buffets or per-pound pricing: what kind of consumer are you?

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jeff mc
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buffets or per-pound pricing: what kind of consumer are you?

Post by jeff mc » Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:57 pm

our january natural gas bill came and it said $0 due, w/ the same meter reading as december's. feb. bill came, and they had an estimated bill due and a footnote "reason for estimate: meter repair". our meter is still broke, w/ thankfully natural gas still flowing, unlimited and 'free'.

so, have we turned our house into a jungle sauna by resetting thermostat to 95 degrees 24/7? keep the oven on 24/7? just run hot water because we can? no, of course not. we've just kept the same settings (4-zone programmable thermostat) that we had before we were getting 'free' (or should say, 'unlimited') natural gas.

i assume most people here would do the same. but i bet a small minority would really crank up the heat, as it was now 'free'. (especially in such a cold winter like we've had). stick it to The Man, as it's unlimited/free... would be a pity not to use (abuse) the system.

got me thinking about other 'metered' things that we purchase, and how my consumption habits might change if things were 'free / unlimited / one cost per month'.

if electricity meter broke: would i change anything? no, w/ one notable exception. i would definitely use the air conditioning more in the dog days of summer. in fact, may just seal up the house july-aug and keep the dry cool air flowing, instead of the windows open most nights, windows and some shades shut and air on most days. the one indulgence we are currently too frugal to do: keep the house cold (very cool) all summer long.

if we won some kind of contest w/ "free gas for a year", our driving habits would not change one mile. we drive where and when we want and need to... free groceries for a year? no change to diet, except maybe more exotic fruits/veggies. free eating out at local restaurants? maybe eat out slightly more, but not much. i do eat more at buffets than off a menu place, but not to get my money's worth... it's just that it's easy and available at buffets.

free movie theater movies? no change in viewing... unlimited cable/premium channels / free ondemand everything? we're not 'tv people', so no change. the DVR things we do record would be of higher quality, but not more quantity. we had netflix for awhile. i admit to feeling pressure to watch more to "get my money's worth". didn't need the stress by looking at those stagnant red envelopes just sitting there, burning up my dollars. so we dropped that unlimited movie cost model, and now just pay as we go, and don't feel bad about a pay per movie here and there.

unlimited clothes? no change (assuming i couldn't hoard a lifetime of black socks, wrinkle free polos and tshirts). shocking, i know, but i'm not a clothes hound.

unlimited magazine subscriptions? i get too many magazines as it is, and would rather read online. unlimited cell phone minutes? have 1000/mon and rarely approach that (unlimited in network calling). unlimited water use? have that (private well), don't use anymore than we did when it was metered. free music? bah, my music tastes froze in '90. free airfares and/or hotels? we would definitely travel more, but that 'dream vacation / lottery' winning is kind of out of scope of what i am thinking here... just thinking how 'unlimited' vs. 'pay as you go' has affected me as a consumer (little 'c'). answer: not much at all, it turns out.

am i turning into a sam walton or warren buffet (sans the money)? they could basically have unlimited anything, yet chose to keep living like they were on a $50,000 salary.

i think the wife and i are just really lucky we are not "Consumers", live comfortable, don't really 'sacrifice' much. we buy what we want and need, and still manage to save a respectable, balanced amount. in fact, we're really anti-consumers, constantly looking around for what we can give away to reduce clutter.

what would change in your life if you lived in an 'unlimited' world vs. a pay-as-you-go world?

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Judsen
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Post by Judsen » Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:48 pm

I try to conserve resourses regardless of who is paying.
Being utilitarian seems Bogleheadish to me.
Waste not want not.

blood_donor
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Re: buffets or per-pound pricing: what kind of consumer are

Post by blood_donor » Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:00 pm

Aye, there's the rub: more stuff does not usually mean more time. So happiness may not really increase.

That being said, I could use "better" vacations, and a bigger house, but other than that, not much would change.
jeff aka chuck D wrote:our january natural gas bill came and it said $0 due, w/ the same meter reading as december's. feb. bill came, and they had an estimated bill due and a footnote "reason for estimate: meter repair". our meter is still broke, w/ thankfully natural gas still flowing, unlimited and 'free'.

so, have we turned our house into a jungle sauna by resetting thermostat to 95 degrees 24/7? keep the oven on 24/7? just run hot water because we can? no, of course not. we've just kept the same settings (4-zone programmable thermostat) that we had before we were getting 'free' (or should say, 'unlimited') natural gas.

i assume most people here would do the same. but i bet a small minority would really crank up the heat, as it was now 'free'. (especially in such a cold winter like we've had). stick it to The Man, as it's unlimited/free... would be a pity not to use (abuse) the system.

got me thinking about other 'metered' things that we purchase, and how my consumption habits might change if things were 'free / unlimited / one cost per month'.

if electricity meter broke: would i change anything? no, w/ one notable exception. i would definitely use the air conditioning more in the dog days of summer. in fact, may just seal up the house july-aug and keep the dry cool air flowing, instead of the windows open most nights, windows and some shades shut and air on most days. the one indulgence we are currently too frugal to do: keep the house cold (very cool) all summer long.

if we won some kind of contest w/ "free gas for a year", our driving habits would not change one mile. we drive where and when we want and need to... free groceries for a year? no change to diet, except maybe more exotic fruits/veggies. free eating out at local restaurants? maybe eat out slightly more, but not much. i do eat more at buffets than off a menu place, but not to get my money's worth... it's just that it's easy and available at buffets.

free movie theater movies? no change in viewing... unlimited cable/premium channels / free ondemand everything? we're not 'tv people', so no change. the DVR things we do record would be of higher quality, but not more quantity. we had netflix for awhile. i admit to feeling pressure to watch more to "get my money's worth". didn't need the stress by looking at those stagnant red envelopes just sitting there, burning up my dollars. so we dropped that unlimited movie cost model, and now just pay as we go, and don't feel bad about a pay per movie here and there.

unlimited clothes? no change (assuming i couldn't hoard a lifetime of black socks, wrinkle free polos and tshirts). shocking, i know, but i'm not a clothes hound.

unlimited magazine subscriptions? i get too many magazines as it is, and would rather read online. unlimited cell phone minutes? have 1000/mon and rarely approach that (unlimited in network calling). unlimited water use? have that (private well), don't use anymore than we did when it was metered. free music? bah, my music tastes froze in '90. free airfares and/or hotels? we would definitely travel more, but that 'dream vacation / lottery' winning is kind of out of scope of what i am thinking here... just thinking how 'unlimited' vs. 'pay as you go' has affected me as a consumer (little 'c'). answer: not much at all, it turns out.

am i turning into a sam walton or warren buffet (sans the money)? they could basically have unlimited anything, yet chose to keep living like they were on a $50,000 salary.

i think the wife and i are just really lucky we are not "Consumers", live comfortable, don't really 'sacrifice' much. we buy what we want and need, and still manage to save a respectable, balanced amount. in fact, we're really anti-consumers, constantly looking around for what we can give away to reduce clutter.

what would change in your life if you lived in an 'unlimited' world vs. a pay-as-you-go world?

biasion
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Post by biasion » Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:38 pm

[removed]
1. Do not confuse strategy with outcome | 2. Those who fail to plan plan to fail | 3. Do not assume the unlikely is impossible, and | 4. Be ready to deal with the consequences if you do.

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DaleMaley
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Post by DaleMaley » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:42 am

Reminds me of when I was a young engineer and in charge of a new product development team. Many of the team members thought we did not have enough people on the team.

I went to see our Chief Engineer who was sponsoring the project.....and he suggested I think over how many people I really needed. After I thought about it for a few days, I concluded that at the early product development stage we were at......having more people would actually slow the team down..and we therefore already had the optimum number of team members.

I went back to see the Chief Engineer.........and when I told him my thoughts, he just smiled.......and said he thought I would reach that conclusion.
:)
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett

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zhiwiller
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Post by zhiwiller » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:35 am

If I won free gas for a year, I'd drive my friends/family around more often.

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market timer
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Post by market timer » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:51 pm

I would like to have unlimited collateral.

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Judsen
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Post by Judsen » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:16 am

market timer wrote:I would like to have unlimited collateral.
Perhaps your creditors would like that too.

bolt
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Post by bolt » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:11 am

Now dont take his the wrong way but i'd take unlimited and excesive dates w/quality womenz if they were free. :shock:

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greg24
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Post by greg24 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:19 am

DaleMaley wrote:After I thought about it for a few days, I concluded that at the early product development stage we were at......having more people would actually slow the team down..and we therefore already had the optimum number of team members.
Have you read the classic software development text The Mythical Man-Month? Very interesting read on this subject.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month

Easy Rhino
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Post by Easy Rhino » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:46 am

Mr Sam Walton, I humbly disagree.

Sure, with gas or electricity, the only time you'd be likely to change consumption is if you're hot or cold.

But other things? C'mon. I don't see how anyone's demand for ALL GOODS can be completely inelastic. If you drop the price to zero, it's going to encourage consumption.

Free groceries would almost definitely cause me to upgrade the quality of food purchased, not the quantity. No more peanut butter and jelly... I'd be eating preserves. But seriously, eating lots of fresh produce would likely cost a lot more at the grocery store than packaged crap. Plus, free groceries might actually displace some dining out.

Free restaurants? There's HUGE potential to try fancy places that you wouldn't try otherwise. And let's face it, some restaurants are expensive because they're darn good. Plus, free dining out might displace grocery spending.

Free clothes? Definitely wouldn't result in MORE clothes, but perhaps better ones. I'll admit that clothes shopping is like pulling teeth, but I'll still recognize that the "premium" Dockers feel and fit a lot better than the regular ones.

And free movies? Fugettaboutit! I love movies, and they're really expensive! I'd see all kinds of stuff!

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