Monday, April 3, 2017

Cost Benefit Analysis

This is kind of a part two to the last post on focusing on what you can, and I think it's just a really important factor to take into consideration.

A cost benefit analysis is weighing whether the cost of something is more than the benefits. This should be done throughout all aspects of your life and it can really open your eyes to how marketing, hype, anecdotal evidence and logic not backed up by reality, can really throw a monkey wrench into your plans.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

Me and my wife are very frugal. We don't get the latest toys, but we live very comfortably and the excess capital means we have more options open to us than your average debt slave. In pursuit of saving money, we were kicking around the idea of installing energy efficient windows in our home. Marketing, hype and anecdotal evidence would suggest that replacing our drafty single pane windows would be a giant boon to our cash savings, but would require an upfront investment. We're fine with investment as long as the benefits are worth it. The cost of the windows and installation would be about $1200, which seemed reasonable, but when we calculated how much we would save on our energy bill it ended up being about $10 per month for a grand total of $120 a year. To merely recoup our investment we'd have to stay in the house for another ten years. We decided to pass on the idea. The windows would technically make the house more efficient, but it wouldn't make the money spent worth it. Now we already have a very low energy bill as it is, so if you're an energy hog these windows might work, but for us it was a no go.

Here's the rub, just because something is "better" doesn't mean the costs involved actually make it worth it. Let's take body hardening. Damaging your nerves to fight better might seem like a good idea. Full contact stress inoculation every other weekend might be the ultimate way to train. Getting into bar fights might get you that no-bull-crap experience you've been looking for... but all of these things come with a steep cost to your body.

The odds of a deadly encounter if you mind your manners and aren't a complete jerk is less than 1%. The whole point of self defense or training to become strong, or just having fun is to not damage yourself. This is the opposite of what we want to achieve. There's no point in training to survive being crippled in combat only cripple yourself in training.

Many times these more dangerous aspects of training, and the more expensive pieces of training equipment, or classes, or (fill in the blank) is merely a way for us to manage our anxieties about violence. They become a talisman, which will ward off all the boogeymen of our mind, so we can continue to deny reality.

So here's what you do. Before you make a decision, weigh the costs and benefits. Research how effective the alternative is and see if  there is concrete data beyond what your buddy says or an internet forum, which actually backs up what you want to do. You might be surprised at what you find.