Values and value

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One of the ONLY benefits to being somewhat immobile over the past year is that Mr. Tucker needs to drive me to work every morning (his ongoing joke is that he commutes four times a day – to work from home). Why is it a benefit? Because we use that 20-minute commute each way to discuss major topics in our lives. Sometimes it’s parenting, sometimes it’s work, and more often than not it’s money. Commuting to work and being stuck on the way in heavy traffic on the way is a good reminder of why saving and investing is important if you don’t want to commute for the next 30 years.

Naturally, the conversation gravitated towards our evening out last week because that was the last time we had spent any significant amount of money. I was saying that I was appalled that our “pub platter” was $29. To be clear, this is what was on the platter: 5 onion rings, two chicken fingers, three deep fried pickles, five wings, and a smattering of nachos meagerly covered in salsa and cheese, four pieces of garlic bread. It also came with four small sauces. When I related the actual price of said pub platter Mr. Tucker’s reaction was immediate, “THIRTY GD DOLLARS FOR THAT?!” If you think that’s dramatic, you should have seen his reaction when he realized that our pitchers of beer were $24.

To be honest though, I don’t mind spending money on eating out or entertainment if I feel like I get value for that money. For example, a couple of times a year Mr. Tucker and I go out to our favourite taco joint where they make all the ingredients from scratch – including juicing all the fruit for their cocktails. A taco is about $5 and a cocktail with 3 oz of alcohol is $13. If you’ve ever seen those drink equivalency posters you will know that that $13 made-from-fresh-ingredients drink is actually the alcoholic equivalent of two drinks. Way less than a $24 pitcher of beer, which is three drinks.

Their tacos are all made from scratch as well: slow roasted meats, fresh tortillas, zesty sauces. So for $5, I don’t really begrudge it, which is why when I pay $29 for a bunch of frozen food deep-fried and thrown on a plate, it burns.

I know I am kicking a dead horse over here over one night out, last week (can you say “doesn’t get out much?”) but it speaks to a larger conversation about value. Not VALUES, mind you (although that plays a part), but the value you get for the money you spend. As my mother always says, “I don’t mind spending money but I hate getting ripped off,” and honestly that place felt like a total rip off.

Here are some examples:

Winter boots: I don’t buy cheap winter clothes because they tend to fall apart and not keep you warm. My kids wear Bogs boots because they are 3-season boots that can take a good beating from kids and that have a high resale value. We buy last year’s models when they go on sale for $60 or less. I have tried to get by with discount-chain boots at $30 but I couldn’t hand them down, and one year I ended up having to buy another pair mid-season. When the smallest grows out of hers (and gets the hand-me-downs from her sister), I will resell the boots for $30.

Food: we eat almost all our meals at home and I take my lunches to work every day. We also eat a lot of fruit and veggies that I feel are good value for their money even if they can get expensive. Since I know that having a good selection of food reduces my temptation to eat out, I don’t mind spending a little extra on things like miso paste, good olive oil, and an array of condiments.

Bicycles: Mr. Tucker and I both have bikes that were over $1000. His he’s had for 12 years now and that he maintains himself, and mine I just bought two years ago so I could commute to work (and then I promptly disabled myself). Given how long these bikes will last and how we use them to bike around town with and without the kids, I think the price is well worth it. Mr. Tucker also used to be a bike courier so he has extensive knowledge of how to care for bicycles. He’s taken his bike into a shop only once or twice for things out of his scope of knowledge.

Mattress: Mr. Tucker and I bought a Casper mattress a couple of years ago and have no regrets! Previously, we had a $800 cheapo spring mattress that fell apart in two years, so spending $1000 on a mattress was a calculated risk (it comes with a 10-year warrentee). Honestly, given that you sleep on a mattress 8 hours a night, this is no place to skimp! We purchased ours 2 years ago and every single night I am glad we did – it is AWESOME. If you are interested in going this route, here is a discount code for $65 off (full disclosure: I get a gift card if you do this).

These are just a few examples of what I feel is a good deal vs. money spent. While I love saving a buck, we tend to scrimp and save in areas we aren’t as invested in. We aren’t car proud people, so we own a 7-year-old Grand Caravan with a partially missing bumper. We aren’t tv people so we don’t have cable (although we do have Netflix for the kids). Mr. Tucker works from home and is a jeans and t-shirt guy; I wear pret-a-porter clothes so we have no dry cleaning or pressing costs. In fact, we pretty much have all the clothes we need so our only outlay is for kid clothes for the most part.


We’re minivan hipsters: duct taping our car since before it was cool

Naturally, our values determine what we get value out of but this will be different for everyone. Not everyone will pay for harp lessons but as I have mentioned before: music is a priority for us, so we continue to budget for music lessons. But no one can tell you what you should and shouldn’t get value out of, either. We are all different in our values and what we value. As with everything else, it’s important to constantly question if you get value out of the money you spend, or whether or not you should redirect it somewhere that will make you happier. By constantly questioning and not just spending on autopilot we learn to be conscious of how we feel so that we can make better decisions in the future.

What have you eliminated from your life because you found you got little value for money spent?