emotional premium

I have a guy who does my lawn; takes care of everything: mowing, the trees, the bushes, the weeds, fertilizing, the sprinklers, etc.

I didn’t always have a lawn service.  There was a time when I scoffed at the idea.  Later, I debated the idea.  Finally, I broke down.  Now, I consider a lawn service as one of those “first to go” kind of perk services.  Like the pest control service or dinners out on Fridays it’s something below the discretionary/non-discretionary line; one of the easy “cuts” that could be made if need be.

But man, I love my lawn service.  And you know what?  I know I pay too much for it. In fact, I have friends who pay 30% less for almost the same type of service.  Sure, my guy is licensed and legal – but how much does that really matter when it comes right down to it?  Is it worth 30%?  Not to me.  So… why do I, Mr. Cheap, continue to pay more than I know I have to?  You are going to laugh.

I pay my lawn guy more than some other lawn guy because… I like him.  I mean, he’s really nice.  He’s personal; he’s great with Keaton when she’s around; he loves the Lord (no, really, that alone matters to me); he asks about my family; I know his kids’ names.  So is it dumb to pay a guy 30% more than another guy because he said he’d “pray for you” when you told him you’d be out of town at your grandmother’s funeral?

I have a friend who always tells me I mix too much emotion into my financial decisions.  He’s right; I do.  I make financial choices with about 90% focus on the numbers, the bottom-line, and about 10% on “feel.”  He goads me about my rewards card choice, stating plainly that the card he has (which deposits cash-back into a brokerage account) is better on the numbers.  Again, he’s right.  But y’know, my card gives me 2mi on every dollar.  Yes, I’m locked into airline miles; yes, the “liquidity” of airline miles leaves something to be desired and isn’t as flexible and often ends up being a worse deal than just taking 2% cash and buying tickets directly.  I know all this.  But, for some strange psychological reason I like my rewards “locked-in” to miles.  It makes me feel like I’m earning trips back to Florida, or cheaper vacations.  I actually prefer the rewards to be limited in this way.  So yes, emotion plays a role in my financial thinking.

I guess it’s not that strange then that I’m OK paying a premium for a lawn guy I connect with.  The spreadsheet side of me says I’m dumb… but the thing in me that likes my lawn guy because he gives us a Christmas card says I’m right-on.

Have a good weekend.

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