NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Uma Thurman attends the 11th annual Tibet House Benefit Auction to preserve Tibetan culture at Christie's Auction House on December 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Tibet House)

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We’re all familiar with the bidding system. High end auction houses sell art, collectables, and cars for prices higher than most of us will earn in our lifetimes.

Value is in the wallet of the beholder I guess.

But why are some things attractive to the high bidder and others attractive to the low bidder? What are the rules — if there are rules?

The Lowest Bidder

We’ve all heard the old astronaut joke, “How would you like to blast off to the moon sitting on top of 500,000 parts made by the lowest bidder?”

That joke would suggest that NASA placed more value on price than life.

There are things that are almost always awarded to the lowest bidder. Highway contracts, buildings, almost anything Uncle Sam does, and new single-family homes.

We can’t have you building just anything so we have to have codes to specify what? The least quality, best house, we are willing to pay for — that’s what.

“I want granite counter tops just make sure it’s the cheapest granite out there.” Unless I’m just building something to impress someone else then price is no object.

When money is the primary concern in the equation you are going to have to be the lowest bidder.

The Highest Bidder

The reverse scenario is where the object to be purchased or built is of primary importance. Making ownership more important than the money it costs to acquire the object.

As the old saying goes, “If you have to ask how much it costs you probably can’t afford it anyway.”

Usually the scarcer an item is the more demand there is to possess it. Rare paintings, sculptures, wines, and other collectables populate high-end auction houses with the rich and famous.

Material things like yachts, aircraft, sports cars, and ocean side mansions draw the wealthy that drool at the thought of ownership. The grown up version of, “Look at me Mommy.”

Some Final Thoughts

We bid on things every day whether we realize it or not. When we buy something as simple as a candy bar we are measuring the value against the price of possessing it.

If we buy a TV, store owner's bid for our business to provide the item at the lowest possible price.

If a famous entertainer comes to town we weight the cost of the tickets against the value of how impressive or historic the concert might be.

What did you see today that you would have bought on the spot if you had the finances to do so?

Did you see a bargain or perhaps a sale item?

What are you going to bid on today? Will you be the high bidder or the low bidder?

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