My favorite personal spending plan is to have $200 per week for food, gas, pets, and all other incidentals, spend less than the whole amount, and then put whatever's left in savings. It makes me feel like I'm in control of my spending, I always have something leftover to put in the savings account, and I don't have to fret about the cost of individual items.
I've been working a bunch of part-time jobs since the start of the year, and haven't had an income I can plan on -- it's different every month. I'm also trying to renovate my bathroom with whatever "extra" money I get. So I'm being VERY thrifty, and spending closer to $50.00 on those same
things (including gas and groceries) most weeks. And this makes me evaluate each purchase more. We have a new Aldi supermarket in town, and I recently spent $8.83 on: a gallon of milk, two cans of chopped tomatoes, a five pound bag of potatoes (on the sale shelf for $0.75), mayonnaise, and cheese.
And it has led me to think about spending/costs/value of things -- do I think in relative or absolute terms? And I think I have a tendancy towards relativism when it comes to cost/value. If I have $200 in my pocket, I am happy to spend $3.00 on a bag of potatoes, because $3.00 isn't much money relative to $200. But if I have $10.00 in my pocket and the choice between .75 potatoes and $3.00 potatoes, I'm definitely getting the .75 bag, because relative to $10.00, that's the better price (relative to $200 it is, too!).
I'd love to hear from DS folks about relative versus absolute values in their ways of thinking -- how do you estimate the value of goods? Does your value anyalysis change in different settings or under different circumstances?