What Kinds of Things Make You Part with Your Hard-Earned Cash?

The idea of selling £4 (about $6) standing room only airline flights must surely be a joke, but it got me thinking about how we make buying decisions in general.

What kinds of things make us part with our hard-earned cash? How do factors like cost, convenience, and value interact? Would we make different decisions if we had a large budget vs. a tight one?

I’ve noticed some patterns in my own spending over the years. I tend to buy things based on several factors — factors which depend on what it is I’m buying.

For example, if I’m buying things like furniture or art, the priority for me is getting exactly what I’m looking for, almost regardless of cost. However, if the price doesn’t fit with what I have set aside to spend, I either wait or just plain old don’t get it. There’s no point in me getting something similar or “close” to what I really want, because all that does is leave me wishing I hadn’t.

In the case of things like travel or entertainment, I’ll pay to get the experience I have in mind. So standing up on an airplane = no way. First class would be a big yes, if I didn’t always look at the cost and think but I could go on a whole ‘nother TRIP for that price. More trips always wins, so no first class. Same thing with entertainment. I’ll pay for the good seats, because I see no point in going to plays and not actually being able to see the actors.

Shoes & clothes that actually fit? Here’s my money, within limits.

Those are the things that “value” wins on for me.

But for most everything else…well, cost is probably the biggest factor. That’s because the items above are the items I most enjoy. Everything else is low priority.

Convenience really isn’t a huge factor for me in most cases, unless how convenient or inconvenient something is affects something else that’s important to me. (Such as taking a direct flight vs. having hours of layovers on a short trip.)

Where do the majority of your buying decisions fall? Are they based mainly on value, cost, convenience, or something else?


  • Bas

    I’m definitely one for convenience. Can I mow my own grass? Of course. It’s so much more convenient for me to pay someone to do it. It’s one of those decisions that I made that my time is more valuable to me (I guess some call it laziness). But I work full-time, so if I can find ways in which to make my life easier, I’m willing to pay for them.

  • I am willing to pay for time. I could take the bus everywhere and save money, but it would take time away from the things I want to do.

    • Hm, I suppose paying for convenience could be thought of as paying for time as well. (Although I tend to view it as making things less complicated.)

  • It used to be cars, now it’s just luxury vacations on a dime.

    Hard to quantify experiences. But in the end, experiences is all we got!

  • This is a hard question because as you note it depends on what item I’m buying. I would lean towards cost for everyday purchases and value for long-term purchases.

  • For me, it’s mostly based on value, though occasionally on convenience.

    I want to be sure I’m getting my money’s worth, based on what I’m looking for. For example: instead of buying fast food as a staple, I’ll buy food to cook instead. This will get me more for the money, as the long-term value of paying for quality, natural, healthy food will show itself in quality of life over time.

    That said, convenience counts on occasion too. There is incredible value to time. I won’t drive 20 minutes round trip to save $1 on toothpaste. That’s like working for $3 per hour, which I don’t want to do these days!