If you have been following Funancials for an extended period of time, you have noticed the direction of my articles have changed. I used to focus primarily on numbers. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers make sense; and numbers are black and white.
There is a problem in viewing financial decisions with this binary code approach. While numbers make sense, humans don’t. If Adam Smith got his wish and the world was filled with economists rather than humans, we would be fine. But humans are irrational, so not everything can be explained numerically. For that reason – let’s continue down our psychological path.
Peeps Be Trippin, Yo
In 2007, the Washington Post initiated an experiment (as you should know I love experiments). They secretly filmed a scraggly looking man playing a violin in a Metro subway station in Washington DC. In the 45 minutes that the man played, about 1100 people passed by; some on their way to work, others to run errands.
The man earned $32.17 from 27 people who thought his playing was worthy of compensation.
$32/hr equates to about $66k/year. Not too shabby for a thirsty freelancer, right?
Well, this wasn’t your everyday violinist. It was Joshua Bell.
Who is Joshua Bell?
Josh (we’re on a first name basis) is one of the best violinists in the world. He made his first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1985. He won a Grammy in 1993. The violin he was playing that day in the metro station was worth $3.5 million. The night before the experiment, he sold out his concert at an average ticket price of $100. In the 45 minutes he was playing, only one lady stopped to say hello.
Far too often we allow people to place a value on things for us. We’ll go to the grocery store and assume the more expensive wine is better than the cheaper wine [Sidenote: did you know there is a cork shortage and more wines will become twist off?]. We’ll walk by world-class musicians simply because they’re in a subway station rather than on a stage.
Over the holidays Miss Blinkin and I walked our way all over Manhattan. We tried to stop in every art gallery we could to marvel at the masterpieces. There was one particular artist that caught our eye: Tiggy Ticehurst. His paintings were “pimpin” but pricey. We opted out of purchasing a print as they were too expensive but thought: “wouldn’t that be neat to meet this artist?”
Fast forward 2 days and 500 blocks…Miss B and I were outside of the Guggenheim Museum. On the street there was a man selling prints of Tiggy Ticehurst! We were pumped. We were torn between a few, so Miss B took the opportunity to haggle with the hobo.
Aside from the constant cramping, we danced across Central Park in excitement over our paintings. When we finally returned to our Skittle-sized apartment, I decided to Google “Tiggy Ticehurst.”
What do ya know? The “hobo” we haggled was a celebrity of sorts. It was Tiggy in the flesh.
Do you ever find yourself not enjoying something because it’s considered cheap? Are you guilty of “paying more” because the quality “must be better?”
Photo Credit: Tiggy Ticehurst