Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Poll

Ok.. The poll actually has nothing to do with New Years, like at all. But you should still vote. Maybe this poll is less ambiguous than the last question, which has a history of frustrating those presented with its conundrum. I think this was a pretty easy poll for me to weigh in on. Maybe too easy.

So, the results of the last poll? Actually I don't even remember. Except one answer had 5 votes and the other had 4. With 9 people polled and that kind of spread between the answers... Well, I don't think it is even possible to make a statistically sound conclusion with those numbers, since there is absolutely no way to split evenly on the topic. So yeah, thanks for participating in the poll.

This last week I got sick with strep throat. That was fun. And then I moved back to my apartment last night. I don't have any plans for new years tonight. I learned that commupance is a real word from the 1850's???

Oh, so here is a little story. Man, I think it is bad that the whole time I am writing this post, I can hear it in a Daxflame voice in my head. Anyway. I have decided that I have a really hard time with sunk costs. If you know me, which you most likely do because you are reading this blog, you will know that I view life's scenarios in a very logical way. I use economics and cost-benefit analysis to guide most of my decisions. This explains why I was crushed when this summer I realized I had $170 in bank fees ($170 of which I managed to get out of). As soon as I got those fees, it completely negated the possible returns I hoped to get from my new investments (I had just bought some money market funds). So, I felt that the rest of the year was just going to be wasted in trying to get out of the red.

In fact, in my mind, I have a sort of running meter where I keep track of how I am doing in life. When I think I have been able to get ahead financially or scholastically, either by scoring some cheap textbooks, getting out of fees, making some good investing moves, acing a test I didn't study much for, etc, the meter turns towards the green. I feel like overall, I am ahead of the game. However, when I make some stupid moves and bomb a test, get my car booted, breaking something expensive of mine, etc, the meter dips towards the red. This meter is always there, and it is always an indicator of how I am doing. Luckily I don't ever recall spending too much time in the red. I've had setbacks, but I always feel like overall in life I am ahead, meaning I am living well, making smart decisions, and being blessed to be on the right track to succeeding in life.

So, that is why I have such a big problem with sunk costs. They seem like such a setback. Not only are they unpleasant, but they seem to negate other successes and wins in my life. It would be good if I could compartmentalize my life and not let certain aspects affect other aspects, but the Meter just lumps it all together and gives me a general reading of how I am doing.

What got me thinking about this is my guitar. I took a guitar class this semester and it was really rewarding. I went out at the beginning of the semester and bought a guitar with a case for $200. It looked like a decent guitar, but what did I know. I brought it home, and then noticed that it buzzed when others, who know how to play, were playing on it. I took it back to the store and they made some adjustments that helped a bit. I started going to class and learning. The action of the guitar felt a little high and seemed to make things difficult to play (perhaps it was just me being bad that made things difficult). I took the guitar into the Great Salt Lake Guitar Co. of Provo and the luthier there adjusted the action by working on the nut. It cost $35. I got it back and noticed that it buzzed again. So, I dealt with it the rest of the semester, but as I learned more and got better at playing, it started bothering me more. I took it to Best in Music in Orem. The guy there criticized the last guy who worked on it and said he would replace the nut and fix it for $35. A week later I came back and the nut had been replaced but it still buzzed. The lady there got the guy working on it on the phone. He said, "I replaced the nut, but now the problem is your frets are uneven and so if you want I can work on evening those out." Since the guitar was worse than it was when I brought it in, I agreed, even though it would cost me $45 more. I came back later that day after the guy had come in and "finished" my guitar. The total was only $55, but that is because he had some trouble with evening out the frets. I played the guitar in front of him, and it sounded exactly the same as when I brought it in. I emphasized this non-verbally by choosing only to play the worst offending string over and over again. He said he could keep working on it but that might bring the total up to $100. I didn't want that. We talked some more, he could tell I was dissatisfied with the results, and he knocked down the tab to $35. I paid and left. At this point I was so sick of the now $270 guitar in my backseat, that I tried to decide what to do.

It was time to cut my losses. Right then and there, I decided that I wouldn't spend another dollar on that guitar. I could have bought two decent guitars for that price. Not only was I not going to sink any more money in that guitar, but I didn't want it around. I disliked it so much that I thought it would be dishonest to try to sell it to someone else. I considered the idea of smashing it. This guitar was a sunk cost and just its presence signified a failure of mine.

So, I am going to give it to my brother so he can start learning guitar on it, and I am looking for a new one on craigslist. But there it is, my dislike for sunk costs. I think what I dislike about them most, is the inability to win. It is a lose more-lose less situation, but still a lose-lose. Oh well, if I have learned anything it is that money is just money and in 5 years down the road, most of the setbacks we encounter today will be inconsequential in the context of our lives.

1 comment:

Morebadger said...

good post. I may need to start thinking a little more in those terms of yours as I seek a profession. I've decided and I feel like this is the most pressing matter in my mind. Besides, of course, trying to keep Cindy's love(honestly, that was a very open comment, but there it is)