Tracking Costs of Time and Money: How Accounting Periods Affect Mental Accounting
Robin L. Soster, Ashwani Monga, and William O. Bearden
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 37, No. 4 (December 2010), pp. 712-721
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
[Registration required to access full article]
After people incur costs to get future benefits, they usually track these costs in their mental accounts and are keen to receive the benefits when they become available. We introduce the notion that costs and benefits can occur either in the same accounting period (day, season, etc) or in different periods. Our key argument is that monetary costs are tracked across accounting periods but that temporal costs are written off at the end of the period in which they are incurred. Thus, accounting periods lead to a time-money asymmetry in the tracking of costs and, consequently, in the likelihood of seeking benefits.