Delta Dollar Decision Rule
One of the big mistakes we make when buying products or services is to compare absolute prices. Look, that product is $100 and this is $130. There is no way one can pay $130. All things being equal, of course, one cannot pay $130 for the same product. The way to look at it is what are the extras you get for the $30 difference. But this idea of the “delta” is lost out in decision-making.
I explained this to my son a few years ago when we were on vacation. I had booked a room for our vacation where the daily tariff was $250. Of course, there were other hotels where I could get a room for $150-175. I told my son that considering the costs of the overall trip, the additional $1000 spend for the two weeks was a small increase – a small delta. But the additional spend brought a lot of convenience – a bigger room, free breakfast, a more convenient location, and so on. By itself, $1000 was a large sum, but when taken on the base of the spend on the vacation, it was perhaps less than a 20% delta.
These decisions happen a lot in life. We look at products and baulk at their price. We may be prepared to pay Rs 40,000 for a laptop, but suddenly step back when asked to pay Rs 55,000 for much better. The sticker shock of Rs 55,000 hits us. But if we just look at the delta of Rs 15,000 and think about the benefits, then perhaps we will make a better decision.
That is why I think we all need a “delta dollar decision rule.” Set a threshold below which one will not waste thinking time – the answer should be a Yes. For me, that threshold is $100 (Rs 7,500). This simplifies decisions like buying a book, booking a better seat on a flight, going to a better restaurant for a business meeting – the answer is always Yes. The same applies in business also – the decision threshold can be higher. Always look at the benefits and the delta, rather than the absolute.
I recently made a decision to subscribe to a $500 online course on decision-making. By itself, it’s a lot of money. Most people would baulk at doing it. But then as I thought about it, the delta spend on myself is a small fraction versus the benefits that I can derive. From the series of lessons, even if there are a few good ideas I can get, the investment would have been worth it. That is why I do not hesitate attending conferences, buying books, and subscribing to online publications. A year later, one will not even notice these expenditures. Of course, every small spend adds up – but there are some categories where the delta needs to be seen on the large spend base, rather than as an integer by itself.
So: think about your delta dollar decision threshold – and start applying it to build a better you, which will lead to a better business.
Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 30)