So what are the costs beyond the dollar price?
- Mental anguish
- Mental and physical clutter
Before I sound melodramatic, I'll use the example of a car. If you buy a car, you need to spend time cleaning it, you might drive instead of walking or cycling, you need to maintain and fuel it. Some people have their cars as objects of desire, and the mental anguish from being in an accident or the car being stolen can be really high (remember your first car?)
I've always loved video gaming, but I secretly suspected that as a past time, it didn't really contribute to anyone or anything. I had been looking at the Sony Playstation 3 for quite some time, and was impressed, enthralled even. I could easily afford it, but I spent a long time debating the TCO.
The TCO analysis of the Playstation 3 (you could apply this to a TV too!):
- Health. The late night, sedentary lifestyle of gaming can make you seriously unhealthy. This is against my values of living a healthy life.
- Time. If I game for a long time, it means I've chosen, consciously or otherwise, not to spend the time with my wife, my family or working on projects and my health.
- Encouraging more 'screen time,' I spend over 12 hours a day working on a PC, it's seems silly to swap to the next 'screen' after work.
Sure I could use it in moderation and still have a balanced life, but then I wouldn't be able to justify the cost per use, and therein lies the magic relationship, and the hook of deciding to own stuff. Just because you can afford it or like it, doesn't mean you should get it.
I caved. I'm only human! I ended up buying a PS3 for 50% off. I rationalised it by saying I could easily get my money back. Sure enough I started spending late nights, and long periods of time playing the PS3. The short story - I got fat. I wasted time reading game reviews and gaming websites. The cost of ownership was more than I could stomach, literally.
I sold it, made my money back (Cost Per Use = $0!) and breathed a big sigh of relief.
So what does TCO mean to you?
- Stop. Think. Before you buy something, consider the hidden, non monetary costs. Use the ten second rule.
- Use don't own. Most of us just want to get the pleasure of using something.
- Borrow or rent as an alternative to owning, especially things with lots of added ongoing costs like maintenance, repair or health costs.
- Enjoy what you do own, lots of people get worked up over repair costs or broken things. That's the price of ownership, and if you know that when you hand over your money, you're a step ahead.
* This is a follow up to the Cost Per Use post
** TLA - Three Letter Acronym. I hate acronyms, so the title is a little tongue in cheek.
Flickr cred: Kate_A