Monday, May 19, 2014
The weeks before our migration we try to eat ourselves out of food. Whatever remains we give away unless we can use it on the trip, or they are staples such as mustard, ketchup, butter sticks, and the like. Those we put in a cooler and cart back and forth along with OJ for Jan’s breakfast, cheese and yogurts for our lunches, and a soda or two.
Waste not; want not. Right?
Well, yes, until we get to the financial concept of carrying costs. To keep those condiments from spoiling, we must ice them down. Bags of ice (they were 10 pounds, now they are 7 or 8 pounds) now cost something over $2. On average we need one a day. Twenty-three days on the road totals over $50—way in excess of the value of the stuff we carted in the cooler.
Why it took me until this trip to apply my MBA to the carrying costs of condiments, I can’t say, but on the third day of this trip it dawned on me that we had not considered the total cost of that ketchup and mustard, etc. when we chose to haul them around with us.
We do things by habit, don’t we? We’ve always packed the condiments for our migrations, but in previous years we took only a few days on the road between places. Using a net present value analysis we probably saved money, although not as much as we likely thought. This year we followed our routine by rote and this time the decision did not make good financial sense.
What about you?
(This post originally appeared on Writers Who Kill 5/18/14)