The Deal Mommy

Sunk Cost Fallacy and The Sleep Number Bed

Joe has been on fire lately– check him out if you haven’t yet. I’ve wanted to respond to a bunch of what he’s written and today want to address the sunk cost fallacy. If you’re not familiar with the term a sunk cost fallacy happens when you attach too much value to an item/experience simply by the virtue of the fact that it’s already paid for. It’s an epidemic in the miles/points game, but not exclusive to it. I just realized Deal Dad have been operating under a sunk cost fallacy for 12 years. Exhibit A? The Sleep Number Bed.  I have to give a proper sleep number bed review to demonstrate my point. 

Sleep number bed review: sunk cost fallacy in action.

The bane of our existence.

Sleep Number Bed Review

We ordered a queen size Sleep Number bed twelve years ago when we moved into this house. Our excitement for the $900 purchase waned the moment it arrived and we realized what it actually is: two air mattresses surrounded by a cover. It arrives sadly deflated so your first job is to pump it up and figure out your number. After twelve years of ownership neither Deal Dad nor I could tell you our number. 

However the lack of digit specificity is the least of the Sleep Number bed’s problems. The main selling point of the Sleep Number bed is that two partners can have two different sleeping styles and two different settings. That is indeed true.

What they don’t tell you is that when two partners have two different sleeping styles and two different settings the bed is at two entirely different heights! The experience is akin to being in a European hotel room with two different twin mattresses smushed together and being called a king. There was at least an inch drop between Deal Dad’s and my side of the bed. Not to get too TMI, but this is not an ideal situation for a married couple. 

The marital disharmony was even not the worst feature of the Sleep Number bed.  That prize goes to the massive jolt the sleeping partner gets when the other one gets up because the air mattress is trying to re-establish equilibrium. Add a kid or 60 pound dog to the mix and it’s a recipe for spending the night in a bounce house. 

And the sleep quality wasn’t great, either.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

Thinking rationally the thing we should have done is cut our losses and bought a new bed. But we didn’t. Why? Because we spent $900 on the sucker. Only with the remodel did we give ourselves permission to chuck the sleep number. And even then it was only an American Express $100 off offer combined with a coupon code combined with a need to hit min spend for a signup bonus that made me pull the trigger on a Cocoon by Sealy

Within seconds of sinking into the new mattress I berated myself for holding on to that #@$@# Sleep Number bed for so long. Why the self-flagellation? The sunk cost fallacy in action.

Are you punishing yourself with an ill fitting item or experience because you’ve already paid (too much) for it?

Let. It. Go. 

Thank me later. (And feel free to share your story..this is a safe space.) 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

For this lesson learned from remodeling, I review the sleep number bed to demonstrate the sunk cost fallacy in action.

20 thoughts on “Sunk Cost Fallacy and The Sleep Number Bed

  1. Leana

    Well, since it’s a safe space, I’m going to make a confession. We have two twin beds in our bedroom (with nightstand in between). As in, my husband and I don’t sleep in the same bed. To quote you: “Not to get too TMI, but this is not an ideal situation for a married couple. ” Enough said. 🙂
    It started when we first had kids. I had to wake up so much, it disturbed my husband. So, this was our half-baked solution, plus me sleeping on the couch at times. Now that the kids are older, it’s not an issue anymore. But I paid a lot for those darn beds! So, for now, we are making do. We should probably push them together, though.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hey, it worked for Lucy and Ricky Ricardo!

      Seriously, though, I get it. Both Deal Dad and I confess to sleeping pretty well when the other is traveling.

      To re-purpose your twins: how about a king size memory foam topper?

  2. Cynthia

    We did the exact same thing! We saved up for a year for a new mattress, bought it, and hated it. We decided to cut our loses after 6 months and sold it to my sister for half price. Then we saved up again and bought the sleep number bed. Let me tell you, I literally rolled into a pit each night because my husband was in the 90s and I was in the 40s. We had the bed for 8 terrible years. When we finally got a new bed 4 years ago, I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who’s loved their sleep number bed.

  3. DaninMCI

    Interesting. We’ve had a sleep number bed for about 7 or 8 years and love it. Ours is a King size and our sleep numbers aren’t that far off but it is by far the best bed I’ve ever slept on. I can’t imagine not having it. I miss it when I travel . I guess everyone is different. I also agree that sometimes you hold onto things because you paid too much and feel you haven’t gotten full value out of it. I’m starting to think that way about American Airlines in general but that’s another story.

  4. Gail

    Funny. We really like our Sleep Number bed; we don’t cuddle during the night. Other things,not a problem. I like it because he can turn over and it doesn’t jiggle my side (he turns over very heavily). I can do my morning stretches and don’t wake him up. Each to his own, I guess.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Glad it worked out for you. I think the issue is not so much the bed but that we held on to something that clearly wasn’t working for for far too long.

    1. Shonuffharlem

      If your God and can tell a slightly used mattress from a moderately or well used one it’s a good idea. Never mind that’s its friggin gross. You can save money with used toilet paper as well, but people don’t buy it do they?

      1. nsx at FlyerTalk

        @Shonuffharlem : I guess you’ve never slept on a hotel mattress? You can see the home it comes from and get some idea of how clean it has been kept. In that respect it’s better than buying a used car.

        I’ve had almost 100% success and > 50% actual savings buying high-end very slightly used mattresses for $400 to $500 rather than $1400. Irrational aversion to purchasing used helps me get these deals.

        1. Shonuffharlem

          That’s insanely gross and seriously I don’t know any woman who would date a guy with a used mattress.

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