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Your folks said, “We’ll pay half.” And you think: “Ooh. Jackpot.” You are incentivized to spend more rather than less because ma and pa bear half the burden here. (It’s actually more than half because they pay higher tax rates than you do, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, you find a dress for 400 bucks. Frilly stuff. Shiny stuff. Fits perfect. It actually cost $350 but there was a $10 fitting charge and then sales tax, lest you forget. So the total actual cost was 400 bucks.

And you wear it once.

You did have an awesome time. That is, until about midnight when Johnny threw up all over you. He hadn’t even been drinking; he just gets really queasy when he dances.

Even though you are never going to don the dress again, you decide to get it cleaned…. just to have it. And it cleaned up fine. You’re pretty sure your family’s dry-cleaner can work miracles.

What’d the dress cost?

Well, it cost $400, right? Well, yes. But what value did it have for you? You wore it 8 hours total, and you’ll never wear it again. Not just because you won’t fit into it next year, but because you can’t let your friends see you in the same dress. That would be gauche.

So it cost… 50 bucks an hour. Almost a buck a minute. Worth it? Depends on how good you looked in it, we guess.

And oh, by the way, to give fair accounting math here, you’d look at a “residual value” of the dress – i.e. you put it on eBay and sell it. Well, net of shipping, we doubt there’s much (if any) value to it. Used prom dresses aren’t a big category there. Especially those that have been puked upon.

So now that you’ve finished plundering your parents’ fashion fund, it’s time to tackle their automobile account.

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