I Undervalue Books

I am not a big spender. I want the basics — heat, a bed, and a roof, maybe some shoes — but beyond a decent computer (which is essentially a work expense), I don't want much else.

Some might call me a minimalist. Others would say I'm cheap. Personally, I think I'm a little bit paranoid. I tend to devote roughly 100% of my mental energy on the future, with 0% and 0% focused on the past and the present respectively. In general, I think this is a good principle; the past can't be changed, and the present is too short to be meaningful, but it sometimes causes me problems.

The only valuable money is the money you spend, but right now I've mostly been stockpiling. This is probably a good thing for the most part. I'm fast-approaching a life with real living expenses (instead of my parents fronting the bill), so having a cushion isn't awful. However, there is one good which I believe I chronically undervalue: books.

If, in the next few years, I spent $1000 on buying and reading (nonfiction) books, it would almost certainly be a good investment. New ideas are key to making innovations, and keeping $12 at the expense of a book full of those ideas is almost certainly a bad plan. But I'm scared, so I save.

In most cases, recognizing an irrational behavior is all I need to do in order to override it. But this one is tricky. Preparing for the future is a rational plan, and saving money feels like the right way to do it. Books are almost certainly a better investment, but that's not an intuitive plan.

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