How Do You Define Value?

While we were out and about yesterday we stopped for lunch. We could have saved some time and money and waited until we got home. Another hour or two wouldn’t have killed us. The question was more about how miserable those couple of hours, and the rest of the day, would have been. It led to a good conversation about how we define value.

Lunch wasn’t extravagant. We stopped as Hesburger, the Finnish burger chain, and both got a chicken sandwich combo. A quality piece of breaded chicken, a small fry, and a regular soda for €8.10 ($9.59 USD) each. Because tax is included, the total was €16.20 ($19.19 USD). Katie commented that a lot of Americans we know, who have never spent any time outside of the United States, would throw a fit over spending almost $20 on modest fast food. They’d expect a large fry and a large soda with free refills (there are no free refills here).

Quantity or Quality?

I pointed out that the American notion of value is largely based on quantity. They want the most stuff for the least money. The money we spent held a different sort of value for me. In the right perspective, it was worth far more than $20.

For a start, I got to sit and recharge a few spoons. That was an immediate benefit. I wasn’t going to be hangry as I dealt with the rest of our errands, some of which were going to be stressful. That would prevent extra spoons being used up by anxiety. It also meant that when I got home I wouldn’t have to prepare lunch, or clean up afterward. That saved spoons, and created a perception of saving time (and reducing stress) because I could just sit down and go back to work when we got home.

I was able to get two-and-a-half manuscripts edited, answer some emails, and do a little bit of writing. Had we not stopped for lunch, I likely would have been too wiped out to accomplish anything for the rest of the day. I may have had to borrow some spoons from today. That’s what I spend $20 on. The food was a happy bonus.

How do you define value?

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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3 Replies to “How Do You Define Value?

  1. Here in Australia it’s something similar. selection of salads – green, pasta, bean mix and a few hot selections. I’ve been in Australia for 25 years now. When I visited the US ten years ago – I realized it had become a foreign country. The excesses both physical and in attitudes were incomprehensible. While this is not representative of the US as whole, the trend does seem to be spreading.

  2. ” …the American notion of value is largely based on quantity. They want the most stuff for the least money.” They often take this to absurd extremes. Exactly what is the value in eating an 8 Lb hamburger because if you do so, it is free? And of course there is the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. I believe Huey Lewis said it best – “.. The sign said , All you can eat a dollar ninety-five. But a dollar’s worth was all I could stand..”

    1. Buffets are popular in Finland, but they’re vastly different from American buffets. In the US a buffet offers every food imaginable. If you want lasagna, grandma wants tacos, and Uncle George wants roast beef, the buffet will have it.

      Here, you basically get a modest salad bar with a couple of a hot entree choices, one soup option, and bread. You can choose grilled fish and rice, or meatballs and noodles, for example. It’s bad manners to take some of each, or to take an oversized porton. No one will yell at you, but you will be stared at and judged. Some places only have one option, whatever they’re serving that day. So if you go on liver casserole day (the most popular takeaway food in Finland) and you don’t like liver casserole, you’re out of luck.

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