Because we are a nation of consumers, I sometimes find it difficult to imagine why it seems everyone wants the cheapest price, the score, and the home run. When clients ask me who manages the cheapest mutual fund or sells the cheapest life insurance, I like to tell them “The Springfield Story”.

It is the story of a traveler who came charging madly to the ticket window of Grand Central Station one day, apparently about to miss his train, shouting breathlessly, “Quick! Give me a ticket to Springfield”.

Springfield?”, the ticket seller asked. “Which Springfield? Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia? Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky? Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts? Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska? New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon? South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee? Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin?

And the Traveler asked, “Well, which one is the cheapest?

The answer to that question, of course, is that it depends entirely on where you want to go. The cheapest ticket is the right ticket, only if the nearest Springfield is the one which is your destination. A cheap ticket which takes you to a Springfield that is out of your way, on in the wrong direction, is a very expensive ticket indeed.

There are no bargains in the parachutes, toilet paper, life preservers, fire extinguishers, brain surgery, or a ticket to Springfield.