Today’s article includes feedback from some of my friends on twitter! If you’re on twitter these are some great people to communicating with. Don’t forget to follow @ManVsDebt (that’s me)!
What things do we consistently pay more for? My wife and I recently had a discussion revolving around this question. I blame Steve for starting us down this long and dense discussion.
Steve is an insurance agent who recently sold us term life insurance. We’ve been needing life insurance for well over a year now. It’s one of those things we just had been putting off and putting off. Steve has known for that whole amount of time that we really needed the insurance. In fact, Steve has called me once every two months or so for around the last year and a half. He was never pushy. He just checked in, talked about my situation, listened to my excuses, and simply added my on his calender for another two months down the road.
As our overseas move crept closer, we added obtaining this insurance to the list of things we wanted to shore up before leaving the U.S. I began to gather quotes from both online and local sources. To be honest, I didn’t even call Steve, quite yet. I just wanted to test the numbers. Guess what happened later that week? My bi-monthly call from Steve.
I’d had Steve send me quotes before, but I had him do it again. This time I compared them to some of the other quotes I had received. Steve came in about 5-10% more than the cheapest option, but well within the average of the 2 or 3 best. The choice at this point was easy for us. We were more than willing to pay Steve a 5-10% markup.
Why? I’m not completely sure, but I have a feeling that it was because I respected the fact that he had diligently called me for for going on two years. I actually never felt like I was being sold to. Although I had never done business with him before, we almost had a friendship going. A single-serving friendship once every two months.
It got me thinking though. If I’m more than willing to pay more because of these circumstances, what other ones might I not notice? After talking with my wife about our own purchasing habits, I decided to open up the floor to my twitter friends. Here are some of the reoccurring themes and how they affect me personally:
Great Customer Service
I suspect this is true for almost anyone, especially in our culture. More specifically, though, I can pinpoint at least 3 specific situations within “Customer Service” where I find myself consistently willing to pay more:
- When I Can Relate To Someone Personally – My wife and I have both waited tables for multiple restaurants. In fact, we both waited tables at the same restaurant one summer, while I was studying to get my Real Estate license. As such, we certainly relate to the industry and are generally more apt to tip more than we would have before. In addition, it’s no secret that in sales it’s a great tactic to try to find common ground. I’m much more likely to buy from someone who grew up in my hometown, or who even loves the Green Bay Packers as much as I do. It’s sounds frivolous, but I bet it’s true for you too!
- When I Respect The Character Or Dedication - Steve is a great example of this. His character (not pushy) and his dedication (consistently staying in touch) are traits that I respect very much. I’ve been in a contact-based business like insurance before and frankly wasn’t nearly as good at staying in touch as Steve is. I admire that trait and am aware that is certainly one of the reasons we bought through him.
- When I Perceive There Is A Need – Let’s jump back to the restaurant example. Let’s assume we have two different waitresses who provide equally service, but one of them is a younger college student and one is a middle-age single mother of two. All things being equal, I’d find myself much more willing to consistently tip more to the single mother. It’s not that the college student doesn’t need the money. They might need it as much, or even more! It’s about how I perceive the need, if we are being honest.
Often times, it’s a combination of 2 or 3 of the above traits that lead me to pay more. Here are some other examples, of people willing to pay more for great service from the twittersphere:
@mapgirlsfc – I will pay more for good service while dining out. Impeccable service deserves a good tip! Prime Rib in Philly gets high marks.
@ConvertSpndthft – Quality Service, I hate being treated like cattle standing in line or just a number
@moneymanagement – A good haircut and quality childcare.
@NealFrankle – I’d have paid someone a reasonable amount to guide us through college application process.
Traveling is a hard monster to tackle for us when it comes to “consistently willing to pay more”. I will say this much… we are definitely willing to pay more for the broad concept of traveling. That’s obvious with our move to Australia coming in only 5 days now. For example, if we were truly frugal there are a lot of places that are much cheaper and much closer to go than Australia.
However, we do go to various lengths to ensure that our travels remain as frugal as possible to enable us to be able to stay longer and do more. For example, or flight goes from Indy –> Chicago –> L.A. –> Sydney –> Cairns. Even though, we are traveling with a 13 month old, we elected normal fare coach tickets. It would have been easy to splurge on upgraded tickets or a direct flight to L.A. and then to Cairns.
I know people who work in the reverse, though. They take shorter, more concentrated trips, but when they are traveling they are on vacation. They don’t worry about trying to cut corners or coupons. They know how much they are going to spend and then they spend it. Their vacation is a time to relax, a time to be able to spend without worry, and a time to recharge the batteries.
@MyLifeROI – I’ll pay more for warmth and quality products. Especially traveling… quality > price.
@flexo – comfortable travel (flights, not first class though, and rental cars), good live music/theater perform., restaurants occasionally
@DebtHater – Legroom on an airplane (I am 6’1 so it helps).
This is one area where I can really say we aren’t consistently willing to pay more. For example:
- We don’t buy organic - While we buy a decent amount of produce (I’m vegetarian), we certainly don’t buy organic products. It’s not that we don’t like organic products. It’s actually just the price that keeps us from buying more.
- We don’t “appreciate” fine foods – We were both born and raised in the Midwest to meat and potatoes type of families. If I’m being honest… I’d much rather eat basic mashed potatoes, noodles, and broccoli than I would like to go out for a $50 a plate dinner. It has nothing to do with price, I just like the food better. If and when we do “go out” it is usually for the “experience” and almost never for the “food”.
- We don’t drink much at all – My wife and I drink alcohol about once every 6 months. Neither of us have ever been a fan of beer. Comically, we both like girlie-drinks. Amaretto sour, anyone? And once again, we’ve avoided getting into wines. I like the idea of drinking wine, I just don’t like the taste. Someday, I’ll watch enough Gary Vaynerchuk to convert me, I’m sure.
Here are some of my friends who appreciate food/drink a little more than us:
@SpendingIt – My wife and I are willing to pay more for great food at restaurants. We love trying new food.
@MikeLeone – I pay more for good beer. Life is too short to waste it on cheep beer ….
@JorgeIM – I’ll consistently pay more for Organic food when there is a choice…
@FourPillars – Beer – I like good stuff!
Staying Connected (Technology)
Alright, now we are back into my prime zone. I need internet. Not only is it crucial to staying connected with you guys on this blog, but there’s just something that draws me to it. My precious.
Joking aside, I really am willing to pay more to maintain a level of connectedness. I’m not full on psycho, yet. I don’t have an Iphone, GPS, Satellite Phones, or even an Ipod. However, I do have a dependable laptop and a burning desire not to go multiple days without being plugged in somewhere. I’m not sure there is anything on this earth that makes me more frustrated than intermittent connectivity. I’d rather be stranded on a desert island than trying to do something online when the internet is kicking on and off! Does anyone have my back on this?
Here are some people that may have my back:
@FiscalFizzle – I’m willing to pay more for quality in electronics. There’s nothing as frustrating as buying a new computer or TV every 2 yrs.
@MoneyEnergy – I’ll pay more for a cab ride to my hotel in a foreign city, travel insurance, internet connectivity abroad, more phone time.
@richerbytheday – I pay more for faster service from my ISP. The 1.5 Mbps they offer is much cheaper, but I’ll gladly pay more for my 20 Mbps+
Quality is sometimes one of those words we use when we really should say “I paid too much”, so we have to be careful. With that being said, there is no doubt that some things are just worth the upgrade. Not only can it be more comfortable, but often times is the wisest financial choice.
Personally, at this point in my life, I’ve mostly been choosing quantity of quality. I’m more likely to buy something cheap, run it into the ground, and buy something else cheap. This isn’t because I think this is the best long-term solution, but rather because our life is very transient right now. We’re cutting our possessions down to almost nothing and are constantly on the move and changing. Quality products often times (not always) not only require an additional investment of money, but also don’t lend themselves to a transient lifestyle.
Of course, this isn’t a hard fast rule. You show me something that fits into my transient lifestyle well and will save me time/money in the long run and I’ll gladly pay more up front for it now. I’m simply being honest that a lot of things in our life don’t work like that right now.
Here are some great examples of people willing to pay more for a nice, quality product:
@ToughMoneyLove – I will pay a premium for quality hand tools. I have (and would again) pay for private primary school educ for our children.
@extremejacob – Willing to pay more for: (DIY) repairability, quality, durability, low depreciation, and low fixed costs
@debtkid – I’ll pay more for a product that I know will last longer than the cheaper version
This is basically a sub category of “Quality”, but is so common for people that it can stand on its own weight. One of the areas where people are most willing to spend more is in the stocking/upkeep of their homes.
Even though we’ve only lived in apartments, personally, we’ve owned several units of real estate as investments, so we can definitely relate. Like @sernejourney below, we often splurged for kitchen items on our own dwelling. For example, our kitchen contained a great blender, a rice cooker, and a quality set of knifes. Frankly, I’m not really sure we got enough use out of these items to justify them, however they were bought before our plans to relocate.
Here are some great examples from my tweeps:
@fiscalgeek – I’ll pay more for lawn mower, weed trimmer, generator, tools in general so much money and time lost with garbage, I Luv Honda
@serenejourney – I love cooking so I’ll spend $ on good quality knives. I’ll also spend a bit more on brand name peanut butter & toilet paper!
@frugalforlife - I would pay more for: Antinques that last, Good quality shoes – but most everything else I would look for a deal and be thrifty.
Socially Responsible Products
Once again, we have a category that is sometimes “quality” and sometimes “household”, but that I thought was important to separate. I’m not a card carrying hippie quite yet, nor do I do yoga or buy sweaters for my dog. However, I am slowly becoming more and more aware about how the products I buy affect the world around me.
Don’t get me wrong, my frugal nature is still winning the battle. Most of the time I’m still not prepared to pay a decent mark-up, but I do eyeball the different options from time to time. It’s a start.
@syzou – i pay more for businesses with good customer service, expert product advice, socially responsible business practices.
Ah, the junk drawer. Everyone has their own personal hobbies and vices they are willing to spend more on. Here are a couple of my own:
- Experiences - Scuba diving, traveling, watching unique (rare) events, sky diving (never been), eating at one-of-a-kind places. My wife and I really prioritize experience over things at this point in our lives. At some point we will want to settle down into a home and this equation might start to balance back out. But right now we’ve got our foot to the foot on the experiences side.
- Genuine Artists - I love watching people who are talented perform their art or skill. You’ll almost never find me willing to dish out $20 for a C.D., however I’m much more likely to leave $20 for a street performer we’ve stopped to listen to. By the same chord, I would pay for a Broadway play, an opera, or an orchestra. Unlike food, I do appreciate when someone has spent years of their life perfecting a specific skill.
- Simplicity – Like “quality” this can often get me in trouble. On average though, I’m more than willing to pay for things that make me feel simple. I’m not sure I can explain this well in a short paragraph. I like clean spaces and simple designs. I like the word Zen even though I’m not sure what it means. It just makes me feel good. Again, anyone got my back on this one?
Here is some more hodgepodge from around twitter-land:
@mymoneyshrugged – Willing to pay most for fav hobbies-ex.-I like surfing, I will buy the best wetsuit so I can be comfortable, warm, good boardtoo
@marriedwluggage – shoes, cheese, organic produce, socks. I’m all about food & feet, apparently.
@yukai_chou – Your happiness!
@nickfro – Quality veterinary care/services.
@josh_moore – Quality books and knowledge
@GetOutOfDebtGuy – Things I love specifically. A certain camera, motorcycle, a comfortable bed, value added services by pro
It’s your turn! What specific things are you willing to consistently pay more for? Can you relate to any of my personal experience? What about the other twitterers? Add your perspective by commenting below!