My wife was so swamped at work that I wound up paying our bills for the first time in years. As I was writing the checks, I began to wonder: After seeing the bills, would my consumption of e.g. utilities systematically fall? It seems at least plausible that the act of paying the bills makes you more likely to think about the expense of various actions, and therefore more frugal. This bears more than a family resemblance to the availability heuristic, where people estimate probabilities using the ease of thinking of examples.

RE tells us, of course, that paying the bills and becoming more price-conscious should have no systematic effect on consumption. Some prices will be higher than you thought, some lower. The contrary theory, though, is that we implicitly think of a lot of things as free, unless direct experience reminds us of the opposite.
Prof. Bryan Caplan
Department of Economics George Mason University [EMAIL PROTECTED]

        "Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that
         one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults
         who prattle and play to it."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

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