How I buy stuff

I love buying books. Think of the thing that you love buying–I love buying books at least as much as you love buying that.

And so a few months ago, in an exercise of self-discipline, I stopped buying books. Instead I get them from the library, for free. If after reading the book I find it so valuable that I want to reference it again and again, I buy a copy. In six months of using this method I’ve only bought one book: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

“But why Ryan? If you have the money, why wouldn’t you buy things that bring you joy? After all, you don’t get to take the money with you when you die.” Two reasons:

1. You’ll notice that books don’t actually bring me joy. Instead, the novelty of buying something new brings me short-term pleasure, much as a ‘like’ on Instagram or a bottle of wine would. There’s nothing wrong with short-term pleasure, but be careful how much you optimize for it, because it’s very different than “joy” or “happiness.”

2. I have a plan for the money I save. Instead of buying books I invest the money in mutual funds. Over time, If I apply this money-saving tactic to enough areas of my life, this will make me a personal fortune. A personal fortune is more valuable than a shelf of books I don’t read.

If this post interested you, I highly recommend reading through Mr. Money Mustache’s blog.

If simple living interests you, try Frugalwoods. I just ordered her book through the library.

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