Thursday, March 28, 2013

Willingness to Pay, or Why Money Is Like Butterflies

Or maybe money is more like a squirrel the dogs constantly chase away.

This morning Homer, Belle, and I went to the Elliott Bay Animal Hospital (love them) for our "routine" annual vet visit and shots update. Of course, we seem to spend so much time at the vet for various emergency reasons that the "routine" visit seems almost comical considering the chances are likely that we were just in a moment ago. It is, however, necessary (and useful). I'll keep a long appointment short, and provide you with the summary features:

Her UTI recurred and we haven't been able to shake it. This is due to the infection being severely resistant to amoxicillin, apparently.

Snuggle Pup

We've switched her over to a different antibiotic now, which should provide the results we need for her. She'll have to stay on them for six weeks, if her kidney functions allow.

Not an Unusual Look for Her

Her blood work will be back later today and we'll have a good idea about what she can and can't do in the medicine department. If she's good, we'll be adding codeine to her tramadol treatments to help manage her joint pain and continue with the calcitrol for her kidney function, in addition to the antibiotic for this new infection.

The Bag Is a Poor Substitute, but It Smells Like Gabe

He requires major dental work. He's had work now twice in his life, but due to the neglect of his teeth in his early life (our boy is now nine years old!!) and his disinclination to chew when eating (why delay the enjoyment of a full and bursting belly?), his teeth are in bad shape, and it's time for the teeth we've been watching to go. What does this look like?

At the Vet

Homer is looking to have eight single incisors and two complex molars removed.

I should point out Homer has had one tooth removed previously and that an adult dog has about 46 teeth (so many!) but this will be a significant loss for him, particularly in the front where he'll likely have to have all four bottom front teeth removed.

During this dental work, Homer is also going to have a cyst removed from inside his right ear. It's been growing for some time and is now restricting his ear canal, so it's time for that to go.

Small Dog, Big Price Tag

The price tag on all this work for Homer? Hopefully no more than $1700.


Which brings me to my current train of thought: Willingness to Pay.

This past month we spent $1000 on vet bills, in addition to the regular dog and cat costs of food etc. We were prepared for half of that, but with the emergency trip to the vet, we obviously needed more.

Did we flinch at the price? Nope.

When it comes to our dogs, our Willingness to Pay is ridiculously high. I don't even know how high. Gabe does plays game with me when I say I want something, like the AMAZING THORIN figure /droooooooooool. He asks me how much would I pay for it. How much is it worth to me?

How much is it worth? Let's take a few examples, but let's put these two all-important ground rules down first: 1) imagine for a moment you have the cash for the spending--this exercise isn't based on your financial reality, and 2) your Willingness to Pay (WTP) point gets hit when you feel that hesitation. That moment of "oh, I'm not sure if this is actually worth that much...." Ideally, your Willingness to Pay point is higher than what you end up paying, but as you'll see, it's a dangerous sort of scale. Soo... examples.

Froyo on a hot day
Cost: $3
WTP: $12

Froyo on a cold day
Cost: $3
WTP: $5

Thorin Figure by WETA

Cost: $250
WTP: $800

Thorin is so pretty...

Homer's Teeth (and thus his Comfort)
Cost: $1700
WTP: Infinite amounts of money forever and ever and ever

I think Gabe secretly uses this as a scale to understand just how seriously I want unnecessary (though often delightful) objects...but I've found it to be an excellent tool to evaluate my own emotion-based spending. If there's a cap within or outside of our Ability to Pay (that's when you apply reality and have a look at your real funds) that needs to be set, but I'm emotionally involved, chances are I'll be turning to a Financial Advisor to provide objective guidance in those areas.

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