When we buy something, we pay only a small fraction of its cost.
I reflected on this while also realizing how many good things capitalism does for us (others not so good, but that’s for another day). Given enough demand, more companies compete to offer you a better product, usually at a lower price. Products get better and cheaper over time.
Take ‘Elden Ring’ as an example. This video game, five years in the making, can be purchased for 60 USD and is yours forever. Hundreds of people have been working on something for years, and you can get it for 60 USD. It’s a bargain.
A realistic look at the total cost
Now you start playing. According to this Reddit post where people sharing their playtime, some have around 175 hours, some even more. Think about that for a moment. One hundred seventy-five hours of your life are gone because of a video game.
If we were dying of cancer next week, our time would be priceless, but we can be more conservative and assign a monetary value to our time to understand this cost. Let’s say 100 USD per hour—or 50 USD if we’re young and careless.
So, do the math: 175 hours * 50 USD = 8750 USD.
Now, that’s a more realistic price. But there’s more, like the opportunity cost of not doing something else with your time. You also need to store that plastic box, carry it around if you move to a new place, or spend some time taking pictures to sell it online.
This principle isn’t limited to video games. Anything consuming hours of our lives carries an enormous price tag.
A positive return on investment
Like buying Apple stocks in 2007, spending our time well can also bring us positive returns.
We only get small dopamine hits playing a video game, but, like an addict, we’ll be craving for more as soon as we’re done.
Imagine you buy a kettlebell or a barbell with some weights instead. The product cost is relatively cheap, but the time you can spend with them is high. The difference here is that that time, as costly as it sounds on paper, will improve your life. You’ll be stronger and increase your lifespan, so the net result of the investment is worthwhile.
By being more mindful, we could better control how we spend our time, present and future. Paying the initial price is just the beginning. And we should think twice before deciding if paying it in full is worth it.