Friday, October 19, 2007

Little decisions: minutes or cents?

In Washington DC (and many other cities, I'm sure) public transportation has tiered pricing, which means that fares during rush hour are higher than non-rush hour fares.  Usually this doesn't make much difference to me; I pay whatever the fare costs when I need to ride. 
But every so often, I find myself standing at the entrance to the station just before 7pm (when the prices switch over), thinking:  "Do I catch this train, or wait 5-7 minutes for the next one and save 80 cents?"
Of course, $0.80 is not much money at all to be concerned about.  But on the other hand, how much difference does a few minutes make?  I usually have a book to read or something else with me to occupy my time. 
In the end, I usually make different decisions on different days, depending on how tired I am and if there's a particular reason to get home quickly.  I'm more likely to just get on the train and pay a little more, but there are certainly times that I've waited the few extra minutes.
Do you pay attention to little trade-offs like these, or do you figure they're not worth worrying about? 


MoneyChangesThings said...

This is a good time vs. money dilemma. I like to create a rule for myself so I don't have to revisit the decision making process each time. I try to expedite my mass transit time. But of course this is in the context of my being willing to not drive in order to take mass transit, which is a counter-intuitive choice, unless you look at it environmentally.
The nice part of this "rule" is that it means I get to take the Acela once in awhile which I would never opt to do if I hadn't made up this "rule."

Portland Prole said...

I almost always shave pennies where possible. We don't have tiered pricing here (yet) but sometimes I'll go to three supermarkets in a week to take advantage of loss leaders and specials. I have more time than money and every penny is important to me.