if you’re like me, it’s not just the time watching videos, but it’s the time searching for things to watch as well. Instead of streaming videos I could be spending my time doing something far more productive and better for my mental and physical well-being.

Another example is food. I live by myself and it’s hard to find products that are sold which are suitable for just one person to be used before going bad. This either leads to overeating or food waste, neither of which is a desirable outcome. I try to meal plan but, unfortunately, food waste is virtually inevitable.

I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that some things are near impossible to optimize without causing problems in other areas.

Is there anything that you try to optimize but find that it causes harmful side effects? How have you managed to work around this?

4 thoughts on “The Problem With Getting Your Money’s Worth

  1. Many things are a trade off with time. It is easier to pay for things – like going out to eat – than doing them yourself. We are a family of three: myself, my wife, and our high school son, so shopping at Sam’s Club or Costco saves us money but results in buying more stuff than we need.

  2. Counter to much of the frugality advice out there, we don’t buy much of anything in bulk anymore. When there are 48 bottles of IPA in the fridge or six packs of cookies in the pantry, surprise, they disappear much more quickly! Not good for our savings or our waistlines.

    1. Totally with Matt on that! We gave up CostCo years ago and have never missed it — the bulk sizes made us consume too much, plus that evil of the membership fee makes you feel like you should shop there more to make the membership “worth it.” Same for Amazon Prime — that fee makes you feel like you have to shop to get your money’s worth.

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