Life in Pieces — Discounts & Sunk Costs

 

Tim tries to host a guys night and things don’t seem to be going his way. Beyond the awkwardness of just the two of them, the big pay per view fight lasts only a couple of seconds. While the two did get to watch the fight, which had a knockout, it wasn’t quite worth the hundred dollars they paid. Tim notes that he may be able to turn it off and get his money back. With a lot of experience goods, it’s not necessarily the actual outcome of the action that people care about. Tim and Matt did see a fight, so why is he so focused on getting his money back?

A second quick econ line occurs later when they sit down for dinner. Even though Tim isn’t eating any tacos, he notes that the cook is cheaper since he expects Matt to eat 25 or 26 tacos. This form of bulk discounting represents second degree price discrimination. With this pricing mechanism, the hope is to induce customers to purchase more than they would have (law of demand) even though making an additional taco doesn’t have the added cost of another cook.

Life in Pieces — Thank You Cards

 

Colleen and Matt are back from their wedding, but they haven’t written any thank you cards. Joan tries to drop hints by buying them thank you cards, but now she’s gotten to the point of just telling them they need to write thank you cards. Colleen realizes they need to do this because they want gifts later for their baby shower. This self-interest has sparked an idea! While it may be fair to write each person an individual card, Colleen and Matt realize it’s much more efficient to make a thank you video that people can share. The gesture isn’t well received at brunch. Often, improvements in efficiency (in this case making a video and saving the couple time) come at the cost of equity (many family members feel this isn’t fair).

Life in Pieces — Flight Vouchers

 

Colleen and Matt are at the airport waiting for their flight, but it’s overbooked. They realize that they can receive flight vouchers for volunteering to wait for the next flight. Throughout the day, they continue to volunteer to be moved to the next flight until the last flight of the day is cancelled. The two end up missing their own wedding, but they are compensated with the “free hotel.” The scene outlines the value of time that people have in their willingness to delay their travel, but it also shows the potential risk of not making it somewhere.

Thanks to Peach for the clip suggestion!

Life in Pieces — Property Rights

 

Joan and John want to build a gazebo in their backyard, but it turns out the surveyors messed up the property lines and part of what they believed was their property actually belonged to their neighbors, Daryl and Pam. The easiest solution is to ask the neighbors for an easement, which would allow them to take over a portion of their property. The neighbors try to bargain and offer a price of $5000, but it seems past bad blood makes the exchange more difficult.

Life in Pieces — Unbundling the Shoes

 

At their family garage sale, John tries to sell a pair of shoes as separate items. By unbundling the items, he offers one shoe for 50 cents, but the second shoe as $10. He almost gets tricked when the shopped is buying the shoes for her husband who only has one leg, but John tries to quickly back-peddle. This form of price discrimination is the opposite of a bulk discount.

Life in Pieces — Garage Sale of Gifts

 

Heather and Jen complain to Greg about all the awful gifts that they have received from Joan over the years. They realize this is the time to sell the items at a garage sale, but they can’t sell the stuff at Joan’s garage sell. They decide to host a simultaneous garage sale that focuses only on the bad gifts that they have received. This is a good example to show that the value Joan paid for the gifts will be much higher than the price Heather and Jen could expect to receive from a garage sale, which can be used to show the loss in economic surplus from this exchange.

Life in Pieces — The Stress of Regifting

 

Joan tries to give Jen and Greg a gift certificate for a couples massage because of how stressed they are. It turns out that Greg and Jen had already given her that gift certificate and caught her in the act of regifting the item. Joan claims they didn’t really need it because they were never really stressed so it was better to just give it back. One of the transactional issues of gift giving is that it’s hard to know exactly what the other person values, which creates losses in surplus.

Life in Pieces — Death and Wills

 

John and Joan go to see Jen about getting a will done since they don’t have one already. Joan points out that she thought they were covered, but John is scared of wills since everyone he knows that has died has had a will. He seems to be mixing up correlation with causation.

Life in Pieces — Is it time for a second child?

 

Greg and Jen set an alarm for Valentine’s Day to try and have a second child. The year before, they had just had Lark and decided to try and make sure their children were 2 years apart. Now that the time has come, the two are having second thoughts about whether they are ready since the original reminder was made in a pre-Lark (their child) world. Our decisions from one time period to the next are often not in agreement with one another and causes us to appear to perform irrationally.

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