In my recent post about the book Small Change I briefly touched on the important concept of opportunity costs. Today Tim Harford (he recommended the book) has another post about the topic:
Judge the value of what you have by what you had to give up to get it
I hope you reading this post and the linked post will be worth you giving up some time doing something else (e.g. wasting time on Facebook).
Money, money, money. Unless we return to bartering I believe it will stay with us and be an important part of our lives for a long time. And with it the question how to spend it wisely. Via Tim Harford I came across an interesting book about just that topic:
While it didn’t teach me as much new as I had hoped it reminded me of a few things and gave me a few things to think about, namely:
- The importance of seeing the money you’re spending, also called the pain of spending money. In our modern world more and more of our money is spent cashless, you don’t really see the money disappearing from your wallet, so you don’t feel the pain as much. While certainly convenient (and I use it all the time) it makes it much easier to lose sight of how much you’re spending (which at least partially is intended, as it gets you to spend more).
- Opportunity costs. If you spend £4 on a coffee/tea/hot chocolate, what are you not spending (or saving up to) it for? If you spend an hour on Facebook/Twitter/othersocialmedia, what are you not doing instead (e.g. writing a blog post like this)? What can you not buy/do by spending money or time or something? What is more important to you?
Neither of these were new to me, I had either read about them before elsewhere or learned about them during my education. But they were good reminders of things to think about more. In particular opportunity costs I think about much more now.
Other readers might learn other things or be reminded of other things from the book. I think it’s a good read, well worth the money (it might pay for itself if you learn something from it…).
One of my goals for this year is to read more, sadly it’s not going as well as I had hoped. Still, I did manage to finish a book recently, hopefully motivation for more soon. Especially as the subtitle of the book reads:
How the science of mental preparation can help you succeed.
Sadly the science is rather limited and largely focused on sports, at least that’s what I mainly took away from the book. There’s quite a bit about the success (or lack thereof) of trash talk and music playlists during or before sports competitions and activities, neither of them I found very beneficial for me personally. Others might find it more beneficial and interesting (I personally don’t like music while I’m exercising very much, in particular walking/jogging, I prefer the sounds of nature).
More interesting was the part about confidence, how to instill confidence and how the often derided (incl by me) motivational posters might actually help after all. Still, I don’t plan to hang any of them up, certainly not at home and most likely not at my desk in the office either.
An unexpected chapter was the last one, covering the use (or abuse, depending of your point of view) of various chemical aids, a.k.a. pills. After giving them a try Daniel McGinn came to the conclusion they weren’t for him (a conclusion I’ve come to without trying them), although he’s still keeping the option in his back pocket (not something for me).
In summary for me: some ideas I might be able to build on, but overall not enough practical ideas for me personally. A too large focus on sports to be useful for me personally. Your mileage may vary.
Monty Python, Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking, what could possibly happen?
Earlier today, on Google+, I came across an interesting video about the design of everyday items, in this case the humble door. There are indeed bad doors (or better, badly designed doors) out there: