So far, I've done a pretty good job of keeping my professional and personal lives separate. I've made mention of my working week down the pub, but I've held back from trying to leverage the buying power of all patrons in order to drive down the price of a pint.
But this weekend that all went to pot. It all started innocently enough. I was browsing around online, trying to find some potential flat shares in London. At first, my search was based around price, as you might expect. The next factor was, of course, location – after all, my main motivation for moving is to cut down on the commute. But then I remembered all the many times I'd read about how important overall value is when signing a contract.
At first, it was helpful. If I could walk to work, I could afford to pay more for a room as I wouldn't need to get the tube. A more expensive room in a house I would be happy to spend time in would no doubt be better value than a room in a house that I'd go out of my way to avoid. Just basic ‘overall value’ factors.
The problem, however, is that price is very easy to measure – one is higher, the other is lower. Simple. Overall value on the other hand, is something in which you can get a bit lost, if you haven't clearly marked it out in your mental tender.
So when I looked at the plush flat across the road from my office, I got carried away with what I saw as overall value – the lunchtime siesta’s and the two-minute commute – while the price blurred into the background. The same happened when I came across an oil tanker that had been converted into a houseboat with wi-fi and a wood-burning stove made out of the original engine; I ignored the fact that it was moored in Essex.
Needless to say I won't be living on a boat, nor will I be having daily siestas. While overall value has its place, it must be linked closely to cost and it must be measured sensibly.