Is it Ever Wasteful to Save Money?
Even though we are in the midst of a recession, I’m going to have to say yes.
Last month I bought some neat-looking letter holders from IKEA to maybe serve as our new in boxes upstairs. However, my wife graciously pointed out to me that they simply will not go with our decor.
So I put it on my errands list to return them. One month later, they are still there. I think I am going to have to delete the errand throw away the bins.
IKEA is about 24 miles away from our house. Not too far, but returning them will be an investment of at least an hour round trip, plus an additional 15 minutes of lost time on each side. I think the total cost for the bins was about $12.
If I had other things to do over at IKEA or the Mall of America, it would make sense to group this with those other things, thus making the trip worth it.
But at this point I don’t have other things that will take me to the area. I would argue that making a special trip — taking 1.5 hours out of my life (plus gas) in order to get that $12 back — would actually be the wasteful thing.
Time is scarce, and the true cost of that trip is in the things I wouldn’t be able to do with that 1.5 hours instead. I can think of a whole host of more valuable things to do than spend 1.5 hours to save $12. I’m not saying that $12 is inconsequential; I’m saying that returning them would take away from things of even greater consequence, which are worth more than $12.
More than this, there is simply the sheer complexity of life. It will simplify my life to stop having to pay attention to whether I have a reason to head over to IKEA. That’s worth $12 to me as well. In an age where we are pulled in so many directions, a major guiding principle needs to be: minimize complexity.
So, into the trash can these in boxes will go. Actually, for those who were slightly horrified that I suggested throwing them away, what I’ll actually do is put them into our “to give” box, so that they’ll end up at the local Goodwill.
But I mention the possibility of throwing them away to underscore the importance of minimizing the complexity of life. Reducing complexity in your life is more important than a $12 physical good.
Anyway, they’re off to Goodwill. And next time, I won’t make this mistake. Always learning…