I don’t know how this was ever appropriate to talk about in elementary school, but I have memories of being told by elementary school teachers about how housewives would split large purchases across multiple credit cards and cash. This would make a large purchase appear to be a series of small purchases, so it wouldn’t look bad to their husbands when they’re paying their credit card bill. I never understood why you’d ever really need to do this (husbands can’t possibly be stupid enough to not catch how much money their wives are spending), but I recently gained new insight into it as I was booking my tickets for a flight to Hawaii.
Now, to provide some history, I grew up with the understanding that normal people don’t buy first class tickets. These are either funded by companies paying for airfare, really rich people who really don’t need the money, or normal people with first class upgrades. Unfortunately, I was never given a free first class upgrade, and I was thinking that while I was going big on a Hawaiian vacation, it might be nice to make my flights first class as well.
So what does this have to do with housewives splitting purchases across multiple credit cards? Well really, splitting purchases isn’t just about lying to your husband. Like justifying the purchase of first class airplane tickets, it’s about lying to yourself as well (in addition to the perversion of a basic principle of economics).
And how exactly did I justify it to myself? I used the following process:
- Buy coach tickets. You’d have to do this anyway.
- Go to SeatGuru and get a nice big, fat list of reasons why first class would be better than coach. This step is an integral part of creating the delusion of value.
- Upgrade the outgoing flight to a first class seat. Look at the price of the upgrade in isolation, convincing yourself that the already spent money is a “sunk cost.”
- Upgrade the return flight to a first class seat. Look at the prince of the upgrade in isolation, convincing yourself that the already spent money is a “sunk cost.”
- On the flights, order enough alcohol included in the airfare to recoup most of your upgrade costs. Tell yourself that you might as well because the airfare is a “sunk cost.”
- Justify the cost of the upgrades by the amount of alcohol you drank. You pretty much SAVED money.
- Arrive at your destination, completely drunk and well rested, and start a fight with a local about the definition of “sunk costs.” You will have the advantage because drinking enough to recoup the costs of first class upgrades should sufficiently render your face impervious to pain. Then again, you’ll probably have alcohol poisoning, so maybe it’s not a great idea.
So there you have it. Now go do some irresponsible and justify it by citing that it was “sunk costs.”