On Sunday I wrote about a local store that buys used electronic devices. What I didn't address in the article is why so many of us can't bring ourselves to sell the old models of phones, tablets and MP3 players sitting unused in junk drawers.
How ridiculous is it to have "money" sitting in a drawer? I don't do it, so it seems dumb to me, but I'm a clueless member of the financially flawed club in other ways.
I recently posted a pair of kettle bells for $35 on Craigslist that were brand new in the package. I've had them for at least 5 years, unused, and the same model is still sold on Target.com for $55 each ($110 for the pair). A potential buyer texted me, asking if I'd take $30 for the pair. I responded with $32 as my best offer. He responded, "$30 is my final offer."
I politely refused, even though it was the only offer I'd received in the three weeks since I posted the item. I would rather donate them to charity than accept his "low ball" offer of $30.
How stupid is that?
I could get a $5 charitable tax deduction for the donation or $30 in my pocket. And I have to be honest here--I take a lot of things to charity dropoffs, but benevolent feelings of warmth don't wash over me when I donate my castoffs. It's more of a "Now it's their clutter, not mine."
So why is my behavior so irrational? Psychologists have a possible explanation.
Vladas Griskevicius, professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, said that if a consumer pays $10 for a mug, and someone offers to buy it, the consumer would not be willing to sell it for $10 or even $11. Instead, the person wants $12.
It's called loss aversion, said Griskevicius."Once we have something, we are especially averse to let it go," he said. "It's irrational, but it's how humans behave."
As an innocent bystander, I can look at the person who wants $12 for a $10 mug and think, "You're crazy. Take the $10." But then I think of my own Craigslist experience and realize that I'm as financially inconsistent as the next human.
Another of my human foibles, procrastination, paid off in the end. Hours before I was going to drop off the kettle bells at a charity, the same buyer texted me offering $30. Again, I said $32 was my best offer. He picked them up in an hour for $32. He got a great deal and I held my indefensible ground.