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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sometimes I wonder how adept we are at evaluating true value and enjoyment and how much we are influenced by culture, peer pressure and just the act of spending money. I've noticed that things often loose their appeal or value as soon as they become free.

For example, yesterday I went tobogganing with my youngest daughter and we had the hill to ourselves. Ottawa has several free public toboggan hills. When I lived in Vancouver, where we would have to drive for about 40 minutes and pay $6.00 per person there was such a line-up that you'd have to spend as much time waiting as tobogganing. Or do you remember being younger and pouring quarters into Packman machines? Now I have a little device for the TV and I get bored after 2 games. Or who do we give the gifts to at Christmas? - the volunteer coach or scout leader, or the relatively well-paid teacher?

Now I realize that there could be other reasons for some of these things -- maybe the availability of toboggan hills means that Ottawa residents can participate more often during the week and perhaps I've just outgrown Packman, but I'm convinced that value is often warped by price, what seems "cool", or what the celebrities are currently doing. I know that when my mother sees an item marked "40% off" that she suddenly looses the ability to evaluate the item's worth at the sale price and convinces herself that she is getting a great bargain (something I'm sure that retailers are well aware of). I do realize that sometimes value is related to cost -- I guess our job is to evaluate the rationale for the spending and how much value we are actually getting. I'm sure at some point most of us have had an expensive meal and thought, "I could get a better meal for 12 bucks at the restaurant in my neighborhood".

- So what free or low cost activities do you find to be a great "bargain"?

- What high priced items or activities do you consider to be a bargain? (I believe there are some, but it is very individual.)

- What items or activities do you feel are not anywhere near worthy of the price people pay for them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'll just throw in my own 2 cents worth, since I didn't in the opening post.

So what free or low cost activities do you find to be a great "bargain"?

- Library books, magazines and DVDs. By reserving, I can often get new release DVDs at the same time that they hit the video store shelves. (I'm not sure that publicly funded institutions should be competing with video stores, but since the city takes the money out of my pocket in advance, I might as well make use of it.)
- Public recreation. Local cross country ski trails, toboggan hills, outdoor ice rinks (especially the canal), hiking and mountain biking trails, etc.
- Free concerts, especially on Canada Day. We've had bands like Loverboy, April Wine at the local one and my wife went to see Sarah McLaughlin on Parliament Hill.
- Cycling and rollerblading.
- Kayaking or canoeing. After the purchase of the boat, I've got access to several pristine, scenic, tranquil areas for no cost.

What high priced items or activities do you consider to be a bargain? (I believe there are some, but it is very individual.)

I believe that air travel is a fantastic bargain. I can pay perhaps $800 for a return plane ticket and the next day be walking in a medieval village or castle.

What items or activities do you feel are not anywhere near worthy of the price people pay for them?

- I think that a couple owning a third car almost never makes sense and sometimes even a second car is not necessary.
- Expensive recreational items that the owner can only use a few weeks out of the year such as RVs, sail boats, etc. (It may make sense if the person can use them for most of the year, otherwise they should rent.)
- Sometimes designer label products would never be purchased if they didn't have the label. There are exceptions when the label does indicate quality -- for example Toyota is a label I trust and regarding designer labels, I've found Polo shirts generally last well for years. However, I've often seen $100 jeans that people wouldn't pay $30 for if not for the label.
- Any form of gambling including lottery tickets. (I do admit to buying about 2 per year.)
 
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