‘Locked’ Value, and Paying for Everything Twice

How to account for the true cost and value of our possessions?

In the same vein as Thoreau, who wrote in Walden: “the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run”, David Cain suggests that everything must be paid for twice.

There’s the first price, usually paid in dollars, just to gain possession of the desired thing […] But then, in order to make use of the thing, you must also pay a second price. This is the effort and initiative required to gain its benefits, and it can be much higher than the first price. […]

If you look around your home, you might notice many possessions for which you’ve paid the first price but not the second. Unused memberships, unread books, unplayed games, unknitted yarns. […]

In our search for fulfillment, we keep paying first prices, creating a correspondingly enormous debt of unpaid second prices. Yet the rewards of any purchase – the reason we buy it at all — stay locked up until both prices are paid.

With this approach in mind, it seems logical that for us to make wise and intentional purchases, we should consider how much value we might derive from an item, judging whether it is greater than both the first and second costs combined.

I like the two-cost model, but wonder whether there are additional costs to consider, or whether these should be accounted for in the first ‘purchase price’. For instance: the research price, the storage price (not just physical, but the mental storage of an item whose second price has not yet been fully paid), and the disposal price.