When I lived in Thailand back in the late 80s, I spent a lot of my time negotiating.
Taking a taxi home – I had to negotiate the price. Picking up some Thai crafts for my relatives – I had to negotiate the price. Picking some knick-knacks up at the Sunday Market – I had to negotiate the price.
I did it. My friends did it. Everyone did it. It was a way of life.
Today, if you visit Bangkok you are greeted with a city split in two. (1) the wave of the future with high-end stores, luxury hotels, exotic restaurants and mega shopping malls and (2), small little shops selling shirts, jeans, bags, silverware, paintings, models and much more.
Each year I pop over there to visit my mother who lives in Pattaya which in many ways is a small Bangkok and each year I am amazed at all the changes. New hotels keep popping up. Gucci, Fendi, Channel and others are all there.
And there are always new products being sold at the stalls scattered around town.
All and all it’s a lot of fun, I must admit.
So having grown up in an environment where negotiating was essential I slowly learned the actual cost of things.
I knew which shops were rip-offs and which fairly priced their goods. As my friends and I were in high school, we didn’t have much extra money to throw around as none of us could really work so we had to make our money last and did whatever it took to keep our costs down (much like any teenager I suppose).
A lot of trial and error taught me what was good value and what wasn’t worth it.
In places like America and Japan we can trust much of the quality of the shirts we buy at places like The Gap or Victoria Secret and if you’re not happy with a purchase you can just take it back.
That just isn’t the case in some other countries.
I’ve had shoes literally fall apart on me in 5 days.
I’ve had shirts that looked worn after only a few washes.
I’ve had my share of successes and failures when it comes to buying stuff from vendors all over the world.
In the end, I’ve learned one very important lesson – that it’s not what something costs that matters. It’s how much it’s worth. Let me explain.
If I told you that I had a stamp worth $10,000, would you be willing to buy it for $1,000? Sounds like a great deal, right? Not necessarily so.
Sure the stamp could be worth $10,000, but the question is whether someone will actually pay that price for it. If you buy it for $1,000 and then can’t sell it – what’s it worth? A stamp, just one you paid a lot for. That $1,000 stamp would have as much value as any other regular stamp until the day you actually sell it.
But what if you could turn around and sell that same stamp for $100,000. Then you’d pocket a cool 90G. It’s the same stamp, just two very different scenarios.
What is the cost of going to Disneyland with the entire family? $80 each…so that’s $320 plus food and drinks. We’re looking at a potential $400 day.
But what if that day turns out to be something you never forget. You wash away your troubles, your children give you the biggest hug you’ve ever received and they talk about it for months afterwards. Not to mention all the photos you took there. What’s that worth? Surely $400 is a small price to pay for all that. Maybe Mastercard got it right – priceless.
It’s true what they say, there are some things you just can’t put a price on.
Personally, I’m big into education. I have a collection that is growing by the day. I purchase 4-6 books a month (who would have ever thought?!), buy an audio or dvd lecture series a few times a year and now estimate that I have spent somewhere in the realm of $20,000 on my own education (on books, CDs and DVDs focused on business and success) in the past 5 years. And that doesn’t include all the time I’ve put in to study it all.
Now that’s a lot of money. But I believe that it is a small price to pay because I believe that all that stuff, my investment, will pay off nicely in the coming years.
I’ve dabbled in the stock market, my wife and I have built a new house and we are investing in precious metals.
In time I believe wholeheartedly all these investments will transform my life. They are already starting to and I believe that within the next four years it will only accelerate.
Now I know that times are challenging, but what I do know is that price is just a challenge. When we find something we really want it’s amazing how often people are able to find the money.
You could borrow it, pick up an extra job, sell some valuables, whatever. When we find something that’s too good to pass up, we pounce.
Don’t let price deter you. Cheap things are cheap for a reason.
I will never buy cheap shoes again – because they’re just not worth it.
I won’t invest in anything resembling a pyramid scheme – because no matter how you spin them, they’re just not worth it.
Look for things of value.
I pay a lot to my mentors and teachers because I want to get the best information. At the same time, I know people who try to skimp on hiring experts and instead take advice from their coworker who always has a new tip. We all know how that ends.
I encourage all of you to buy on value. Buy things that will last. Hire teachers and experts that know their stuff. Be willing to invest in your better future.
Who cares how much something costs? Ask what is it worth?