Pricing illogicalities: The toothbrush example

Whenever I have to buy a new toothbrush I stand in front of the toothbrush shelves at the supermarket for about 5 minutes. My internal monologue is achingly mundane: Oooooh, $10 for a toothbrush is a bit much! I wonder what’s on special? Ok, $6.95, that’s better. But I prefer the blue one at $8.95…..

It’s a disgustingly intense dialogue for such a simple thing. I should just buy the $8.95 one – after all, I have no problem in spending $9 for a glass of wine at a bar, and that only lasts a few minutes. On the other hand, a toothbrush lasts for a lot longer than that and is pretty critical in providing me with important dental benefits. 

There are other examples. For instance, I’m quite happy to spend $40 on a nice dinner, but it’s more painful for me to spend $40 on a book. Yet the book lasts longer and I can share it with others!

I’ve identified the factors that affect my pricing illogicalities:

  • Current financial situation
  • How much it costs to make the item or provide the service
  • Personal taste and priorities (obviously I like food and wine)
  • What else could I be spending the same value on
  • Is it something I can enjoy with friends (eg dinner, a concert)
  • Conditioning by the market and my own experiences 
  • How far the item will get me (physically or otherwise)
  • Whether I could get it somewhere else do it myself for a lot cheaper 
  • Will I have anything tangible or amazing memories at the end
  • How unique the item/experience is
  • How long the experience will last for

I’m interested to hear….what items/services/experiences make you think twice before you buy, and why? What is your toothbrush?


6 thoughts on “Pricing illogicalities: The toothbrush example

  1. Kelly-Shevaun Middleton says:

    I think the double guessing and “mundane thought processes” are to do with what we deem as “worthy” expenditures and also in part directly indicative of the “spoilt for choice” syndrome. Too much to choose from- i am the worst person to attend a food court scenario with, and i am never satisfied with my choice….

  2. Camille says:

    I think it’s because you feel like the world is forcing you to buy a toothbrush – you don’t really have a choice about it unless you want rotten teeth – whereas you have a choice about whether or not you want to enjoy yourself eating and drinking, and who doesn’t? I usually go cheapest possible on necessities but I’m not so frugal with my luxuries.

  3. Ronald says:

    Solange, I’m the same!!But then I stop and think, cheap toothbrush and $250 (min) for a cavity at the dentist, or a good quality one without worrying about the price (although many times higher prices does not equate to better quality)

  4. @ChrisParker says:

    I always feel like the $10 toothbrushes must just be a marketing con, and that the $1.50 ones must have something wrong with them and end up in the middle somewhere on about $3.50. Which could be exactly why the toothbrush companies sell $10 toothbrushes?

  5. Solange says:

    All good points. Being spoilt for choice and forced into buying stuff is definitely a part of it. And yeah, price doesn’t always mean better but too cheap is off-putting as well so that’s got a part to play also.

  6. Liria says:

    To me, it is very simple. There are things that I buy ONLY when they are on special. Toiletries are one of them: from toilet paper to shampoo or a toothbrush. Same with cleaning aids and some pantry items (e.g. 4-litre virgin olive oil, long-life milk hubby likes, coffee, etc). It takes getting used to “knowing” about when certain things will be on special again. But I’ve mastered this (plus stocking the necessary items to last us until they are on special again) and have never had to rush to the shops to pay full price for any of those things.As for books, that is the only thing I NEVER regret investing in… I will always have money to buy books….! (Psychology books, that is…)

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