Mind Wandering: The Beauty of Price

This is just me spending time in my head, wondering and wandering in my thoughts.

I started tracking my money since June 2020, and it’s so far it’s been an eye opening journey. This is probably the most eye opening thing I’ve ever done and continue to do. Through the process of doing it, you start to become aware of where your money is and where your money goes.

Naturally, you started wondering, is there any way I can save money? Am I spending too much here? And the answer is of course yes. Even today, after over 6 months of doing it, I continue to find places to cut back. When I look back, I think, “had I started sooner, I could have saved so much!”, at the same time, I wanted to investigate this thought even more deeply.

What is it that allows me “save” money? After much thought, I come to think that it’s the fact that all the transactions that I make and track have a price attached to them. For instance, through doing this I’ve discovered that buying rice at Whole Foods costs about 2 times more than ordering a large bag of rice from Amazon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Costco was even cheaper. What allowed me to make that comparison was the fact that the two different kinds of rice had prices attached to them — a simple number that tells me wether this is more expensive than that.

I think that’s just pure beauty.

Just think for a second… you were plainly looking at the rice itself. You could never tell that one kind is more cost effective than the other. They look the same and taste the same, so how else can you differentiate? Price to the rescue!

But the reason I think it’s so beautiful is not just because I’m now able to buy cheaper rice. When I was thinking about it today, I wondered, why am I not able to stop some of the habits that I have for better ones? For instance, sleeping late even though I would like to wake up early. Or, watching 1, 2, or 5 too-many episodes of a show that I am watching instead of going to read a book or making progress on my website (which I’ve been working to update in the last few days). Why is it hard for me to switch to the more useful task/habit?

I don’t know… But it would certainly be much easier to make that decision if there was price attached to it. Imagine that say, when I read a book, I see that I’ve made $5,000.00 (the knowledge value contained in that book) whereas after I watch 4–5 episodes, I only make $10.00 (maybe, I don’t know, I’ve learned something about human nature or people?). When you put it like that, who wouldn’t read the book instead?! (and yes, I do believe reading a book in the long term does get me that much more value, 500x if not more, than watching a show).

I don’t know whether in the long run living in a world where all your actions have a price tag attached to them would be nice, but I would enjoy making that world for myself in a tangible way. If I was aware of how much each of my actions led to the value that I have/bring in this world, it would reduce the friction to me taking better actions.

The money price tag also has something that other “currencies” don’t really have. One other “currency” that we humans have is time. Time is our most valuable resource because everyone gets roughly the same amount and you can never reuse it. However, the issue with time is that it feels infinite… Unless you’re in critical conditions or much older, you never really think too much about how you’re using your time. In addition, the time cost of different activities are practically similar. E.g., spending 60m to workout vs. spending 60m to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

On the other hand, money very simply and clearly encodes this information:

  • This is how much money you got
  • This is how much money X is going to cost you
  • And by the way, Y costs less than X (a VERY easy calculation)

That’s the beauty of prices.

In the next few days, I believe I will try to spend some time thinking about how I can put more “price tag” to the actions that I taken (pun intended).

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Robert M. Vunabandi

Robert M. Vunabandi

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I’m a human, living on earth, and doing Software Engineering. I enjoy reading thoughtful posts, and I like to write! So, here we are.