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
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.)
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