The McDonalds Mindset
I was on the road over the lunch hour today and I stopped by Mcdonalds to grab lunch. I had a free large french fry sitting in my rewards app and I decided to just grab a cheeseburger to go with it. There is just something nostalgic about a Mcdonald's cheeseburger. I honestly can't even tell you if they taste good but they make me feel good, like talking to an old friend. Now a large fry and a single cheeseburger are plenty enough for me in both size and calorically, but it is on the 2 for $2 menu so I had to sit there and deliberate the second burger. I mean it is only $.51 more and I would get twice as much.
I ultimately decided not to get the second cheeseburger. While my mind was screaming at me telling me I was walking away from savings, the truth is that is still more money out of my pocket. As consumers, we get this idea in our heads that whatever gives us the best price for the larger portion or the lowest cost per pound is the best deal. That is not absolutely true. You have to take into consideration waste. My family rarely cooks with potatoes, the cheapest way by far to get potatoes is in the bulk bag. It is less than half the price of buying individual potatoes. So all too often we will buy the 10 lb bag at 29 cents per lb versus the individual potatoes at 70 cents per lb, swearing the whole time we will use the extra. Then time and time again we use the 2 potatoes we need out of the bag and end up feeding the rest to the pigs. If we had just bought the 1.5 lbs of potatoes at the normal rate we would have ultimately been money ahead; $1.85 ahead to be exact. Also, while 29 cents per lb is great for potatoes, it is a terrible price for pig feed.
Sometimes it feels like we are getting a good deal because we have bought something for less that it appears to be worth. McDonald's will never directly admit what it costs them to make a hamburger but lots of economists and their employees have given us a pretty good idea the materials are probably around 50 cents and the overhead just about doubles that. Knowing this, there is a part of our minds tells us we have to buy the extra because it is a good deal, and its true a hamburger for 50 cents is a pretty good deal but only if you need the hamburger. Most of us pass off this waste as 50 cents and forget about it, but McDonald's has literally built their entire business model on this idea we have. They don't want to make $1 per sale, they want to make 10 cents per sale and sell 20 times as many items. They let small amounts become big amounts over time. The same should go for you. If you are not that hungry, keep the extra money because we are obviously not hurting Mcdonalds by getting those good deals.
When we used to go to Walmart as a kid, my Mom would give each of us a quarter when we walked into the store. If we were good the whole time we were in the store, we got to keep it and buy a gumball or other candy when we left. If we were bad she would take it, then if we were still bad beyond that, we got to watch as she gave our lost quarters to one of our siblings. On one day my 2 sisters were being particularly naughty, I walked out of the store with a whole dollar in my hand. Now as we had walked around Walmart that day I had watched my 1 quarter become 2, then 3 then 4. I can not remember the day or exactly how old I was but I remember the thought clear as day. "If I keep this dollar and all the other quarters from the other days I can buy Super Mario World 3." We lived in town at the time and fairly close to the supermarket, soo we were at the store 3 or 4 times per week. Hastings sold used Super Nintendo Games for $10 and in less than 2 months, I walked out the door with the game in hand. I don't think I ever bought candy with one of the quarters mom gave me ever again after that.
The small amounts add up quickly. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the phrase "A penny saved is a penny earned" even though that is not quite what he said. If I had a penny for every person that I saw look at spare change on the ground then walk over it like they are to busy to pick up a penny; well I wouldn't have any more money because I picked up all those pennies. It takes 2 seconds to pick up a penny, that's $18 dollars an hour. Anyone who passes that up for such little work is a fool. And "a fool and his money are soon parted." That's biblical! ~Proverbs 21:20 paraphrased.
Don't be a fool, be mindful of your money, and ask yourself if that good deal that you are getting is actually a good deal? Or are you just tricking yourself into it because you want another cheeseburger? But more on this subject later. I hope this post finds you in good health and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering ...
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