CPU

I learned frugality at my mother’s knee so sometimes it’s hard for me to part with my hard-earned cash.  I have a good friend who sometimes gives me grief about this.  Her view of life is all about CPU… cost per use.  If she purchases something and then uses it a lot, the CPU gets smaller and smaller.  She taught this life view to YA early on, so I am exposed to the theory on a fairly regular basis.

The one place I have been good at applying CPU is with the Minnesota Zoo.  I have an annual membership so when YA and I go to the zoo, we don’t have to pay anything.  It’s obviously not free but it feels free at the time.  We go enough that the annual membership is less than the full price and parking we would have to pay.

I have another friend who has been a supporter of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for many years and have always urged me to get a membership.  But at $60 I knew I’d have to go at least 4 times a year to justify the CPU.  This past spring, this friend called me to tell me that the Arb was having a membership sale.  Just $30 for the annual membership.  Right up my alley.

Now that I don’t have to pay every time I go, I’ve been to the Arb a few times.  Twice this summer I even parked myself in one or another garden with a good book.  In October they had their annual Scarecrow exhibit so last weekend, I made some space in my Saturday and headed out.  I strolled about, checking out how things are changing now that the big blooms of spring and summer are over.  (I even got a gardening tip; I noticed that in the Peony garden, they have chopped the peonies back.  This is not something I have ever done but the afternoon after my visit, I chopped all my own back!) 

The scarecrows were a lot of fun.  Most of them were up on the hill and it was almost like a fall festival – lots of kids and lovely autumn displays – not to mention a gorgeous sunny day.  I normally take the tram ride but since it’s done for the season, I drove slowly along the Three Mile Drive myself with Enya playing on my phone.  I’m sure it’s the lowest my blood pressure has been for years!  They were starting to put up the lights for the Winter Lights Walk so as soon as I got home, I ordered tickets for that.   The CPU will be seriously low this year.

I was thinking as I enjoyed my day that even if they raise the price of membership on me next year, I’ll probably renew anyway.

How do you decide if something is “worth it”?

63 thoughts on “CPU”

  1. I’m frugal in some aspects of my life, not in others. Fortunately I don’t feel the need to justify to myself or anyone else how I spend my money. Things that are important to me, I’ll spend money on whether it’s something I personally use or not. For instance I have a membership in the Science Museum even though I haven’t been there for years. When I’d take Ken out on our Wednesday outings, it was one of our favorite places to go. I think it’s an important resource to our community, and I’d hate to see it go away for lack of community support, so I do my part.

    For years I went to the Como Conservatory for free because I couldn’t afford to pay. By the time I started going there regularly with Ken, I could afford to leave a donation, so now I always do.

    Arts organizations are often struggling, so I support several of the smaller ones not just by buying tickets to their productions but by donating to them on a regular basis. Penumbra Theater, The Moving Company, Minnesota History Theater, Ten Thousand Things, Latte Da Theater, The Theater Garage. The Twin Cities are blessed with so much talent of various kinds, it feels like such a privilege to have access to it all. Of course there are other ways to support most of these organizations. Volunteering time is vital. Whether that’s serving time on their boards, or helping with ushering, sewing costumes, or whatever the need may be, there are ways to get involved and contribute.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Memberships are easy, especially if you value the organization they represent. Join or don’t join and pay more or pay less depending on how well your intentions to use the membership match the subsequent reality. I wouldn’t fuss over money spent to calculate CPU.

    One time or rarely occurring events, like concerts, are a little harder to parse, especially as you get older. You recognize that, for any number of reasons including physical ability and longevity, this may be your one and only chance to experience that event or adventure. That makes its value higher as you see the likelihood of comparable experiences narrowing. I would call that opportunity cost. I factor that in. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I am expecting a UPS delivery later today of some fresh yeast I purchased on-line. I used to be able to get it in town here, but no more. I am paying a pretty penny for this yeast, but I think it makes really nice bread. Bread baking is really important to us, so I view this as a necessary purchase. We still use granulated yeast, but there is something about the fresh yeast that I love.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. This is a different aspect of value and what something is worth but I want to put it out there.

    The clothing I buy for myself is sturdy but generally unremarkable and except for seasonal change stays the same from year to year without reference to fashion. I place no value on brand names. The stores where I generally shop seem to have perpetual sales, so that, if I am a little patient, I can often buy a shirt tagged at $54 dollars for $15 or less. The highly promoted clothing brands, like the private label store brands, have their products manufactured in third world countries and probably in the same factories. I don’t have a sense of what it really costs to make a shirt but when a store sells a shirt for $15, haven’t they established that it’s really a $15 shirt that they’re trying to sell for $54?

    I don’t understand why, for the stores, repeatedly discounting your product doesn’t completely undercut its perceived value. It certainly does for me. Why not determine a reasonable price somewhere in the middle and stick to it?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I don’t know how you could possibly sell a shirt for $15.00 and not have seriously exploited someone. But I agree it would be preferable to establish a reasonable price at the front end and stick to it. But since when had business in a capitalist system been reasonable?

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I choose to believe it might. I know for damn sure that someone is not getting a fair shake if it’s selling initially at $15.00.

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    2. Bill’s comment reminds me of the attempt to reconfigure JC Penney’s pricing. The store used to feature highly ballyhooed sales, week after week. It was obvious that there was nothing real about the high price of a product that wasn’t on sale; that was a fantasy price that nobody ever paid. CEO Ron Johnson decided to rationalize things by offering moderately low prices all the time. His effort failed spectacularly and has, I think, been abandoned. JC Penney shoppers really bought into the gimmicky sale marketing plan.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was short on citron for my Christmas baking. My usual source was sold out, so I ordered some from this Italian grocery store and deli in New York City. The citron was described as hand chopped and Sicilian. It arrived yesterday. It looks lovely and is fresh and not dyed some weird color. Does this make my Stollen and Julekage high CPU products? If you add in the cost of the yeast I suppose so, but there really is nothing better than a good Christmas Stollen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Then, add in the cost of the Asbach German brandy for drizzling over the loaves when they come out of the oven, and the dark rum for soaking the candied lemon peel, orange peel, currants, citron, and raisins, plus the sliced almonds. Oh, these Stollens are priceless!!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I really like this song, it’s very mesmerizing. I know all of the words but I could not have told you until just now what’s the name of it is!!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The story is that Stephen Stills brought the song to his record company and said, “Here’s a song for what it’s worth”
        Likely musical mythology.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. To me, CPU= value. For example, there’s far more value in a piece of clothing that costs $100 but lasts for 10 years of wear, than in a piece of clothing that costs $50 but only lasts for 2 years of wear.

    Being a “sensitive new age guy,” I don’t go in for fashions, fads, prestige/status, the latest and greatest, or being a first adopter of new technology.

    There’s also far more value in a $2 cup of coffee at my neighborhood coffee shop than there is in a $2 cup of coffee at Starbucks. Value is personal. At the end of the day, if I feel my money and/or time were well spent, then my CPU was low and my value was high.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I think it’s a mistake to conflate price with value. High price doesn’t necessarily translate to good value, and conversely, low price doesn’t necessarily mean it’s junk. It really depends on what you value.

      I’ve never owned a Gucci anything, and I never will. Their products simply don’t appeal to me. That’s not to say that they aren’t quality products. I don’t know whether or not they are, but I know they’re of no interest to me.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. That applies to places like Harbor Freight. Northern Tool thinks their stuff is GREAT and they charge accordingly. Harbor Freight knows they have cheap stuff and it’s also priced accordingly. And I’ve gotten some decent stuff at HF. But you know going in it’s cheap and therefore if it lasts a month I know I’m not out much and if it lasts a year, so much the better.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t go for big-dollar stuff with prestige labels, either. But I will pay more if I get commensurate quality. A good example of that is the wine business. Big names like Chateau Lafite-Rothschild cost more than a month’s rent. I’ve tasted (but not bought) many of those so-called great wines. A few have blown me away, but most aren’t much better than wines I’ve tasted that cost far less than $50–many less than $20. I used to sell wine for a living (wine consultant at Surdyk’s) and I’ve taste thousands of wine from the best of the best down to swill and plonk. I’m glad to have tasted many of what the experts callled “perfect wines” because just to know that I don’t need to drink perfect wines. The damn good wines that I can afford give me far more pleasure because I can drink 100 of them for the price of one perfect bottle.

        Chris

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  7. I agree with what you’ve all written.
    And there are ‘Wants’ vs. ‘needs’… I have to ask myself that sometimes.
    Kelly and I joke, when we’re shopping for big ticket items, we should just go to the most expensive one first, because that’s the one we’re going to like best. Do we buy that one? It depends.
    I want quality and I’m willing to pay for that. I also want the service to back it up if necessary. In the theater word, ETC lighting equipment is considered by many to be ‘The Best’ simply because their customer service is the best. They have talked me through so many things and they never make you feel dumb for asking. Even when it’s just a brain fart on my part.
    John Deere machinery gets a bad rap for being expensive. But I know my dealership will help me if needed, and the resale on John Deere machinery is exceptionally high.
    Case in point: My first tractor was a Deutz. It was a great tractor. I think I paid $36,000 for it in 1986. When I traded it off in 2015, the dealer and I finally decided it was worth about $5000. I traded it for a 1986 John Deere that was priced at $25,000. The problem with the Deutz was no one around here could fix them anymore and parts were extremely hard to get.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the exact reason a gave up driving Saabs. Wonderful cars, but it got increasingly difficult to find local mechanics who could fix them. I got tired of dealing with Jerry, an exceptionally good mechanic, but a pain in the butt to deal with.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You have met Jerry? Or are you using “Jerry” as a metaphor for every pain in the butt person you have had to deal with? Either way, this actual Jerry is probably the rudest and most unpleasant person I have ever had to deal with. I think he delights in being offensive and insulting.

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      1. It’s why I’ve never bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. The place where I go to get my vacuum cleaner bags and where I’ve actually taken my old vacuums for maintenance and repair told me that Dysons worked great until they don’t. And then the repair and the parts are extraordinarily expensive.

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        1. We’ve got 3 Dyson vacuums. A big upright, a handheld, and the handheld stick. We use the stick all the time now and it’s been real good. The little one needs a battery but it still works well. Don’t know about repairs; haven’t needed any.
          But is it any better than other bagless? I don’t know. But they’re pretty darn good.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Our new LG fancy schmancy washing machine cost the same as the LG one we purchased 15 years ago. How is that possible? Were we overcharged for the first one years ago? Have technological advances reduced the cost of production?

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Rise and Count Your Pennies, Baboons,

    We are in AZ for the week, and now have internet access, a hot tub to soak in, and gorgeous November weather. Being here was worth the flight. I was delighted to find that my recent PT rehabilitated my hip to the point that I could walk briskly across Airport Terminal 1 (MSP) and Terminal 3 (Sky Harbor) without any difficulty. The worst moment was when we exited the plane and my muscles did not want adjust from sitting and doing nothing at all to moving. But once the muscles re-engaged it was again do-able. We wore N95 masks on the plane and found the ones we had to be smothering. I will seek another style of N95. Yesterday my body responded to the change in climates with a killer migraine and joint aches, but today I seem to be ready to function.

    I was trained from early in life to be a bargain hunter. Last week we bantered on about the effects of the Great Depression. Getting value from every nickel was part of that. I had to learn the hard way, though, that not every bargain is a bargain. And some things are worth having despite the price. I have all kinds of art materials that I have spent a lot of money on, and the time and experience of this activity is worth every cent, despite the CPU.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. My father in law was one of the sweetest guys ever to draw breath. In my eyes, Ray often made questionable consumer choices, but I knew better than to say that out loud. He got sucked into two obviously phony real estate schemes, for example.

    When you got to know him, you learned that Ray was a man of strong faith. He believed in the Catholic Church and he believed in Sears and Roebuck. He often told me, “The thing of it is, Steve, if you buy something from Sears, they are always going to stand behind that product. You can always trust that.”

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Right now I am actually very carefully doing CPU analysis of many purchases, which is stopping me on some and delaying on others. I took our smart 33 inch TV over to Sandy and cancelled cable, a big savings. Cable over there is $28 a month. I have a small non hi-def TV, about 16 inches. I can stream on it or watch DVD’s of which we have several. May buy a smart TV for home, but never cable. Too much cost in cable for usage.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. We don’t watch enough TV to justify having cable either. Probably missing out on some programming that we’d like and enjoy, but since neither of us is really interested in watching more TV, we’ve never considered it or even checked into what the various offerings are and at what cost. Right now I’m trying to figure out what my health insurance options are for the coming year. How I wish that wasn’t an annual chore. But it’s one of those things that could cost you dearly if you don’t do your homework.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m trying to work out the value of the bundles of internet and cable with Spectum. I’d like to dump cable and go all internet.

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  13. Oh Baboons!! Now I know why the yeast was so spendy. It arrived, and I find I unwittingly purchased TWENTY FOUR POUNDS of yeast in 1 pound packages!!! Now I need to cut it into 2 Oz portions and freeze it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The CPU for this just plummeted. I guess I got this wholesale. The retail cost was pretty high whenever I bought it a few ounces at a time in our grocery store., so the on-line price was commensurate with my retail experiences. The produxt description was kind of vague,, too.. We won’t need to buy yeast for a year or more. It keep pretty well in the freezer.

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    2. It doesn’t cut up that well, It crumbles, so I sliced each pound into four chunks and left the chunks and the crumbles in the wrappers and double bagged them and froze them. Luckily, we use this by weight in our bread recipes, so we will just weigh out a frozen portion of what we need for each recipe, and let it thaw and use it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I can’t wrap my brain around five pounds of yeast, let alone twenty-four. I’d have to buy another freezer, and that would seriously impact the CPU. You are in a league of your own as far as I’m concerned, Renee.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Think of 24, one pound packages of butter. That is the volume of yeast we are talking about. I fit it in the freezers.

          I think we have room for the young butchered goat we are getting from a dear friend of ours in a couple of weeks. We would never go out of our way for goat meat, but he needs to cull his herd. My life is so weird sometimes.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. So, usually, 1 ounce of fresh yeast makes about 1 loaf of bread. Each pound of yeast will make around 16 loaves of bread. I am going to have a glass of wine.

          Liked by 2 people

  14. OT – I’m looking for ideas here. Our old friend, Ann W, called tonight to invite us to Thanksgiving at her house. She’s a dear, sweet, and delightful old woman (she’s 87), but dinners at her house have never been delightful in terms of food. Everyone will ask what they can bring, and Ann will always say, nothing, I have everything.

    At last year’s Thanksgiving, “everything” meant she had turkey. I had brought a salad, but there was no gravy, stuffing, or vegetables of any kind. Someone had brought pumpkin pie. I’d like to ensure a more satisfying meal. Is that wrong? Any suggestions?

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    1. We have a wonderful butternut squash casserole recipe, as well as cranberry salsa recipe. They are staples for our holiday meals. I can send them to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Williams Sonoma has these jars of gravy base that are easy peasy and that I bet you could get in the Metro area. Mashed potatoes are easily done if you have a potato ricer.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. CPU can be useful, but for certain things, it is hard to calculate and rather anxiety-provoking. I enjoy fresh flowers in theory, but in practice, I’ve discovered they aren’t a pleasurable purchase for me, because I feel as though I should sit and look at them for hours to get the full benefit. Otherwise, they wilt, and then I feel I didn’t look at them enough.

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