Lent 2012: Day 31

Lent is about sacrifice, and a significant part of our everyday reality is sacrifice in the form of delayed gratification, when we sacrifice the immediate satisfaction of our desires for some further, greater good. For example, we could buy that new camera lens we want (and I have been drooling over Nikon’s 17-55 2.8 for some time) on credit and have immediate gratification; delaying said gratification by saving for the lens (and at $1,500, that particular lens would take quite a bit of saving of my personal spending money) means not racking up unnecessary debt that could hurt us in the long run. So we delay gratification for a good that is even further in the distance, and in this case, hypothetical. But the immediate price is a sacrifice of potential joy.

The Girl has been saving for a Barbie camper for months now. Granted, it only began a little before Christmas, but five-year-old time is like dog-years: it’s all relative. She gets a little cash here and there, from us and her grandparents, and this week, she made it: $70, the Wal-Mart website price.

So this evening, we went to Wally-world to buy it, only to find the price there was $94. I took it to customer service to inquire about the justification for the price difference. It turned out, they were aware of it — and they did nothing about it.

“We’ll price-match with a competitor…” began the customer service rep.

“But not with yourself,” I finished.

“Right. Not even store to store.”

I sensed a crisis brewing, but the Girl handled it marvelously: a few whimpers of disappointment but nothing significant.

Back home, we shopped around and found it on sale for $50. And now the Girl has a good start on her savings for a Barbie house — and a lesson learned about delayed gratification.

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