How much does it costs?

December 11, 2007 — Leave a comment

Sale tagThat’s one of the big questions I hear a lot this time of year. In the season of shopping and gift-giving, everyone seems to want to find a good deal. We want to find a good-enough gift for a fair-enough price. That can be a real challenge, can’t it?

So many times we make gift-giving about us rather than the recipient. In our quest to find the perfect bargain, we focus on price rather than quality. I contend that both are still important factors in making an appropriate selection.

When I worked for JCPenney, I was always a bit annoyed by their annual “The-More-You-Buy-The-More-You-Save” sale. You might be surprised how many people fall into that trap. In a time when retailers seek to bring in a substantial percentage of yearly revenue, you can bet they will pull out all the stops to draw your attention to the bargains you’ll be getting if you buy their products. You see, it’s not a bargain if you can’t afford it!

It’s not that there aren’t really good deals out there. After all, our mailboxes are packed daily with ads, catalogs, and circulars. But we have to be careful to really examine the product. Otherwise, it’s easy to end up with a beautiful sweater that’s snagged or mis-tagged. I received one such sweater a couple years ago with arms that would nearly fit a giraffe’s legs!

When we focus exclusively on getting good deals, we can miss out on good quality. The adage is generally true: you get what you pay for.

Of course, this principle applies to areas outside the realm of consumer goods. It also applies to services, including education, travel, medical/dental, accounting, legal, and other professional sectors.

In fact, I am frequently asked why I have to charge for counseling services. It’s funny how many times I’ve been asked that question by people who make more money than I ever will! There are so many costs involved in running a business. From office rent and supplies, to marketing, to licensing and education-related costs, to travel expense. . . the list goes on and on.

However, that’s not the main reason I charge for services. The primary reason is that every one of us tends to put more effort into something that costs us. We must be invested, or we’ll surely fizzle out. As a minister, I see this frequently in Bible study sessions. If study participants do not have to buy their books and keep up with regular homework, then they are far more likely to drop out. The same is true in the therapy setting.

If you’re having medical problems or relational/social problems, you will want the help of a qualified professional to assist you. Let that help be a gift you give yourself. Don’t be driven by the pursuit of a bargain. Just like you shouldn’t settle for a flawed garment that isn’t the right color or right size, neither should you settle for professional services that are second-rate.

“How much does it cost?” is a very fair question. “How much will it cost if you don’t?” is another.

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