23 Pages Posted: 17 May 2006
Date Written: May 2006
Monetary transactions in which consumption is temporally separated from purchase naturally lend themselves to multiple frames and to alternative accounting schemes, which nonetheless maintain a modicum of discipline and authenticity. We investigate some of the relevant accounting rules, and find that advanced purchases (e.g., a case of wine) are typically treated as "investments" rather than spending. At the same time, consumption of a good purchased earlier and used as planned (a wine bottle opened for dinner) is often coded as "free", or even as savings. However, when it is not consumed as planned (a bottle is dropped and broken), then the relevant account, long dormant, is resuscitated and costs associated with the event are perceived as the cost of replacing the good, especially if replacement is actually likely. Related phenomena and assorted implications are discussed.
Keywords: Mental Accounting, Intertemporal Choice, Consumer Behavior
JEL Classification: D91, D12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Shafir, Eldar and Thaler, Richard H., Invest Now, Drink Later, Spend Never: The Mental Accounting of Delayed Consumption (May 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=901830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.901830
By Brad Schafer